Thursday, September 9, 2010

New NFL Season (sport, gambling, horseracing)

The new NFL season starts tonight and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I welcome the distraction from the other failures going on in my life right now. I know that each week, I will spend enjoyable time poring over the lines, setting up my fantasy team, and watching the games on tv and sweating other games online.

In fact, it reminds me of growing up in Hong Kong with horseracing. The Hong Kong horseracing season is about three quarters of the year (used to be shorter) and it's a big deal. I would actually say that horse racing is Hong Kong's unofficial national sport. Back in secondary school (those who know me know that I started on gambling early), I could barely wait for the barrier draws and racecards to come out every Monday for a Wednesday meet and Thursday for a weekend meet. In the same way that I go over the NFL lines now, I went over all the horses, jockeys, trainers, and course and distance stats. There was at least one year where I knew every single horse's name (around 600 horses) in both Chinese and English. But it's not really just about the gambling. I enjoy both horse racing and American football as sports by themselves. And even though I could spend just as much time on them as other things in my life, they are/were a welcome distraction from the grind of school/work and lovelife.

Since I'm comparing the NFL season to the Hong Kong horseracing season, there's one interesting horseracing tidbit that I wonder whether it applies to the NFL. It's frequently noted that older horses have the best chance of springing an upset early in the season, when the racing season begins again after the summer break, because it's easier to get them in shape and they've made the most out of the rest they got over the break. Younger horses, on the other hand, frequently need to race and grow into fitness. So does this mean that an older, veteran-filled NFL team, would have a better chance against a younger team in the first two weeks than they would later in the season? Would this be reflected in the line? For example, this week's Detroit at Chicago game is interesting. Detroit has a lot of big young names in Stafford, Megatron, Best, and Suh, while Chicago's defense is carrying guys like Urlacher and Peppers. The line started at 7 but has moved to 6 now as people start to think that Chicago's not really that good and are getting more and more excited about the potential of that young Detroit team. They may be right in the long run, but perhaps the veterans of Chicago will get a good jump on them this early in the season. We will see, but it's certainly an interesting thing to consider.

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