Do Pro Athletes Want Gambling?

October 14, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

The obits for Alex Karras  all noted that the NFL suspended him and Lions teammate Paul Hornung for gambling.  Then there’s Pete Rose, whose gambling has kept him out of the Hall of Fame.  And Tim Donaghy, the NBA ref who later said his gambling affected the way he called games. 

What’s up with White sports dudes and gambling? 

Chad Millman at ESPN touts the latest issue of their  magazine (he’s the editor) with the promise of some data.

In that issue we run one of our Confidential polls, in which we question dozens of athletes about taboo topics. In the current version we asked 67 jocks from the four major sports: . . . do you think sports betting should be legalized?

Let’s stipulate that a non-random sample of 67 jocks-we-could-get-to-answer-our-phone-call divided into four categories is less methodologically rigorous than we would prefer.  Still the differences among the sports are striking.  The NHL players were overwhelmingly in favor of legalized sports betting, the NBA players against it.

Here’s a graph that makes the ESPN data look more impressive than it actually is.

The Whiter the sport, the more its professional practitioners want legalized gambling.

Millman is not an academic, so he didn’t end his article with a call for further research (and funding).  But maybe he should have.


Bob S. said...

Some posts say or imply that I disagree with some things done by some people who happen to be White. I’m pretty sure that I have never written about Whites as a racial group.

But you'll probably claim this isn't writing about Whites as a racial group, right?

Jay Livingston said...

To get Clintonesque here, it depends on the meaning of “writing about Whites as a racial group.” On many variables, there are overall differences among races. This post makes a comparison based on race composition – White / non-White. To report a fact about one race is to report, implicitly or explicitly, about other races. That’s true of any comparison among demographic groups.

I’m not sure that pointing out one such difference constitutes “writing about” any of the groups in question. For example, if Nielsen reports that people age 55 and up constitute the majority of viewers of “The Good Wife,” you could say that Nielsen is writing “about older people as a demographic group.” Or you might just say that Nielsen is reporting one factoid about them.

You may think that this post says something about the souls of White folk. I do not (especially given what I say about the quality of the data).

Bob S. said...

The Whiter the sport, the more its professional practitioners want legalized gambling.

Hmm, could have phrased it "Minorities less likely to want gambling." Or "Interesting contrast in desires for gambling among minorities" -- right?

But you didn't.

That is the point; you denied previously that have a bias. Yet we have another example

Jay Livingston said...

When I saw the numbers – and let me repeat, this is really low-quality data - my first thought was similar to what you said: that Black athletes are less likely to favor legalized sports gambling. But when I took quick look for race breakdowns, I ran into the “minorities” problem. “Minorities” would lump together Sammy Sosa and Manu Ginobli (both Hispanic), Joakim Noah, and maybe Troy Polamalu. And what do you do with Ichiro Suzuki? Those different ethnic/racial categories might not break the same way on the gambling question. So I went with “non-minority,” i.e., White.

Bob S. said...

So you post questionable data that casts Whites in a bad light and have no problem with that?

And you highlight the race by your own admission?

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