Sports reporting looks a lot different than it used to prior to the 2018 removal of the federal ban on sports betting. Today, media outlets from CBS and ESPN to FOX and YAHOO Sports headline broadcast and online content with “against the spread”, “parlays”, “even money” and other semantics that incite fans to put some skin in the game. They even blatantly report on gambling promo codes with as much vigor as Walter Cronkite’s coverage of the moon landing.
While we’ve addressed the problem of sports betting promotions in media extensively, there is one topic that few have touched on – complications regarding sports reporters and their own relationship with gambling, and how it may impact the integrity of the media. Consequently, it could be suggested that journalists who report on sports should be pre-screened for gambling disorder and provided organizational access to counseling services as needed. Why? Read ahead to learn more.
A Case for Problem Gambling Screening (and Support) for Sports Media Personnel in America
ESPN is Already Doing It
To begin with, note that the suggestion for pre-screening is by no means out of left field. ESPN has already taken the concept a step further by outright banning key staff from betting on sports. In addition to their front-facing talents like Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowsk, all ESPN employees, including offsite production personnel and journalists, have been banned from betting on any games they’re assigned to work or cover. This move was the result of Disney and ESPN’s collusion to birth ESPN BET sportsbook. The reason for this move it to mitigate the risk of manipulating insider information.
Sports journalists and reporters have insider access to information about injuries, contract disputes, trades, and even personal problems of athletes that may all impact the outcomes of current games and betting futures. If their own journalistic integrity is compromised due to problem gambling, they can withhold and/or delay release of this information while they make wagers before betting lines move. Compromised reporters may also incorrectly report on news that can shift betting lines.
If an individual reporter has a problematic relationship with gambling to the point that they have sustained significant debt, the temptation to leverage their position grows even stronger. Indebted reporters may also be preyed upon by loansharks and gangsters who are already manipulating in-debt athletes to shave points.
News Media Are Now Affiliates for Sports Betting Operators
It’s one thing to report on point spreads and betting lines as “news”. It’s another for media like Sports illustrated, the New York Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, FORBES, and CBS to incessantly headline news with the day’s latest sports betting promo codes. The reason Americans are seeing so many promotions being reported as news, is because the media has affiliate marketing deals in place with operators like BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel. Once again, compromised reporters may have a vested interest in swaying sports betting viewers in one direction or another due to these pay-to-report relationships.
It doesn’t take a journalist major with a minor in ethics to identify the fundamental lack of professional ethical guidelines regarding sports journalism and gambling. Until these guidelines are in place (or in addition to them being put in place) problem gambling pre-screening for sports reporters is worth considering. Otherwise, integrity in sports journalism will become a thing of the past.
Media Outlets Must Provide Problem Gambling Support Systems for Staff
In the same manner that collegiate and professional sports leagues are called upon to provide their athletes and personnel with access to problem gambling support, media outlets that cover sports should also consider the same in this new world.
Pre-screening for gambling disorder risk factors and vulnerabilities and providing access to dedicated gambling addiction therapy through organization provided funding is the key. In doing, media outlets prove commitment to improving journalistic integrity, while also showing that they care about the mental and behavioral health of their staff.
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