Last week, the news emerged about the NBA referee who was gambling on games that he was officiating. This is a HUGE deal. If, as the speculation goes, there are other refs and coaches and players involved in a gambling/point shaving ring, it could be a devastating blow to that sport. Personally, I don't care. I haven't cared about the NBA in almost 20 years. In the past few years, it hasn't done much to enhance its image, and this latest thing could be bigger than any black eye that baseball or football or hockey has ever had.
Now there's a supposed gambling issue in professional tennis. #4 ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia was playing #87 ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina at the Prokom Open in Poland. A small, unimportant tournament with a very small purse. A gambling house in London detected an abnormal amount of wagers coming in for that match. Ten times the projected amount. Not just that, but the overwhelming majority of the wagers were against Davydenko. The #4 player in the world. Even after Davydenko won the first set 6-2, the bets kept rolling in. Bets saying that Arguello would win.
Davydenko lost the second set (the SI article tells it wrong), and retired from the third set with a "toe injury". The $7M that had been wagered on Arguello was voided when the gambling house noticed the irregularities.
Now the ATP has launched a full-on investigation into the Davydenko camp. The suggestion is that he, or someone in his camp influenced the wagering patterns and behaviours. According to ATP rules:
players and their "support personnel" can't bet on any amateur or professional tennis matches. They also are not allowed to, "directly or indirectly, solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or facilitate any other person to wager on the outcome or any other aspect of any event."
It's a very minor tournament. Why were so many people wagering so much money on the extreme underdog? Did Davydenko know that he would have to retire? Did he encourage people to wager against him?
Two other times in recent history, the ATP has investigated possible gambling scandals under similar circumstances, but no wrongdoing was ever found.
If this turns out to be a case of wrongdoing, will it ruin tennis? No.
However, it's good to know that this summer when baseball players are all 'roided up, when a star football player is engaged in dogfighting, when an NBA referee was gambling on games that he worked, the NHL's biggest issue is Eric Staal's buddies getting a little rowdy at his bachelor party.
Speaking of which, Staalsy's wedding was this past Saturday. We don't know yet whether or not John Law had to bust up the reception.
Congratulations to Eric. Also, congratulations to CrAdams on his new baby. And to newcomer Jeffrey Hamilton on his new baby.