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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News



In September 2019, St. Joe’s released a policy that barred students, faculty and staff from placing bets on St. Joe’s athletic contests. In the following columns, both sides of the argument are evaluated. Should a stance of money or morality be adopted?

Let’s gamble on SJU Athletics:

Since the adoption of the sports betting ban at St. Joe’s, the landscape of the industry has changed remarkably. Sports betting in 2021 has a more ubiquitous presence than anyone could have imagined even a year and a half ago. By 2023, the industry is expected to grow 56.89%  from 2019, largely due to the growth of online sportsbook apps like FanDuel, DraftKings and Barstool Sportsbook, owned by Penn National Gaming, a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania based company currently valued at $16.6 billion. 

No longer do people have to contact a bookkeeper to make a sports bet. The medium is now digital, and increased digitality makes the university’s policy especially difficult to enforce. 

As sports betting is illegal for students under 21, St. Joe’s has the right to prohibit it, just as it does with alcohol and drugs. But the sports betting policy, like the alcohol and drugs policies, is heavily reliant on the honor code, which we all know is highly effective among college students. 

When an honor code inevitably falters, such regulations become difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. For example, St. Joe’s and colleges across the country consistently fail to identify when tangible substances like alcohol and drugs are right under their noses. 

So how can you expect the university to enforce an intangible and digital practice like sports betting? Unless you’re at a women’s basketball game and you erupt in ecstasy as St. Joe’s hits a last second shot to cover a 9-point spread, it is virtually impossible to get busted for betting. The ban is noble in its intent, but to imagine it can be even remotely practical is a stretch too far. 

Further, for a university that has a business school as robust and acclaimed as the Haub School of Business, it is hypocritical to ignore capitalism and market growth. Within the sports industry, St. Joe’s has been at the forefront of the esports explosion, with SJU Athletics sponsoring a lab in Merion Hall and the university partnering with the 76ers gaming club. Similar opportunities exist within the scope of sports betting. 

Sports betting companies that are worth in excess of a billion dollars are looking for people to work with data and analytics, the foundation of what the Haub curriculum focuses on. Many of these companies are based within St. Joe’s geographic footprint. St. Joe’s should connect with these fast-growing companies to secure internships and career opportunities in a barren job market post-COVID-19.

The digital age is upon us, and it is time for the university to adopt policies that reflect the changing times. Though it is important that these policies don’t compromise its core values, there should not be substance-free formalities that are merely implemented for a boost in public relations. Why even have a code if it has no chance of being enforced? No gambling policy can cover the behemoth that is new-era sports betting.

-Tyler Nice

Don’t Allow Gambling on SJU Athletics:

The St. Joe’s interim policy that prohibits sports gambling prevents students, faculty and staff from betting on St. Joe’s athletic events. This policy upholds our Jesuit values as a university.

As an institution, gambling runs contrary to the sense of community that is instilled in SJU Athletics and the entire university. The Jesuit values of solidarity and kinship espouse the notion of sharing talents and skills with the surrounding community in order to help serve others. This should be the goal of our athletics program, to serve the greater St. Joe’s community with our student athletes’ skill sets, not exploit them for selfish purposes. 

These student athletes aren’t currently getting paid for all their hard work and dedication to their sport and so for fans, students, faculty or staff to be placing bets and potentially earning money off their play is wrong.  

I understand how sports betting might draw in more fans to games and could potentially create more engagement with athletics teams from the campus community. But, ultimately, it is important that we don’t compromise our values as a university and as members of the Jesuit community in order to appeal to a wider audience or bring in extra money. 

Specifically, throughout the legalization process of sports gambling we’ve seen a lot of pros and cons. For example, we’ve seen how addictive gambling can be, similar to alcohol or drugs, and just how littered the market is with underage gamblers. Therefore, it’s truly necessary for St. Joe’s to take a stand in order to regulate sports gambling on campus, particularly as it relates to our athletics program.

I also see sports gambling as putting unnecessary pressure on our tireless student athletes in the excess attention they may receive from fans and members of our campus community relating to bets or outcomes on wagers. Student athletes already have enough to deal with in their day-to-day lives, and adding internal pressure by permitting sports gambling has the potential to negatively influence a student’s game or mindset. 

For example, what if a student who was friends with a player on the men’s basketball team wanted to pressure them to purposefully lose a game in order to cash in a bet. This presents a slippery slope for student athletes who may be tempted into taking the winnings by throwing the game. This could prove to negatively impact the athletics department or the university community as a whole. Ultimately, this interim policy is to the benefit of our student athletes.

Moving forward, the university should continue to try and regulate this policy, making sure the St. Joe’s community abides by the values that have been instilled into our campus community. We must keep gambling out of our athletics department as we did prior to the legalization of sports betting. With this policy, I see St. Joe’s doing the right thing in keeping student athletes’ priorities at the top of the mind. Promoting these values are so important to the groundwork of St. Joe’s as a school.

-Riley Frain

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