How Sports Betting Negatively Impacts Integrity of Athletics and Society

More Than A Game

Sports betting is a global industry valued at over $16 billion a year.

The United States alone is a $5 billion market, and worldwide sports betting is valued at over $30 billion annually.

Due to the widespread cultural popularity of sports, and the massive economic impact that betting has, you’d think that there’d be more regulation surrounding the practice.

In reality, it’s hard to overstate the amount of recreational betting that occurs in the United States. Every year, billions of dollars are wagered on major sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Cup, and World Series.

Despite the popularity of sports betting, especially in the U.S., the practice is actually quite restricted. For instance, sportsbooks are legally required to take wagers on only three sports: baseball, basketball, and football.

This is due in part to federal laws that were passed in the 1960s aimed at curbing organized crime. For example, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 regulates how and where sports betting can occur. It also makes it unlawful to solicit or accept wagers on basketball games that are yet to be played. In practice, this means that gamblers have to wait until the games end to find out the outcome of their wagers.

Athletics Integrity At Risk

One of the major ways that sports betting affects sports integrity is by introducing gambling into the mix. When fans bet on sports, it can often lead to corruption, as individuals and teams can benefit financially from success in the form of greater paychecks and endorsement deals. This is why many top sports figures and managers have spoken out against gambling, or at least tried to put a stop to it.

Even today, with the advent of widespread access to information and increased media awareness, fans can have an impact on games via social media. Coaches and players are especially susceptible to peer pressure, and can be influenced by the masses via websites or apps that provide odds and betting markets for various sports.

Athletics As A Symbol Of Excellence

In the 1950s and 1960s, the physical appearance of athletes was much more modest. There was a time when almost all sports fans didn’t know much about fashion, and the way that athletes dressed wouldn’t be considered unusual or extravagant. This obviously changed in the latter part of the 20th century, and today’s athletes are much more used to being admired for their bodies than for their brains.

When you win a game or a match, the whole culture reflects the accomplishment. Cheerleaders and singers break out in pop songs, trophies are hoisted, and players shake hands with the winners. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) Sports Market Research Report notes that when fans buy a team’s jersey or hat, they are more likely to also buy sports-related souvenirs and paraphernalia. This means that sports teams are often seen as a reflection of the brand, rather than just a place that you attend to watch a game.

Societal Impact

Societal impact isn’t always negative, but it can be. The practice of sports betting disrupts the traditional concept of a fair and square competition. Since fans have an impact on games via financial bets, scandals can arise when gamblers influence the outcome of a sporting event. This is especially concerning when corrupt activities are uncovered following the event. Thankfully, the opposite can also be said, as it brings something more interesting to the forefront, and it forces sports to be more accountable. With all of the money and attention that sports betting generates, it’s not hard to imagine that this will inspire more people to get involved in the game, and promote healthier lifestyles.