Shumpty’s Punt: Tuesday Tempter

There is so much sport on at the moment it is difficult to keep track of it all. Here is a short multi that I am pretty confident about today coming out of America.

Leg 1: Boston Red Sox to cover the line (-1.5 runs) against the Texas Rangers in the MLB.

Leg 2: Kansas City Royals to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB.

Leg 3: Minnesota Wild to defeat the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL.

Leg 4: Anaheim Ducks to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL.

Leg 5: Kentucky to defeat U Conn in the NCAA Mens Tournament Championship Game by 10 points or less.

This multi should pay around the $40 mark.

As always: all care is taken with this tip but no responsibility for losses is given.

Shumpty’s Punt: Saturday Multi

It is Saturday and that means one thing: sport!

Here is a four leg multi that I am feeling very confident about:

Leg 1: Fiorente to win the BMW Stakes at Rosehill.

Leg 2: Northern Pride to cover the line (-2.0 points) against Norths Devils in the Intrust Super Cup.

Leg 3: Canberra Raiders to cover the line (+5.5 points) against Penrith Panthers in the NRL.

Leg 4: Queensland Reds to cover the line (-7.0 points) against the Western Force in Super Rugby.

This multi will pay around the $25 mark.

As always:

  • Please gamble responsibly.
  • All care is taken with these tips but no responsibility for your wager or losses.

Sport: Crowds are down … time to look at the customer experience?

I have read much in the press of late lamenting the reduction in crowd numbers, particularly at NRL games, at live sporting events around the country at the moment.

Isn’t the problem blindingly obvious? It simply costs too much money go to too much live sport at the moment. The times we live in are tough and that has lead to a reduction in discretionary spending. Attending sports events are a discretionary spend that are a road to far for many.

Therefore: is the answer simply to reduce the price of the ticket into the ground?

I think that the ticket into the ground needs to be pitched at a level that is reasonable rather than exorbitant. Equally, as a member of the Reds, I know that I am fairly comfortable with the fees I have paid for two tickets for the season.

What I can imagine creates more stress for those on a budget is the cost of food and beverage in the stadiums. Surely that is a key area that those running the game, or is it those running the stadiums, need to look at. When the food in the stadium costs, on my rough numbers, at least double what it would outside of the stadium it is nothing short of a rip off.

Now some will say here: take your own bag of food into the ground. Frankly, I can not think of anything worse than lugging a back pack of tucker into the ground and then home again.

Even if the prices were reasonable, I still think the experience of the punter at the game also needs to be looked. Customer service is a lost art but getting service staff that know how to actually pour a beer or who are not surly (my sample size in the last 12 months consists of at least 20 live sports events and I have never struck a happy food and beverage server) would help that experience. Reducing the number of advertisements and senseless gimmicks, which do nothing other than irritate the fans (and if anything make one less likely to buy a product) would also enhance this experience.

I love sport and love watching it live. That being the case I am oft prepared to look past a rubbish customer experience to watch the sports that I love. I wonder though if a part of the reason for the reduction in crowd numbers has something to do with the codes failure to garner repeat business? Is the customer experience at a weekend sporting event costing the codes the return of new fans the next time a game is to be staged?

Take Saturday night’s Reds fixture: would you be rushing back next week if the game against the Stormers was your first experience of a rugby game? The game was exciting sure but if you had spend $35 for the privilege to get in the ground, $60 on food and beverage (a couple of beers, a pie, a bottle of water and a magnum), faced ordinary service staff and had to listen to the banality of the “on field compare” go through his tired routine would you come back or simply tune your TV to Foxsports 2 next Saturday night?

All of the codes need to look at the customer experiences they offer and improve them. Price, service and entertainment all need to be considered. The diehards are not leaving the games that they love, they will always attend the games: it is the repeat business from newcomers that is going to change the tide of negative crowd numbers.

Sport and Star Wars: a search for meaning

I posted this morning a quote from Star Wars having spent my night last night watching the Star Wars trilogy (sidebar here: I do not believe there are any Star Wars movies other than the original trilogy worth my watching and thus I have never watched the other movies in the franchise BUT I digress). That quote is from The Empire Strikes Back and Yoda and was:

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.”

I have reflected on that quote a bit this morning since posting and, indeed, have reflected on the rest of my long weekend, aside from the Star Wars festival. It has been a weekend, for me, of sport and social media with a bit of yard work and writing thrown in for good measure.

My reflections have lead me to the view that there is much to be said for the application of Yoda’s quote across more than the Star Wars universe and the life of Luke Skywalker. Well much to be said, with an amendment.

This weekend we have seen: the Wallabies remove the shackles of doubt with a barnstorming performance in Rosario against Argentina, the International loose for the fifth successive time to the United States in the Presidents, the Pittsburgh Pirates leading in the NCLS against the St Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs move to a 5-0 record after a season worst 2-14 season in 2013 (among other sporting results).

Now in each context it is impossible to say that none of these teams and their respective staffs have been free of mistakes. However, what it is possible to say, is that, in each context, the particular team in question has either thrived upon making a change or have continued to flounder because of the failure to do so.

The story of the Kansas City Chiefs this season is particularly instructive. Before the season started the team changed its head coach, its general manager and its quarterback. That aside it made limited changes to its line up. A change in attitude and a change in style of play has been made by the coach and quarterback and, with essentially everything else the same as last year, the team has thrived. Indeed, they are now playing the game at a different level.

The story of the Pittsburgh Pirates from the MLB is the similarly as instructive (an nothing short of inspiring). After 21 seasons out of the post season (the worst record in all of the sports combined in the US) and a similar span of losing seasons until last season, behind a new manager in Clint Hurdle and off the back of some great roster moves they are the story of Major League Baseball this season. Their fans have returned to their games and they are now one game around to the second phase of the MLB finals. Again: they have made some changes in management and staff but a largely the same team that 3 years ago had, almost, the worst record in the National League.

All of this leads me to a surprising point: I think Yoda is wrong. Sorry: scratch that … I think the message that Yoda has in the quote above is spot on so long as the ideology of not making mistakes is removed. To me, to play a game and, for that matter, to live life without mistake is not possible. Indeed the biggest mistake I would think one could make would be to consider oneself to be wholly without error.

That being the case, I think the quote is better phrased thusly:

“If losing you are … a different game you should play”

The Chiefs and the Pirates were losing, indeed they were losing badly, so they took steps to play the game differently by making staff changes and the results are there for all to see.

So where does that lead us? It is all well and good for me to spruik sporting examples to back a theory but is said theory equally as applicable in life? That has been a large part of my ponderance today. I know in my own life I have been crippled at time by the fear of failure and change where change presented itself. It is trite to say (but also a truism) that my life would be different now if I had have made changes earlier in my life when I was living a life riddled with mistakes.

Life is fundamentally about learning from ones mistakes. It strikes me that the biggest mistake one can make is not making changes when one is, metaphorically, losing. That failure to act though comes mostly from fear of change doesn’t it? Therein lies the conundrum of making changes.

I wish I had have made changes in my life earlier but did not out of fear. I hope I have learned from that mistake so that the next time I am, metaphorically, losing in the game of life I can recognise that I need to play a different game to succeed. The question I have is: will you?

Shumpty’s Punt: Horseracing and Sports Multi

It is the social club race day at my firm on the weekend and whilst I am not going (I prefer to punt alone) I have run my eye over the form for each race at Eagle Farm. I also have a sports multi that I am feeling very confident about.

Horse Racing (all Eagle Farm this weekend):

Race 1 Number 3 Playitstraight (e/w) (fixed price seems a bit short at the moment so go with the tote)

Race 2 Number 3 Write Cheek (win) ($4.00 fixed)

Race 3 Number 4 Borehole (e/w) ($7.00 / $2.40 fixed)

Race 4 Number 2 Essington (e/w) ($7.00 / $2.30 fixed)

Race 5 Number 8 Shazzle Pazzle (win) ($3.80 fixed)

Race 6 Number 3 Theft (win) ($5.00 fixed)

Race 7 Number 4 Prussian Heart (e/w) ($6.50 / $2.40 fixed)

Race 8 Number 7 Just A Perla (e/w) ($12.00 / $3.70 fixed)

Sports Multi:

Leg 1: Otago to cover the line (-7.5 points) against Manawatu in the ITM Cup ($1.90)

Leg 2: Melbourne Storm to cover the line (-8.0 points) against the Newcastle Knights in the NRL ($1.94)

Leg 3: In the Freemantle Dockers v Sydney Swans AFL semi final the total match score to be less than 157.5 points ($1.88)

Leg 4: San Francisco 49ers to cover the line (-10.0 points) against against the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL ($2.01)

This multi will pay $13.92 and I am investing $40.

As always:

· All care and no responsibility is taken with these tips.

· Please gamble responsibly.

· Prices are current as at 7am this morning via sportsbet.com.au

Have a great weekend!

Sports Gambling and its regulation: the greater good or should the cash be spent elsewhere?

Today, Australia’s Prime Minister, announced a program of reform that purports to ban the advertisement of live odds during sporting telecasts. For those who have not followed the news on this the key aspects of the proposal announced today are:

* A new code will be developed collectively by the government, TV, radio and internet broadcasters that will outline the terms of the “ban” and how, if at all, gambling will be advertised during sporting telecasts.

* As noted in the preamble, the advertisement of live odds will be banned as part of the code proposed.

* Gambling will still be allowed to advertised under the code but will be restricted to breaks in play only.

* Bookmakers will not be allowed to be a part of the telecast of sporting events.

* If the TV, radio and internet broadcasters do not agree to this voluntarily the Prime Minister will seek to fast track legislation bring in the code before the election in September.

To quote Ms Gillard (as reported in the Daily Telegraph):

“Families are sick of gambling getting in the way of the game, that’s why we are acting to get live odds off our screens during all sports broadcasts. Enough is enough. Now we are acting to ensure our kids are talking about who is the best team, not who is the best bet.”

I have two very conflicting views about the introduction of the code / legislation introduced today. Funnily enough though a consideration of both of these views lead me to the same place: that the ban proposed is a monumental waste of money that could be used better for the education of those most at risk to gambling and the addiction that surrounds it.

Let me be upfront here: I have two internet betting accounts albeit both never have a balance of more than $50. I am not a customer of all internet gambling sites but I do read material that is posted on said sites from time to time. I have never placed a “live bet” because nothing frustrates me more than having to make a phone call whilst I am watching sport.

Let me also be clear: I am in no way seeking to diminish the seriousness of gambling addiction or its effects. As a sufferer of addictions, albeit not gambling, I have nothing but the utmost sympathy from those who struggle every minute of every day with the urge to gamble and those who are impacted adversely by gambling in all of its forms.

That said, why do I believe that what was announced today is a waste of money better spent on education? As I note above my reasons are two fold and, of themselves, diametrically opposed:

1. Part of my objection to that which has been proposed today is the intrusion it creates into the individual’s right to choose whether they view advertisements about internet gambling and then act on them. The impingement of that personal right and, by extension, the impingement on the business of the gambling houses is virtually guaranteed in my view to lead to litigation and, if the efforts of the tobacco lobby and companies is anything to go by, the new code or legislation to implement it will be mired in litigation for years to come. Such litigation could range from a constitutional challenge to the validity of any legislation introduced through to, arguably, a tortious claim under the little used tort of interference with contract (the government is, arguably, interfering with the contracts each of the betting houses has with a TV network for example by introducing this code and the betting house could suffer damage as a result). Where does that leave us? With a code or piece of legislation that is the subject of possible repeal and lawyers earning millions of dollars to either keep the legislation in place or to set it aside. That is not to mention the very real prospect of a repeal or change in policy that is likely to arise when the Abbott government comes in.

2. The other part of my objection is directly the opposite to an argument relating to personal freedom and ability to choose. It is simply that if the government is hell bent on the regulation of the advertisement of internet gambling during sporting contests why is it not going further? Does not allowing advertisement of gambling services before, during the breaks of and after games mitigate against the gains made by banning the live odds component of such gambling. Again, if the government wishes spend all of this money on a code / legislative instrument shouldn’t it go further to reduce the risk of children learning about gambling from television ads? The risk of litigation is still there of course but if the government is going to fight about something ought it not be fighting about a comprehensive ban based on its child protection imperative rather than a ban on one particular type of advertising that is not going to stop, at all, the prospect of children seeing ads about gambling rather it just changes the ads?

I know the weight of public opinion is against me here and it would appear that the government has listened to the “tribe” in the introduction of this proposed code / legislation. However, has the government really listened to those it is listening to? How many of those listened to object to the ad on the basis that they are irritating (there must be some … reread Gillard’s first sentence set out above if you need convincing)? Conversely, how many of those listened to object to the ads because of real and empirical evidence of the corruption of children of which Ms Gillard speaks (in the last sentence of the statement reproduced above)?

The argument that the ban is for the greater good does not wash with me: a ban for the greater good would be a ban of the type I note in the second part of my objection to the current proposal; viz, a complete ban of the style introduced relating to cigarette advertising. That is absolutely NOT what the government has proposed.

I give credit to the government for trying to tackle this issue head on but can not agree that this is the best way to go. The money that is going to be spent on this code / legislation could be used to fund a nation wide education program directed at both parents and children about gambling. Such a program could be in schools, could involve ads at the same time as those still being allowed under the code in any event and avoids the litigation risk of a ban on advertising.

One final point: the next time you are in the presence of a smoker aged in the 30 and older bracket ask this question … do you smoke because you saw an ad for Benson and Hedges cigarettes while watching the cricket with your Dad OR do you smoke because you Dad smoked while watching the cricket with you? I know that is a simplistic example but education starts at home so the other thing that obviously needs to occur is the taking of responsibility by parents for their own conduct whilst watching sporting telecasts with their children. It sounds simplistic but surely some responsibility rests with the holder of the remote control to turn of an offending telecast if they do not like the advertising on it! And, further, to not make a phone call to a gambling house whilst sitting on their lounge with their children watching Friday night football!

There are no perfect solutions to the problem of gambling addiction and, in particular, sports gambling. Again, I give credit where it is due for the attempt by the government but maintain that:

1. If the code / legislation is designed to stop children from watching ads about gambling during sport then it fails dismally because it does not ban all such ads.

2. The funds to be spent on the implementation and defence of this “partial” ban would clearly be better spent on the education of those most at risk.