COLUMN: Didn't care, until I did

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     I have long said that one of the reasons I don’t play fantasy football is because it detracts from watching what is happening in the actual game.

     Instead of cheering for a particular team, you end up cheering for individual players, and the outcome of the game means little.

     It turns out that, like so many of us in this era of unprecedented political division, I can be a full-fledged hypocrite.

     I was glued to the finish of the Arizona Cardinals-Seattle Seahawks NFL game Nov. 19, not caring one iota about which team won.

     I wasn’t rooting for individual players, like a fantasy football player would. No, I was rooting for a score. See, the game held no interest for me until I decided to bet on it. Suddenly, Cardinals vs. Seahawks had tremendous appeal.

     Through the app from my good friends at William Hill, I played a simple, two-leg parlay. I took the Cardinals and three points, and bet the “under.”

     In a two-leg parlay, you need both outcomes to go your way, or you lose. In this case, I needed the total score to be fewer than 57 points, and for the Cardinals to either win the game or lose by fewer than three.

     I tossed three bucks at it, with the promise of more than $11 back if I won. 

     You definitely watch a game differently when you have dough on it. For a while, early in the fourth quarter, my dreams were coming true. Arizona had scored to cut Seattle’s lead to 23-21. So I had the spread I needed, and only 44 total points had been scored. Go, clock, go.

     Seattle wound up punting on its next possession. Unfortunately for me, on the next series Arizona got called for a holding penalty in its own end zone, resulting in an automatic safety and two points for the Seahawks, making it 25-21.

     Seattle then kicked a field goal to lead 28-21 with 9 minutes to play.

     You do a lot of math in these situations. I needed Arizona to score a touchdown, but after that I had to root for one of the following outcomes:

     • Arizona kicks the extra point to make it 28-28, and neither team scores in overtime, resulting in a tie game and leaving the point total at 56.

     • Arizona tries for a two-point conversion and fails, so the Cardinals lose by one and the total score is 55.

     • Arizona makes a two-point conversion, and wins 29-28. In that case my over-under bet would be a push (tie), and I would win the point spread bet and get back maybe $5.50.

     None of those happened. Arizona did drive into Seattle territory, much to my edge-of-the-seat excitement. But quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked by Seattle’s Carlos Dunlap on a fourth-and-10 play with 34 seconds left, giving the ball to the Seahawks and enabling them to run out the clock.

     In the end I was correct on the “under,” with 49 total points scored, but wrong on the spread, with Seattle winning by seven. So I lost my parlay.

     But I asked myself this question later Thursday evening: Was the entertainment value of watching that game worth the three bucks I lost?

     Yes. Yes it was.



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