Is there truth behind sports rigging?

Does sports rigging have an effect on today's sports environment? Some believe that rigging completely changes the outcomes for some games.


Ask any fan and they will say a game has been rigged against their favorite team.  Normally you wouldn’t believe it, but some have a little truth to them. Sports rigging can happen for a variety of different reasons, the most common being money. People will rig games to make money on a large sports bet or even just to see their teams win. There have been lots of rigging claims, here are just a few worth noting.

In game three of the NBA finals Shooting Guard Dwayne Wade shot 21-25 from the free throw line. The same amount of free throws the whole opposing team (Dallas Mavericks) shot. The Miami Heat won game three, but by a small margin of four points, the owner of the Mavericks is convinced the game was rigged and let his opinion be heard. The Heat went on to win the series and the NBA finals making this claim a little more realistic.

Boxing fight ending in a knockout

This next example seems to be the one people pointing to when they hear ‘sports rigging.’ The fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston was said to be rigged as Sonny Liston didn’t come out for the 7th round. It makes sense with Ali being a rising superstar, the win certain helped his career and boosted his fame. Immediately after it was called, “rigged”, a rematch was demanded. This rematch points to even more controversy, Ali knocked out Liston in the first round before many had even gotten into their seats. It was called the “phantom punch” many say that the punch never actually hit Liston and believed he was paid off to let Ali win.

Some theories are not so solid.  One involved the New York Knicks winning the #1 pick in the 1985 draft lottery. Patrick Ewing was a highly touted center coming from Georgetown University, everyone wanted to see him be a New York Knick and he himself wanted to be a Knick. When the first pick envelope was chosen it’s said to have a crease in it, leading people to believe that it was already opened and changed to make sure the Knicks got the first pick.

Navy Army Basketball Game

In the 1919 World series it is said that it was rigged for the White Sox to throw the series. Not much more needs to be said when they were prosecuted under a grand jury. The players say that organized crime members approached eight of the players and made them throw the series. Although the White Sox star player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, played reasonably well, most assume he was purposely not bribed to avoid even more suspicion.

Most could go either way on pretty much all but one of these examples, but it is very possible for these all to have been rigged. There is a lot of money in sports and a lot of very powerful people care what happens in these sports. One could predict that there will be at least one rigged game this NFL season; some may say the Saints NFC championship game was rigged by the no-call on the pass interference. The closer we look the more illegal rigging we will find.