Catalogue | Souvenirs | E-mail | Links
«bOOm | Front | right in the very center of the universe. »

June 30, 2005
How to cheat in Basketball. The boy sitting two seats away from me on the F train was wearing a t-shirt with four lions on it. The red, gold, green and blue lion were probably the repeated logo of some special summer-camp. The boy was maybe seven but he was more than half way through a pretty mangled book from the kids section of the Brooklyn library. His father, a well groomed man with what looked like a special edition of a Trotsky beard (the late version) was sitting right next to me, reading "The Tipping Point." The boy interrupted his reading, looked up in the direction of his dad, seemed to ponder and then asked: "Dad, how can you possibly cheat in basketball?" His book did not seem to have anything to do with basketball. It was one of those incredibly dangerously unrealistic detective stories, in which three smart kids find and catch a mass murderer. I thought the question was pretty good. Basketball is obviously a team sport, played in the open, people are watching, television cameras are running, how does one cheat in that sport? My father's answer would have been a question, I bet. "Dad, how do you cheat in Basketball?" i would ask. And my dad would probably reply something like: "why don’t you ask the neighbor?" or "well, what do you think?" I would say:"I don't know." and my father would give me his famous:"I don't know is not an answer." The father of the boy with the four lions on his chest was a different kind of dad. He looked at the boy from behind the book and gave him a pretty comprehensive answer: "Well, there are at least two ways to cheat at basketball." Two ways? He certainly had the boy's and my attention. "The first way is the very obvious way: You make sure nobody sees you and then you hold a guy from the other team, or you elbow him in the ribs." (He lowered "Tipping Point" and made an elbowing movement. "The second way is a bit less obvious, but certainly not less common. Let's say you are on the blue team. A bookie comes to you and tells you that he has all his bets in and that he can make the most money when the red team wins. He offers you an incentive and you make sure that the red team wins, by pretty much playing poorly. You miss some baskets on purpose, the blue team loses, the bookie gives you $2000 and he probably makes 10K in the same transaction." Wow, I thought. This dad came up with that right there on the spot? He continued, the boy and I listened, full attention: "Things can get even more interesting when the bookie tells you to lose by a certain amount of points. Certain bets are based on by how many points a team wins or loses. So you could be on the blue team again and the bookie tells you to lose by, let's say 10 points. Not an easy thing to do, but if the red team wins by 10 points, you make a bunch of money and the bookie makes much more." The boy stared completely focussed on his father's mouth as if he were waiting for these lips to move again. The father stared at the boy. The boy stared at the father. After a pretty long five seconds or so, the boy looked down on his t-shirt and pointed at one of the lions: "Blue." he then pointed at another: "Red." ... "Green." ... "Gold." No clear winners in this particular match.