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About Sports Picks and Handicappers

Overview

The concept of sports picks being made by handicappers began to gain some notice in the middle of the 1970's. As the popularity of the NFL continued to grow during this period, the television coverage of the sport also expanded. In the 1960's, networks televised the games each Sunday afternoon.

In 1970, Monday Night Football burst onto the scene at ABC. At this point, there wasn't a great deal of emphasis on pregame and postgame shows. This began to change in the mid-70's when CBS launched its NFL Today program before the games kicked off each Sunday. The show provided a mix of game previews and player features related to the upcoming contests.

In 1976, CBS added Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder to the NFL Today lineup. Snyder was a former Las Vegas bookmaker who gained some prominence by writing a nationally-syndicated column related to sports betting. On the NFL Today, host Brent Musburger and Snyder would preview several of the top games each week. For each of the games, teams would be given a check mark for a particular category (offense, defense, coaching, etc.) by Snyder. This was used as an overview of each matchup. Then, Snyder would indicate which team he thought would win the game.

No point spreads were ever mentioned but Snyder would give little hints to potential bettors watching the telecast. For example, he might say that a particular squad would win by a field goal. Any bettor that was aware of the line for that particular game would know which side that Snyder preferred in terms of the point spread.

Sports picks on television

As ESPN and cable sports television began to take off in the early 1980's, there was even more analysis and insight for fans and bettors to absorb. The major networks also expanded their coverage. There were more pregame and postgame shows than ever before. The NFL shows would eventually evolve to feature more insight and opinions from former star players and coaches. Instead of having a tout like Snyder pick the games, the NFL pregame shows let all of the ex-players and coaches make selections. Again, the point spreads weren't mentioned.

Unlike Snyder, the former players and coaches rarely made any subtle references to the lines. Novice bettors and fans might view these kind of picks as being very valuable. After all, the players and coaches on these shows performed at a high level in the NFL. Many of these analysts won Super Bowls and are in the Hall of Fame. However, these analysts aren't breaking the games down from a betting perspective. More often than not, the better team will be predicted to win the game on these NFL pregame shows.

Of course, serious sports bettors are quite aware that the better or favored team will generally cover the point spread at about the same rate as the underdog squad. ESPN expanded on the network NFL pregame shows to have extended shows related to college football and basketball. Like the standard network NFL pregame shows, these programs had picks and selections from a panel of former players and coaches. So, it is through sports television that fans and bettors are exposed the most to sports picks. However, these selections are done without little regard to the point spreads and lines.

Handicappers

d sports talk radio began to truly emerge in the early 1990's, there was around the clock coverage of major sporting events. It was through these avenues that sports handicappers began to pop up. These handicappers would buy air time on national cable networks to broadcast shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings during the football season. Most of these programs would feature handicappers selecting a few games on the program while placing greater emphasis on selections that they wanted to sell for other football games that were coming up that weekend. These handicappers would also buy air time on some sports talk radio stations to promote their services.

The handicapping industry really took off in the late 1990's with the emergence of the Internet. It didn't take long for hundreds of handicapping services to show up on the web. Most serious sports bettors will ignore such handicappers. In their view, it is suspicious for a someone to claim to be a strong handicapper/bettor while trying to get customers to buy their picks. If these handicappers are so successful, why would they need to rely on customers? Wouldn't they make enough money by simply wagering on their own picks?

Many handicappers would counter this argument by claiming that their services aren't that much different from the services performed by stockbrokers. In reality, novice sports bettors should be cautious before getting involved with a sports handicapper. While there are some legitimate handicappers in the industry, the majority have questionable reputations.

Because there is no real regulation on these businesses, handicapping services can claim just about anything without any real accountability. When a tout claims to have a "15-1 record on Monday Night football games" in an ad, it is unlikely to be based in fact. Novice bettors should do plenty of research on handicappers at some of the top sports betting forums on the web before any kind of picks should ever be purchased.