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Carifta Trials in Montego Bay?

first_imgJanuary 23 was a momentous day in the history of Jamaican track and field. Most people will remember it as the day Calabar High School opened the doors to its first synthetic track to be laid at a high school in Jamaica. The meet, the first McKenley/Wint Classic, was a memorable occasion.The mood was bright as all present enjoyed the sight and feel of the new facility. From a viewing perspective, the only drawbacks are that the throws and horizontal jumps are outside the oval, but that doesn’t detract from the overall value the new track brings. In any case, those ‘so-called’ drawbacks disappear if you view the new facility mainly as a training venue.As befits a meet carrying the names of megastar Olympians Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley, the event was thoughtfully operated with ticketing, parking and access to the track well worked out. It seems reasonable to assume that in the years to come, the grounds around the track will be developed with additional spectator seating and lighting.Calabar High wasn’t the only place that a new track opened on the 23rd. Thirty minutes away, the newly resurfaced oval at the GC Foster College for Physical Education & Sport was put into service at the Central Hurdles and Relays meet.Never before have two new synthetic tracks been opened in Jamaica on the same day. That’s history.Calabar High and GC Foster College join the National Stadium, the Stadium East field, the University of the West Indies and the Catherine Hall Sport Complex as locations with modern tracks.Catherine Hall is a great venue. It has already hosted the 2011 Carifta Games and shortly will play host to the annual Western Championships and Western Relays. For at least two reasons, it might be a good idea to move the Carifta Trials between Kingston and Montego Bay.Having the Trials at the Sports Complex might stimulate interest in the sport in the west. It would also relieve western teams of the financial burden of travelling in alternate years. As things stand, western teams must budget for trips to Kingston for the Gibson-McCook Relays, the Trials and Boys and Girls’ Championships, as well as for other meets in the Corporate Area that fit their needs.Consider a future where a synthetic track is laid at a central Jamaica venue like the Kirkvine Sports Club just outside Mandeville. In that future, the Trials could move from Kingston to Kirkvine and then to Montego Bay. Imagine that.n HUBERT LAWRENCE has been making notes at track side since 1980.last_img read more

Toss may prove to be crucial in SA says Bob Simpson

first_imgWorld No. 1 India will have to prove that they are the kings of Test match cricket in the high-profile three-match series against No. 2 South Africa beginning in Centurion on Thursday, feels former Australia captain Bob Simpson.And he feels that winning tosses may prove crucial. “It’s going to be a tough series. It could well depend on the toss of the coin because of the fact that the wickets over there are different. Sometimes to win the toss and have a bowl is good,” Simpson, here to participate in a World Cricket Summit, told Mail Today.”It will be a very tough competition. India now has got the number one spot and they are going to prove that they are the number one on any wickets [they play on]. So, anyway, that’s going to be the most interesting point,” said the Australia’s batting mainstay of 1960s and 1970s.Simpson, an opening batsman of repute, feels the traditional Test match cricket will survive, even though the crowd patronage has lessened over the last few years, coinciding with the growth in popularity of Twenty20 cricket.Alarmed, the International Cricket Council (ICC) will soon add a ‘context’ to the Test matches – also to ODIs – to make this format attractive, though Simpson is not too enthusiastic about the move.”It’s very, very difficult. I will be a little bit dubious on how it’s all set up and how it is done because you really need a series of matches before you can judge [the winner],” he wondered. “Australia is still very supportive of Test cricket and indeed England is. India, unfortunately, has lost its desire for it. That may well be because it’s playing too many limited overs matches.”advertisementSimpson, 74, feels close contests between two teams would again generate interest among spectators for Test matches. “I think you’ve got to have two competitive teams. You’ve got to have close finishes. You’ve got to have home content to get people in the stadium. Test cricket has been ‘dying’ for about 140 years; it is still surviving,” he said with a smile.Sachin Tendulkar has suggested that Indian cricket administrators could invite students to watch Test matches so that when they grow up, they take to Test cricket. “I suppose. Parents will have to bring kids over. It could, but it is not bad to the point that, I think, you’ve got to market the game and you’ve got to make sure that the two teams you’ve got can play well. In the end, what will tell out is the quality of their cricket,” he reasoned.Simpson felt India would be the natural favourites in the upcoming World Cup, to be staged in south Asia. “India are playing so well, they must naturally be the favourites, and probably England second,” he felt.But he pointed out that MS Dhoni’s side would feel the home pressure. “No home team has ever won the World Cup, so it’s not an advantageous position to be in. When you go into the World Cup, it’s different; it’s pressure. Sometimes the expectations for home teams can really weigh heavily on them,” he pointed out.last_img read more

EC bans PDS bags sporting Vajpayee’s picture in HP

first_imgThe Election Commission on Sunday stopped the distribution of empty ration bags (carry bags) carrying a photo of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The bags were being distributed free to PDS consumers via state government controlled fair price shops.”Henceforth, no bags will be issued to the consumers of PDS with a picture of any political leader, of whatever stature he or she is,” Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath told reporters in Shimla on Sunday.He said that the action has been taken on the basis of a complaint that free bags sporting a picture of the former Prime Minister were being distributed in the state. The free cotton shopping bag scheme was launched on August 15 this year for 16 lakh ration card holders of the state.V.S. Sampath said that the EC had received a number of election related complaints from political parties. He also hinted at removal of retired officers, close to Prem Kumar Dhumal, who were given extensions in recent years.”Those who are sitting on certain sensitive posts and may try to influence the election process, appropriate action will be taken against them. The commission will also look into other complaints against officers with doubtful integrity posted in the districts,” V.S. Sampath said.Sampath, who was in Shimla to review election preparedness, said that a three-tier system has been put into place to check paid news. He said that the EC has also received complaints against the Shimla unit of Doordarshan that it is not working in an impartial manner.”We will take up the matter with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,”  he said.advertisementlast_img read more

Naomi Osaka plays Azaranka in matchup of current and former No. 1s

first_imgPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Japan’s Naomi Osaka stretches to return a shot against Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena )PARIS — Naomi Osaka plays Victoria Azaranka in a matchup of current and former No. 1 players in the second round of the French Open.Also Thursday, Serena Williams is back on Court Philippe Chatrier against Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara.ADVERTISEMENT Warriors’ new NBA Finals road goes to Canada Two-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport MOST READ Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess In men’s action, top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces 104th-ranked Henri Laaksonen, a “lucky loser” who only entered the draw when another player pulled out.Osaka is aiming to win her third consecutive Grand Slam tournament, while at No. 43 Azarenka is still working her way back into the upper echelons of the game after a series of injuries, a pregnancy and a custody battle over her child.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsA two-time winner of the Australian Open, Azarenka’s best result at Roland Garros was a run to the semifinals in 2013. PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war LATEST STORIES DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew View commentslast_img read more

IPL 2019: Ajinkya Rahane relieved to get points on board after RR beat RCB for first win

first_imgRajasthan Royals captain Ajinkya Rahane finally got the monkey off his back as his team registered its first win of the IPL 2019 season on Tuesday after defeating Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in Jaipur.The Royals put the Royal Challengers in to bat first who managed to post 158 for 4 on the board with useful contributions from Parthiv Patel (67), Marcus Stoinis (31 not out) and captain Kohli (23). The visitors though, struggled against the RR spin-twins Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham.Gopal bagged three wickets including that of Kohli and AB de Villiers in quick succession to dent the Royal Challengers big time before Parthiv and Stoinis steadied the innings with a 53-run partnership. Stoinis then added 32 runs with Moeen Ali (18 not out) to take the team to a respectable total.But the Royals made light work of the run chase thanks to an explosive opening partnership of 60 runs between Ajinkya Rahane (22) and Jos Buttler (59).Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal tried his best to bring RCB back into the match as he removed both openers but Steve Smith (38) and Rahul Tripathi foiled all of Virat Kohli’s plans with a 50-run partnership that got the team closer to the target. Tripathi remained unbeaten on 34 as he finished off the match with a six.And that’s how you end a game!RT if you agree! #HallaBol #RRvRCB #RR pic.twitter.com/9N92bSuPd7Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) April 2, 2019″Thinking was dew factor, so we thought 150-160 would be a good total. Shreyas Gopal’s record against Virat and de Villiers we all know, but overall great team effort. After 3-4 overs, we thought wicket is slow, so I thought if spinners bowl well then batsmen will have a hard time.advertisement”Gowtham was excellent in the Powerplay, and Gopal backed up after that. Relief, yes, to get points on the board. We played good cricket last three games, but tonight it was all about giving more than 100%.”Tripathi was struggling before the match – he had twisted his ankle last game – but he was incredible with Stokesy and Smith. Overall, great team effort,” Rahane said at the post-match presentation.The result means that Royal Challengers Bangalore are now the only winless team in the competition after four games and are languishing in last place in the points table. The Royals meanwhile, surpassed Mumbai Indians to clinch the sixth spot having played a game more than Rohit Sharma’s team.Also Read | Virat Kohli after RCB crash to 4th successive defeat: We were competitiveAlso Read | Shreyas Gopal: The man who loves tormenting Virat Kohli and AB de VilliersAlso Read | IPL 2019: Virat Kohli joins MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir in elite captains’ listlast_img read more

a month agoChelsea legend Drogba: Abraham no surprise to me

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea legend Drogba: Abraham no surprise to meby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea legend Didier Drogba is happy seeing Tammy Abraham succeeding this season.Abraham has scored seven goals in five Premier League games at the beginning of the campaign.”Yeah, I’ve known him [Abraham] since he’s been like this,” Drogba explained.”These are kids we used to see, they used to come and watch us training, and I believe they learned a little bit of our skills, how we read the game. So, you know, we’re not surprised because I also trained with them when I used to train with the reserve team.”It was always a moment for me to give away some skills, some knowledge, and they learnt really fast, really quick.”So once again, I’m not surprised with what I’ve seen [with Abraham].” last_img read more

St. Catherine Parish Council Launches Drive to Build Safer Communities

first_imgThe St. Catherine Parish Council has begun a drive to build safer communities and enhance public order across the parish.The Council has officially launched the Parish Safety and Security Committee, which will spearhead a campaign to increase the citizens’ participation in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of actions to improve their safety and security.Speaking at the launch, in Spanish Town, on February 14, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, congratulated the Council and its key partners for taking on the leadership role to address safety and security in the parish.The Minister said that for far too long there has been the feeling that security is the sole responsibility of the police. He noted that it is only when people act together to find solutions for sustainable peace and harmony, will there be a real decline in acts of violence and other contributing factors that minimize safety at the community level.“It is due to the measureable interventions of this project and other major initiatives from the Ministry of National Security, the hard working members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and brave commitment of the St. Catherine Parish Development Committee and other partners, that this parish is boasting a lower rate of major crimes over the past 12-18 months,” Mr. Arscott said.Mayor of Spanish Town, Councillor Norman Scott, outlined several initiatives that the committee has spearheaded since its formation, including a Safety and Security Symposium which saw over 250 community members from Old Harbour, Linstead and Spanish Town getting together to share concerns and ideas that will promote safety and security for all. “The concerns were documented, prioritised, and will therefore determine which issues will be addressed in the short, medium and long term,” Mayor Scott said.He said the message of safety and security will be taken around the parish with public education events slated for February 27 in Old Harbour; February 28 in Linstead and March 11 for Spanish Town.Mr. Scott also informed that a safety audit has been done in selected communities to document existing safety hazards.Mayor Scott also addressed the issue of sexual assault and handed out posters and flyers at the official launch.The flyer depicted the message: ‘Real Men Don’t Rape’; encouraging respect for females, many of whom have been victims of abuse. “We believe that this positive message will result in behavioural change, one man at a time. This message will be taken to all our major townships as well as our rural areas,” Mayor Scott said.Among those participating in the launch were United Nations Development Programme’s Resident Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Arun Kashyap; Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Novelette Grant; Representative of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Robert Hill and Head of the Parish Development Committee, Earl Hyde.last_img read more

HEART Assists Persons with Mild Intellectual Disabilities

first_imgStory Highlights The goal of the programme is to improve the personal, professional and social capacity of persons with mild intellectual disabilities, through profiling participants’ skills, developing their potential, supporting them with a job coach, and guiding their progression into employment. Some 152 young persons with mild intellectual disabilities are being assisted with personal and professional development skills, through the Empowerment Programme of the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA. Since 2014, over 300 persons have benefitted from the programme. Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme in 2018 can contact the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA at 754-9816-8. Some 152 young persons with mild intellectual disabilities are being assisted with personal and professional development skills, through the Empowerment Programme of the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA.The programme which started in 2014, is a seven-month initiative consisting of a three week non-residential camp, followed by six months of supported work experience.The goal of the programme is to improve the personal, professional and social capacity of persons with mild intellectual disabilities, through profiling participants’ skills, developing their potential, supporting them with a job coach, and guiding their progression into employment.Director of Communications and Marketing at the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA, Julia Smiley Green, tells JIS News that the target group is between 17 and 35 years of age.She points out that the programme arose out of a need to cater more specifically to persons in the community who are living with disabilities.“We believe that all young people should be empowered regardless of their status. Once they fall within the age cohort that we cater to, then we believe that we should be generating programmes that can meet their needs in a targeted way,” Mrs. Smiley Green says.She notes that many in society do not readily accept persons with disabilities, particularly in the world of work.“So, the idea behind the programme is to get members of the general public as well as our employers specifically, to understand that even though these persons might have a disability, they too have a contribution to make productively to our society,” the Director says.Mrs. Smiley Green tells JIS News that the Division encourages persons to have an open mind, and not to come to the programme with a perception that persons with disabilities are not able to contribute.“Yes, they may need a little more guidance and attention than the average person, but what we find is that in working with them, we realise that they too have their meaningful contribution to make. They may not contribute in the same way as other persons, but once they are exposed, once they are given the opportunity and of course with the training and support we provide, they are able to effectively contribute in the organisations,” she argues.Mrs. Smiley Green notes that the programme has received positive reviews from employers who have engaged the participants.“They would admit that initially, they would have been hesitant but they are very impressed with the performance of our participants so far. Because they have come in, they have performed well and they have not shied away from any duty. If they need assistance they are always willing to ask for it, and they adapt well to the task they are given to complete,” she says.“Even so, we find that some of the employers are even considering whether at the end of the six-month placement period they could engage them, maybe not on a fulltime basis, based on the scope of the organisation. But consideration is being given to engage some of them on a part-time basis, because that is how valuable their contribution has been,” Mrs Smiley Green adds.Even though there is an application process for the programme, consultations are also held with schools and organisations that target persons with disabilities, to assist in identifying some of these persons.When applying to take part in the programme, persons are required to bring along one passport size photo, copy of their Tax Registration Number (TRN), copy of their birth certificate, a Valid ID and a copy of their NIS number.During the training phase of the programme, areas such as employability skills, employee rights and interpersonal skills are explored.Participants are also given a stipend of $5,600 per week during the work experience component of programme, which is paid fortnightly.Meanwhile, Mrs. Smiley Green tells JIS News that the programme has been receiving support from both the private and public sectors.“We find that in terms of placement, more private sector companies are offering to take our participants. But generally speaking, we find that once the participants go into these companies, they are usually very impressive in what they do and that has aided our partners in realising how important it is to partner with us for that programme,” she says.She adds that the programme is always looking for additional partners to “come on board to assist us with not only engaging these persons, but to have them making worthwhile contributions to their organisations.”Since 2014, over 300 persons have benefitted from the programme. Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme in 2018 can contact the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA at 754-9816-8.last_img read more

Inside the Shadowy World of HighSpeed Tennis Betting

In January, Daniel Dobson was two months into a new job that allowed him the opportunity to travel overseas and watch live sports. It had a downside, though: It got him arrested in an incident that drew media coverage around the world.Dobson’s job was to sit courtside at the Australian Open in Melbourne and use his cellphone to transmit the outcome of each point of the match he was watching. The faster he worked, the greater the edge his employers at Sporting Data Ltd. would have in the betting market.Police charged Dobson, 22, with violating a law protecting integrity in sport. Two months later, they dropped the charges, and today Dobson works out of Sporting Data’s London office. The experience convinced Sporting Data chief executive and co-founder Steve High to drop tennis courtsiding from his firm’s portfolio.“That’s it for us,” he said in an interview at the company’s headquarters last month. “We’re not going to do that anymore.”Now that he doesn’t need to protect his company’s tennis tactics, or stay mum during a high-profile investigation, High is speaking freely about courtsiding. His colleague Richard Coughlan is also talking, and a former courtsider for another company has written a book on the topic to be published this week. All three describe careers that parallel those of the players. Courtsiders travel the world alongside the tennis tours, spend hours of each day honing their craft, seek to make it to the highest-profile matches to earn a big payday and, if they’re booted early in the week by their opponents, kick back and enjoy touring glamorous cities.“Oh, I loved it,” Coughlan, 27, said of his courtsiding job, which paid an annual salary of about 40,000 pounds ($67,000). “I’d love to still be doing it now.”Officials crack downThe vigorous opposition of tennis officials to courtsiding has made it impossible to continue. Coughlan and Brad Hutchins, author of the forthcoming “Game, Set, Ca$h!,” say tournament directors use a network of scouts, security officials and sometimes police to sniff out people transmitting scores. The sleuths are aided at times by disapproving chair umpires, photographs of known courtsiders and, according to Hutchins, closed-circuit television.Tennis has an uneasy relationship with gambling. In 2007, the sport was roiled by a high-profile incident of irregular betting involving top-10 player Nikolay Davydenko. (Davydenko insisted he was innocent and no evidence was found implicating him.) Partly in response, in 2008 the international organizations that oversee the professional game jointly formed the Tennis Integrity Unit. The TIU standardized rules on betting, including banning spectators from transmitting live scores for commercial purposes. (The secretive, London-based group doesn’t disclose its budget or staff size, and its spokesman told me its policy is not to comment except about cases it has already made public.)Yet the sport also seeks to share in the revenue from the popularity of tennis gambling. The website Bet-at-home.com is a sponsor and the namesake of men’s tournaments in Hamburg, Germany, and Kitzbühel, Austria. And the top customers for the sport’s scores are gambling websites.Tennis bans courtsiders to protect the sport’s integrity, U.S. Open tournament director David Brewer said. That courtsiders might be involved in more problematic betting-related behavior like match-fixing “would certainly seem to be a logical conclusion that some people could reach,” Brewer said, adding, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”Scott Ferguson, a betting-industry consultant, rejects this logic. “There is no connection whatsoever between courtsiding and match-fixing,” he said in an email. “Hell, if you were fixing a match, why on earth would you need to be in the crowd? You’d get as far away as possible to avoid detection.”1A spokesman for the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which hosts the Wimbledon tournament, cited another reason for its crackdown. “We take a view that courtsiding comes under anti-social behavior and is liable to be a nuisance to fellow spectators and therefore we have the right to remove perpetrators from the site,” he said. “To my knowledge we have done it on two occasions previously.”High and Hutchins said they think tennis authorities are cracking down to protect the value of their own scores product. In 2011, the men’s and women’s tours made a deal to sell their scores through a company called Enetpulse, majority owned by IMG. Many of the buyers are sports-gambling websites that provide the scores for in-play betting — wagering on the match after play has begun.2Such wagers make up about 80 percent of tennis wagers for the betting company Coral, according to Coral spokesman David Stevens. One site that reportedly buys the scores, Betfair, is a betting exchange that, like a stock exchange, pairs buyers and sellers for transactions when they are willing to agree to the same terms.A spokesman for IMG said the company believes the tennis tours “should be the providers of the official data, thereby benefiting the sport and allowing funds to flow back into the game.” Spokesmen for the ATP and WTA, the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours, said the tours jointly invested more than $10 million to create and operate their system for collecting and distributing live match data. A spokeswoman for the Fédération Française de Tennis, which runs the French Open, said the FFT bans courtsiding because it “owns the right to the data.”High said the tours could drive courtsiders out of business by providing a product as fast as their competition’s — or faster, if they took advantage of proprietary high-speed wireless networks at tournaments.Time is moneyBoth sides in the cat-and-mouse game owe their jobs to the nature of tennis scoring data. After each point ends, chair umpires enter the outcome into computers, which transmit the scores to fans and bettors around the world.The snag for bettors is that chair umpires aren’t primarily concerned with entering data instantaneously. They follow the ball along with line judges and watch the players to make sure neither one challenges a call, and on clay courts they often spring out of their chairs to check ball marks and ensure calls are correct. There can also be an electronic delay in the data they transmit.The potential for delays means someone who can get score data faster has an advantage. That’s why courtsiders are courtside. The second the ball lands out, or bounces twice, they can click a button on their phones and transmit the score directly into the servers their employers use to place bets. The servers, in turn, contain software that models the outcome of the match. The model incorporates the latest point outcome, spits out a probability of each player winning, and then places any bets it can find that it considers favorable based on its calculated probability.That’s basic courtsiding. A more advanced courtsider will get to know the players and their tendencies, and sometimes make calculated risks to gain a bigger betting edge. Suppose a player on the run throws up a lob. If his opponent’s body language suggests it’s going out, the courtsider can record the point as over before it’s officially ended. Or he might call a shot out before the line judge does, trusting his own eyesight and judgment.Such advanced maneuvers should be used carefully — a premature decision could be costly.“We’d rather be sure,” High said. “If it’s an absolutely critical point, you don’t want to be wrong.”His courtsiders typically got local phones, testing different providers for the best coverage and speed. They rigged the phones with buttons that were easier to press without looking, by reaching into their pockets or even pressing them from outside their pockets.Courtsiders tried to get to tournaments early in the day, to get seats behind one of the players for optimal viewing. They regulated their liquid intake to avoid poorly timed toilet breaks. “You hold, hold as long as you possibly can,” Coughlan said.Coughlan was an active courtsider for 18 months, through last summer’s U.S. Open. At the peak of Sporting Data’s operation, each of its courtsiders was relaying data 30 to 35 weeks a year, three days a week, three or four matches a day. Tennis is ideal for live scoring because tournaments typically stage many matches simultaneously. If one is lopsided and driving no betting, courtsiders can shift to a different match.After getting used to the job of keeping score, “you almost zone out,” Coughlan said. Then at crucial moments in the match, “you really have to really switch on.”I asked him to show me how he’d record the score. He said I wouldn’t see, and I didn’t; he was that good. He could applaud a well-played winner while deftly tapping the right button on the phone in his pocket. He’d usually pick a player to support, going with the crowd whenever possible so as not to stick out.Before prospective courtsiders were sent out to work, they were tested in the office, racing to see who could record points fastest. And they were told not to drink during tournaments after company tests — conducted by assigning employees the onerous homework of drinking heavily — showed hangovers weren’t conductive to fast, accurate match-scoring.3Hutchins’s company didn’t enforce similar rules; in his book he describes one drunk work session: “Our speed isn’t up to scratch but we are keeping it together.”Most of the courtsiders were young men. High, who turned 49 in January, worked mostly out of headquarters in London. “I’m an old man,” he said. “It’s a young man’s game.”It’s also a career with a limited lifespan. When tournaments catch a courtsider in the act, they typically boot the offender and ban him from returning, on threat of prosecution. Hutchins describes in his book a folder with headshots of known courtsiders that he kept seeing at tournaments. When he repeatedly was booted early in tournaments, he knew his days on tour were numbered.“One of our guys got on first-name terms with security,” High said. “At that point, he knew his career was drawing to a close.”‘We broke a million’Sporting Data occupies office space in a storage facility in southwest London, not far from Wimbledon, the International Tennis Federation headquarters and the National Tennis Centre, but not as posh. Inside are a few desks and lots of computer monitors and screens, plus a conference room that doubles as storage space.Sporting Data placed tennis bets primarily on Betfair, which imposes a five-second delay on bets. Often, Sporting Data would get score information from its courtsiders more than five seconds before the official scoreboard updated. Between its data speed advantage and its predictive model — which incorporates each player’s probability of winning serve and return points — it could find advantageous bets.Some of the people on the other side of Sporting Data’s bets probably were casual gamblers who based their wagers on the match broadcast or the digital scoreboard. Others might have been betting with their hearts, when a favorite player was in a tough scrape. Some might even have been rivals whose own courtsiders were sending in scores even faster, or who used models that disagreed with Sporting Data’s.4Rivals also were competing on the same side of the bet as Sporting Data. The first one to offer a bet that matched one they wanted to make would get it. For high-profile matches, there might be five or six other firms, also with courtsiders and models, competing. “Whoever wins that race is going to get the casual punter first,” High said. “Generally speaking, there’s enough for all of us to make a lot of money, because there are a lot of casual punters, a lot of recreational punters out there.”The identity of the person on the other side of his bets didn’t matter, High said. “The clearest point I want to make is, he’s a guy who wants his bet to be matched.”5Also, Betfair warns its customers on its website that its score data may not be the latest available: “Although the current score, time elapsed and other data provided on this site is sourced from a ‘live’ feed provided by a third party, you should be aware that this data may be subject to a time delay and/or be inaccurate. If you rely on this data to place bets, you do so entirely at your own risk. Betfair provides this data AS IS with no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of such data and accepts no responsibility for any loss (direct or indirect) suffered by you as a result of your reliance on it.”Naturally, Sporting Data lost a lot of bets, because knowing about just one more point than your betting counterpart often provides only a minuscule edge. But it won enough bets to make the whole enterprise worthwhile. “We broke a million” pounds ($1.7 million) last year, High said, though that was before expenses on courtsiders and Betfair charges. “From a purely business point of view, I would say the margins were good but not extraordinary,” he said.The business didn’t depend on fixing matches or seeking inside information at tournaments, High said. He said his employees never corrupted the sport, and bristled when some of the press coverage of the Daniel Dobson arrest referred to an alleged “betting scam.”High got into tennis betting after working for Reuters and then Betfair. He and several partners formed a syndicate to pool their bets and agreed to split winnings. Sporting Data is the company they created to provide the syndicate with data.At first they were getting their scores from the official scoreboard, and betting without a model. Then they found a model online and adapted it for their purposes.High speaks with some pride about his firm’s increasing competitiveness in tennis betting, much like a coach might speak proudly of his protégé’s career progression. “We went from being fairly slow, and not having a model, to operating on a Wimbledon final,” he said. At its peak, tennis was producing about half the syndicate’s profits, with horse racing generating much of the rest.Coming into conflict with tennis authorities, and occasionally getting booted, was a cost of doing business. But an arrest wasn’t part of the plan. “We were aware that the authorities didn’t really like it, but there was no suggestion it was illegal in any way,” High said.High described the aftermath of Dobson’s arrest as stressful — for his young employee, for Dobson’s parents, and for High and his colleagues, who stayed in touch with Australia in the middle of the London night. After the arrest, Sporting Data launched a website whose sole content was a statement asserting that “it has never been and never will be involved in any illegal betting or any other illegal activity whatsoever,” and that Dobson couldn’t be guilty of the 2013 law under which he was arrested because recording scores doesn’t affect match outcomes.The company endured about a week of intense and often negative media coverage. “Once people understood we weren’t some sort of criminal organization cheating people out of money, the whole thing died down pretty quickly,” High said.A spokeswoman for Tennis Australia, which runs the Australian Open and which reportedly flagged Dobson to the state of Victoria police, said she would send answers to written questions but didn’t. After the charges against Dobson were dropped, the police issued a statement saying the decision “should not be seen as an invitation for people to attend the Australian Open next year and engage in courtsiding.”High thinks other companies, including Hutchins’s, also pulled out of courtsiding after the arrest. Coughlan can tell some courtsiders are still active simply by watching the in-play betting markets for matches on Betfair. When the odds move before the score has changed, he knows one of his former peers is at the match.Now that Sporting Data has exited tennis, it’s had to lay off some employees. It’s focusing on soccer and horse racing.High is considering ways to re-enter tennis based on intelligence advantage, not a speed edge. For instance, do Asian bettors drive up the price of Asian players beyond what they merit? Betting psychology may be the next frontier, High said. “I think that’s underestimated.” read more