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According to a recent report by the NCAA, college athletes are naturally more prone to gambling.

The Rampant Rise of Gambling in Men’s Golf

According to a recent report by the NCAA, college athletes are naturally more prone to gambling, but the issue is really taking off when it comes to men’s golf. Gambling can be addictive and dangerous, which is why the NCAA is working to curb these bad habits before athletes become hooked. Men who play golf in Division 1 college situations are taking to gambling, with over 21 percent admitting to gambling at least once a month. That’s twice as common as men in any other sport.

For example, less than five percent of football players gamble once a month. It’s not just a dangerous habit, it’s also an illegal one. The NCAA doesn’t allow any betting for college athletes or coaches, and penalties are strict if someone gets caught. According to a representative for the NCAA, gambling is part of the golf culture. However, many people report that they first gambled before high school, so it’s difficult to combat the issue.

The History of the Bet

During a 2004 study, 14.2 percent of male golfers gambled, but it rose to 19.6 percent in 2008 and now 20.2 percent. The second highest sport that’s linked to gambling is baseball at 9.5 percent. When behaviors begin in youth, it’s especially difficult to stop, especially when over half of male golfers say they bet on things like personal skills which might take place on the links.

Betting and golf go hand in hand, such as a couple of men betting low wagers per hole. However, the NCAA study also uncovered the fact that college male golfers aren’t just betting on the greens–they’re also more into all types of gambling like casino games and lotteries. That’s not against NCAA regulations, but it does set a troubling precedent for these athletes. The details revealed include the fact that 44 percent of male golfers have bet on a sport in the past year, 13 percent know a bookie, and seven percent took a bet on their team.

The Theories

Some coaches and golfers say they’re not sure why gambling is so prevalent in the sport. Some people point to the affluent nature of the game, but if that were the leading cause, then tennis players should also have a higher level of gambling; however, tennis players are very unlikely to gamble with only 3.4 percent of male tennis players gambling per month. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if it’s an issue of socioeconomic background or culture, because what’s important is getting it under control.

The NCAA is worried about the reputation of golfers, their schools, and of course the well-being of the athletes. Gambling can lead to income loss, which most college students can’t afford. By far the most common betting for golfers is for games of personal skill with 56 percent participating in the past year, and the runner up is lottery tickets at 45.7 percent. Playing cards for money and betting on sports is also high, with over 40 percent of male golfers engaging in the past year.

The Students’ Perspective

Most alarming is that athletes don’t see a problem with what they’re doing. In fact, 57 percent of male golfers think betting on sports is fine as long as it’s not golf. Even more troublesome is that nearly 60 percent of male golfers think a lot of money can be made with sports betting, which is a recipe for financial disaster. Experts agree that overconfidence on sports betting is a natural extension of their skill, but it almost always backfires.

Students also claim no one has talked to them about the legality of sports betting, with 72 percent of male athletes saying they’re unaware of the rules. While the NCAA disagrees with this, they admit it’s clear more discussion is needed. However, golf still hasn’t hit the mainstream betting outlets–but the slew of up and coming college golfers might change that in coming years.


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About Jessica McMohen

Jessica is an independent journalist, freelance blogger, and technology junkie with a passion for music, arts, and the outdoors.

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