The Association of Professional Sports Services was formed a year ago in an attempt to bring a little integrity to the booming business of touting college and professional football games against the point spread.
Paul (Chipper) Chirimdes of Stamford, Conn., came up with the concept of the touts policing themselves. Many of us believe he has embarked on an impossible task. Chirimdes, a former schoolteacher, still thinks it's a good idea.
"Everyone's cast into one big pot in this business," he says, "and none of the honest people in the business can like that. We have to try to straighten out and clean up things from within, and that means monitoring the sheets and the phone calls and getting cross-checks for verification.
"There are 400 services at work in the country," Chirimdes estimated. "I'd say 200 are fly-by-night. Of the remaining 200, about 50 percent might be run by honorable people -- and that might be too high a figure. At least many bettors think there aren't that many reputable services around."
The cost of subscribing to a sports service currently ranges from a high of $2,500 to a low of $200 for the season. A recent survey by a national magazine gave the good bookkeeping seal of approval to only four such services. Chirimdes believes the writer failed to do his homework, although he readily agrees that "Bettor Beware" is good advice.
"We started out with 32 services in the APSS," he remarked. "Two have been kicked out, after having been put on probation for advertising violations. We encourage customers to send in complaints about any abuse or fraud. Many of those who do complain are simply sore losers, but the only way we're going to clean things up is to check ourselves very closely. That means you can't hire robbers to guard the bank."
Chirimdes has his own sports service. He admits it is difficult to know exactly what each competitor is selecting, or offering, but he believes progress is being made under the organization's shamrock banner.
"That's our logo," he said, "bearing the four letters. All the ads of the members carry the shamrock. Eventually, I think more of the big guys will come in. At first, I think they felt they didn't need us, that they'd established their reputation. But I believe they're recognizing what we're trying to achieve."
I applaud the APSS, without endorsing any of its members. I have never subscribed to a sports service, but, oh, the horror stories we've all heard. Yet some services, I'm sure, are legitimate and try to protect their clients from the vultures who advertise those absurd percentages of winning picks in the football trade magazines.
Chirimdes acknowledged that "probably only 10 of the 30 services in our organization will show a profit (for the client) in a given year."
So I'll follow my own advice, by restricting this weekend's action to $250 on Green Bay getting 4 at home against Atlanta, $250 on San Francisco giving 1 at home to Chicago and $250 on Philadelphia giving 3 1/2 at home against New England.
In other games, Las Vegas lists Miami 3 over Pittsburgh (tonight), Buffalo 2 1/2 at Baltimore, New York Jets 3 over Cincinnati, Denver-Seattle even, San Diego 6 1/2 over Detroit, Cleveland 3 1/2 over Houston, Los Angeles 6 at New Orleans, Washington 6 1/2 over New York Giants, Dallas 10 1/2 over St. Louis, Kansas City 4 over Tampa Bay and (Monday night) Oakland 2 1/2 at Minnesota.
Last week Season Total Minus $575 Minus
Last week's results: Pittsburgh, giving 8 1/2, lost to Kansas City, 37-33, minus $550; Denver, getting 2 1/2, defeated Oakland, 9-7, plus $250, and Cleveland, giving 1, lost to San Diego, 44-14, minus $275. Net for week and season, minus $575.Won-lost record: 1-2.