Assessing the potential detriment of growth in sports betting

By Hannah Newman

Today, many people bet on athletes that they think are likely to earn them some money, even if they have never watched them play before. The consistent support of sports betting has prompted the vote of a constitutional amendment to permit wagering on all college sports or athletic events in New Jersey. However, putting the same pressure that a professional athlete faces on college students will significantly limit their abilities.

Freshman sports media major and Rider club ice hockey player Cole Schneider shared that betting could be distracting for athletes.

“I believe personally it adds a lot of pressure and can make a player either lose focus or fall apart during their performance,” said Schneider.

At a collegiate level, athletes are working to become professionals in their sport, academics or both. Their commitment to playing sometimes comes with scholarships that grant them the opportunity to work toward going pro. Placing bets on athletes that already commit to both themselves and their team will distract them from reaching their goals.

Nicky Lane, a freshman business administration major and member of the Rider swim team, discussed the stress of being a college athlete and how betting will only be a burden.

“Knowing that people are wagering on my performance would add a lot more pressure. For me, swimming is already a pressure-filled sport, and knowing that I have people betting on my performance would no longer allow me to be competing for my team but now for myself. College sports are all about team, and this would very much negatively impact that,” said Lane.

The recent legalization of sports betting throughout the United States has allowed the media to discuss the subject as frequently as they wish, which has caused a larger audience to partake in sports betting rather than just sports enthusiasts.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was once a factor that restricted the media from discussing the topic of sports betting; however, gambling has evolved over the past couple of years due to the Supreme Court ruling of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association which legalized sports betting throughout the nation in 2018. This ruling allowed the media to cover sports betting without any limitations.

Professor of sports media Aaron Moore shared his thoughts on how the media has developed techniques to keep viewers yearning for the intensity of the game and why viewer engagement has sharpened in recent years.

“There has always been professional sports gambling even before the ruling, although it was only a small community. Many have tried and failed because the system is designed to only have few professionals,” said Moore. “Having skin in the game, having money in mind, keeps people engaged in the game which increases the sport’s channel viewers and makes them want to promote gambling even more. People that may seem to be addicted to gambling are not really addicted to the thrill. The thrill is covering up an inherent problem within individuals. The escapism aspect is what people are looking for.”

With the elevation of gambling through sports, it has become easier for people to develop a strong desire for gambling since the chance of winning appears likely, but so is losing by just a few points. Viewers can submit a bet on their cellphones, making it convenient to do at any time from anywhere. Consecutively losing by just a few points is what makes people want to bet again. They become blinded to the fact that their money is being handled by a system that is outlined to only let a limited number of people be victorious.

Sports betting has been legalized in New Jersey since 2018. This result has displayed citizens’ recognition of gambling’s rapid growth in society and the danger that it can bring to both the betters and college athletes.

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