Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sports Ethics: Being Replaceable

“Everyone is replaceable.” This fundamental truth underlies modern organizational life. When we leave, another will do our job, differently, but our job will get done. If I get sick and cannot teach my class, another professor will take my place. If my doctor cannot show up for a surgery, another will perform it. Someone on an assembly line gets fired or sick and another trained and competent person will step in. Modern life cannot afford indispensible people.

A sport engraves this truth for all. A player goes down in a game and another one trots onto the field and takes his or her place. Someone is having a bad game and the coach yanks them and a substitute takes his or her place Some times the replacement does worse, sometimes better, often they perform competently; they fill in. Sometimes they excel and replace you having done their apprenticeship and take advantage of the opportunity.

The other day one of our local “sports radio” gurus opined, “closers are like half backs now. They are simply replaceable, you can find them anywhere.” He described everyone on every sports field. Obviously superstars exist and gradations of excellence exist among athletes and in life. But the function can and must have backups and even superstars can be replaced when they are injured or fade.

Athletic competition highlights the replace ability that shadows all our professional lives. For me the modern baseball statistics such as VORP—value over replacement player—or WAR—wins above replacement--isolate this truth with singular clarity. The world of sabermetrics has constructed a model—the replacement value player. This model predicts the performance in vital offensive and presently measurable defensive skills. They can do this for the average team but also for the average position player especially pitchers.
The key to the statistic lies in the fact that aside from remarkably outliers whose skill sets are quanta above everyone else, most players hover around this statistical portrait, this mean of player. Even when they have “good years” they regress to this mean over their career.

Being average is not a death sentence, in fact it can guarantee a long career across a number of teams. It means you are the player included in blockbuster add-ons or one that involves two obscure names or a second level prospect for you. Consistent sports average performance locks in a strong predictive reliability that varies little for as long as a decade. It defines the reliable expert performance of a seasoned professional.

Remember to be average among the elite athletes of the world places the “average” player light years above the skill sets of all the other professionals who aspire but fail to succeed at the elite levels. Average defines superb technical skill and endurance.

In baseball a team of average players will win 82 games, not enough to win a championship, but not a disaster. Every team needs reliable average players or better yet a cluster or players who hover 2 or 3 runs or 1 or 2 wins above average to complement their superstars.

This statistical model reduces players like all of us in a capitalist system to profiles of productivity. It makes them and us faceless for the most part. Faces and personalities generally belong to the superstars or people having their day in the sun being on their peak performance years.

It also means that any player who falls below the average model loses both economic value and probably their career fairly fast. The economics of player compensation combined with the pipeline that rigorously culls players and forges high skill potential replacements mean that players who slip below the VORP line in any sport can soon be replaced by younger, lower cost and higher upside players.

Knowing you can be replaced haunts everyone one of us who derive self-worth from work. Athletics just makes it visible and clear to all of us what our real fate is.

It also reminds us that athletes must pull their own weight. They must be able to contribute. The harsh beauty of sport exposes people so brutally. It puts a spotlight on not contributing. Average may be barely good enough for a while, but the economics of younger players reaching average make it a career ender after awhile.

The insights of VORP and WAR are now spreading to all sports. Most general managers now understand the role of replacement value and the fungible nature of most players. They can now think far more intricately about trades and drafting since a collection of +2 and +3 players can lead to contenders without anyone noticing. You see the same mind set in modern American football’s attitude towards once revered running backs, nonguaranteed salaries and NBA’s nameless array of “role players”who  surround the stars.

Being replaceable not only reminds us of the cost of average, but the powerful aggregate worth of cumulative above average high performance. Success for most teams and organizations resides not in the superstars but in the depth of above average consistent performers who together produce reliable winning teams.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Can a Team Pitch a No Hitter?

This week the Seattle Mariners pitched a no hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What does that mean?

You can compare it with Matt Cain's fourteen strike out perfect game in the same week. Like many perfect games, Cain just dominated as a pitcher, and although perfect games occur much more often now than in the days when they would be spaced 20 years apart, they distill the essence of how baseball assigns ultimate responsibility to the pitcher. No one says the Giants pitched a perfect game; all the praise goes to Cain. Although no hitters are not nearly as impressive we usually say the same thing like Roy Halladay pitched the no hitter.

Our language assigns responsibility in no hitters and perfect games—the language resolutely pinpoints the pitcher as responsible for the game. Yet the reality is much more complex, and the Mariner’s no hitter reveals this complexity.

The Mariners fashioned a no hitter using six pitchers. As of Sunday they were still trying to whom to award the game ball? Only once in the history of baseball have six pitchers carved out a no hitter, Houston in 2003. It had never happened in the American League.

Only ten times in baseball history—345,000 games and counting—has this happened. Yet part of me feels cheated. How can a committee of pitchers pitch a no hitter? Where is the responsibility and clarity for the win and the no hitter?

There are two points here. First, a no hitter is important and very rare, but not a perfect game. In a no hitter, no one gets a hit. People walk and people commit errors. In the Mariner’s most imperfect no hitter, they issued three walks and Charlie Furbush committed a throwing error that let a man reach second base. In a no hitter more balls have been in play and more people have been on base. The probabilities of people scoring rises incredibly when folks get on base, so the role of team defense rises proportionately Hypothetically a team could lose a no hitter by walking in a man after loading the bases with walks. And being baseball it has happened. Twice teams have lost no hitters!

So Kevin Millwood left the game after six wonderful strong innings with a pulled groin. Millwood provided an example of when to leave a game when he called the coach out "I couldn't push off," he said. "It would have been stupid to stay out there." As I have talked about before, this  is a strong ethical reason to leave a game, not to protect oneself, but to help the team from one’s limitations.

The second point of the game is that the six headed hydra illustrates the incredible team nature of any no hitter. Pitch calling by the catcher; fielder placement by the coaches; execution under pressure—Brendan Ryan threw out a batter by a micro-step in the ninth inning; pitchers resilience and cool focus as the zeroes add up on the scoreboard, thee all contribute to the success. It helps to have individual initiative such as Ichiro’s steal to put himself in position to score along with late inning defensive substitutions.

No other team sport assigns responsibility for wins and losses to just one person. Football does not assign wins and losses to quarterbacks nor does volleyball to setters or basketball to point guards. The language of responsibility in baseball has its own history and reasons, but that is another story, but the staunch insistence upon how to talk about pitcher's accountability hides the real truth of the game.

A wag suggested that the Mariners issue a six headed bobble-head. It might be fun, but to get to the real truth this historical game revealed, it should be a a true hydra with new heads spouting for each one cut off, in this case 17 players.

The loquacious Brendan Ryan was spot on, “It was kind of fun to get so many people involved…It just felt like a really collective team effort.”

Ryan’s comment really covers any no hitter or any game; only our language of assigning wins and losses to pitchers hides that.

Mariner relief pitcher Charlie Furbush got to the essence of the issue “We got to all celebrate together because everyone got to do their job and be part of it.”   He just described every no hitter in history, whether pitched by one or six.

A team pitches every no hitter.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Maria Sharapova and the Dilemma of Beauty and Sport

Every girl or woman who plays sports knows the unfairness. No matter how skilled or talented, every female knows her appearance will be judged as she plays her sport. She may win, she may lose, but her looks and beauty will be assessed. No women enjoy this, some benefit from it, most resent it but all female athletes have to grapple with it. In the end the only way to silence the beauty obsession of the male gaze lies in triumph with skill. Maria Sharapova’s win at the French Open illustrates the dilemma in all its unfairness.

Maria Sharapova is a beautiful woman. Tall, blond, svelte muscled, cheek-bones, graceful and spirited. In 2004 at 17 she won Wimbledon and in four years had picked up three grand slams. She earns an estimated 22.5 million dollars a year in endorsements, the best-paid female athlete in the world. Yet she has not been ranked number 1 since 2008 and won no grand slams in the last 3 years. Her income towers over tennis players, male and female, far more highly ranked and often more skilled.

Players seethe believing correctly that her looks and personality factored more highly than her skill in her endorsements. This was not the confluence of beauty and dominance that Tiger Wood exploited. She played erratically and never really dominated the circuit, only reaching number one ranking 5 times.  She lived in the shadow of Serena Williams’ unearthly skill. She presented as the poster child for beauty mattering more than skill or talent in women’s sports.

Her beauty was magnified by the fact that she played a beautiful game, tennis, grunts and shrieks aside. Women’s tennis outfits leave little to the imagination and modern styles permit a wide array of dress—both Sharapova and Serena Williams have made a minor sport of watching their outfits.

Tennis is unforgiving. As a net sport that divides players from physical contact, tennis allows the beauty of the game to unfold with etched clarity since the line and power of movement and hitting are not marred by 240 pound linebackers trying to disrupt your play. It places heavy emphasis upon the tactics and strategy which are determined mainly by the opponent’s mind and skill, not by their physical ability to disrupt you.

This makes it a game of nano-inches, close calls and split second judgments. The sheer speed and size of modern players has all but eliminated classic net games. Power serves easily reach win percentages of 80 percent, and the game often ends up a seemingly endless grunting groundstrokes of stupendous power and accuracy as each player vies to set up the other, then slice, drop or angle shot. It’s a game that isolates each player. You can see every facial expression, every emotion, every strain of the body. Millions of spectators have watched great players implode on the court while others harden and recover themselves and come back with steely resolve.

Here is where the dilemma lies. The convergence of sheer physical beauty does not always play fair with sport talent. Many people watch sport for the beauty of the game. Sometimes they are not even aware of it, but the pleasure and awe at great plays is experienced palpably by a fan. We all admire and enjoy the aesthetic aspect of sports.

Greek art idealized the beauty of form and physical male bodies. We do it in our own pictures, just look at the plays and players in the average media outlets or the highlights of ESPN; they all draw attention to the beauty of the plays. These plays exhibit the athletic beauty of the players. We do not notice their physical looks, appearance or amount of skin showing when they execute. ESPN highlights do not caress the physical appearance of the person but the physical and mental execution of the player.

In the Greek Olympics writers raved about the physical beauty of the male athletes. Many, male and female, lusted after them. The winners and the beautiful ones got endorsements and gifts and status. Gladiators in Rome were similarly lionized with fame, status and art. But the art selectively emphasized only the good-looking ones, not the not so good-looking ones. It even made scars look good.

We are not Greeks or Romans and seldom worship the male form. But we do give endorsement deals to great male athletes, but by and large, the better-looking athletes and the great personality athletes, get the better deals. Think Tom Brady or Tiger Woods or the number of deal amassed by RG3 before he has even started a football game.

Women face the dilemma that they are judged by looks first, and many male fans cannot get beyond that. Broadcasters may want female athletes to look good for ratings but that double standard means people take them less seriously as athletes. It forces women’s team who seek male viewers to highlight physical appearance and sexuality. Once watching viewers can easily be converted to enjoy the game itself. It happens every four years with beach volleyball and the Olympics.

So as long as the majority of people who take sports seriously are men and the women’s sports and their sponsors need male viewers, teams and marketers will emphasize appearance, looks and sex appeal. They have to rely on the game to keep them there and it happens a surprising amount of the time.

I wish it were different, but it is not. I mean can you ever see a woman getting away with Pablo Sandoval’s girth in San Francisco and becoming an adored “Kung Fu Panda?”

So female athletes rightly resent how male notions of beauty and male obsessions with female sexuality drive their sports to market the way they do and award endorsements—remember the endorsements follow as much appearances but the society has a much wider tolerance for male homeliness.

But back to Sharapova. She kept up her endorsement level even when she stumbled in play, tore her rotator cuff and had surgery and did not win consistently for three years. Her beauty carried her, not her playing.

But at this year’s French Open she played on her worst surface, clay, that nullified her power ground shots and slicing angles. She wore a little black dress and beat a younger woman wearing pink. She won with laser shots skimming the nets, strong accurate serves and total command of the tactics of the court.

But more importantly she has carved out a story beyond her beauty. This win gave her a career grand slam.

The win revealed, as do the lines of her maturing face, the mental toughness and tenacity that always informed her game. She achieved too much too fast, faltered and then struggled through a debilitating injury, surgery and harsh rehab where she fell to 126 in the world. At the French Open she won on the surface where she had always lost.

In her comments, the reality of the athlete behind the beauty, the athlete’s mental beauty poured out, I could have said, 'I don't need this. I have money, I have fame, I have victories, I have Grand Slams.' But when your love for something is bigger than all those things, you continue to keep getting up in the morning when it's freezing outside, when you know that it can be the most difficult day, when nothing is working, when you feel like the belief sometimes isn't there from the outside world, and you seem so small…But you can achieve great things when you don't listen to all those things."

When she fell to the ground in tears; she wept for joy but also for vindication. Her triumph triumphed over the beauty obsession and reminded everyone that skill and strength demonstrate the deeper beauty of sport.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Athletes are Not Warriors--Try Soldiers

American media commentators love to militarize sports, especially football. Military terms pervade American sports portrayal as well as the language of coaches. Commentators bless players with the benediction of “he or she is a real warrior.” I have real doubts about this language and metaphor, but the language of fight and battle seem endemic in the history of sport and our own understanding of it.  So I want to think about two metaphors—warrior and soldier—for athletes. I do not believe athletes are warriors and if we have to use a military metaphor, I think they are soldiers.

We use with the metaphor of warrior to bring up three separate but related aspects of individual athletes:
1)   How an athlete relates to goals.
2)   How an individual relates to pain.
3)   How an individual relates to obstacles.
4)   How an individual relates to team.

The media commentators and even athletes often call upon the word warrior to draw attention to the will power and courage required to drive to achieve a goal. They really invoke it when an athlete plays with pain or overcome a serious personal, physical or opponent obstacle. The myth of warrior entices folks because it seems to capture this aspect of personal courage and will power to achieve a goal under adverse conditions. Notice no one uses warrior in a team concept, there is a good reason for this.

By and large when warriors face soldiers, soldiers win. Soldiers combine the moral advantages of being a warrior with mission cohesion and loyalty. The Romans, Chinese, Mongols, Swedes and Germans have proven this for centuries. The Germans and Mongols did not succeed until they turned their warriors bands into soldiers and armies. There are exceptions like Afghanistan for the last four thousand years, but over time soldiers trump warriors. Why is this so and why is it to inappropriate to call athlete’s warriors?

Let’s start with the difference between warriors and soldiers. As the word hints, warriors make war. Warriors specialize in mayhem. The word derives from deep Germanic roots meaning to confuse or disrupt. Warrior cultures are based upon honor and individuality. The warriors, like the early Greek warriors before the Greeks invented the phalanx and hoplites, glorified great individuals like Achilles or Ajax. The Viking Sagas or even the great Sumerian epics reflect the same world. Great and magnificent individuals dominate their world by beating every other individual in combat.

The world of warriors remained resolutely zero-sum. My honor depended upon your dishonor. Duels and conflicts pervaded the touchy world of warriors who often had their own warrior class. Warriors live together in wary disharmony always prickly about being “diss’d” and picking fights. Honor could be gained by beating others but it could all be lost in one battle. Warrior cultures were driven by glory to win and despair at the costs of losing.

To quote Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Warriors do not make good team players. Viking bands regularly broke up over squabbles among warriors. The great Celtic sagas depict a world of endless feuds. In the classic story of Greek warrior society the ship Argos starts out on a trip to find the Golden Fleece. The expedition represents the greatest collection of warriors in Greece. Yet squabbles, defections and internal fights split the entire enterprise. They succeed not through warrior force but guile.

Most athletes do not function as warriors. Maybe some lonely long distance sports seem to be the metaphorical equivalent of warriors. Parallel sports like swimming, running or field sports feature athletes who must compete alone in linear competition suggest the lone individual quest. These parallel athletes, however, do not fight each other physically, but they do seek to surpass each other and win. Every event ends with a winner, and everyone else loses. Here sport resembles warrior culture contests.

But even here people may be kidding themselves. These individual athletes need trainers, supporters and competitors to practice against. In long distance running and cycling they need teammates to protect them, pace them and clear the way as Lance Armstrong repeatedly demonstrated in Tour de France.

 If you want to build a mission driven team, do not cultivate warriors driven by their own desire to collect honor and glory for themselves. Cultivate the soldier.

The origin of the word tells us everything. Warriors war; they celebrate individuals, berserkers, rogues and heroic individual quests. Soldier comes from the Latin word solidus—solid, firm, strong and forged. In the middle ages soldier meant people who got paid to fight. The pay suggested that they devoted time and energy and become professionals.

More importantly soldiers fought as part of an army, as members of a unit. From time immemorial leaders speak as does the Art of War of the “spirit” or “morale” or “unit cohesion” of soldiers. We know that troops on the field seldom fight for glory, but for each other. They overcome fear and pain together. They stay disciplined under stress. They execute with discipline and precision, they follow orders and plans and have planned for contingencies.
Soldiers like athletes on teams unite in a mission. The mission may be to win a game, to excel at what they are doing or to win a championship. Like soldiers these athletes fight one game, one day, one battle at a time. They learn under pressure and above all they fight as a unit and win or lose as a unit.

Soldiers exhibit patience. They may stand around and wait, but they train, practice and work with each other. They live under authority, and they rely upon each other. If one fails, the others stand endangered.
Soldiers unlike glory seeking warriors coordinate with each other. They share loss and pain and glory. They help each other up when down and buoy each other when up.

Being a soldier grows from a form of selflessness that begins with the willingness to learn skills and to get better. It grows into unit cohesion and loyalty where individual skills mesh so that the unit or team can accomplish more than a single warrior. Every soldier fears the selfish glory-seeking individual who prides him or herself on being a warrior. They endanger the group and team. Warriors cannot be relied upon in crunch time because they care more about their own glory and reputation than the team’s success.

People do not warrior on, they soldier on.

If we must speak of athletes in military terms, let’s get it right, soldiers not warriors.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Soccer Scandals and Moral Costs of Throwing a Game

Europeans are gathering around the launch of a new cup sequence. The first qualifiers are about to be played for the World Cup and the world's eyes slowly turn to soccer. The upcoming Olympics will cross our eyes for awhile, but the focus of several billion human beings will turn to soccer over the next eighteen months. The dominance, power and beauty of soccer reminds us that it is by far the world's favorite sport to play and watch. Yet it has been bedeviled for decades by vast schemes of corruption and thrown games. I would like to discuss the moral costs of throwing a game in soccer or any sport.

A recent article in ESPN The Magazine (5/28/12, pp. 78-84) traces the immense scope of the corruption and game fixing that permeates the sport. The sheer dimensions and sprawl of the sport make it almost impossible to control.  Over 10,000 teams, 280,000 players coupled with referees and officials spawn a complex of almost 400,000 people plus 108 seldom solvent national federations.

Skilled fixers can gain entry to the game at almost any spot. The entire world of fixing games has been turbo-charged by huge Asian gambling syndicates that can target any game in the world and through on line computer gaming place immense numbers of small bets to generate staggering sums of return on isolated or under-regulated games. The new betting sequences resemble the micro-trading techniques of Wall Street with very large numbers of small bets being place in very short time periods of relatively unseen activities. The profits return fast and opaque.

Often these involve bribing players to "throw games," at other times they subvert referees who are paid minimum stipends and, like low level players, cannot make a living at their jobs. It does not take much to throw a game in a small low level league in Uruguay or Belarus.

I want to isolate the moral costs of such fixing and scandals to the core of sports and why players play and people passionately follow and care. The costs not only involve the immediate loss, but a deeper loss of credibility to the beauty and moral core of why humans take sports so seriously.

All this came to the fore two years ago at  huge European soccer scandal. The scandal involved immense and systematic subversion of hundreds of games across Europe by a wide variety of means, but mainly by bribing players to underplay and throw the game to meet a spread. The scandal was supported by a syndicate but now almost seems quaint compared to the web-driven on line gambling operations of the Asian dealers. The scandal involved not just players but coaches and in some accounts, doctors, trainers or hotels who gave sedatives to players to incapacitate them or subvert their skills during a game. Many of the games occurred at the lower levels of European soccer  involving East European teams like the Albanian club in the picture. This focus upon less visible games is not unusual for gambling corruption. The teams are often underpaid and avoid the spotlight of big name events. The entire Chinese soccer system has collapsed under the weight of incessant scandals involving not only corrupt referees but also players who throw the games.

What are the true moral costs of athletics of these scandals and why are they so profoundly wrong?

Sports is a game. We forget this at a our peril. Games depend upon rules. Without rules that define goals, outcomes, correct behavior and success or failure, the activity collapses into anarchy like medieval village "games." The skills, competition and assessment would be meaningless. Because they are games, sports remain incredibly vulnerable to subversion. The whole moral edifice can easily crumble.

The point of the game is to excel and win. The point of any sport is that when it starts, the outcome is uncertain, no one knows what can happen. True sport is unscripted  and that drives the moral vision of committing and excelling in competition. Scripted competition is not competition and not sport; sport thrives on uncertainty and effort and performance in the moment.

Gambling drives to win money on teams that win or lose against the odds or beat point spreads. Gambling involves "games of chance," but cheating at gambling turns the chance into certainty. Gambling motivated sports cheating  turns the uncertainty of active competition into a certainty based upon players deciding not to play up to their full potential in order to make money from the gamblers who have far more to make or lose on the game than any one player. Players can underplay or referees can call phantom fouls that disqualify players or set up high probability scoring situations. Either way, the competition is rigged and no longer becomes competition because uncertainty has gone. Skill, work and luck no longer determine the outcome; gamblers setting spreads five thousand miles away do.

The corruption of referees destroys the games logic and structure. The rules mean nothing unless they are interpreted fairly and transparently. This depends upon the referees. Players contribute to play because they believe they have a fair chance to compete under the rules. Once the rules are twisted by referees who have determined who they want to win and how, the game becomes meaningless. It has no meaning because it has lost its moral structure which depends upon rules and the rules depend upon transparent and consistent interpretation. The corruption of referees means the games need not even be played. The ESPN article actually documents phantom games that are set up, bet upon and never played--the logical conclusion of fixed games.

Throwing a game involves a more complex moral phenomenon for the athlete. Throwing a game violates the core integrity of athletic competition. The moral algorithm of integrity in sports might look something like this:


Gamblers persuading players to throw a game attack all three dimensions of athletic integrity. The insidious aspect of throwing a game arises not when a player must change the win/lose outcome but rather has to act to keep in the point spread. A player can rationalize this by saying "I'm not losing the game, we're still going to win, I'm just keeping the score close or within the spread." This hides the true moral cost from the player because the team still wins.

First the player must rein in or distort their skill. They must miss passes they normally would make or miss a header they would normally connect with. Second, they give less then what is required or a situation. A true athlete exists as totally present to the situation and commits their mind, perception and body to what is called forth. But holding back effort might mean a player gets by a defender or a player loses a scrum for a ball. Either way, they pull back from what is required of their effort. Third, in the most torturous situation, a player must subvert their judgment to make bad decisions. This is actually harder than it seems because it assumes the player knows what to do and all their training, pattern recognition and primed behavior push them in that direction. The player must instead make a bad decision, knowing what a good one is, and yet make it seem as if this was their natural primed decision.

In throwing a game a player betrays him or herself and violates their relation to their identity as an athlete. The athlete chooses to not play up to their maximum skill during a competition. The athlete chooses to sacrifice her or his exquisite judgment in a complex instant and decide badly, knowing it is a bad decision--this is not a mistake, it is sabotage.

The most difficult to ferret out is when the athlete "dogs" it and does not give their full effort or concentration. Even if skilled and judging well, they mar their actions with less effort bringing down their level of expected excellence. The athlete violates their promises to their teammates to give all their energy and focus to achieve a common goal. The athlete violates their relation to their fans by not providing the fullest commitment to perform before them or to achieve on their behalf when they have paid money or invested time and attention to the team and player. At the end the athlete is no longer the same person they were before they cheat, they cheapen their personhood.

Throwing a game also violates their relation to the integrity of the game to which they have devoted their lives and breaches their relation to their teammates. Each teammate depends upon the focused and energetic skill of their fellow members. If one player fails, even in minute ways, this ripples out and distorts the play of everyone else. Players bond as a team committed to a common goal of excellent performance and winning. They implicitly rely upon finely tuned responses to each others skill and rhythm. These goals enable players to overcome their egos and differences to cooperate and sacrifice together. Maximum team play hinges on mutual trust; once gone or even eroded by suspicion, effective performance corrodes.

Finally throwing a game disregards faith with the spectators and fans who invest money, time and emotional loyalty in following the team. These persons (for good or ill) commit to the team and follow its members and stake emotional and intellectual energy on them. I'm not even talking about how players throw over their promises to owners when they accept the owner's pay to act with  skill, effort and judgment. Ironically gamblers sever any relation to teams because they only care about the spread or win/loss, not the quality of play or their own loyalties.

Gambling seeks certainty for gain using  money to distort the play and change the odds of an outcome. Sport competitions are not games of chance. They are athletic competitions decided by human beings exercising skill, effort and judgment under intense competitive conditions against players and environments. Skill, force, effort, coordination, judgment and, yes, chance all play roles in the outcomes. Gamblers can figure out probabilities based upon differential information, but their probabilities of chance fundamentally differ fundamentally from the real life probabilities players deploy.

Throwing a game corrupts the moral core of sports integrity. This moral perversion eliminates the point of the game.