What Does to Go the Distance Mean in Sports?

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In sports, the phrase “to go the distance” refers to a match lasting until the final bell or whistle.

The term originates from boxing and describes a match where both competitors last for all of the scheduled rounds without a knockout or technical knockout. In this case, the winner is determined by the judges' scorecards.

The phrase “to go the distance” is now used more broadly across various sports outside of boxing and MMA. It describes situations where an athlete, a team, or a competitor perseveres to the very end of a game or competition, regardless of the challenges they encounter.

The phrase has been adapted to refer to any prolonged or complete game in sports, particularly in baseball, where it can describe a starting pitcher who lasts through the entirety of a game without needing relief from the bullpen.

In the context of racing sports, it denotes an athlete or vehicle that completes the full course or race length. In essence, “to go the distance” has become synonymous with endurance, resilience, and full participation from beginning to end.

In the world of sports betting, “to go the distance” has become a popular market for bettors. In boxing and MMA, for example, bettors can place a wager on whether a fight will last all the scheduled rounds without ending—aka “going the distance.” 

If a bettor believes both fighters will be standing at the end, they can bet on “Yes” for the fight to go the distance. Conversely, if they predict a knockout or technical knockout, they would bet “No” that it won't go the distance.

All of the best online sportsbooks offer these types of bets as they add an extra layer of excitement and strategic decision-making for bettors. Not only are they betting on the outcome of the game, but they are also betting on the duration of it.

It allows bettors to utilize their knowledge of the athletes' strengths, weaknesses, and strategies, and how these may influence the duration of the match. This makes “to go the distance” markets an alternative option to more traditional bets like who will win the match.

If you don't understand how the odds on to go the distance markets work, check out our guide to reading betting odds.

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Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.