Saturday, April 6, 2013

Betcha a buck you'll read this column to the end



Friday night, half past seven, match of the week, Sea Eagles versus The Dessie Dogs. Manning the couch on one hand is the 11-year- old son, on the other the nine-year-old daughter.

''One-dollar-ninety you won't last to the end of the game,'' the son says. To show how smart he is, he says to his sister: ''Those are the odds against Manly winning. If they're losing, he'll turn it off.''

''How do you know that?'' I ask.

''I may not have played in the NRL, Dad, but I know what you're like.''


Sounds like I'd better start speaking the language of youth. ''OK then. Two-dollars-ten on you getting sent to bed before full-time.''

''You're on,'' pipes up the daughter. ''But if we're still up at half-time, we get our money back.''

The match has started and the children's mother wanders by during the first ad break. ''That kid who knows what punters want,'' she says, nodding to the TV. ''Is that Pete Campbell from Mad Men?''

I do a double take. ''You're right - dead ringer.''

''Oh, it's not the physical resemblance, it's the rest of it.'' To my questioning look, she says: ''If you watched Mad Men, you'd know what I mean.''

''That's Tom Waterhouse,'' the daughter says. ''He works for Channel Nine.''

''As in, son of Robbie Waterhouse?''

''Uh huh.''

''As in, grandson of Bill Waterhouse?''

''Mmmm. Hmmm.''

''As in, Fine Cotton?''

''Prrr … Neigh! Why?''

''Just wondering why he's boasting about generations of bookmaking in the blood. You wouldn't think he'd be willing to …''

Hold your horses! The price of Tom Waterhouse suing me has just plunged from $50 to $2.75.

''That's not his name anyway,'' the son says. ''It's Tom Waterhouse Dot Com. He gets paid $15 million to do commentary on Channel Nine.''

I shake my head. ''No, he pays Channel Nine.''

''Wow,'' the daughter says. ''You can pay to be a commentator?''

She goes off and returns with a heavy purse. ''Can I be a commentator for, um, $37?''

''Fail,'' the son says. ''That is so not enough.''

''Is there some way I can double it?'' She looks at me.

''I know a good way you can lose it all.''

At four minutes 54 seconds into the match, with Canterbury in possession, I leap to my feet and punch the air.

''Why's he doing that?'' says the confused daughter.

''He had Tony Williams at $9 to touch the ball in the first five minutes,'' says the son. ''He still loves T-Rex. And Des, too, deep down.''

''Well, he's getting very worked up for such a small amount,'' says the daughter, who thinks odds and prizemoney are the same thing. The son spends the next half hour explaining the concept of sports betting. He has been writing an essay on it for his class at school, where he had to take both sides on the topic ''Betting advertisements should be allowed during sports broadcasts''.

On the affirmative side, he argued that as the ads say you can bet only if you are 18 or over, if there were no ads then under-18s would bet all day. On the negative side, he maintained that no betting ads would mean people would spend more time chasing other ''temptations'' such as smoking and poker games. Or was that the positive side? More questions for parent-teacher night next week.

Meanwhile, half-time has passed and we have received updated odds on the points difference, next scorer, match winner, and tomorrow's games. The daughter has gone online to check on tonight's AFL match - the current odds, not the score. The son is offering me $11 against Josh Dugan joining the Dragons and making the semis. The wife has gone to stay at her mother's. The children are starting a sweepstake on how soon it is before I throw something at the TV.

By the end of the night, I have managed to separate the son from $7.50 and the daughter from an IOU for filling one bag of dog poo from the backyard. I don't know what happened in the match, but it's been a successful night all round. There's so much more to sport than just watching.

I tuck the daughter into bed.

''Good night, daddy. Evens on mummy coming home again.''

I tuck the son into bed. Tomorrow he's got a big game.

''A book before lights out?'' I say.

''Sure, I've already started one,'' he says. ''We're paying $3.50, and I'm offering $1.07 on you forgetting my drink bottle.''
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