Forget Super 14 - Heart vs Head is the Real Battle

Each week I struggle with my conscience.

I make no apologies for supporting the Waratahs. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my jersey three-times a year when I go to a game at the SFS. I still have the Waratahs bumper sticker which came with last year’s pre-season Sydney Morning Herald – the sticker is on the fridge. And I routinely put the boot into all the other Australian teams when it comes to blogs, tipping comps or correspondence with my mates in Queensland.

But I don’t always tip them to win. And I often put money on them to lose and sometimes lose by lots. And while that has proven to be quite profitable this season it does nothing to assuage my feelings of guilt during a game.

I partake in tipping competitions for money and have a sports betting account.

This is not some coming-out statement or some sort of Gambler’s Anonymous statement. Indeed far from having a gambling problem I’m quite good at it, having finished runner-up in a Super 14 tipping comp one year (admittedly one that I run and in that same year my wife won – I would happily have come second last if it meant she had come last dammit) and won the work Rugby League tipping competition last year, pocketing $1300 in the process. I have wins and losses with the sports betting account but over the years haven’t lost more than maybe a hundred dollars all up.

The hundred dollars I view as a reasonable investment in providing me with an interest in sports that I consider myself knowledgeable (Rugby Union and Cricket) but for matches in which I have little interest (such as those involving South African rugby teams or subcontinental cricket teams). And tipping in Rugby League gives me an interest in a sport that I generally detest but can’t avoid – I support whoever I tip. But it’s when I come to the Waratahs that I am torn.

There is tipping and betting with heart versus head but there is also supporting on the day with heart or head. Each match I have to determine to what extent my support of the Waratahs is tempered by reality (and in anything is real it’s putting your hard-earned at risk). It’s not enough to say that I should never back against my own team. In tipping competitions you have to tip a winner from each match, and those that tip with their heart take a grave risk.

It’s not just the money, but the bragging rights. While there is money involved, in a tipping comp it’s bragging rights (against your mates or colleagues) but with a sports betting account it’s proving your worth against the ‘experts’, and there is no one more expert than those employed by the sports betting agency to frame odds that will ensure that the agency makes a profit. So it’s their knowledge versus mine. The amount isn’t important. It’s knowing that I know my sport better than the experts.

So what’s my tip for this weekend? Only that when it comes to money I use my head, but when it comes to the Waratahs my head will end up in my hands. You can bet on it. I have.