Last week I was in Vegas. And yes, it was the first weekend of March Madness. This might just be the best 4 days in all of sports and I got to spend it in the gambling capitol of the world. What could be better, right?
There were middle aged fellows there from all over the country. Each of them had dressed in their school of preference's attire... myself included. You couldn't walk 10 feet through a casino without seeing a big screen television. The town was pumped for buzzer beaters and half court shots.
On the first day of the tourney, I thought I'd get into the gambling spirit. I placed 3 bets against the spread... 10 dollars each. I ended up winning all three bets. It was fun, but no big deal... to me. To those who threw down hundreds or even thousands of dollars on each bet, the outcomes are a very big deal and not meant for entertainment purposes.
Take the Pittsburgh vs East Tennessee State game for example. The spread was something ridiculous... Pitt was -22 points or so. For those of you who aren't familiar with sports gambling, this means that Pitt is favored to win by 22 points. If you bet on the over, you believe Pitt will win by more than 22. If you bet on the under, you think Pitt will win by less than 22. ETSU kept the game close for 4/5 of the game. They played Pitt tough and I was loving it. I wanted to see the first ever 1 seed lose to a 16 seed. I wanted to see history. It was David vs. Goliath. I wanted to see big, bad Pitt go down to little ETSU. What sports fan wouldn't (except for Pitt fans)? Those who wagered Pitt would cover the spread, that's who.
It shouldn't have taken me by surprise, but it did. As Pitt pulled further and further away, people cheered and high-fived all over the place. It just wasn't any fun watching this game with room full of people who weren't pulling for the huge underdog. The spread made David vs. Goliath, Goliath vs. Goliath.
I don't have a problem with sports gambling. If you wanna gamble, go for it. It's your given right (in Las Vegas, at least). But remember... it changes your thought process. You don't see sports through the same eyes. You lose sight of the big picture and make it solely about yourself.