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Emotion and Sports Handicapping
Jun 1st, 2022

I write this article knowing there is nothing joyful about benefiting from tragedy, albeit in this case indirectly. But every now and then off field tragedy causes an emotional response from players that cannot be manufactured or duplicated, nor should be ignored by gamblers, as impure as it seems.

I keep hearing after-the-fact experts telling us that no team was going to beat the New Orleans Saints in their Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons, the first game in New Orleans in the post-Katrina era.

We told you all that before the game as New Orleans was our Monday Night Game of the Year. In short, New Orleans was playing in no uncertain terms, the biggest game in franchise history, while Atlanta was simply in the way.

While I do not mind bragging, I have to admit, I am an after-the-fact Bill Buckner and Jacky Smith all wrapped into one in missing the Rice intangible. Before I go in any further, I will again acknowledge, there is a certain level of unease in exploiting tragedy in sports handicapping but ignoring such angle benefits only the bookmakers.

Rice, a double-digit dog, crushed Army 48-14. They were riding the emotion of freshman defensive back Dale Lloyd collapsing earlier in the week at practice and passing away.

In 2001, our MLB Game of the Year was when the NY Mets played their first home game since 911, and were a home dog to Atlanta. True, the Mets had to get a dramatic walk off home run from Mike Piazza to win, but the seemingly scripted ending was reflective of how the Mets were simply not going to be denied victory that night.

One of my first NHL regular season selections was November 15, 1985. I bet on the Philadelphia Flyers in their first game back after star goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was killed in a car accident. The Flyers, as a big underdog, dominated the then seemingly invincible Edmonton Oilers. 

I even decided to retroactively test this theory. Is there a more poignant sports speech in history than Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest man in the world” speech. Honestly, I didn’t know the game score was that day, but I researched it convinced there was no way the Yankees lost. I was right; they crushed the Washington Senators 11-1 following that historic speech on Independence Day 1939.

Emotion should never be underestimated and simply cannot be contrived.  Regrettably opportunity knocks when real-life circumstances transcend sports.  But it is opportunity nonetheless.

Joe Duffy is founder of which features the world’s best handicappers.

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Joe Duffy is founder of featuring the world’s top sports service selections.
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