The Points Spread: What Vegas Has To Say About Football

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Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

I don’t know about you, but I know little to nothing about sports betting…at least I knew little to nothing about sports betting before I began writing this piece.  What I did know was that unless I want a large man with a tire iron to visit my house, I had better learn more.  So with that amusing thought in mind, I set out to do some research.

Now, let me begin by being very clear about one point.  I am not looking to go out and become a degenerate gambler who sells his wife’s jewelry to get some action.  However, I would at least like to be able to follow and understand the conversation when actual degenerate gamblers get together and discuss their picks…and by degenerate gamblers I of course mean sports radio hosts.  That said, if you yourself go out and become a degenerate gambler who starts betting his weekly paychecks at the local dog track, the good folks at 'Our Sports Report' will not be held responsible.  All that said, let us move on…

Most sports betting focuses on the points spread.  Basically, the points spread shows how much the wise guys in Vegas favor the better team in a given contest…most commonly in football.  In the context of a radio program, the hosts will say a team is favored by X amount of points, or a team is giving X points, or a team is spotting the other team X points.  These are all fancy ways of saying that one team is expected to win more than the other team and by how many points.

For example, let’s say that Alabama is playing some cupcake school…say…Arkansas A&T and the spread is 55 points.  (If a college called Arkansas A&T really does exist, I apologize in advance for any disrespect, I’m just making a point here.  If you in fact could hang with Bama, kindly let me know so I can put some money on the game and retire in the Bahamas at age 26.)  Anyhow…this just means that Alabama must win by 56 points to cover the spread and make your bet pay off.  So, it is entirely possible for you to bet money on Alabama to win, have Alabama wipe the floor with Arkansas A&T by 54 points, and still lose money.

In the situation above, when you put money on Alabama to win (cover the spread) you did what is called “Laying the Points”.  This simply means that you bet the favored team.  The sports guys will use terms such as “Throwing the Points” or “Tossing the Points”, all simply saying that they are betting the favorite.  Those terms all mean the same thing, which can be confusing to the beginner.

Now let us flip to the other side of things for a moment.  Let’s say that Alabama is playing Clemson (entirely possible this season) and is giving the Tigers 6 points.  This means that Alabama must win by at least a touchdown to win (cover the spread).  Frankly, if this game played out today, I’m not sure that Alabama would win by a touchdown.  I think that Clemson could easily cover the spread.  In order for Clemson to cover, they must do one of two things: beat Alabama or lose to Alabama by less than six points.  I personally think this is a pretty safe bet, so in this situation I would “Take the Points” and put my money on Clemson.  The radio hosts will use other terms like “Eating the Points” or “Keeping the Points” or “Gobbling Up the Points”, all simply saying that they are betting the underdog.

Now by this point, you may be wondering where the points spread comes from in the first place.  Simply put, the big boys in Vegas determine all of this lovely information for us.  It is important for us to remember that the big boys in Vegas are in the business of making money off of the ill-informed…you know…people like you and me.

For most of us, laying actual money on football games will be a money losing operation.  However, the points spread can still be useful to the average sports fan who just wants to bet lunch on the games with his co-workers.  How, you might ask?  Well, by all means, keep reading!

The points spread, if useful for nothing else, gives you information…information that you can then use to your advantage in a number of ways.

For example, let’s say that you and a bunch of coworkers are all shooting the breeze around the water cooler and they are all going on and on about some great football match-up coming up this weekend.  A quick Google search on your phone while nobody is looking shows you that the spread for that particular game is only 2.5 points, and the road team is favored.  However, all of your uninformed co-workers are talking about how the home team has been great for years and how there’s now way in the world that the other team can hang with them, especially on the road.

This is your moment, jump into it with full force!  Interrupt all of the madness and claim that it will be a closer game than anyone thinks.  For effect, throw in a little fluff about how the visiting team has been quietly making a charge over the last few games.  Watch the reactions of the people around you.  Some will make fun of you, some will silently wonder whether or not you’ve taken your medication this morning, and some will chicken out and just laugh.  But when you come in Monday, having watched the visiting team win by a field goal with 3 seconds on the clock, you will look like a genius.  If you were smart, you would’ve bet lunch on that game and today you’d be eating for free.

Looking like a knowledgeable sports fan is easy.  All it takes is a little homework and a few wise guys in Vegas.

Is Baseball Still America’s Pastime?

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Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

I’ve heard a lot of radio hosts (read Colin Cowherd) talk about how baseball is no longer America’s pastime, claiming that football has taken hold of the country’s focus.  Given the strong presence of the NFL and college football in our everyday lives, it’s awfully hard to disagree with that claim.  But if everything were based upon looks alone, you would think that there are only about 20,000 Tribe fans in Ohio, they’re all over 50, and they all live in Mansfield.  (Come on people…you’re allowed to laugh at that one)

Let’s examine this concept of America’s pastime for a moment.  According to Merriam-Webster, a pastime is something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably.  Baseball certainly still fills that role very well for many a sports fan in this country.  At the same time, for several reasons, baseball is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Now let’s look at the definition of a national pastime.  Wikipedia (yes, yes…I know) claims that a national pastime is a sport or game that is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation.  Baseball is certainly still very much a large symbol of American culture and history.  Think about it, even the smallest of towns in this country have at least one baseball field, where little leaguers play the same game that their heroes play on television.

For something to be given the distinction of America’s pastime, I think a certain extra expectation comes along with the title.  In this discussion we are looking for the singular defining pastime of this country and whether or not baseball still has that market cornered.

Personally, I don’t feel like baseball really corners the market any longer.  However, that is not to say that it doesn’t still claim a large piece of the pie.  It just seems to me that other sports have stepped up to claim their own corners of the market, professional football included.

It seems to me that three major sports are vying for the crown of America’s pastime.  Major League Baseball, NCAA Football, and the National Football League all seem to claim somewhat equal shares of America’s attention right now.  Baseball isn’t as lost on American culture as it seems and pro football isn’t quite as dominant as ESPN would have you to believe.  College football seems to be the biggest right now, but it seems to be somewhat of a dark horse.

My opinion is certainly not an expert one.  I want to know what you all have to say on the subject.  What sport do you think is America’s pastime?  State your case in the comments section below.  Best ones will appear in a later post, and possibly in a future podcast.

[polldaddy poll=7317698]

Brad Stevens has Jumped Ship!

Photo by  Darren McCollester/Getty Images/ Written by: Neil Brown (@downtowneil)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

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By now this is old news to everyone, unless you’ve been living in China or under a rock. Or possibly even under a rock in China. But I needed a couple of weeks to cool down, otherwise this post would've probably sounded more like a death threat than my anger towards people for wanting more money.

Here’s my big gripe, is there no loyalty in sports anymore? I know the fans are still loyal as ever, if not more so.  I’m an Indians and Browns fan, so I’ve felt my share of heartbreak in my 23 years on Earth. I could run down the list of the ways that Cleveland sports didn’t even take me to dinner, but yet still had their way with me, but that’s for another post.

At this point it seems like players and coaches alike have no problem leaving behind everything for the big paycheck. There are no more Joe Paternos and only a few Cal Ripkins left. Just this past April, Stevens signed a 12 year contract extension to remain at Butler through the 2021-2022 seasons. Three months later, the dollar signs caught up to him and he’s headed to Bean Town.

He’s not the only turn coat we’ve seen this year though. Chip Kelly, the beloved coach of my Oregon Ducks, was going to leave Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles, then announced he was going to stay in Eugene. A few weeks later though, he caught the itch and had a “change of heart” and took Philly up on the offer to be their new head coach.

He is set to run one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL with Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy running all over the field in what I’m assuming will be an “Annexation of Puerto Rico” style of game. Hey it was successful for Danny O’Shea and his Little Giants, so why not give it a shot?

I don’t like Derek Jeter at all and I hate the Yankees more than Brett Favre hates retiring, but I respect Jeter tremendously because he has stuck with the team that brought him up through the minor league ranks. Maybe it was the five World Series rings and millions of dollars the Yankees have thrown at him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t see that type of loyalty out of many professional athletes nowadays.

Look, all I’m really trying to say in this rambling, piss-fueled fire of a rant is this question; how do professional athletes expect fans of their team to be loyal when the athletes themselves are rarely loyal? How can I be expected to spend my hard earned money on a ticket, beer and hotdog to come watch you get PAID to play a game? Why even buy a jersey of your favorite player anymore? Chances are he’ll be gone next season and you’ll be “that guy” wearing around a Tim Couch or Grady Sizemore jersey.

Respect your fans and the legacy of your organization, and don’t just follow the dollar signs.

How To Properly Divorce Your Sports Team

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Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report

Fandom is a complicated thing.  For any number of reasons, we attach ourselves to a group of people that get paid to play a sport.  Geography, sentimentality, family history, peer pressure, and good old-fashioned television viewing access can have an impact on what teams we root for.

Often, over the course of a long season, our team’s performance can cause our devotion to waiver.  We begin casting lustful eyes at the uniforms and stadiums of other teams and then we start to daydream about what the thrill of victory must feel like for these lucky fans.  If nothing else, we know that as fans, we can be a mighty fickle bunch.

As our feelings begin to shift towards another team, we seem to guilt ourselves for not being true to our teams.  You’d think we were married to them or something!  There’s no certificate of fandom on file down at city hall, so why does this always feel so dirty?  Surely there must be some way to separate ourselves from our teams if they have hurt us too many times.  Surely there must be some sort of etiquette for situations just like this.  Well, at least by the end of this post, there will be.

For starters, we typically choose our sports teams based on geography, family history, and television.  We will develop our team leaving etiquette on those three factors.

Rule #1 – Geography – If you are living in the same area in which you were born and you initially chose that team from an early age, you may not leave that team until you move to a new team’s vicinity.  This rule has been the bane of many an Ohioan’s existence for years, as many of them chose “The Tribe” when they were too young to know any better.

Rule #2 – Geography Part 2 – If you, for whatever reason, are a fan of a team from another geographical area and you feel you can no longer support that team, you must choose the team from the market you currently live in.  In my case, having violated Rule #1 by ditching the Indians to become a Cubs fan, my only recourse is to switch to one of the Ohio teams if my relationship with the Cubs begins to sour.  Since I live north of I-70, I must root for the Indians.  People must exercise caution here, because often times, like in my case, switching teams take you from one ugly wife to another.  (To clear myself of any metaphorical bleed over, my actual wife is beautiful!)

Rule #3 – Family History – If your family roots for a particular team, it behooves you to do the same.  Failure to do so may result in shame, exile, and forfeiture of any inheritance to which you may have otherwise been entitled.  However, if your family seems to root for many different teams (as mine did…hence why I am a Cubs fan) you may choose your own team from the selection that your family has established.  Going outside that list may carry the above consequences.

Rule #4 – Family History Part 2 – If your family roots for multiple teams, you may switch between any team on that list as you see fit, provided you own at least one hat of the team to which you are switching.

Rule #5 – Television Availability – You may choose from any of the teams that receive consistent television coverage in your area.  Not ESPN coverage once a week, but a dedicated local channel that picks up a majority of the season’s games.

Rule #6 – Relocation – If your team moves from your area…you are free.  They left you, so find the proverbial hotter girl and go to town!

This is obviously a limited list.  What other rules can you think of for choosing a team?  Let us know.  We may have to make an official rule poster that we can frame and hang in the Podcast studio for all to see.