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Declan Hill is an associate professor of investigations at the University of New Haven and the lead of its Sports Integrity Center. He is the author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime and The Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing in Football.

You don’t have to be a crazed conspiracy theorist, a mad gambling freak or a sports-consumed nut to think that there is something odd is going on in the sports world – and you’d be right. It’s the beginning of the end, with the eventual outcome being what feels impossible now: the death of one of the big professional North American sports leagues.

On Jan. 26, the Toronto Raptors’ third-string centre Jontay Porter’s performance, or rather lack thereof, was the most profitable bet in the National Basketball Association. That’s saying a lot: Every week, gambling on NBA games measures in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So for someone to make a lot of money betting that a certain player – much less a low-profile one – was not going to do well is a very curious incident. Even curiouser: the same thing happened with similar bets on the same player six weeks later, on March 20.

Curiouser still was the strange case of the alleged big-spending translator, Ippei Mizuhara, who claimed last month that it was he who bet with an illegal bookie using money from the bank account of Major League Baseball’s biggest superstar, Shohei Ohtani. According to the current, official story from Mr. Ohtani’s camp (it has changed), the translator took US$4.5-million from the player’s accounts over two years without anyone noticing.

That story ignores the high rate of gambling addiction that exists among male athletes. It ignores the massive salary difference between the translator and the global superstar. It suggests that Mr. Ohtani fire not just his translator, but all his financial advisers who somehow missed the absent millions for years.

Other curious incidents have infected the sports world over the last few weeks. The college men’s basketball teams at Temple and Loyola, for instance, are under investigation for allegedly fixing the gambling line. Then, there’s the case of the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, which recently fired an employee accused of stealing US$22-million of the team’s money to place online bets. (That’s poetic justice, perhaps, given the NFL’s own sponsorship deals with gambling companies; hopefully, the employee at least had the good grace to place the bets with the league’s “official bookmaker.”)

All this is taking place in the context of threats to coaches, officials and athletes. The college basketball player Damion Baugh broke the line. Last year, he scored a three-pointer in the last second of what would be an 84-81 defeat. A lot of people were set to make a lot of money on his team – Texas Christian University – losing by more than four points. For the crime of playing the game as it is supposed to be played, Mr. Baugh received a torrent of online criticism. He told ESPN: “Saying I shouldn’t have taken the shot is saying, ‘We don’t care about the game. We just wanted to win our money.’”

Meanwhile, Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff has described receiving menacing calls and death threats from gamblers. “They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff … So it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we’re walking for sure.”

All it takes to kill off a league is for enough good-faith, non-crazed fans to start questioning its credibility. A reader will see it in themselves. Next week, next month or next season, something will happen in a professional sports game you’re watching – perhaps a brilliant star makes a mistake, or an extraordinary performance comes from the last player that you would expect – that will make you think: “Am I watching real sport or prearranged theatre?” When that happens with enough people, it will launch the slow end of a sports league.

Amid all these curious incidents, there is no watchdog barking in the proverbial night. No new government agency or police unit has been set up to protect sports. It is very odd for federal and provincial politicians to boast about how much money they have raised on new taxes on gambling, when very little of that money seems to have gone to actually protecting sports.

One very easy start to this issue would be for Justin Trudeau’s government to finally make match-fixing illegal in Canada. Two years ago, when the Liberals legalized sports gambling, they promised to amend the Criminal Code to do so. As with so many things, they have not done what they promised.

Until then, stand by for more curious incidents in our sports.

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