Professional sport has become a lucrative career nowadays with increased television coverage around the world and the creation of the franchise structure in case of team-oriented competitions. Established business houses are also pouring in money in individualized games such as tennis and there is a lot of extra incentive to be had from winning in terms of cash rewards, sponsorships and financial allotments from the governing bodies of the games. Even mere participation can get you a decent amount of money. However, winning is still the biggest thrill for any athlete who really believes in him or herself and wants to move beyond mere success and create a permanent name for oneself in history and in the hearts of the people who follow the game.
The problem that is fixing!
However, modern sport is also plagued by an undesirable phenomenon named sport fixing which involves determining either the entire encounter or certain parts of the same. Indian cricket fans will be able to relate to the recent spot fixing saga that rocked the national cricketing firmament a few weeks ago – a fire that was only doused after the national team managed to win the Champions Trophy. The inevitable question is how does that happen?
Are betting and fixing the same?
The main reason behind this is a game, or a practice, called gambling or betting. Now most people have a misconception regarding betting and equate it with fixing. In countries where betting is legalized people place bets on the possibility of the outcome of a sporting encounter and either get or lose money based on the same. The rates are decided by people who run the betting organization. Here, it is purely luck and the legalized nature ensures that anyone can participate in it. However, the scenario is hugely different in countries like India where it is not authorized.
The Indian question
In India too betting happens on a wide scale but in a covert way – quite often we read reports of people being arrested at so and so place with an ‘x’ amount of money that was being used for gambling. And I am sure you have noticed that most of it happens on match days of the national team or the local IPL franchise. Here it is a high stakes game and everybody wants to win. The problems arise with rich people who take part in the betting and are in a position to influence ones who are not getting regular opportunity in their teams so that they are able to win the bets that they are placing. Perhaps more than money it is a prestige thing for them, a question of satiating one’s ego.
Sometimes these influential people are able to do it and sometimes the players are strong enough to rebuff their advances. This problem is found in other countries of the Indian subcontinent such as Pakistan and Bangladesh where several incidents of match fixing have been seen with players of the caliber of Danish Kaneria, Mohammed Amir, Mohammed Asif, Salman Butt and Mohammed Ashraful.
Betting in international sports
However, it will be wrong to think that such a depressing malaise is limited only to the Indian subcontinent as there have been instances of cricketers like Marlon Samuels and, previously, Shane Warne and Mark Waugh who have had contacts with bookies and either faced a lot of flak in the media or lost years in their careers.
Then there is the case of Lance Armstrong who had taken to doping to give himself an unfair advantage over other competitors in the Tour de France for several years. Doping too can be regarded as an attempt at fixing. Here is an infographic on pro sport fixing that will help you understand the nuances of the various ways and instances of match fixing around the world in various sports over the years.