Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

NCAA Division I Athletic Trainers: Examining Sport-Wagering Behavior

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

NCAA Division I Athletic Trainers: Examining Sport-Wagering Behavior

Article excerpt


"Sports betting threatens the integrity of and public confidence in professional and amateur team sports, converting sports from wholesome entertainment into a vehicle for gambling * * * sports gambling raises people's suspicions about point-shaving and game-fixing * * * All of this puts undue pressure on players, coaches, and officials." (The National Gambling Impact Study, 2001, p. 3).

Gamblers were present at the earliest stages of the American sporting world and have been a part of sports for over a century (Thornton, Champion, & Ruddell, 2011). The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2011a) defines gambling as: "La.: playing a game for money or property, l.b.: betting on an uncertain outcome," or "2: taking something on a contingency: taking a chance". Gambling can also be defined by the various types of activities that constitute gambling such as: pari-mutuel betting, lotteries, casino gambling and charitable gaming. It should be noted that sports betting or wagering, which is defined as making a bet or venturing on a final outcome (Merriam-Webster, 2011b), is considered as one form of pari- mutuel betting (Eadington & Cornelius, 1991). For the purpose of this research, sports wagering is betting on sporting contests while gambling refers to other forms of betting.

According to Holtgräves (2009), wagering on sports is among the most popular gambling activities. With this, it comes as no revelation that amid a group of self-identified problem gamblers, sports emerged as one of the most problematic forms of wagering and gambling (Petiy, 2003).

Therefore, sports wagering is seemingly a highly consumed activity (Holtgräves, 2009) with evidence pointing towards an increase in disordered gambling behaviors (Eadington, 1989; Whyte, 1997; Shaffer, Hall & Vanderbilt, 1999). Such behavior may likely be the result of a combination of numerous, legal gaming options regarding sports wagering as well as the desire for individuals to be associated with select players and/or teams. As such gambling and wagering on college and professional sporting events has been a popular target for those who wager on sports (Rockey & King, 2006). College athletics administrators have been concerned about the integrity of college sports due in part to the popularity of wagering on college games by college students (2006). Over the past 25 years, this concern has expanded to the gambling and sports wagering behaviors of student-athletes (Thrasher, Andrew & Mahoney, 2007; Ellenbogen, Jacobs, Derevensky, Gupta & Paskus, 2008), yet little thought has been given to other susceptible athletic populations. As noted, a scant amount of literature exists regarding sport related populations outside of the student-athlete group (such as athletics administrators, coaches and athletic trainers). Holtgräves (2009) suggested that researchers should focus on understanding the differences in people and their gambling activities as this could foster developments in awareness, education, and rehabilitation programs. For sport researchers and practitioners alike, this includes extending studies outside of the student-athlete population and looking at other groups that might be distinct, yet have some of the same characteristics as the student-athletes.

Recently, Mathner, Martin and Allen (2011) provided the first, evidenced-based rationale to further explore designated sport populations such as athletic trainers, coaches, equipment managers, and academic advisors. Specifically, the researchers examined NCAA Division I certified athletic trainers (ATCs); a group of medical professionals who abide by both a professional and educational code of ethics, and noted that 61.6% had made friendly wagers on sports and 37.8% had made monetary wagers on sports at some point in time in their life. Though the researchers noted that a majority of these wagers were not categorized as problematic gambling, there was still cause for further scrutiny due to the potential corruption of collegiate athletics. …

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