what does “cover the spread” mean?

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hi guys, i was watching the simpsons, specifically Lisa the Greek, Season 3, Episode 14, and in that episode homer and lisa start betting on pro football and find out that lisa never ever loses on anyone she bets and that she wins every time, anyway, in that episode lisa goes up in front of her class and talks about how a football team kicked a meaningless field goal to “cover the spread” and here teacher goes “dear god”

link to the clip right here [https://youtu.be/ldDcifD30nw?t=240](https://youtu.be/ldDcifD30nw?t=240)

what does “cover the spread” mean and why was the teacher so shocked she said it? thanks.

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Instead of betting on who will will the game outright, some people bet on the “spread”, or the point difference in the final score. So to “cover the spread” would mean to create a greater difference in the final score, enough to ensure Homer won his bet on the final point difference. The teacher saying “Dear God!” was probably a tongue-in-cheek lament on Lisa’s gambling influence from her father.

The reason why a spread exists is so that you get enough people betting on both sides of the game. Sports bookies need to have the losers bets cover the winning or else it comes out if their own pocket. The goal of the spread is to make the bet as close to a coin toss as possible.