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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Gambling and sports go together

By Kenny Reid

December 15, 2006 | Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The same can also be said for sports and gambling.

Sports and gambling are pretty much inseperable these days. If there is a college or professional sporting event going on, you can bet someone is gambling on it. It makes you wonder whether sports were invented to make betting more interesting or if betting was invented to make sports more interesting. It could be a friendly wager between friends or a large bet placed online. With easy access to the Internet for just about everyone, its only a click away to place a bet on the big game.

The NFL football season only has a few weeks left of the regular season. This can only mean one thing, the Superbowl is not too far away. The Superbowl is the biggest sports betting day of the year. According to ABC News, an estimated $500 million will be bet on the game through off shore web sites and call centers. This all has to be done outside the United States since online gambling is illegal in the U.S. An estimated 60 million people worldwide will place bets on the game. People place bets on far more than just the winner of the game or the score. Anything from the number of yard a player has, total fumbles, how many times the TV shows the cheerleaders or even what color the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach will be can be bet on.

The NCAA basketball tournament, or March Madness, is also heavily bet on. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, over $1 billion is illegally bet on the tournament over the course of the whole month.

Nate Copier, a senior majoring in speech communications, said he likes filling out brackets for March Madness but never spends any money actually betting on it. "I'm a poor college student. I don't any money to be throwing away," Nate said. Other sporting events are also bet on. Any of the four professional sports NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL and car, horse and dog racing are bet on regularly.

Fantasy Sports are also a big part of the sports betting market. A fantasy sport is a game were fantasy owners build teams and play against other owners based on statistics of individual players. Fantasy sports can be played for free but many people choose to play for actual money. This means people are actually betting on individual players in any number of sports. Owners pick and bet on players who they think will do well for their teams.

Marty Archibald, a junior majoring in print journalism, said he has a lot of fun playing fantasy sports. Though usually he just plays for fun, once in a while he will bet money on his fantasy teams. "It makes the games a lot more interesting to watch when you have something riding on it," Marty said.

While sports betting and fantasy sports can be fun for people, there are also many problems that can come from them. Debt and psychological problems are the two major consequences of gambling. Students who gamble excessively tend to have academic problems as well. People will gamble thousands of dollars on individuals sporting events. Thousands of people a year file for bankruptcy due to gambling. Many people get a buzz from gambling. Gambling raises the heart rate, blood pressure and heart rate. This is called compulsive gambling and according to Gamblers Anonymous, this is an illness. "Gambling is an illness, progressive in its nature, which can never be cured, but can be arrested." There are many different websites that want to help compulsive gamblers get their addiction under control.

Sports and gambling will always be inseperable. There will always be people betting on and rooting for their favorite team, throwing money away because they think they can beat the odds, and in the end, the house always wins. So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Sports or gambling?

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