Rocky Hulne: Betting introduces a new aspect of sports

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2022

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We are officially entering a lull in area sports. Baseball playoffs are winding down and fall sports are still a little over a month away.

That means I get to write about whatever I want. Just kidding, but it does mean I can write about a wider variety of topics. One thing that you can’t seem to ignore if you’ve watched ESPN or FS1 lately is sports gambling.

It’s become all too common for sports programming to feature betting odds while talking about teams, and more content seems to be aimed at the sports bettor.

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It’s no coincidence that the legalization of sports gambling in multiple states has changed how major networks provide coverage.

I’m not afraid to admit that I have made more than a couple of trips down to Iowa to make a few sports bets myself and it’s OK for anyone to do that.

I have two concerns with sports gambling — one is how it can affect families and the other is how it can affect competitors.

We have all seen at least one movie scene where a down on his luck gambler is sitting on a curb with a cigarette in his mouth and bottle by his side as he contemplates losing his home, family and everything he held dear because he couldn’t stop making bets.

While the Hollywood version is extreme, there are people who struggle with impulse control and it would not take long for you to lose a significant amount of money if you have a gambling application on your phone and a lot of time on your hands.

Most sports betting sites allow you to put money on many different events, ranging from pro football, to pro tennis, to cricket and soccer, so the temptation is never ending.

My second, and equally serious concern with sports gambling is the toxicity it can create. Professional players are already flooded with death threats or insults on social media because they lost a game for somebody’s favorite team. As fans start to put their own money on the line for contests, they may become even harder on the athletes they place wagers on.

Betting is also allowed on college contests, which means there is a slight chance that some 19-year old college football player may find himself face to face with a wild eyed gambler, who just lost his life savings on a fumble by said player. That’s not a pretty sight and I hope it never comes to fruition.

I am still pro sports gambling, but I hope everyone remains responsible and doesn’t let it affect their life in a negative way.

Just remember, all things are best served in moderation — even sports betting.