P. Edronkin

Bet Till You Drop... Some People Really Meant It



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Betting is something so popular because it lends itself to almost any activity, and betting has always been a part of most explorations and adventures all thorough history and around the world. Putting money or other things at stake is something that has been used even to stimulate the involved parties to win.

Of course, in some occasions contests, matches and games are rigged and tampered with in order to fix their results but the pressure that results collaterally just from the fact that lost of money may be at stake is enormous: in some activities, and especially in the case of some sports such as boxing and horse riding, betting is the business itself, and the sport is just the excuse. But there are and have been other occasions in which betting becomes a determinant factor, not always with the best intentions or results, but always on top: a member of the Colombian national football team (is not soccer, but football, indeed) was murdered a few days after he made a serious mistake during a word cup match. Then, it is believed that even some people have been murdered just as the results of obscure betting going on: there was once even a website in which people could bet on who among celebrities and personalities around the world would die first.

And we should not forget what the Mayas did when they played their really hardcore ball sport known as 'Tlachli': sometimes they bet on their own freedom, and became slaves when they lost, they bet their children or spouses and even their lives. In one or two events, whole villages became the prize. We should not wonder at this because the game itself was really dangerous and often deadly for the players since a hard, natural rubber ball was used and an impact of such a missile could easily cause major wounds.

Also, in a somewhat more innocent but also highly competitive spirit, during the nineteenth century a new generation of fast sail ships appeared on scene: the clippers. These were light, fast and reliable ships that competed among the first steamers: clippers could, at least for a while, navigate faster, and the kind of affluent people who financed their construction bet on each other. There were even bets among sailors on the bets that they thought that they captains were having among them. Clippers going from China to the UK also competed ferociously against each other, and when steamers were finally ready for oceanic travel, people began betting on them too!


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