Losing Bettors Troll NBA Players at Games

Fan/Bettor Behavior Has Gotten Worse

There was always a concern that widespread sports betting, as created by legalization, would lead to more issues of negative fan-player interactions.

The hope has been that bad behavior from bettors wouldn’t be much worse than the typical sporting event – heckling between fan and underperforming player or between fan and opposing player. However, things have gotten worse as it is now a common sight for losing bettors to heckle NBA players.

People attending games can live bet on outcomes during the game right from their phones. Hence, there is an immediacy that has led some bettors to act out their worst impulses directly to players (and coaches) during and after games.

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The criticisms, often rising to the level of verbal abuse, have gotten so bad concerning NBA player props and other bets. One NBA team even added an extra security guard to man its bench because of gambling-related verbal attacks.

The cat is already out of the bag, so to speak, concerning betting’s prevalence and ubiquity in the sports world. It would be hard to rein in super-profitable and popular prop betting and microbetting (like in-game bets on what will happen on the next play/pitch/possession).

Unfortunately, instead of just placing their bets and watching the game, too many people are compelled to bother players and coaches just because they have money on an outcome.

Players And Coaches Are Targeted Everywhere

Social media, with its ability to connect people of all kinds, has done wonders for the sports world. It allows fans to interact with athletes in ways never thought possible before. But it has also allowed losing bettors to heckle NBA players, coaches, and others when they lose bets.

Those constant negative interactions have worn on NBA players, who are already more susceptible to in-game jeers than players from other sports due to the proximity of NBA games.

Stars like Tyrese Haliburton have noted how the constant betting-related criticisms have taken a toll on his mental health. He says he feels like a “prop” that fans only care about concerning whether they win a bet on him or not.

When bettors whip out the parlay calculator and build parlay bets using player props, they don’t necessarily think about the fact that there is a real person playing in that game who is more focused on helping their team win than on allowing a bettor to hit one of the 10 legs in their 10-to-win-450 parlay.

And fans/bettors’ inability to compartmentalize the bets they make for themselves with the in-person behavior they subject players to is causing a lot of problems in the NBA and is poised to only get worse.

Leagues Brought This On Themselves (A Little)

The flip side of the situation is that the professional sports leagues are partially to blame for the proliferation of gambling and, specifically, prop betting. Many have entered into partnerships with sportsbook operators like DraftKings and FanDuel. Their logos are plastered around arenas and often mentioned in broadcasts.

The NBA, for example, isn’t specifically to blame for losing bettors heckling NBA players. But by having microbetting and same-game parlays so intertwined with the sports itself, the league was opening up its players and coaches to these problems.

J.B. Bickerstaff, head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has even said that someone managed to get his personal number to send him threatening text and voice messages about gambling-related losses.

While it doesn’t appear any threats have been acted upon – at least in the NBA – the time to address these issues is now. Not after something unfortunate has happened.

Gambling Scandals Don’t Help

Another concern is the gambling scandals, such as the Jontay Porter prop betting situation, which is under investigation.

It certainly isn’t a good look for the NBA when one of its players, who may be aware of the NBA betting odds for his own props, is involved in improper behavior.

It doesn’t directly relate to the problem of fans/bettors feeling emboldened enough to harass players and coaches. But it adds to the environment.

The more connected the leagues become to sports betting outfits, the more fans will feel that games are less about entertainment and more about how they can make money.

This, coupled with the potential for players to profit by manipulating their stats for betting purposes, could destabilize all sports.

For Gambling news, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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