Point shaving, in organized sports, is a type of match fixing where the perpetrators try to prevent a team from covering a published point spread. Unlike other forms of match fixing, sports betting invariably motivates point shaving. A point shaving scheme generally involves a sports gambler and one or more players of a sports team. In exchange for a bribe, the player or players agree to ensure that their team will not cover the point spread. The gambler then wagers against that team.Point shaving occurs most frequently in amateur and collegiate sports, whose athletes are presumably more vulnerable to a gambler’s bribery than professionals. Professional-level players earn significant sums of money each year, whereas collegiate players are prevented by strict regulations from earning compensation for their play.
Basketball is a particularly easy medium for shaving points because of the scoring tempo of the game and the ease by which one player can influence key events. By deliberately missing shots or committing well-timed turnovers or fouls, a corrupt player can covertly ensure that his team fails to cover the point spread, without causing them to lose the game (or to lose so badly that suspicions are aroused). Although the NCAA has adopted a zero tolerance policy with respect to gambling activity by its players, some critics believe it unwittingly encourages point shaving due to its strict rules regarding amateurism, combined with the large amount of money wagered on its games.
Point shaving perpetrators
References in popular culture
The 1974 movie The Longest Yard features a main character, Paul Crewe, who is thrown out of the NFL for point shaving. There was also a remake of The Longest Yard in 2005 staring Adam Sandler.
In an episode of The Sopranos, “The Rat Pack”, it is mentioned that New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi invented point shaving.
Video: Point Shaving Fraud At Banks