As an aspiring sports journalist, I feel it was very appropriate that we discussed sports gambling in one of our recent classes. There were many interesting points brought up in our discussion, but I would like to present my own views.
As a diehard sports fan, I have bet on the occasional game. There is nothing wrong with making a friendly bet to make the game more interesting every once in a while, but you must be careful not to cross the line. If a sports journalist is chosen to cover a certain game I believe it is completely unethical to place a bet on that particular game. There is no doubt that gambling on the game could affect how you cover the sporting event. If you win, you are obviously going to be very happy. If you lose, you are going to be upset. This could lead you to perform one of sports journalism mortal sins: writing with a bias.
A study conducted right here at Penn State University found that 41 percent of the sports journalists that responded to the study have gambled on sports. About 5 percent have bet on a game that they were covering. Now the first number is a very significant portion. But are these people actually doing something wrong? I say no. If you are not covering that game, I say betting on it is fair game. Many people may object to this, but I don't see how this could affect the reporter's work in any way. This will not create a bias because they are not covering that specific game. They will not be happy if a specific team won or lost in their game, and that is why I feel that journalism gambling should be accepted as long as they do not bet on a game they are covering.
As far as that 5 percent goes, betting on a game you are responsible for covering in absolutely unacceptable. "A journalistic no-no," said Marie Hardin, who directed the abovementioned survey's research. You should not be able to gamble on a game that you are covering. Work and personal rooting interests cannot and should not intertwine. Gambling on a game you are responsible for covering should result in the journalist being fired.
Overall, I have mixed feelings on the issue. Depending on the situation, I think it should be acceptable for a journalist to bet on sporting events, but they must be extremely careful. However, never, ever bet on a game that you are covering. If you do, I say you deserve the old Donald Trump. "You're fired."
Kindred, D. (2009, October 29). The worst news about sports journalism imaginable?. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from http://sportsjournalism.org/sports-media-news/the-worst-news-about-sports-journalism-imaginable/
Hardin, M. (2009, September 2). Sports reporters & gambling: The big picture. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from http://sportsmediasociety.blogspot.com/