"Don't do this. Do not do this. It's just not a good idea to bet this money. I know it's only $70 but why bet it on this thing that won't happen?"
This was my inner monologue when considering my first and, to date, only sports bet; a simple wager that my beloved Raptors will repeat as NBA champs.
But I'm not a gambler. I do not gamble. Been to Vegas several times, never so much as a nickel was bet by me. Because I do not gamble. Especially not on sports. Because I enjoy sports. And gambling I do not enjoy.
Wait, that's technically a lie. For many years I would pay $50 into the winner's pot of my fantasy basketball league, but we stopped doing that because we're ridiculous grown men who apparently would rather devote the time and energy for no material gain and almost zero prestige. Also, I have wagered pocket change at Super Bowl parties but those bets were fun because I was with fun people, and it helped to keep me awake for the Super Bowl's 18 hour running time. But for all intents and purposes, like I said, I don't gamble on sports.
So why now? Is it a weird expression of appreciation for the joy they brought me in taking home the Larry O'B.? Or is it more the admiration I feel for them this season as they, against all odds, outperform expectations. You see, I love this team. I think every member of this team is a sterling human being who I would gladly follow into combat. That's worth at least a one time $70 leap of faith, right?
Also, it's not insane to think they could win it all again. But it's pretty unlikely (hence the long odds) and I know this. Still, I took a few seconds to find an allegedly reputable sports betting website, clicked the right button, gave them my credit card info, and then took a few more seconds to imagine what I would do with my winnings.
(Oh and of course I contacted the betting site several weeks later to demand they stop sending spam emails every.single.god.damn.day. after the unsubscribe button failed to work. They really shouldn't do that. Once again, I don't gamble.)
What are the reasons for gambling on sports in the first place? To increase the thrill? To make money? If you want a thrill you can take up rollerblading or eat very spicy food. As for the money, the sports books make the money hand over fist, not you. Sadly, you're just one of the army of chumps they collect from.
So I'm here to tell you that of all the reasons to gamble on sports, the very best reason I can think of is this - because your stupid heart tells you to. That's what I did and I don't regret it. But I don't bet the over/under for some mid-February Hornets/Pistons game. Because that would be silly and depressing.
Almost all gambling is silly and depressing. But the favour you can do yourself is to make affection-based wagers on the athletes (human and equine) you actually like. Still silly, not depressing. Unless you bet more money than you can afford. Do not do that.
Besides, there are several million better ways to spend your dwindling supply of money. Do you have a nice chair? Maybe you take a break from obsessively betting on sports every week and get yourself a real nice chair! Your friends will think you're sophisticated and your lumbar region will thank you.
Or have you ever been to Mongolia? You should go. I went. It was amazing.
What about charity? If you're going to throw money away, maybe you can help some people out with it. You can still follow sports and you get to feel superior because you are better than the rest of us and will leave a legacy of compassion and generosity. Which is, you know, not too shabby.
Look, you can come up with your own ideas of what blow to your cash on, but if you want to get the greatest amount of enjoyment out of sports and life, my advice is don't bet on sports.*
*Unless it's like once a year and you follow your stupid heart. In that case, I recommend the Raptors. They are fine and honourable men and a lock to win it all.