Seratore: Should NCAA Athletes be banned from betting?

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The NCAA is attempting to ban college athletes from sports betting. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennesson

Sports betting has existed since long before the modern era. Dating back to the ancient Greeks, who participated in it through Olympic games such as chariot racing, boxing, and who knows, possibly fights to the death. Today, gambling is a hot commodity, with increasing popularity among young adults and legalization across almost all 50 states with the notable exceptions of Florida, California, and Texas. 

One of the biggest reasons behind its growing popularity is its convenience. You no longer need to go to a sportsbook in a casino, you can just do it on your phone. With the touch of a button, you can fund your sportsbook account, whether it’s on DraftKings, FanDuel, or PrizePicks, and place your bets just as quickly. 

One of the troubling trends for me isn’t the growing amount of younger people using it, because nothing is going to stop them, and like all gambling, it’s important to be responsible, whether it’s on your phone or you’re inside a casino. However, the NCAA prohibits athletes from gambling and will face severe consequences if they do.

I understand that there have been some very serious sports betting scandals, such as The Curse of the Black Sox, the Boston College point-shaving scandal, and legendary Baseball star Pete Rose being banned from Baseball and the Hall of Fame for betting on games as a manager, but all of the significant scandals of the past were during a time when sports betting wasn’t heavily monitored and where illegal sportsbooks were more prevalent.

The NCAA has been very tough on their athletes for a very long time, just recently allowing them to be able to profit off their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), while still being able to profit off the athletes for themselves in terms of merchandise and viewership. Doesn’t sound very fair, does it? And it isn’t like the NCAA was on board with this, they were practically forced into it after the Supreme Court case NCAA v. Alston in 2021, with them ruling in favor of athletes no longer being exploited by the NCAA.

The biggest scandal so far regarding sports betting currently is an Iowa sports betting investigation into athletes from the University of Iowa and Iowa State betting on themselves. If you’re betting on your own sport, I feel like I can understand that being prohibited because that’s something that actually seems immoral, but my issue pertains to the Iowa’s wrestling team.

Iowa’s wrestling program had seven athletes punished for betting, with four receiving year-long suspensions. But you can’t even bet on the sport of wrestling on any sportsbook, so should athletes whose sports aren’t even eligible for betting be punished so severely for betting on sports irrelevant to their own? Especially if it’s regarding professional sports teams and not college ones?

There have been athletes that have gotten away with sports betting in the past, with multiple on X, formerly known as Twitter, admitting to having done it in their athletic careers because the NCAA didn’t seem to care. 

I believe that the right thing for the NCAA to do is alter the rules so they can be understood clearly and allow athletes to be able to earn money through sports betting as long as it’s irrelevant to their school and sport. Just because you were coerced into allowing athletes to earn money off their names does not mean that every athlete has the ability to do so. And the fact that the NCAA is specifically targeting Division I athletes that they make so much profit off of, means that in the end, all they care about is financial gain and not the well-being of their athletes.

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