I've just finish reading a provocative article in Runner's World on the subject of betting and road racing, specifically why no one bets money on the outcome of running races like they do for horse racing, boxing and that one really "important" football game that has all the great commercials.
You should read the article yourself but I will summarize what I feel are the main points both for and against betting on running:
- Gambling is a serious issue that many people struggle with. Providing but another area/activity for people to bet (and potentially lose) their money on is dangerous and (socially) irresponsible.
- Running, unlike other activities often associated with gambling, is more "pure" or righteous (or whatever you want to call it) and thus does not require gambling to keep its supporters/followers engaged (i.e. Running is above/better than that). As an example, this is why there isn't a culture around betting on the Olympics (although people certainly do).
- Athletes wouldn't benefit in any way and could potentially 'cheat' themselves and others by fixing the outcomes of the races they do.
- Betting on running could make the sport more popular and attract new supporters and followers who would suddenly become more engaged and invested to the sport if they waged/bet money on the outcomes.
- The increased popularity would also provide (desperately needed) increased media attention, broadcasting, and sponsorship dollars to the sport.
- The athletes could potentially benefit, not only from the increased attention/popularity of their sport, but through added sponsorship dollars, and bonuses/incentives for fast times/outcomes.
As for myself, I am strongly on the side of being For/Pro betting on running. I personally feel it would go a long way to increasing the overall profile and popularity of the sport I love. It would also bring some much needed attention and appreciation for the athletes who work tirelessly to be the best they can be. For this reason, I would hope/want any additional money/profits that are being made from this, to go directly to the athletes.
Ultimately, this idea that betting on races would be "good" for the sport of running is simply an attempt to make running, and racing, more popular among the general population. For this I won't hold my breath. Just this morning we had a discussion in the Canadian Running office on who would be best for an endorsement of our upcoming Race Guide. We all agreed that most people (runners even) would not know (or care) who Reid Coolsaet or Lanni Marchant were, but if Justin Bieber endorsed it, everyone would want to know what it was! Sad but true.
As an experiment, I want to try something in which I'll need to ask something of you.
As some of you may know, my #1 (running-related) goal this year is to run a sub 2:30 marathon. I plan to do this on 19 October at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (No, definitely NOT in Boston). In order to see how betting on running may or may not help the sport (and more importantly, me), I'd like to propose a wager, in which you will wage/bet money based on the outcomes of my race. All this money will then be donated directly to charity (the one(s) affiliated with the race). Everyone wins (potentially)!
Here are the terms of the wager. If you agree, you will donate:
- Begin by donating $23 if I run faster than 2:30:00.
- Add $3 for every 30 seconds I go under OR subtract $3 for each 30 seconds I run slower
- Subtract $1 for each Canadian male runner who places ahead of me (i.e. If I finish 10th, subtract $9)
- Add $5 if I run a PB (My current marathon PB is 2:34:13) OR subtract $5 if I don't
- Add $100 if I finish top 10 (overall)
- Add $10 if I finish top 10 (of Canadian male runners)
- Add $50 if I finish top 5 (Note: In 2013, a 2:30 would have placed 7th)
- Add $1000 if I finish first (Top Canadian) or $10,000 if I win overall (Hahaha)
- Add $5 if I finish top 5 in my age-group (M25-29)
- Add $5 if I run a negative or even split (i.e. I run faster in the second half than the first) OR subtract $5 if I run a positive split (i.e slow down).
If you'd like to participate in this charitable wager, please let me know via email or comment below. If you have any terms/conditions of your own, please let me know!
(Starting in the summer) I promise to blog regularly on my progress as far as training and running goes and will also aim to share some tips and advice. As for now, I will continue to train for Boston, where I plan to BB (i.e. A Boston best) which means running faster than 2:37:43. To do so, I plan to 'strategically' run the first half in 1:20 flat then speed up and run a negative, second-half split of 1:17:42 (or faster). Anyone want to bet on whether I actually to it?!