Column: Are we sure big time college sports betting is a good thing? 

While West Virginia won’t be ready in time to accept college sports bets, three other states make history this weekend as the first outside of Nevada to allow mass legalized collegiate gambling in the United States.

New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi become first states flaunting victory after a battle N.J. governor Chris Christie started in 2012.

The federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was ruled unconstitutional on May 14, 2018. An outcome opening the flood gates for individual state’s self-governance of a particularly favorite American vice. (We built a whole city around this activity after all).

No longer do bettors risk attendance on seedy websites, have to see their bookie Cousin Whats-his-face, or need to fly to the desert to risk $350 on Stanford covering a five-point spread against Southern Cal.

Sure, some road tripping is required if you don’t live in the above states, but most won’t mind the cost of gas next to a plane ticket these days.

A connecting flight out of Columbus to Las Vegas is $273 to $310, plus lodging, meals and funds once you are in Sin City.

Yikes!

The gambling itch is one I never felt the need to scratch.

It isn’t my type of flutter.

I don’t look down on those who gamble either, but I do believe professional sports (NBA, NFL, FIFA, MLS, MLB, MLS) should be the end point for all wagers.

Why do I believe this?

Has anyone else heard the answer to two very simple questions when discussing collegiate gambling: Who physically protects these athletes and how do they do it?

From the research I have done this query fails to produce any response. Two of the most basic and humane questions were trumped by money and an “integrity tax” sports leagues requested be imposed on gambling establishments.

Colleges joined the call early last week for the funneling of a small amount of funds from each bet into league coffers for education programs for athletes.

Really?

Education?

Some schools don’t even require their athletes attend classes, how can they guarantee compliance with gambling instruction?

Education doesn’t guarantee athletes won’t side with gamblers, who can guarantee them more money than the NCAA can — An amount much prettier than $0 in case you were wondering.

Lavish salaries are paid to pro athletes who can afford armed security body guards for protection. These same people live in private mansions and aren’t often seen out in public.

The unlikeliness of them risking their career on a point-shaving scheme is absurdly small too.

Student-athletes aren’t compensated in the same way. Rewards for outstanding athletic prowess come in the form of scholarships.

All of which charge requirements to maintain, usually GPA and athletic requirements.

Yes, I am aware no incidents have occurred with college games on the boards in Vegas. However, the gambling pool exponentially increases each time a new state enacts legislation.

What stops some nutjob from venting his anger on Will Grier after he throws five interceptions in a big game against TCU?

Physical gifts only go so far when real weapons come into play or surrounded by an angry mob.

These student-athletes (yes, students first because only 2% of them will go pro in sports according to the NCAA) worry enough between classes, practice, lifting, life and sometimes a job. Do we further burden them with threats of physical violence too?

I think we have had quite enough senseless tragedies the past 18 years … No need for anymore.

Schools and coaches already ask parents to trust them with their child. Promises of safety overflow from everyone, but what happens when safety isn’t a guarantee?

What happens the first time an innocent second stringer who scores his first career touchdown to blow the spread is attacked?

Do you lock down every building on campus? Close off campuses? Place restrictions on each athletes’ life? Build special dorms for athletes? Hire security guards to patrol campuses dressed as students?

Each of these solutions are costly endeavors? Who pays for them?

For those responding “The National Collegiate Athletic Association of course,” I admire your hope. The NCAA proves time and again their servants, I mean student-athletes, are cash cows milked until dry. Rulings consistently oppose making athletes’ lives better. Pay no attention to rule changes made with improved player health in mind …. The NCAA protects their product, not athletes every time.

Ed O’Bannon anyone?

OK, the duty falls to the individual schools then? Well, you just read above each’s dependence on a cut of the betting action to provide education for their athletes right? Wouldn’t this be the same excuse when it comes to player safety and gambling?

Maybe it is time to rein in runaway coaching salaries and athletic staffs. Invest the money into the athletes before you ask for a cut, which is weird they are doing it now but had no problem with Vegas taking wagers for years, but that is a column for another time.

Until schools and the NCAA can guarantee the reasonable safety of all athletes maybe states should shelf college sports gambling.

Millions be damned.

Safety questions require answers now not later because once the majority of states legalizes these bets nothing stops the monetary wave.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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