January 11, 2007
HALIFAX -- A scandal is brewing in HURL Winter League.
Allegations have surfaced this week of improprieties in the reporting of the final score of Saturday's game between Ocho-Cinco and Booyakasha!. The league's official website awards Ocho-Cinco a 35-32 victory but at least two players from Booyakasha! have come forward claiming that the true margin was just two points.
Todd MacAulay, a veteran handler for Booyakasha!, says he clearly remembers "beating the spread". Hold on a minute. Beating the spread?
HURL fans and players may not have been familiar with the underground bookmaking operation known as Stardust-Beasy before this week, but as the dust settles on this episode they may learn more than they wished to know about the seedy underbelly of the league and its shadier affiliates.
It seems that betting lines have been available from Stardust-Beasy for HURL league games for the past three weeks. An unnamed source claims to have knowledge of players and league officials alike placing large bets on certain key matchups.
So what's the significance of the two- or three-point margin from the Ocho-Cinco - Booyakasha! game? The line for the game happened to be -2.5, with Ocho-Cinco as the favourite. That means that any bets placed on Ocho-Cinco were bets that they would win the game by three or more points, known as "covering the spread". A victory by only two points could have resulted in serious losses for gamblers who selected Ocho-Cinco.
How could something as transparent as the score of the game be called into question? If the score has been falsified it would have required the cooperation of at least the team captains and the league convenor.
All league officials approached have been quite closed-mouthed on the topic, saying only that scores as they appear on the website are official. Unless a whistle-blower comes forward naming names there is very little anyone can do to get to the bottom of the matter.
In other action on Saturday, okayplayers found themselves staring at a tough opponent in the 0-4 Just Terrible squad. Fortunately, they were able to pick up one-time Furious George member Chris Dabrowski minutes before the game. Dabrowski, who is best known for a 2004 incident in which he burned down an apartment house and then successfully sued the landlord for damages, led okayplayers to a 39-21 thrashing of Just Terrible. There was a bright spot for Just Terrible -- they did have their first lead of the season, when okayplayers were penalized 5 points for the last-minute pick-up.
League play resumes at Stadacona on Saturday, January 13.