Gunter Kleist

Kyle Gagnon

As sports editor for Basement Medicine, I have been tasked with providing a sports column for our wonderful little paper. I am a huge sports fan. The sports I follow vary seasonally but also annually, with my attention on a sport shifting based on my temperament.
But, for the most part, my expertise lies in English soccer, both Premiership and Championship, and the NBA. I am also known to fall down the PGA Tour rabbit hole every 3-4 years depending on how well Louie Oosthuizen is playing.
The reason I love these particular sports is because they are super fun to gamble on. When asked who my favorite teams are, I’m always a little stumped. I no longer have favorite teams the way that I used to. Now, I have favorite teams to bet on or bet against. Teams who I deem, through a system based primarily on instinct, to have value because they are overrated or underrated.
I also miss living in Milwaukee a great deal, so go Bucks always.
There is a stigma attached to gambling. Rather, there is a stigma attached to gambling for entertainment. Nobody batted an eye at me paying $15k out of pocket to pursue a degree in writing that guarantees me absolutely nothing.
But, if I throw ten bucks on Crystal Palace to score twice in the first half, I almost always get the hairy eyeball, usually followed by a lecture about addiction.
I used to sell wine for a living. Alcohol is an addictive chemical that ruins lives. “I love Spanish reds and Italian whites. What varietal pairs well with Thai food?” These are the words of those who fear my responsible gambling hobby will grip my life and send me on a spiral.
I’ve never bet a penny that I can’t afford to lose, and my inner circle of fellow gambling friends can say the same. Most hobbyists pour money into their entertainment and never get a dime back. Meanwhile, the US Women’s soccer team paid my rent all summer of 2019, and I had an absolute blast watching them win another World Cup.
While I am painfully aware of the pitfalls of gambling and have watched from a distance as people lose their shirts at horse tracks, craps tables, and sportsbooks, that is not me, and that is not the large majority of gamblers.
I have had so many wonderful memories winning big bets with my friends. Gamblers love not just being right but putting their money where their mouth is — something the common New England sports fan doesn’t have the stomach for.
It has become second nature to roll my eyes when the gambling lecture begins. I have yet to be lectured by somebody who has fallen victim to gambling addiction themselves, and when I show these people my sportsbook account, they don’t comprehend a single piece of it.
Tell me, why do these elite money managers turn their nose up at me when they can’t even read odds and understand the beautiful game of weighing risk versus reward that we play every time we click “submit” on a bet?
Because they are cowards.
I couldn’t tell you the number of times I have been told to place a bet on something by somebody who has never (or ever will) placed a bet in their life. “It’s a lock. You gotta throw some cash on it.” No. You throw some cash on it. “Can’t, I don’t gamble. That’s dumb.”
I would like to add that if you play fantasy football or participate in a March Madness bracket, you are not a gambler. There is, however, a chance that you are my mom. Hi Mom.
It’s easy to say you’re a sports fan when there is nothing on the line. It’s easy to think you predict outcomes when nobody is keeping track. But, you can’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk. Bovada.lv has a minimum bet requirement of fifty cents, and still people will not place a bet because in their minds it would make them forever dirty.
Phooey I say.
I had a blast watching the New York Jets chase an over/under bet I placed on a Thursday night football game that no neutral non-gambler watched. Those ten dollars (that turned into eighteen, thank you very much) brought me a deal of entertainment with a small monetary boost.
Sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. But, we have never lost more than we can afford and largely participate in the activity of gambling for the community and entertainment it brings to the sports we love. I hope those who gamble appreciate my words. I hope those who don’t gamble get the hint and shut up.
Keep throwing those dice, buying those stock options and betting on Giannis over 30.5 points every night the Bucks are in the Forum. Back up the Brinks truck, because it’s a free money giveaway, and everybody else is just missing out.