Bad sport: how often do points shave?


Point shaving may not be a phrase you hear often, but this crime has a dark history in college and professional sports. As viewers of Netflix’s new docuseries bad sports learn, one of the most prominent point-shaving scandals occurred at Arizona State University in the 1990s. Among other sports scandals, bad sports dives into what happened with the Sun Devils basketball team and what happened to those involved in the scheme. Keep reading to learn more about how the points shave works and a brief history of other scandals that have rocked the sports world.

What is the point shave?

Point shaving is the most common in basketball, and it basically means a game has been fixed. Most often a bet has been placed on the game and one or more players coordinate with the players to fix the outcome without changing who wins. Players will strive to complete the end of the game with a certain number of points – hence the term “point shave” – ​​in order for the bet to go in favor of the player. Players usually bet on the margin of victory, or how many points a team wins, so by agreeing with the players to control the number of points on the board, they can ensure a win.

How often do points shave?

It’s hard to say exactly how common shaving is because the people involved aren’t always taken. However, when teams are caught shaving points, it tends to be a huge outrage. It’s also not exclusive to basketball, although that’s where it happens most often. Football and baseball have also been marred by point shaving, right up to the professional level.

The biggest point-shaving scandals in history

The Arizona State University points-shaving scandal is easily one of the best-known in sports history. In 1994, two players on the school’s basketball team, Stevin Smith and Isaac Burton Jr., were drafted to cut the team’s scores by a few points in four games, according to the Los Angeles Times. Four men – Benny Silman, Joseph Gagliano Jr., Dominic Mangiamele and Joseph Mangiamele – have been indicted and charged with sports bribery, conspiracy to commit sports bribes, interstate transportation and aiding racketeering.

This type of rigged games even dates back a hundred years to the 1919 World Series, where a handful of Chicago White Sox players were accused of taking money to start the series, according to the Chicago Grandstand. The men, eventually dubbed the Black Sox, reportedly demanded $100,000 for their services. They were eventually acquitted by the court but were banned from the game forever.

A point-shaving plan at Tulane University in the 1980s was so bad that the school actually shut down the basketball program for four years. Three players – including John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams – and five others have been charged in the scandal, according to The New York Times. Two other players were reportedly involved but were granted immunity in the case after giving evidence. The individuals in question were accused of throwing two games. However, despite Williams’ involvement in the scandal, he continued to play in the NBA for over a decade.


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