Betting on yourself

Sports allows highschoolers to enter into the world of gambling


Photo by Ayla Dean

photo illustration

Story by Blaise Larry-Cox, Staff Writer

Sports, one of the biggest industries in the United States, especially with the nation’s youth. In particular, sports betting has become increasingly popular among teenagers within recent years. While some young people see it as a fun and an exciting way to engage with their favorite sports teams, more importantly, it’s a way for fans to connect more to the sports they love. 

“I guess it started with the LA Rams and Bengals Super Bowl,” senior Ned Sandefur said. “It was just a simple [way to] play with my buddies. I put 20 bucks on the Rams, [and] ended up winning like $40. It was fun,  and it was easy money.”

While some teenagers just bet off of a whim, some teens use strategies before placing their money on a bet. As well as studying the teams past plays and teamwork.

“[I choose based on] how they performed last week and just kind of like overall consistency,” senior Josh Stewart said. “They might have had a breakout game the week before, but just kind of like what the average is, [and that’s] what I base my picks off of.”

With the consumption of sports media being incredibly accessible with 24 hour tv channels like ESPN,  or podcasts with producers like Colin Cowherd, and even video games such as NBA 2K or Madden, more now than ever. Fans are always able to be plugged into their favorite activities.

The rise of Prize Picks, a popular betting app that simplifies betting and provides people with a straightforward way to collect their profits, is taking the youth by storm.

“So personally, I use Price Picks,” senior Lawton Nichols said. “And essentially, they try to make everything 50/50. [However,] sometimes they’ll get lines a little off. So I’ll do research between months, games, years, just to try and figure out maybe this guy’s got a little bit of an edge, or this guy’s got a little bit of an edge.”

One major concern is the potential for teens to develop gambling addictions. Like any form of gambling, sports betting can be highly addictive, especially for young people who are still developing their impulse control and decision-making skills. Over time, this addiction can lead to serious financial problems and even legal issues.

“Well, one thing I think that a bunch of people do is believe that sports betting is easy money and it is not, it is gambling,” Sandefur said. “Like things like parlays, when you make six bets at one time and they all have to hit to make a payout. You are throwing your money away because the chances of that happening are so little.”

Well, one thing I think that a bunch of people do is believe that sports betting is easy money and it is not, it is gambling.”

— Ned Sandefur

Another concern is the impact that sports betting can have on teens’ academic and personal lives. Spending too much time and money on gambling can lead to a lack of focus on schoolwork and other important responsibilities. It can also strain relationships with friends and family members, as well as cause stress and anxiety.

Despite these risks, some teenagers may still feel drawn to sports betting. 

“Well, you know, I’ll pretty much lose every time,” senior Alex Hines said. “So I stopped putting in as many bets. I put in maybe one bet a day. I started off at like eight a day.”

To minimize the potential negative impacts, educating students needs to be important to parents, teachers, and other trusted adults need to explain risks of gambling with the hope to encourage healthy, responsible behaviors. 

This may include setting limits on time and money spent on sports betting, encouraging alternative forms of entertainment and recreation and seeking professional help if gambling addiction becomes a problem.

Sports betting impact teenagers, both positive and negative. While it can be a fun and exciting way to engage with sports teams and players, be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to minimize these risks. With the right guidance and support, young people can enjoy the thrill of sports betting in a safe and responsible way.