Blown Call in Game: Was it Fixed by Refs?

Written by:
Nagesh Rath
Published on:
Feb/14/2024

The legal sports betting landscape has resulted in more than just an increased acceptance of the activity.  It's also led to some crazy conspiracy theories..... one tied to every blown call it seems.

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Back in early January, the Sporting News featured a blaring headline spelling out the current state of online sports wagering across the US.

"NFL refs' blown late-game calls have hurt more than just the Lions — they've hurt bettors repeatedly".

The reference was to that infamous Cowboys-Lions playoff game that saw Dallas win in the final seconds of play when they probably should not have.  78 percent of the handle and 87 percent of bets were on the Lions moneyline at +200.

Detroit was deprived of hosting a playoff game as a result of what many perceived to be a bad call.  Others felt somethiing more ominous may have been at play.

Sporting News noted that various trending topics included such inq "NFL ref," "referee salary," and "Brad Allen" (the ref responsible for the call that stripped away the Lions' go-ahead two-point conversion). And, of course, we saw certain buzzwords like "rigged" and "fixed" trending on X, likely nails on Roger Goodell's internal chalkboard.

Mike Vacarro of the New York Post featured a piece this week entitled: "Sports’ Gambling Era Adds Sinister Conspiracy Theory to Every Blown Call".

He writes:

"There was a time when an umpire named Don Denkinger could blow a call as badly as a call could possibly be blown, a miss that only cost the Cardinals a chance at winning the World Series, and the worst that could happen is that Denkinger would spend the rest of his life being booed in St. Louis, occasionally forced to dodge especially venomous slings and arrows."

The "bad" ref this time is one Jacyn Goble, who called a foul on Jalen Brunson as he ran out to contest Aaron Holiday’s desperation 30-footer at the close of a tie game between the Knicks and Rockets Monday night.

The Rockets would go on to win that game 105-103.  The line was Houston -1 the minutes leading up to tip off.   And Goble would go on to admit he blundered.

Here is what Vacarro quickly encountered after that call:

Within minutes of the call most of my gambling friends had clobbered me with text messages, and their point was similar to the one that MSG Network gambling maven Alex Monaco made shortly thereafter on X:

“One of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in YEARS,” Monaco said. “[And it] didn’t help that the betting line reflected Rockets had big money come in late. Line went from +4 to a pick ’em in the last hour.”

Vacarro couldn't help but look back a day at the "Conspiracy of the Century".  Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce

"We live in a time when a not-insignificant portion of America believed — truly believed — that a woman cheering for her boyfriend might actually swing the scales of justice in the Super Bowl in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs."

Don't blame the gamblers.

The first comment in Vacarro's article explains the mindset completely.

"I lost any confidence in the legitimacy of all professional sports the moment the leagues took a share of the gambling sites and online gambling became legal. That, in turn, has made me lose interest in any professional sport."

- Nagesh Rath, Gambling911.com

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