On July 20th of last year, Rory McIlroy won the British Open. This doesn’t really interest me. I mean that with no disrespect to Rory (although I feel it’s my duty to point out to him that the name “Roy” should only have one “R” in it). I’m just of the mindset that the terms “professional golf” and “interesting” don’t really go together. But I bring up McIlroy’s feat, not to bitch about how un-interesting watching golf is (OK, maybe a little because of that), but because of a side-story that came up as a result of his win. Because with the win, young Rory’s dad also won — $171,000 to be exact (and probably fatherly pride or some BS like that).
You see, when Rory was 15, his dad and some of his dad’s friends placed a 200-pound bet (around $341) that his son would win the British Open within 10 years. Apparently, that type of bet is called a special odds request, and in Europe it happens more frequently than one would think. Which is to say, that I didn’t think it happened at all. I guess from a betting firm’s standpoint it’s a pretty low-risk bet to make. You give some crazy odds (this one was 500/1), and make a quick couple hundred bucks (or pounds if you wanna be British with it). Until one of those bets comes through, and that couple hundred pounds turns into a hundred-thousand-pound payout.
Based on the article here, the betting firm that took the bet has more than 300 special odds requests of a similar nature a year. Which means that there are a lot of dads who are pretty goddamn confident in their children. This lead me to think about myself at 15, and what sort of 10-year special odds request bet my dad would’ve been able to place.
As it turns out, even when I was 15, I had no athletic potential. To be clear, I wasn’t quite the sedentary tour de force I am now. That took years of disregarding workouts and platefuls of pizza rolls to accomplish. No, when I was 15 I was an active little bastard. That would’ve been sophomore year in high school. I had decided to pull a 180 and play football instead of being in the marching band (though I enjoyed my year of JV ball, it did not parlay into what people call “talent” or “functional ability”). It was my second year of swimming, one of the few sports I was decidedly average at (as opposed to painfully terrible). I was active in a couple of clubs (mostly nerdy ones such as Science Olympiad). Oh and I got my first guitar.
So basically what I’m saying is that, despite everything else in my life that points to the contrary, I was a pretty normal teenager in high school. I mean, with the purchase of the guitar there was the potential to become a rockstar, and the bet being that within 10 years I’d win a Grammy. My dad being pragmatic, though, would never have made that bet. He actually had to listen to my guitar playing. I’m not saying I haven’t improved since then, but at 15, my abilities revolved around stumbling my way through Basket Case (a classic in its own right).
No, my pops would have bet on something that’s at least slightly realistic. For instance he could’ve bet that I would graduate from college within 10 years. But that bet isn’t really all that risky. I was a good student and proper nerdy so the notion that I’d go to and complete college was all but predetermined. Slightly more risky a bet would’ve been that I’d have a real “I’m an adult” job in 10 years. At 25, I’d be just a couple of years out of college and primed to go pro at some company. The job market in 10 years would’ve been hard to predict, so I could see that going at a slightly better payout. If I were to make the odds, I’d put them at something like 50/1.
But the “shoot for the moon” bet? Something that would’ve had the same odds as McIlroy winning the British Open? We’ll that would have to revolve around women. The aforementioned book worminess of my 15-year-old self (and the use of “aforementioned” really in any self) should inform that women were a rarity. So I’d like to think that my dad’s bet would be that I’d have sex within 10 years. Not only would the payout of that bet have been huge (for both of us, amirite?), it’s a vote of confidence from my dad saying that yes, I’m a dork and yes, the outlook seems grim, but he’s got faith some gal will be willing to lower her standards slightly. And lower her standards she did (high-five!). Dad — it’s time to get paid.