Listen To Jeff’s Analysis…
Match Fixing in Tennis: The Ugly Truth
Hey, it’s Jeff here, and I hope you’re having a great day out there. Now today, we’re going to talk about something very ugly in professional tennis, and no, we’re not going to talk about performance-enhancing drugs, although that is an ugly element of our sport. But today, we’re going to talk about match fixing, and I’m here to tell you today that it’s very real, and it’s somewhat common, very common. I wouldn’t want to say very common, probably too strong, but it’s happening on the pro tour, and it’s a very sad reality about our sport, and about money, and about greed, and temptation. And you know, the key here is that every player has to have their own level of integrity and character, and try to make the right choices. But I can see how it can be challenging, and I’ll explain why in a minute.
A few days ago, at the time of this recording, 18-year old Oliver Anderson, the reigning junior champion at the Australian Open, was charged with distorting a betting outcome, and he did this at a challenger – a $50,000 challenger in October. Now, when you say $50,000, the winner only gets $7,000. The loser, first round loser, gets about $500. Now, imagine the expenses to get to the tournament, to hire a coach, imagine if you’re only making $500 or a thousand dollars a week when you lose first or second round. The temptation there might be to pay the bills. What if you have a family? What if you have to support a child? What if you have credit card debt? What if you have to pay for the coach?
In pro tennis, there simply isn’t enough money being made by the lower-ranked players outside the top hundred to make an honest decent level of living. I mean, they’re going to make more money teaching tennis at the club. So, Oliver’s not the only one. Very recently, there were 34 players in Spain that were arrested for alleged match fixing at the futures level. They’re ranked between 800 and 1,200 in the world. These players are losing money on the tour. So, what if they play a match and they decide a bookie… someone’s going to pay them… a better’s going to pay them 30 grand to lose a match in the second round of the future or challenger, and all they have to do is go out there and play close until 4-all, miss a couple returns, miss a couple serves, make it look like they’re still trying, and pick up 30k in one day. It’s very tempting when you’re struggling, when you have a lot of pressure, when there’s fear. And some players succumb to that pressure. It’s very unfortunate.
When I was playing, there were 2 Italians: Daniel Bracciali and Potito Starace. Great players, top 50 players. Potito got to 31 in the world, I believe. Bracciali was a great doubles player. I think I actually played him in doubles once, might have even beaten him in the challenger, but they’ve been banned for life from tennis for alleged match fixes, and this is going on. These are only the players that are getting caught. In fact, when I was playing, especially in Grand Slams, I would hear stories about doubles players that would be in the locker room, and they would know singles players that were injured but were still going to play the match. Maybe they were a seed, and they were supposed to win, but they hurt their groin or their knee, and they still wanted to pick up the check. They still wanted to get their money. They would go play the match, and they would get their money, and they the doubles players would play spats on these matches. And this happened all the time, because doubles players needed to make a living too.
And again, I’m not condoning this. It’s wrong, but I can see where the temptation is, and so, even, you know, pro players are under a lot of scrutiny if they lose a match. In social media, they’ll have betters yelling at them, be it in social media about what a bad player they are, and it’s a very scary, harsh reality around pro tennis. And of course, they’re trying to clean it up, but it’s a very, very difficult situation. And the only thing that I can think of is, number one: every person has to look at themselves in the mirror and decide, do they want to be able to sleep at night, knowing that they’re cheating the sport and cheating themselves? Is that worth it? They have to look at themselves in the mirror and look at their own integrity, and their character, and their decision making. But also, it’s up to the governing bodies, coaches, mentors, to educate youngsters on the risk that they’re taking if they decide to get involved in this ugly side of sports
And finally, we have to find ways to get more money into the sport of tennis for players ranked 150, 200, 300, 400, 500, 800, to make more money, because if these players are making more money and it’s there isn’t such a huge disproportionate difference between the top 20 in the world and someone who’s 500 in the world, if they’re making more money, there’ll be less temptation for them to make these choices.
So again, let’s see if we can improve in those 3 areas. Let’s look at it, at ourselves, individually, see if we can live with more integrity and character. Let’s make sure our mentors and our coaches and governing bodies are teaching the youngsters what major decision they’re making, a negative decision for their lives and their careers if they do it and they caught. And number 3, let’s get more money, more prize money, into the sport of tennis.
So again, hopefully, you enjoyed this audio today, and feel free to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll see you at the next email or audio. Thanks again for your time.