Sports betting: better stay away

Today, most sports bets can be placed using an app; many gamblers also participate in Fantasy leagues. (Royalty-free photo by Andrew Neel via

By Justin Zbinovec, Reporter

Michael Jordan bets. Floyd Mayweather, Pete Rose, Charles Barkley, and 50 Cent all do it. So do many other celebrities.

However, just because sports betting is so popular does not mean that teenagers – and even adults – should opt to gamble.

Sports betting (and any gambling) can be a considerable financial investment. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

In 1931, gambling and sports betting were legalized in Nevada and it has come a long way since then. Sports betting can end up being a high risk, high reward or somewhat lower risk-lower reward depending on how one decides to use their money. Bettors can choose to bet on the score of games, who wins a game, how much a player scores, and much more. In addition, the less likely that something will happen, the more the better could win if the scenario actually occurs, and vice versa. 

Fantasy sports are very popular now, especially Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is a team that a person “manages” for the NFL season in the hopes of winning. It starts out with a draft, during which participants pick between fantasy players of their liking to have on their team. They are also able to trade with other people for players they want. Every week, participants “play” a different person in their league and compete for the win.

Eventually, later on in the season, there are Fantasy playoffs, in which participants aim to win the championship.

Of course, some people just play for fun and do not put any money into a league, although many others do. It is essentially a gamble because while some parts of Fantasy sports take skill, a lot of it can come down to luck.

Since sports betting is more widely available now, especially being mostly online, it has had a huge effect on sports and many people’s lives. Just this year, on March 7, the NFL suspended Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, for the year for betting on games while he was away from the team. Even though online sports betting is legal, the NFL does not allow players or team personnel to gamble on any sporting event. 

The age when a person can legally bet is normally 21, but some states allow such gambling at 18. In Illinois, residents are required to be 21 or older to bet on sports, although people figure out ways to get around that

Among WEGO students, there are a number of sports bettors. Basketball and football are both big right now to bet on, but people also choose to bet on baseball (mostly because of the World Series) and hockey. Most wagers on these games are normally around $10-$25, but could be more or less depending on how much the person is willing to bet. In addition, Fantasy Football is especially popular for many people in West Chicago.

The problem is that while Fantasy sports seem to be harmless, they can eventually lead to a sports betting addiction.

“The fear that I see is I think there is a direct correlation between Fantasy sports and sports betting,” said Social Studies teacher John Chisholm. 

Betting comes with risks: sometimes they pan out, and other times, they lead to negative consequences. (Royalty-free photo by Masood Aslami via

Sports betting can either be a risk or reward.

Chisholm has a Fantasy Football league with fellow Social Studies teachers: they have a 12-man league going on right now and Chisholm said many of the teachers within the department have been playing Fantasy sports since around 2008 or 2009. Each person puts $30-$35 into the league.

Chisholm also bets in other areas of sports gambling, and started doing so when the pandemic started. Although he does not bet a great deal, he does believe people who gamble should limit themselves and be disciplined.

“The books always win, and if you think you know more than the books, then you kinda need to look in the mirror and have a serious discussion because you’re gonna lose a lot of money very quickly,” said Chisholm.

Stress and time commitment are both huge aspects of sports betting. It takes time to make a bet and decide how much you want to put down. Then, gamblers have to worry about their bet actually being successful so they win some money. Many bettors have both losing and winning streaks, but the losing streaks are very difficult and stressful.

In Fantasy Football, participants have to make the right choices for their team to win, which means they have to be on social media and analyze football games to do well. 

“Excessive sports betting can really take a toll on you and cause you to have high levels of stress and anxiety,” said a West Chicago Community High School senior who requested to remain anonymous due Illinois’ laws concerning the age of gamblers.

The individual also noted that it can be stressful to have to worry about whether or not their bet will succeed.

I must admit that I am a part of a Fantasy Football League that involves a financial investment ($20 per person in the league, with 12 total people). However, betting and putting money into Fantasy Leagues is not that good for me, and I realize that. A lot of time goes into managing the league, and I have to pay attention to most of the games to succeed. Everyday I am looking at trades I can make or players I can pick up for my Fantasy team, all of which takes time away from what I should be doing.

It can also be stressful when I am in a close game with another team and I have to hope that the players on my Fantasy team perform well. It gets really annoying when my “best players” fail to do well one week: their performance can cost me the matchup for that week.

My father, Michael Zbinovec, used to bet/play Fantasy Football, but doing do made him angry when his team would not perform well. He got sick of it.

Like Chisholm, Zbinovec discourages betting because “the books always win.”

Sports betting should not get as much promotion as it does. Almost every time someone turns on the TV or looks at their phone, they will see something about sports betting. Reducing the quantity of advertisements or exposure sports betting receives would reduce the number of people who are making sports betting accounts.