MONEY Sports

Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

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David Richard—AP Kentucky's Andrew Harrison is congratulated by Willie Cauley-Stein (15) during the second half of a college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA men's tournament regional semifinals.

Before the college basketball season started, at least 39 people placed a bet at a Nevada sportsbook with 50:1 odds. It's looking like quite a brilliant wager right about now.

The bet in question is that the University of Kentucky would go undefeated through the entire season and win the national championship in the NCAA March Madness tournament. After Kentucky completely dominated West Virginia in a 78-39 rout on Thursday night, the Wildcats stand at 37-0. All they need is three more wins and they’ll go down in history as the best college basketball team ever, or at least the one that had the best season ever.

There have been teams that have run the table in the past, with undefeated regular seasons followed by national championships. But it hasn’t happened in decades. The last squad to do so was Indiana in 1975-1976. Teams played fewer games back then—Indiana’s record was 32-0, including the tournament—so Kentucky has already won more games this year. The great John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins teams of the 1960s and ’70s had four undefeated seasons and won an amazing 88 games in a row, but again, times have changed and teams play more games nowadays.

Because the season is so long, and because no team has gone undefeated in nearly four decades, gamblers were initially given long-shot odds that Kentucky could accomplish the feat in 2014-2015. Last summer, the William Hill sportsbook in Nevada began accepting bets that would pay off 50-to-1 if Kentucky won every game, including the tournament. According to ESPN, at least 39 people took those odds, including one $500 bet that will pay off to the tune of $25,000 if Kentucky wins its final three games.

Another gambler bet $2,550 on Kentucky to zip through this year with zero losses, but that wager was placed in September, when the odds had shrunk to 20:1. That bet will pay off $51,000 if Kentucky comes through.

Kentucky has had some close games this year, including back-to-back overtime games in January, against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. So it’s indeed possible that John Calipari’s super-talented squad could lose. But as NCAA March Madness entered the Sweet Sixteen this week, sportsbooks listed Kentucky as the overwhelming favorite, with 1:1 odds. Arizona was a distant second at 13:2, and all the other contenders were even bigger long shots. In other words, casinos have been practically begging gamblers to bet on any team other than Kentucky.

Yet even if Kentucky does run the table, there are those who will argue—fairly convincingly—that this year’s team is not the best ever. Not by a long shot. In fact, Vegas oddsmakers say that the 2014-15 Kentucky team would be the underdog in theoretical matchups against several notable college squads from the past, including the undefeated 1976 Indiana team, UNLV circa 1991 with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, and Greg Anthony, and even the 2012 Kentucky team that won the national championship and had six players drafted into the NBA—but that didn’t go undefeated for the entire season.

TIME States

12 Reasons Not to #BoycottIndiana

Covered bridge
Getty Images I mean, look at that covered bridge.

Josh Sanburn is a Nation writer for TIME covering crime, demographics and society.

There's more to the state than one terrible law

Indiana has elicited some serious hate thanks to the so-called religious freedom bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence that allows businesses to deny service to same-sex couples. The hashtag #boycottindiana has been making the rounds on Twitter and been promoted by the likes of Star Trek’s George Takei, who asked his 1.6 million followers to boycott the heart of the Midwest.

On behalf of my home state, I would like to offer a defense. Not of the religious freedom bill, which I would never defend. But of the state itself, one with fine folks, fine sporting traditions and, well, a delicious pork tenderloin.

  1. Indiana is basketball’s beating heart. Basketball is everywhere. The red barns with battered hoops. The city playgrounds with rims so overused its nets have long since parted. If it wasn’t for actual religion, the sport would be the state’s true faith. Indiana is home to two of the historically great basketball programs: 5-time national champions Indiana University (Let’s overlook the last decade or so. Please.); and perennial underdog Butler, which made it to back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. Butler also plays in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, the site of one of the great underdog stories in all of sports: the 1954 Milan team, a tiny school that won the state championship in Hinkle and inspired the movie Hoosiers.
  2. Corn. Listen: There’s a lot of it, and it’s delicious.
  3. The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s perhaps the only true fare that Indiana can claim. You take a pork tenderloin, you smash until it’s practically paper thin, and then you fry it up. Also, delicious.
  4. Hoosier Hospitality. Knock on anyone’s door and it’s mandated by law that they give you shelter for the night. People in Indiana are that nice. Try it. Tell them Josh sent you.
  5. Gary. Wait, no, not Gary. Sorry. Moving on.
  6. The Jackson 5. Their formative years were spent in the state before making it big and before Michael Jackson completely transformed pop music. Come to think of it, they’re from Gary.
  7. Gary. Sorry, no. Still not Gary.
  8. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The Indianapolis 500 is still one of the most incredible sporting events to see live. The 2.5-mile track is like the Grand Canyon of sports. Although I still don’t understand why the winner drinks milk at the end. Which reminds me:
  9. Rolling farmland. Parts of the state (particularly southern Indiana where I’m from, but I’m biased) are truly beautiful with gently rolling hills, wooden barns and silos in the distance. The appeal is in the subtlety.
  10. Johnny Appleseed. Are you eating an apple right now? Thank Johnny Appleseed, who spent much of his time in the state. He probably planted the tree that grew that apple. Or at least that’s what Mrs. Newman in fourth grade told me.
  11. Lincoln’s Boyhood Home. Our greatest president spent his youth in southern Indiana and thank God, because then we would’ve only been able to claim Benjamin Harrison and his grandfather, who was president for a month before he died of pneumonia. Just grab a coat, William Henry!
  12. It’s not Kentucky. Because, seriously, who would want to be from that state?

MORE: Indiana Governor Defends Signing of Religious-Objections Bill

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sports

Watch an NCAA Player Accidentally Reveal His Crush at a Press Conference

Nigel Hayes' embarrassment is so real

A college basketball player put the madness in March Madness this week when he said something he didn’t mean to say while his mic was hot.

At a Sweet Sixteen press conference in Los Angeles, Nigel Hayes, a sophomore forward for the Wisconsin Badgers, turned to one of his teammates and, referring to the stenographer, said “Gosh, she’s beautiful.” His mic picked that up, and the whole room started laughing. He asked the woman, “Did you hear that?” and covered his face.

(h/t Bleacher Report)

Read next: North Carolina Coach Sends $200 Check to All of His Former Players in His Will

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME hockey

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss NHL Concussion Lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson allowed the case launched by league players to proceed

A federal judge in Minnesota has thrown out the NHL’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the body inadequately informed players of the health risks caused by concussions despite having ample knowledge and resources.

The plaintiffs are seeking a financial settlement for the “pathological and debilitating effects of brain injuries caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts sustained … during their professional careers,” according to court documents.

The NHL argued that the case was pre-empted by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which created a six-year statute of limitations on the case. They also argued additional jurisdiction claims. U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson rejected those challenges.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that they may not have been aware that they had suffered an injury — or the possibility of injury — while they were playing in the NHL,” she wrote in her judgement.

In response, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement reported by the Associated Press. “While we would have hoped for a different result on this motion, we understand that the case is at a relatively early stage, and there will be ample opportunity for us to establish our defenses as the discovery process progresses,” he said

As implied in the statement, the ruling does not mean the players have won the lawsuit, but rather that they can move forward with the litigation.

The players suing the NHL are Dan Lacouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larsen.

Read next: This NHL Player Got Traded After His Daughter Made a Written Plea

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME feminism

Pay Cheerleaders What They’re Worth

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform during the game between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Paul Moseley — MCT/Getty Images The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform during the game between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Marina Adshade is a professor of economics at the Vancouver School of Economics a the University of British Columbia and the author of "Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love." David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of "The Wages of Wins" and "Stumbling on Wins."

It's time to guarantee cheerleaders are properly compensated

How would you like it if there were beautiful women whose only job was to keep you entertained? Women who kept their bodies toned to your exact specifications; spent thousands of dollars on their hair, makeup and clothing so they always looked their best for you; and had invested in years of training to do complicated acrobatics designed to bring you joy. Now add to this fantasy that these women brought you hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits and you give them almost nothing in return. Sound like a fairy tale? It should be.

For decades, National Football League teams have skirted the issue of paying cheerleaders fair wages by acting as if cheerleaders were not their employees. This despite the fact that cheerleaders work 42 weeks a year, practice several times a week, attend corporate and charitable team events, are photographed for promotional media and paraphernalia, and, of course, entertain fans during games.

In court case after court case, teams have argued that because cheerleaders are independently contracted through third parties, the multi-billion dollar organizations whose business interests they promote are not obliged to pay them anything close to compensation required by state labor laws. And in court case after court case, judges have disagreed and ordered teams to pay their cheerleading squads millions of dollars in back wages.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently agreed to pay up to $825,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by cheerleaders who were paid just $100 a game. Prior to a lawsuit settled last September, the Oakland Raiders were paying their cheerleaders an hourly wage of just $5. Now, after the $1.25 million settlement, the Raiderettes can look forward to the same income as the team’s other minimum-wage employees.

In California, legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in January would require professional sports teams to recognize cheerleaders as their employees and pay them at least the state-mandated minimum wage. Gonzales, herself a former collegiate-level cheer athlete, has said that it hardly seems fair to pay cheerleaders, with all their specialized training and the risk of physical injury, less than the staff selling beers in the stands.

So are cheerleaders only worth the minimum wage? Standard economic theory indicates that in free markets, workers are paid their value to their employers. Anything less is worker exploitation.

Eric Smallwood, senior vice president at Front Row Marketing, has estimated that the TV appearances of cheerleaders on game days alone are worth about $8.25 million to the NFL, or $317,000 per year for each team in the league. Cheerleaders also provide value by promoting ticket sales and promoting the NFL brand.

So why are they paid so little?

According to National Federation of State High School Associations there are almost 400,000 individuals participating in high-school level cheerleading in the United States. Opportunities for professional cheerleaders are limited, however, given that there are only 26 NFL teams that currently have cheerleading squads (the Buffalo Bills disbanded its squad after a lawsuit last year). This suggests that the supply of cheerleaders exceeds demand. Such a labor market hands bargaining power to the employers, allowing them to negotiate down wages.

You might be wondering why this isn’t a problem for other athletes, many of whom are well paid for their contribution to their teams despite the fact that they face fierce competition from other would-be players. Historically, this had been a problem, and the only reason we no longer hear about it is that those players fought for the fair wages they are paid today.

In the first half of the 20th century, many professional sports leagues used their bargaining power to limit the pay of athletes. In the latter half of the century, though, many restrictions on player wages were eliminated leading to significant increases in player pay. For this reason, the share of its revenue that Major League Baseball paid to its players increased from 17% in 1956 to 53% in 2012. Over the same period, the National Football League increased the share of its revenue paid to players from 32% to 52%. Even the English Football League has had to increase the share of its revenue it pays to players, up from 38% in 1958 to 76% in 2013.

Studies indicate that similar stories can be told today about student athletes at American colleges and universities.

Perhaps you think that cheerleaders aren’t really being exploited for the same reason that people in the past didn’t think players were being exploited: because these athletes really love to play their game. Or perhaps you think that cheerleaders should be willing to work for very little because there are other benefits to the job, such as access to other employment opportunities or even better marriage markets. So what difference does it make if sports teams exploit their workers?

Worker exploitation has nothing to do with how much someone likes their job, or how much that job improves a worker’s other prospects, or whether or not the job can help her fulfill other life goals. If the NFL genuinely wants to address the perception that it has no respect for women (who make up 45% of its fan base), one place to start would be to guarantee that the women who do the most to promote the brand are properly compensated.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME College Basketball

This Map Shows Which Sweet 16 Teams Are Generating Buzz Around the Country

The most talked-about teams on Facebook
Facebook The most talked-about teams on Facebook.

Kentucky has coast-to-coast support

While you’ve been keeping close tabs on your office March Madness pool, Facebook has combed through more than 32 million posts, likes and comments about the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament to find out which Sweet Sixteen teams have captured the conversation (or your trash-talking) between March 15-23.

Much of the chatter is regional—it’s no surprise, for example, that Wichita State has every county in Kansas talking and typing—but Facebook’s color-coded visualization shows the extent of coast-to-coast support for Kentucky, which is currently favored to win.

Read More: Now That Your Bracket’s Busted, Here’s Who to Cheer for in the Sweet 16

TIME Sports

Watch a Tennis Champ Struggle to Lift Her Massive Trophy

Simona Halep laughs and asks, "How many kilos?!"

After winning the BNP Paribas Open tournament in southern California this weekend, Romanian tennis star Simona Halep received a giant, gleaming trophy. In a press conference following her victory, a reporter asked if she could lift it. Halep was basically like, Um, duh, do you see how strong I am?

But Halep was shocked when, even after standing up, she couldn’t get the thing off the table. She laughs, looks off camera, and asks, “How many kilos?!” The reporter apologizes for asking the question, but Halep remains in good spirits since, you know, she just won the entire tournament.

MONEY Food & Drink

Self-Serve Craft Beer Is Coming, and It Might Even Save You Money

DraftServ beer machine, Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rob Carr—Getty Images DraftServ beer machine, Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A beer-pouring innovation is spreading to bars, restaurants, and sports venues, allowing beer drinkers to handle the taps themselves, and to pour—and pay for—exactly the amount of brew they want.

Beer drinkers, rejoice. The tyranny of being restricted to ordering brews in 12 oz., pint, or perhaps yard sizes is coming to an end. So is the necessity of actually having to speak to a bartender and ask him to do you the favor of filling your glass.

A “craft casual hot dog concept” chain based in California called Dog Haus will soon have self-service beer stations available to customers in two locations. Pour-your-own, pay-by-the-ounce beer using a technology called iPourIt is expected to be an option in the Santa Ana restaurant by the end of the month, with the Dog Haus in Fullerton coming on board by early summer.

The station will feature interactive touch screens where customers will be able to choose among what’s on tap from small SoCal brewers such as Cismontane, Noble Ale Works, and The Bruery. The way it works with the iPourIt system is that—after showing ID to prove they’re at least 21, of course—customers preload money on a card used to purchase beer they pour themselves. Prices are listed by the ounce rather than the glass, so patrons only pay for exactly the amount they want. “This system gives customers the opportunity to customize their drinking experience whether that means pouring a number of 1oz samplers or filling a 16oz pint to wash down their dog,” a Dog Haus press release stated.

“Now we’re able to take the beer and put it in the outside dining room, much like people have been doing for years with sodas,” Dog Haus cofounder Quasim Riaz explained to QSRMagazine.com. There are restrictions on how quickly you can pour and throw back your brew, however. “We’re not going to let someone walk up and just order $100 of beer,” Riaz said. “That’s not at all how the system works.”

Exact pricing and beer-pouring limits for Dog Haus aren’t released yet. A similar concept of self-serve beer stations made its debut at Target Field in Minnesota around the time the stadium hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game last July. Those machines, from a company called DraftServ, featured Budweiser and Bud Light for 38¢ per ounce and fancier Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brews from the likes of Goose Island for 40¢ per ounce. (Respectively, that adds up to $6.08 and $6.40 for a 16oz self-poured pint, which actually seems reasonable for the ballpark.) Customers load money onto cards in advance to pay for their brew, and they’re limited to pouring no more than 48 ounces every 15 minutes.

Lambeau Field and Miller Park, both in Wisconsin, introduced self-serve beer stations with Miller brews on tap last fall as well.

Meanwhile, iPourIt seems to be the self-service system of choice for bars, restaurants, and festivals featuring independent craft brews. The traveling Beer Haven mini-festival is making the rounds at larger events, such as the ongoing Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, and it includes an iPourIt station where drinkers load money in $20 increments onto wristbands used to pay for beer by the ounce. “When you’re done, you’ll get a printout of every beer you drank, perfect to save as a tasting-notes cheat sheet,” the Miami New Times reported. A new bar opening this summer in Denver called First Draft will also feature craft beers via the iPourIt system, making it the city’s first eatery with self-serve beer.

Attendees of the 2013 Los Angeles County Fair got an especially early look at iPourIt. At the time, prices were set around 62¢ for 20 different craft brews on tap, for a pricey $10 or so per pint. But as an iPourIt rep explains in the video below, paying by the ounce can be cheaper: “You can go and taste a little bit and not get charged for a whole beer.”

As for why restaurants, bars, and ballparks are intrigued with self-serve beer, one NBC Sports reporter succinctly summed up two of the biggest reasons while testing out the technology at Target Field last summer:

I figure the twin-draw of this technology for the ballparks is that (a) in the long run they will save money on having to pay people to draw beer for customers; and (b) they figure people will buy more beer thanks to the novelty of it.

As if people need an excuse to drink more beer at the ball game.

TIME Sports

Watch This Soccer Player Score a Totally Insane ‘Scorpion Kick’ Goal

Sports!

Even if you’re not much of a soccer fan, or a sports fan at all, you’ll appreciate this highly impressive goal scored by Hungarian footballer Botond Birtalan.

Birtalan plays for Békéscsaba in the Hungarian second division, and in a recent game, he pulled off quite the stunt. His team was down 2-1 when he sunk the goal, which began with a “scorpion kick.” The goalie almost managed to save it, which was quite impressive too, but Birtalan was ultimately victorious.

Read next: Soccer Player Confuses Goalie by Falling on His Face, Then Scores a Penalty Goal

MONEY Sports

The Massive Money Behind March Madness

The annual NCAA basketball tournament has an enormous television presence, and its revenues have only been growing in recent years.

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