Monmouth Athletics this spring will be one of the most unique in school history; almost all sports will be playing at once. This might be the only time we will see basketball, football, golf, softball, field hockey, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, cross-country, track and field, soccer, bowling, and swimming all in one semester!
With teams here at Monmouth and across the country starting up again, it begs a question I often ponder: why hasn’t legal gambling caught on with the less popular sports? Whether it be collegiately and/or professionally, the smaller revenue sports in my opinion have potential to expand their product.
As a cross-country and track athlete here at Monmouth, I think legal betting would only benefit my sport. It was a joke last year when the pandemic first hit that outdoor track should continue because no fans attend anyway. I certainly appreciate my family and friends coming to the meets; but if my sport could attract large crowds, it would only benefit universities and the sports industry more.
I have run since elementary school, and throughout my time as an athlete I sometimes get annoyed when people say my sport is not important. Unfortunately, I do know it is true that we do not bring in revenue like football or basketball. Even on the professional level, the only time you will see track and field on television is the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong—I love watching our football and basketball team play as well as the Giants and Mets, but I wish my sport had a better seat at the table.
Sports Gambling in the United States has an interesting history. Since most of the Western World have already legalized it, I have heard a joke that America is the “uptight” land of the free. Since 1992, the activity has been illegal due to a federal law in all states except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon where it was grandfathered in.
In 2018, the Supreme Court revoked this law in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association and said that states can regulate this industry if they decide to. Before this law was litigated in court, it has been pushed for decades mainly by New Jersey’s State Government, Atlantic City, and Monmouth Park in nearby Oceanport.
As I mentioned earlier, sports betting helps the economy. In 2021’s Super Bowl LV, it was estimated that four billion dollars were wagered. This expanded market could provide plenty of new job opportunities and tax breaks for the average citizen.
I am aware there are some problems with sports betting. One of the main arguments you will hear against sports betting is, understandably, addiction. Unfortunately, not everyone plays for fun, and sometimes people will chase their financial losses. It is important that mental health and counseling resources are still being supported. However, we should not ignore the fact that products like alcohol and cigarettes are addictive for some but still legal to buy and use.
I am also 100 percent against all forms of cheating with this industry (point shaving, match-fixing, etc.). Protecting athletes from coercion and punishing those who cheat still must be lawfully enforced. As someone who works hard to run faster times and win, it is disheartening to know that everyone does not compete with integrity.
There are many reasonable concerns, but I think this market, especially for track and field and the other non-revenue sports, has a lot of potential. People already bet on horse and car racing, so why not expand it? It would be an honor if someone put money on me to run a phenomenal race!
IMAGE TAKEN from WakeForestLawReview.com