You don’t have to look very closely Twitter to find someone who disagrees with you, and it’s no different for teenagers who play NCAA sport.
Sometimes it’s just someone who wants to commit, and other times it’s someone who has no intention of committing and whose only interest is in ruining your day. While social media has opened many doors for people to connect with friends they may have lost touch with or strangers who share interests, it can also be an absolute hate-filled hell.
If you want to see how horrible a place social media can be, all you have to do is look at the messages or responses to an athlete who misses a crucial shot or field goal. More recently, the discussion about bullying of athletes has been in the spotlight again due to an incident involving online attacks on University of Dayton men’s basketball team after falling to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) after getting up 14 points.
Harassment of athletes is nothing new, but there seems to be a feeling among regulators and sports officials that it has been on the rise since 2018. Murphy sports betting solution.
A long history of bad behavior
Threats against athletes from angry bettors and fantasy players predate the recent expansion of regulated sports betting outside Nevada. It’s hardly a problem isolated to the United States, but it’s now thrust into the spotlight as regulators and sports officials speak openly about the behavior.
Back in 2017, Richard Sherman spoke prominently about the treatment NFL players received from some fantasy players and how he felt players were being devalued as human beings by fantasy sports.
While bullying of athletes seems to have always happened, the anonymity of the internet has created a greater haven for people to spew hate. For all the possibilities of the Internet, it has also served as a mechanism for allowing the worst personality traits of a segment of the population to come out.
Again, this is not a problem isolated to just sports or even the sports betting universe. But the world of sports betting seems somewhat uniquely positioned to do something about bullying.
Building up to this point
That was just a few years ago Darren Rovell and other reporters made a celebrity out of a young name sports bettor Ben Patz, who was incredibly successful, achieving seemingly impossible amounts of money. Although Patz gained much attention for his success in betting against the odds, he was also investigated by the FBI for a series of threats made against professional and NCAA athletes, something that would eventually pleads guilty.
Most recently, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team was thrust into the spotlight after the coach Anthony Grant vented his frustrations to reporters about the bullying his players were subjected to after the disappointing loss to VCU.
Grant’s comments and frustration attracted not only the attention of the national media, but also the attention of at least one member of the Ohio Casino Control Commissionwhich happens to be emerging as one of the vigilant regulators in the country.
What to do about NCAA harassment, pro athletes?
It should go without saying that no one should harass athletes; they don’t care about your bet or your fantasy team. But if people keep doing it, there should be consequences.
The executive director of the Ohio Casino Control Commission has reportedly suggested that bettors found to have harassed athletes online should be banned from gambling in the state. This looks like a positive start.
While this will not eradicate abusers from betting, as we know there are options other than the regulated market, the regulated market must take a stand against abusers and ensure as much as possible that they are excluded from participation until they are rehabilitated .
Going one step further
I would suggest going a step further and mandating rehabilitative training for less egregious offenders. Harassers will first be issued a suspension, which can be lifted through a class similar to what states use for drivers arrested for drunken driving. Subsequent violations would result in the loss of the ability to bet on the regulated market.
To add teeth to these types of measures, states should engage in information sharing between jurisdictions and encourage reciprocity of betting bans.
While it is possible for juvenile offenders to be rehabilitated through education, the most blatant abusers such as those who threaten violence should be prosecuted. Threats of violence should have zero tolerance.
While professional leagues have security departments capable of investigating threats, the NCAA’s college sports universe needs to modernize and ensure that athletes not only have the resources to report harassment, but know they have the resources.
What can be done legally by states, schools, NCAA?
As much as possible, countries should start taking these threats seriously to prevent tragedy.
The question of what can legally be done to stop this type of behavior remains somewhat murky in situations outside of clear threats of violence. Threats of physical harm are punishable at both the state and federal (assuming there is an interstate aspect) levels.
However, less overt behavior can rise to the level of criminal harassment. Again, online stalking and harassment are subject to criminal prosecution at both the state and federal levels, assuming the necessary facts are present.
But as you’ve probably seen in terms of the general status of online, prosecutions in this area are not very common and almost certainly don’t have the desired deterrent effect on many Internet users.
NCAA schools themselves could also take action by banning online bullies from ticketed events. Although many college campuses have public spaces, there is no general right to attend ticketed events, and therefore to the extent that harassers are fans attending live games, they can be banned.
From here to where?
The national sports gambling market is coming of age. Growing pains are experienced and hard lessons are learned.
But protecting athletes should be a priority, especially at the NCAA level. If bettors cannot bet responsibly, and that includes losing bets, regulators should not allow them to bet on the regulated market.
As anyone who spends five minutes gambling on Twitter should know, with complaints about a limit there is no basic right to bet. It is a privilege and if people cannot act responsibly it should be taken away.
Another consideration would be to use some of the state’s tax revenue to better fund resources to increase the prosecution of gambling-related crimes, which undoubtedly include threats against athletes.