The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







College Gambling

by Jerry Keys

The college years, they are supposed to be the best years of your life.  There are the dorm rooms, fraternities, and no parental guidance.  All the great pastimes, keg parties, campus sporting events and social enlightenment.  What is usually swept under the rug is the growing problem of gambling.

Betting on sporting events is almost ritualistic on campuses nationwide.  The advent of gambling on-line has spiked the problem over the last five years.  But it's harmless. It's all in fun.  Is it?

For the casual gambler it's clearly a black and white issue.  You either win or you lose.  There is nothing you can do to alter the outcomes of the game.  But if you happen to be a student athlete, things get a little cloudy.

Student athletes always get upset when they do not receive any monetary contributions for "filing the stands".  NBA great Chris Webber once stated his disdain of college athletes not getting paid for playing even though the universities were raking in huge revenues for the basketball apparel merchandise worn by players such as him by stating, "They get all that money

Jerry Keys

and I can't even afford a pizza".

These athletes make a very valid point but the most concerning retort to their complaining is that they get a free scholarship whereas regular college student have to seek out financial aid or entirely miss out on a chance to attend college.

It starts out very small.  A fifty-dollar bet here, a fifty there.  It is sort of like playing poker; if you can play a hand better than most, why not capitalize on it.  Many college athletes feel that since they are athletes, they can pick games better than most.

The fifty-dollar bets may end in a win.  A few winning bets here and there and that leads to $100, $500, $1,000.  You may win some but you are destined to lose some. No problem.  They can just double up on the next bet and break even and quit.  Or so they think.

Pretty soon, the college athletes who haven't the time for a full time job find themselves in a quandary.  This quandary becomes a really heated issue when

bookmakers come knocking.  Whether it be physical harm or informing student administrators about their athlete's little problem, a deal is usually struck.

Maybe the athlete could help cover the spread on a game.  It's not that bad is it?  It's not like you threw the game.

If this athlete plays for Green U and they have a basketball game against Orange U and Green is favored to win the game by eight points, there lies the bookmaker's solution.  This is known as point shaving.  They will ask the debtor athlete to win the game but not by eight points.  And with that small favor, the debt will be wiped away.  And everybody goes home happy.

There is no concrete evidence that shows how much this type of behavior is played out but most sports psychologists agree that many go unnoticed.  This type of behavior is of course very unethical.  The athlete lets his teammates, his university and his fans down, not to mention the people who legally bet on the game in gambling casinos. 

There have been numerous college athletes who have been suspended for gambling on sporting events.  Most Americans tend to agree with this form of punishment.  As a sports fan, I do agree as well but to a point.

If a basketball player from Green U wants to bet on his team to win and cover the spread, I do not see the harm in that.  Is this a positive thing?  No it is not but as a US citizen this athlete should be given the choice.  It's brings a more competitive fire to the courts if cash is riding on the outcome.

This basketball player should also have the right to bet on any other sporting event at their university, or for that matter any other university's event, for or against.  If this player on the basketball team knows a football player at the university and attempts to set up a point shaving scenario and is caught, treat it for what it really is, insider trading.  Give a few college athletes three to five years of jail time and we would see this cleared up pretty quick.
Basketball is the sport most commonly sought to point shave by bookmakers.  It is the sport where one player can more influence the outcome of a game, win or lose and by how much.  Basketball has five starting players whereas football has 22.

My feelings on athletes betting are similar to Pete Rose's situation.  There is a much-publicized rumor that MLB commissioner Bud "Bad Comb Over" Selig is going to reinstate Rose and give him the chance to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.  As a huge Rose fan while growing up in the 1970's and 80's I am very optimistic this will occur.  Well, almost.
If Rose bet on other baseball teams or even his own team (only to win), while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds, he should be reinstated.  But if he bet on his team to lose while managing, I hope he is never reinstated.  Yes Rose was my hero growing up but as we all know once we get older, hero worship dies quickly.

The NCAA forbids any type of gambling among athletes and in a way I see their point.  They believe that my theory would not work adequately because a college would have such a hard time policing itself.  And if you cannot stop but half the problem, just stop it entirely. 

Point noted.