Photo courtesy of Brian Tuohy
What do Super Bowl III, the 2012 Olympic badminton tournament, the 2011 Cricket World Cup semifinals, and the 2012 Manny Pacquiao–Timothy Bradley fight have in common? According to Brian Tuohy, they were all fixed.
For years, Brian has been waging a lonely battle, writing innumerable blog entries and two books that all say the same thing: the multibillion-dollar sports industry is as rigged as pro wrestling. This year the soccer world was rocked by a scandal that involved organized-crime syndicates fixing matches worldwide, and in 2007, it was revealed that NBA referee Tim Donaghy made calls to steer the outcome of games and gave inside information to bookies—but Brian’s allegations go well beyond those examples. He says leagues like the NFL and NBA force athletes to throw games and fix the outcomes so they can generate juicy story lines, thereby creating more revenue. I called him to ask what the heck he was talking about.
VICE: Why should anyone believe that sports are fixed?
Brian Tuohy: There are certain undeniable facts about professional sports that most fans don’t know and don’t care to know. Leagues willingly admit they’re entertainment and just another facet of show business, like circuses and reality television. It isn’t illegal to fix one’s own game. If they direct their referees to officiate a game in a certain way that may favor one team over another, there’s nothing illegal about that. When a league needs a certain story line to succeed or to promote a particular player, then it will do what is needed to ensure a profitable result.
Obviously gambling plays a big role in this—how big is the sports-betting industry?
Worldwide about $1 trillion, and $80 to $380 billion [is wagered every] year in the US. Take the low estimate, $80 billion—that’s more than three times the revenue generated in 2012 by all major leagues. This is controlled by organized crime.
The 1969 Super Bowl, where the Jets and Joe Namath upset the Colts, comes up a lot in your writing. Why is that game important?
To me, Super Bowl III [the first step toward the NFL/AFL merger] is the Rosetta Stone for understanding why a league would fix its own game. Having Namath and the Jets win meant billions of dollars for the owners of both franchises. It was a game that had to go the AFL’s way to ensure the success of the merger between the two leagues. It was too important to leave to chance. And yet fans still believe the Colts—perhaps the greatest team in NFL history—fell apart in that game against the AFL’s third-place team.
Brian's book, THE FIX IS IN: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR (Feral House) is available now.