The phrase “term for not betting” has been around for a while, but it really didn’t enter the popular lexicon until the 19th century. It originally referred to the last resort of a gambler, who had run out of money and was forced to settle their debts with brute force. Because it was such a risky venture to attack your adversary in this way, the phrase came to represent the act of a desperate person.
This kind of aggressive betting was highly publicized during the 19th century, especially in the United States, where it was often associated with the Mob. However, with the development of more sophisticated gambling tools, like the telephone and the mail, organized crime began to lose its grip on the sports betting market. Professional gamblers emerged and traditional forms of gambling like sports betting and poker largely replaced street-ball, armed fights, and Mafia activity. Nonetheless, the sentiment behind the phrase “term for not betting” didn’t disappear. People simply adapted it to refer to their modern-day counterparts: the professional gamblers who controlled sports betting. They were the new generation of sports bettors – the establishment.
How Did It All Begin?
The first known use of “term for not betting” was in 1895 in the New York Times. A writer named Richard Dehan described a recent sports betting scandal that had rocked the city and how it was still being talked about. His article began:
“The sporting fraternity is regretting the rashness of a young man named Jimmy Walker, who has just been expelled from the Columbia association for gambling,” he wrote. “He is said to have wagered heavily on the New York (State) game and, when he could not pay his debts, the members of the Columbia athletic association decided that their honor required them to force Walker to redeem his pledges by fighting a duel with him.”
The story didn’t have a happy ending. Walker was found dead the next day from a gunshot wound to the chest. No evidence was ever found that linked his gambling with the dueling incident, and the matter was never fully resolved.
The Evolution Of The Term
Soon after Walker’s death, newspapers started to notice that “term for not betting” was slowly making its way into the vernacular, being used to describe the act of a gambler who couldn’t pay their debts. The phrase was used to mock the aggressive tactics of the sporty types – it was a sign of a shifting social climate. The press also began to connect the phrase with the broader issue of gambling and the prevalence of that vice in New York City. For example, a 1905 New York Times article referred to “gambler’s terrors” and “the dread of the sportsman,” while a 1907 New York Times article referred to “The Unpleasant Lot of the Sportsman.” Over the next several decades, “term for not betting” was used in this context to describe the problems that arose from gamblers’ excessive betting and obsession with sports.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the phrase “term for not betting” began to appear in a more positive context, as a way of describing conscientious sports fans who avoided betting on games they thought they might lose. One of the first articles to do this was a New York Times story from 1922, where a writer named Edward Van Schenck described a meeting of the Professional Baseball Players’ Association. At the time, many players couldn’t make a living playing baseball and were forced to depend on gambling to survive. Though they were unlikely to ever admit it, many of the sport’s top stars were actually more than happy to have “term for not betting” applied to them; it was a useful way of getting publicity while also avoiding the guilt that came with being a big spender. (Pro sports leagues were largely financed by big business interests at the time – in some cases, like the NFL, teams were owned by businessmen who also ran multiple gas stations in the area.)
In the decades that followed, “term for not betting” continued to be used in this positive context, portraying fans of professional sports as idealistic individuals who put the good of the game above their personal interests. This is most likely due to the fact that more people than ever before were identifying as non-gamblers, particularly during the Great Depression. The stigma that had once been attached to not gambling was slowly but surely fading, replaced by a more modern-day view of sports fans as idealistic and principled individuals who just happen to love their games.
Why Are Gamblers So Attracted To Sports?
It’s well-established that people are more likely to bet on sports than on other types of games. In fact, around 2.2 million sports bets are placed each year in the United States alone – this surpasses the amount of wagers placed on American football, baseball, and basketball combined. Why is this?
The biggest reason is that sports are a lot more accessible to the average person. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to play or watch sports, which makes them much more appealing. Additionally, sports provide a convenient way of escaping from reality for a while – especially if you’re up against the wall financially, there are some fairly lucrative opportunities to be had by betting on the games.
In the most recent years, however, this accessibility has begun to change. The development of cable television and the internet have made it possible for fans to follow their favorite teams anywhere, whenever they want. This has given rise to a new breed of sports fan: the obsessively devoted individual who follows every little bit of news and information about their teams, and has the time to devote to studying the sport. Although this type of fan may seem like an oxymoron, the truth is that more and more people are identifying as non-gamblers while still being obsessed with sports – precisely because it takes a lot of time to follow all the games that interest you. The new fans are likely to be found among the millennials, as well as those who grew up with social media. And this is where things get interesting – because, in addition to being a place to follow sports, social media also provides an opportunity for individuals who are worried about their finances to look for help. (As with most things on the internet, there are always several options available for those who want to do more than simply read – if you’re looking for a way to help, you can find several legitimate loan providers online who may be willing to help you out with a loan to cover your betting-related expenses.)
All in all, it’s an interesting phrase, and one that’s been around for more than a century (in its current form, at least). While it mostly manifested itself as a way to mock aggressive gamblers, it has since evolved to describe a more evolved breed of sports fan. And as society has changed and the stigma that was once attached to gambling has lessened, it has become an acceptable way of describing these idealistic sports fans. (There are still situations where it could cause some confusion – in some parts of the country, you may still run into people who believe that not betting represents a sign of cowardice or lack of moral character.)