What Does Shaving Points Mean In Football? ( Get To Know More About This Illegal Activity In American Football! )

Last Updated on October 28, 2023 by Alex PT

Shaving points in football is an unethical practice where players or coaches intentionally lose a game or keep the score close to gain an advantage, such as gambling profits or draft positions. It is a serious offense that can result in fines, suspensions, and even jail time.

How Point Shaving Works (Phases)Which Sports Is It Popular
Phase 1; Find a playerAmerican Football
Phase 2; Call in the fixBasketball
Phase 3; Hopefully, you don’t get caughtRugby

Point Shaving in Basketball

Shaving points scheme can easily be done in the game of basketball since a player can easily influence key events and because of the scoring tempo of the game. A corrupt basketball player can covertly ensure that his team fails to cover “the point spread” without having to lose the match by intentionally committing fouls or turnovers, or probably missing shots. Truly and to be honest, the NCAA has tried its best to sport illegal match-fixing with its adoption of a zero-tolerance policy to curb gambling activity by its players. But there are still a lot of critics that the NCAA somehow encourages point-shaving through the huge amount of money wagered in its matches and its strict regulation heeding amateurism. To stop players from this illegal activity, the NCAA has made posters stating stern warnings for players not to engage in “point shaving”.

In the 1950-51 season, there was a popular example of point-shaving with the CCNY Point Shaving Scandal. That’s not all, in 1961, the Dixie Classic scandal also became popular, and the point-shaving scandal happened in 1978-79 with the Boston College Basketball which was done by fugitive Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill. As if that’s enough, the University disbanded its sports programs for four years during the 1984-85 season after the Tulane men’s basketball point-shaving scandal. On the 15th of August 2007, Tim Donaghy who was an NBA referee was found guilty after officiating a game that had two felonies related to wagering. He changed calls so that the two teams would score more than typically expected to avoid being viewed as biased.

History of Point Shaving in Sports Leagues

Point shaving is an unethical practice in sports where athletes or coaches intentionally lose a game or keep the score close to a predetermined margin in order to gain an advantage, such as gambling profits or draft positions.

Point shaving has been a problem in sports leagues for decades, and it has occurred in a variety of sports, including basketball, football, baseball, and boxing. Some of the most notable point-shaving scandals in sports history include:

  • 1919 Black Sox Scandal: Eight players from the Chicago White Sox were suspended for life from baseball for throwing the 1919 World Series.
  • 1950s College Basketball Point Shaving Scandal: Dozens of college basketball players from several schools were involved in a point-shaving scheme that lasted for several years.
  • 1978-79 Boston College Basketball Point Shaving Scandal: Several Boston College basketball players were involved in a point-shaving scheme that was orchestrated by gangsters Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke.
  • 1985-86 Tulane Basketball Point Shaving Scandal: Five Tulane basketball players were involved in a point-shaving scheme that led to the university disbanding its basketball program for four seasons.
  • 2007 NBA Betting Scandal: NBA referee Tim Donaghy was convicted of betting on games that he officiated.
  • 2011 Ohio State Football Point Shaving Scandal: Five Ohio State football players were suspended for shaving points in a game against the University of Southern California.
  • 2020 College Basketball Point Shaving Scandal: Several college basketball players from different universities were arrested for their involvement in a point-shaving scheme.

Point shaving is a serious problem in sports because it undermines the integrity of the game. When athletes or coaches engage in point shaving, they are essentially cheating the fans and the other teams involved in the competition. Point shaving can also hurt the reputation of the sport as a whole.

Hypothetical Ways Point Shaving Can Occur in Football

There are a number of hypothetical ways that point shaving could occur in football. Here are a few examples:

  • Players could intentionally lose a game by making mistakes, such as dropping passes or throwing interceptions.
  • Players could intentionally allow the other team to score by not covering receivers or not tackling ball carriers.
  • Players could intentionally keep the score close by not trying their hardest on offense or defense.
  • Coaches could call plays that are designed to lose the game or keep the score close.

Here is a more detailed example of how point shaving could occur in a football game:

  • Let’s say that a team is favored by 10 points in a game. A group of players on that team could decide to shave points by intentionally playing poorly. They could drop passes, throw interceptions, and miss tackles. They could also intentionally allow the other team to score by not covering receivers or not tackling ball carriers.
  • As a result of the players’ poor play, the team is losing at halftime. At this point, the players could decide to try to keep the score close so that they can win money on their bets. They could intentionally not try their hardest on offense or defense. They could also intentionally give up a late score to the other team so that the final score is within 10 points.
  • As a result of the players’ actions, the team loses the game by 7 points, which is within the 10-point spread. The players win their bets, and the team is able to get away with point shaving.

It is important to note that point shaving is a very serious offense, and players who are caught engaging in point shaving can face severe penalties, including fines, suspensions, and even jail time.

Here are some of the reasons why players or coaches might engage in point shaving:

  • Financial problems: Players or coaches who are struggling financially may be tempted to engage in point shaving in order to make money.
  • Gambling addiction: Players or coaches with gambling addictions may engage in point shaving in order to pay off gambling debts.
  • Pressure from organized crime: Players or coaches may be forced to engage in point shaving by organized crime figures.

Sports leagues and law enforcement agencies are working to address the problem of point shaving in football. However, it is a complex problem with no easy solutions. It is important for fans to be aware of the potential for point shaving and to report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.

How Shaving Points Work In The NFL?

We’ve got interested in how point-shaving works in the NFL with the federal authorities accusing an ex-assistant coach and former basketball players of the University of Diego of trying to fix games. For the intro; unlike throwing away games, point-shaving doesn’t mean a team would let its opposing team win. It only means that a team would decide not to cover the point spread, or make a bad pass here or there, miss a layup, or even make a blanket free throw at the end of regulation. In 1950, despite having been involved in shaving points, CCNY still won the national championship. The only problem here is that any NCAA athlete who gets involved in the activity “point shaving” is said to have committed a federal crime.

Phase One: Find A player

Gamblers constantly target players that they know need extra spending money. John Williams was reported by a 1985 Sports Illustrated to be a central figure which led to the dismissal of the school’s yearly basketball program. To ensure that Tulane missed covering the 10-point spread, it was reported that Williams received $900, which was later favored over Southern Mississippi. Furthermore, it was reported that he later collected $4,500 to help make sure that the team lost the game that was played on the 20th of February, to Memphis State with a more than a 7-point spread. It will become much easier to recruit other players once you’ve got one player.

 It was stated by the Associated Press that the scandal of the Arizona State point-shaving that happened in the mid-1990s all started as a result of one team player helping the other out. In 1944, it all started when Isaac Burton Jr. was asked by his Arizona State teammate, Stevin Smith to help him moss some free throws against Oregon State. This small illegal activity started what was regarded as the worst sports betting scandal in United States history. It was sad to know that the two players involved in the scandal were both handed jail time.

Phase Two: Call In The fix

Back then, we heard about players who to do what gamblers want, don’t just have to play. For example, according to USA Today, one of the University of Toledo football players was offered $10,000 not to participate in a football game, while others were given mere electronics, clothes, and groceries to do the same thing. We thank God for the scrutiny attached to line movements which helps to reduce illegal activities, if bit for that, gamblers could have been calling in the fix every single night. Just to influence four consecutive games of the mob’s choosing, Smith was offered $20,000 in the Arizona State case.

Most popular gambling sites observe multiple unusual patterns if we look back at the line movements before the San Diego match against UC Riverside that was held in 2009. Not only was Riverside, by tipoff, favored by at most one point at most books but there was also rapid line movement at all the recorded 11 offshore sportsbooks after we all knew that this same team started with 2-point underdogs. According to the interview made by the Sports Illustrated, the main subject OD Goodfellas, Mobster Henry Hill said he organized the point-shaving at the Boston College during the basketball season of 1978-79.  

Phase Three: Hopefully, You Don’t Get Caught!

When an NCAA athlete participates in point-shaving, it is a federal crime with rigid sentences. For instance, because Kuhn was involved in the BC fix he was sentenced to almost three years. Also, one of the stars on the CCNY team, Sherman White was sentenced to Riker’s Island to serve 12 months.

Point Shaving Properly Explained

When players or a player does everything he can to limit how much he scores in a game to affect the point spread, to make sure the gamblers who had placed bets on that team involved in a game make huge money. One player or probably more players from the team involved and a sports gambler are the two factors required for a point-shaving scheme. The players involved in this illegal sports activity usually do anything to stop their teams from covering the set point spread in the game. Although in most cases, the same team might win the game it won’t be as it was predicted by the bookmakers.

Which Sports Is It Popular?

Point shaving has been very popular in professional sports and college sports, however, as stated above, basketball is the easiest sport with a straightforward effort to do point-shaving because it is very easy for a player to affect a game and secondly because of the tempo of scoring. Most of these players involved in this match-fixing do these things in a way that does not make people suspicious like intentionally missing shots, turning the ball over in clutch moments to avoid coming to the spread, or even making fouls on certain players. The gamblers would now have to bet against that team. Referees are rarely involved in point-shaving, but when they are involved, they either run their scheme or they are directly involved in a gambler’s scheme to help run phantom fouls and the like. Even if it is rare, American football is also a subject to point shaving. Point shaving does happen in American football, that’s when you’d see a quarterback making interceptions or poor passes on purpose. The officials can also call plays incorrectly in the game.

Is It More Popular Between Professional Sports Or College Sports?

College players who are attending college on a full-ride scholarship of some kind are typically involved in a point-shaving scandal, but without everyday money to support a family- or sometimes themselves- to allow themselves to have necessities. Thus motivating them to take bribes to influence the outcomes of their games. In the state of Nevada, there’s approximately $2.5 billion being bet legally annually. This particular amount is dwarfed by the 80 billion to 380 billion dollars (this includes bets made not interested in fixed events or matches) being bet illegally on sporting events. This will give tiny time bookies huge income from point-shaving schemes which are easy periods.

To find out under what circumstances point-shaving was very probable to happen, a report was conducted by two males. They learned more than 35,000 games in 15 years (1995-2009) to evaluate their theory of theirs; which- Positive Many Meanings- teams tend to be more apt to undertake in the regular season along with double-digit point spreads. What they discovered was it wasn’t easily created by those individuals that were found but by a great deal of teams on a smaller scale.

Is Point Shaving A Federal Offense?

Since individuals are betting on these games and might earn more cash or even drop money, right now there are consequences to fixing these games. It’s a federal offense to take part; when found players are usually brought up on charges that are available out of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of helping & fraud to affect the results of games, conspiracy to commit sports bribery, abetting criminal activity, conspiracy, based on whether the individuals required have journeyed across state lines or perhaps not,  and unlawful bookmaking, interstate travel to commit bribery. The offenders might face as many as 20 years in jail when found guilty.


We’ve come to the end of this lengthy article. We hope you found resources in your quest to know what shaving points mean in football. If you have any related questions or comments, do not hesitate to let us know. Enjoy!



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