CNN – ESPN book debates a century of sports

EDT (1808 GMT)

By Jamie Allen

CNN Interactive Senior Writer

(CNN) — The sport of watching sports, for those who don’t know much about sports, is really the debate of it all. He realizes that his picks might not top the ultimate ESPN list — Jackson is not even offered in the network’s Top 20 — but he thinks he used a different scale to appraise athletes.

”I did not choose necessarily on the basis of significance,” says Schaap. They changed the face of sports. Couch potatoes and bar patrons tuning in to the latest televised contest inevitably battle it out over who is the greatest boxer, the greatest baseball team, the greatest golfer or the greatest quarterback.

And then there’s the ultimate debate: Who is the greatest athlete of all time?

Trying to compare competitors from different athletic endeavors — Muhammad Ali and Jim Thorpe, Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth, Bo Jackson and, uh, Bo Jackson — proves a nearly impossible task.

”If you have a vote for the most significant athlete, then you have Ali, then you have Babe Ruth, then you have Michael Jordan. Unitas sort of represented that.”

’Who would win most?’

So, who did Schaap vote as his greatest athlete ever? Let the debate begin. But I voted purely on what I considered to be athletic ability, and if I had anything in the back of my mind it was, ‘If you put these guys on a field and they played each other in 20 sports, who would win the most?’ I think Jim Brown would win the most, and I think Chamberlain would be awfully close.”

’I love the controversy of it’

The ESPN pick that caused the biggest grumble from sports fans was No. The athlete ranked in that spot: Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner. “People came out of the war years with great hope and great faith in the future. Even if I didn’t think he should be up that high, I like the controversy it created.”

But Schaap points out that the list has another source of contention.

”We are limiting it to North Americans,” he says. The compendium, published by Hyperion, features recollections on the sports century that was by top writers and sportscasters, including Dick Schaap, Joyce Carol Oates, Chris Berman, David Halberstam, Roy Blount Jr., and Thomas Boswell.

The book is divided into decades, with at least one athlete highlighted as the defining athlete of that time period. It seems some thought the list should only list human athletes.

”I think anybody is entitled to vote for whomever they want, and I think Secretariat does qualify as an athlete,” says Schaap. 35. So far, they’ve reached No. “If you have a vote for the most significant athlete, then you have Ali, then you have Babe Ruth, then you have Michael Jordan. Fighter Jack Johnson, for instance, represents the 1900s; basketball star Michael Jordan defines the 1990s.

In decades between, readers will find lengthy pieces on Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, Joe Louis and Babe Didrikson, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, Johnny Unitas, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, and Pete Rose.

”I think it’s a labor of love for everybody who was involved with it,” says Schaap, the author of several sports books, the former editor of Sports Magazine and current host of ESPN’s “Sports Reporters.” Schaap, who praised ESPN’s Mark Shapiro for organizing the book, writes about Unitas. 14; the top athlete remains a mystery, though the list has been narrowed to a chosen few.

And to compliment the show, the sports network that started in 1979 has released a new book by the same title. “(But) I wouldn’t have voted him very high. news

October 25, 1999

Web posted at: 2:08 p.m. They changed the face of sports.”

– sportswriter Dick Schaap

But as any sports fan knows, ESPN has been trying to do just that with its ongoing series, “ESPN SportsCentury.” The network, using the opinions of sports reporters, authors, academics and observers, is counting down its top 100 athletes of all time. Schaap says the former Baltimore Colts quarterback, like many athletes, has become a symbol of the era in which he played.

”I always thought of him as a stoic, solid person, that I think was typical of that era of the 1950s,” says Schaap.

”My top three were Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain and Bo Jackson,” says Schaap. “We don’t have Pele in there. My complaint was that he only played one sport.

”I also love the controversy of it. So we missed Pele, but we had Secretariat.”

And the debates continue.

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Check out the latest sports on CNNSI.com RELATED SITE: ESPN.com SportsCentury

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External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

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CNN.com

How the Sports Betting Line is Made by RJ Bell

If an oddsmaker comes up with a preliminary line of USC -7, then an adjustment up to -7.5 or -8 would be made in response to the public’s expected USC bias. Power ratings are the oddsmaker’s value of each team and are used as a guide to calculate a “preliminary” pointspread on an upcoming game.

A round-table discussion among the 4-5 oddsmakers involved in making the line for each sport is then conducted and a consensus line is decided upon by the Odds Director before it is released to the sportsbooks. We do this by drawing from past experiences and applying them to current situations.

Once a game’s power rating based pointspread is determined, the oddsmaker will make adjustments to that line after considering each team’s most recent games played and previous games played against that opponent. In doing so they attempt to make more attractive the team that is getting less action.

“The main objective is that our clients get equal action on both sides,” Seba said. Each of these oddsmakers bring unique opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the process. Examples of non-game factors that would require an adjustment to a team’s power rating are key player injuries and player trades.

How the Opening Line Is Made

Once the opening line is released by LVSC, the individual sportsbooks decide if they want to make any adjustments before offering it to the public. People think it’s much more complicated, but it’s not.”

Since the oddsmaker’s ultimate goal is equally dividing the betting action, public perception and betting patterns must be taken into account. That is not the case at all – their intent is NOT to evenly split the ATS result between the teams; rather, their goal is to attract equal betting action on both sides. .

Las Vegas Sports Consultants (LVSC) is the world’s premier oddsmaking company and the most respected authority on making the lines.

For example, if the pointspread on a game is 7 and most of the money is coming in on the underdog (taking the +7), sportsbooks will then move the number down to 6 ½ to try and attract money on the favorite.

The opening line is the first line created by the oddsmakers, which is then sent out to sportsbooks. The power ratings are adjusted after each game a team plays. Mike Seba is a Senior Oddsmaker at LVSC and has been making lines for the last six years. This usually includes having up-to-date power ratings on each team. By moving the line, sportsbooks can influence how the public bets on a particular game. Stated another way, they want to create a line that half the people find appealing to bet one way while the other half find it appealing to bet the other way (known as ‘dividing the action’).

RJ Bell

©Pregame.com 2006

Website: http://www.Pregame.com

Why the Line Changes

“You either have a passion for it or you don’t,” Seba said. Of the 4-5 oddsmakers, generally the 2 most respected opinions are weighed more heavily by the Odds Director before he decides on the final line. For example, the public might have heavy betting interest week after week on a popular college football team such as USC. “We’re not trying to pick the team that covers the spread, we’re trying to make it a coin flip, a tough decision (for the bettor). Also, adjustments are made after reading each team’s local newspapers to get a sense of what the coaches & players are thinking going into the game. If we’ve done that, we’ve done our job.”

Oddsmakers can also change the line depending on various event-related factors such as player injuries or weather. In our extended interview, Seba explained that there are 4-5 oddsmakers assigned to make lines for each of the major sports (pro & college football and basketball; MLB, NHL, boxing, golf). Oddsmakers have to determine if any changes are necessary and send out an “adjusted line.”

There is a common misconception that point spreads represent the oddsmakers’ prediction of how many points the favorite will win by. Seba explained that it all starts with each oddsmaker creating a line on each game based upon their own personal approach. Of course there is an entire method to the madness on how the opening line is created.

Once betting begins, sportsbooks can adjust the line at any time.

Moving the line is the oddsmaker’s effort to balance betting action, and often times such moves can have a major impact on a bettor’s decision.

What Is the Line Trying to Accomplish?

Experts working for the individual books having a strong opinion on the game

Individual books having players who consistently bet with certain tendencies (such as an extreme bias toward favorites or toward a certain popular team like USC)

“The #1 thing for us is to make a line for each game that creates good two-way action.

Divided action means the sportsbook is guaranteed a profit on the game because of the fee charged to the bettor (called juice or vig – typically $11 bet to win $10). Reasons for such adjustments include:

Oddsmakers at LVSC are professional sports junkies who love what they do and would probably do it for nothing if you asked them, but they do get paid for it. Obviously, if the line comes out a week ahead of the event (which is the case in football), there is much that could happen during the week leading up to the event that could affect the line. By necessity their approach is very research-oriented and concise, since with millions of dollars at risk there is little margin for error.

The purpose of these adjustments, like all line adjustments, is to more equally divide the betting action.

Contributed by:

The last step in the line-making process for each oddsmaker is taking one final look to determine whether or not the line “feels right.” This is where common sense and past experience with how games are bet enters into the picture

Vegas bookmakers want Broncos to cover Super Bowl spread | Reuters

“If it continues to pace the way it’s pacing we’re going to be massive Broncos fans. We’re going to want the favourite-to-win-but-not-cover scenario,” Jay Rood, vice president of the race and sports book at MGM Resorts, told Reuters.

While billions will be wagered on the Super Bowl, only a portion of the funds will be devoted to the actual winner.

The American Gaming Association said it expects Americans to bet $4.2 billion on the Super Bowl, up 8 percent from last year. Nearly 97 percent of those bets, or $4.1 billion, will be wagered illegally, according to the AGA.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Keating)

Carolina, appearing in only their second Super Bowl, will be relying heavily on the NFL’s highest-scoring offense led by Cam Newton in their quest for a maiden title.

MGM Resorts International, which operates 10 sports book on the Las Vegas Strip, expect most bets to come during the final 24 hours before kickoff but admitted a trend is in place.

Among some of the more unique proposition bets are whether there will be an earthquake during the game in Santa Clara, California, and whether the total points scored by the victor will be higher or lower than U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s percentage points in next week’s New Hampshire primary.

Denver, who have 39-year-old future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning at the helm of their offense, are seeking a third title in their record-equaling eighth Super Bowl appearance.

Las Vegas casinos aren’t against Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning winning a Super Bowl in what is likely his final game but prefer the Carolina Panthers deny him a fairytale finish without covering the spread.

If top-seeded Carolina win the National Football League’s title game on Sunday and cover the 5-1/2 point spread it will be much less favorable for the house than if Denver were to lose the game and stay within the spread.

Aside from more traditional bets, gamblers can take a chance at proposition bets, like deciding which team will score first and what color liquid will be poured on the winning coach.

Sports bettors wagered $116 million in Nevada on last year’s Super Bowl, down 2.8 percent from the record $119.4 million spent the previous year when the Seattle Seahawks routed Denver.

“A Broncos win wouldn’t be disastrous, but it wouldn’t be the best-case scenario for us.”