Placing Bets on a sport will always have its risks. There are simply too many variables in play when athletes are honestly trying to beat one another to make any bet a completely sure thing, no matter what the latest guy with a system will tell you. Every system has its flaws, and the only thing anyone can guarantee is that they can guarantee absolutely nothing. That’s almost a Zen koan, come to think of it.
There are tons of variables in play, no matter what your sport of choice may be. The condition of the field and how well players like LeBron James feed off of the crowd’s energy will naturally play a role, but those factors are usually going to be secondary to who’s healthy versus who’s hurt. In a lot of cases, one player can be the lynch-pin that keeps team morale up and makes the crucial plays. If your star player’s hurt, you might find your odds going awfully long.
So when you place your bets, keep in mind that every time a player gets hit, their internal odometer is going to move upward just a touch. And with an especially hard hit, the entire dynamic of both the current game and subsequent games in the series are going to be radically altered. Here are a few of the hardest hits, that changed the odds dramatically:
Pro: Tony Romo
Sport: Football – Cowboys
Pre-Odds: 1 to 4
Post-Odds: 5 to 4
Just watching that video is painful to anybody who’s ever been hit that hard before. It would take a superhuman to be able to shake off something like that. Naturally, the odds on the Cowboys changed dramatically after their QB got sidelined. This kind of injury can break down the rest of a man’s career, which could impact betting on the Cowboys for a couple of years. At the very least, that kind of loss will stick with a team for the remainder of their season.
Some commentators have even speculated that the remainder of Tony Romo’s career could be permanently harmed by his clavicle injury since it could negatively affect his throwing arm. While this has yet to be seen on the field, it could weigh on the odds, especially as fatigue sets in late in a game.
Pro: Kevin Garnett
Sport: Basketball – Celtics
Pre-Odds: 6 to 5
Post-Odds: 4 to 7
While some people wouldn’t qualify Garnett’s slightly improper jump as a hit, this large amount of force placed on a single joint resulted in a severe knee injury. And, it’s a foregone conclusion that the pain is just as real when a guy does it to himself as it is when someone else lays it on. In addition to that, the effects on his team are just as real when he accidentally puts the hurt on himself.
Ultimately, Garnett is one of the best assisting defenders in the history of basketball. When his team goes up against an offensive powerhouse like the Lakers or the Nuggets, they need as solid a defense as they can muster up. If they don’t have it, their only option is to slug it out point for point with their opposing team.
This smacks of desperation and ultimately tends to lose more money than it has the potential to make, as evidenced by the four to seven point spread. If you have to bet $700 just to make $400 if you win, you should seriously consider putting your money elsewhere.
Pro: Joe Theismann
Sport: Football – Redskins
Pre-Odds: 5 to 3
Post-Odds: 4 to 5
Everybody who’s seen the footage of Joe Theismann’s career being instantly ended by two broken bones in his lower leg knows that it was a brutal, highly visible injury. The silver lining to this dark cloud, however, laid in Jay Shroeder, Theismann’s backup quarterback. While the Redskins didn’t end up making it to the playoffs that year under the less experienced Shroeder, they didn’t lose as much with Theismann being out of the game as one might think.
Since Theismann was 37 years old when he was medically cleared to play from his leg injury, it’s uncertain whether his career would have continued at its previous level of success had he stayed in the game. A lot of players stop playing well before that age, so the odds-maker has to take the rigors of advancing years into account as much as the home field advantage or a team’s total rushing yards.
Pro: Clint Malarchuk
Sport: Hockey – Sabres
Pre-Odds: 3 to 4
Post-Odds: 5 to 6
Clint Malachuk is one of the toughest men to ever come through professional sports. In addition to surviving an accidental gunshot to the face, he survived having his inner carotid artery severed by one of his teammates’ skates. He actually left the ice under his own power because he didn’t want his mother to watch him bleed to death on TV. Then, he was back on the ice for practice four days later and tended the goal during a game the next week.
Unfortunately, toughness can only take a man so far in life. By the time of his injury on the ice, Malachuk’s career was already on the decline. Within a few years, he was off the ice as a player and starting a career as a coach and consultant. However, one has to appreciate the morale-building effect of having such a survivor on one’s team, which actually helped the Sabres’ odds after he came back.
The fact that an injury actually helped a team’s odds of winning proves once again that there are plenty of times when the “sure thing” bet is nothing but assured when the game really gets going.
Warning: if you can’t handle horror movies, do not watch the video shown above.
Pro: Janos Baranyai
Sport: Olympic Weightlifting – Hungary
Pre-Odds: 29 to 1
This could qualify as a double hit, if that makes any difference. First, the sheer force of the 148 kg (that’s over 325 pounds) weight impacted inside Janos’s forearm and shoulder. Roughly one second later, the weight fell on his back. The large amount of force from the fall also caused some pain. Ultimately, the worst of the damage came later because Janos had only completed one of the two lifts required to aggregate a score before the hit; he was disqualified for failing to participate in the rest of the event.
Since Janos was the only Hungarian to initially qualify for the 77 kg portion of the 2008 Olympic weightlifting competition, his entire country lost any chance of winning the event because of his disqualification.
Pro: Rob Evans
Sport: Mixed Martial Arts
Pre-Odds: 6 to 4
During his rather short fight against Ross Pettifer at Cage Rage 4, Rob Evans managed to break both his tibia and fibula when he threw an especially hard, but poorly aimed, kick. This is another example of the self-destructive tendencies of athletes in contact sports; his opponent barely registered the attack, but Rob took himself completely out of the fight.
Calculating the odds on a UFC match is challenging enough because of the tendencies of individual fighters. In addition, the chances of accidental injury turns odds-making into a science worthy of an insurance actuary’s time. Winning could prove extremely challenging, especially considering the damage a similar injury inflicted on Joe Theismann’s career.
Considering that other fighters have also experienced similar injuries, knowing a fighter’s tendencies can make, or save, you a lot of money.
There are a very large number of factors that can quite literally impact an athlete or an entire team’s chances of winning current or future events within the season. This naturally affects your chances of being able to win money on these athletes, so it’s extremely important to take the athlete’s physical condition into account when you’re considering placing a bet.
Rather like placing bets with a hangover, betting on an athlete who isn’t in top form is a painful and irritating way to lose money. When making a bet, consider the athlete’s past injuries, how they look like they’re moving today, and how previous athletes have been injured through a similar style of play.