Bet on Yourself, but Not Literally

Nate Hornung

Written by: Nate Hornung

Last Updated:

Read Time: 6 minutes

Bet on Yourself, but Not Literally cover


Everybody has been told this at one point in their life. Whether it be related to athletics, employment or education, there’s a good chance someone has said these three magic words to you.

Bet on yourself.

Bet. On. Yourself.

The phrase has good intentions without a doubt. It’s encouraging. It’s motivating. Coaches say it to players, parents say it to children, bosses say it to employees.

Bet on yourself.

It makes me want to get to work! To put my nose to down, to lower my shoulders and plunge head first into whatever life throws at me.

It makes me want to become unstoppable.

What a powerful phrase.

Bet on yourself.

Well, with all good things, they can’t last forever.

They get abused, misused, misinterpreted, or for lack of a better world, they get real screwed up.

And when athletes start literally placing sports bets on themselves, yeah, that’s an issue.

There has to be a line drawn somewhere, and thanks to the glorious people at Betting News, I get to tell you all exactly how this should all go down.

Sports Betting Legalization

Bet on Yourself

Sports betting in the US has grown tremendously since the repeal of the federal ban in 2018, and plenty of adults are getting in on the online action.

Including some of the players.

Whether its simply violating team policy, or betting on events they are directly involved in, there have been multiple headlines of players getting caught.

Certainly we can’t have guys betting on themselves, right?

Bet on Yourself

Players Literally Betting on Themselves

Calvin Ridley made headlines when he was suspended by the NFL for a year for betting.

It later came out that Ridley specifically bet on his Atlanta Falcons to win.

This poses the question, should he be in the clear since he didn’t bet against himself?

I mean, there’s no incentive to under perform, and in theory the defense will be trying just as hard to stop him.

We see this happening in College sports as well.

Just last week, five Iowa State football starters  were charged in a sports betting investigation.

One player, Isaiah Lee, who has since left the program, was accused of wagering on his team’s games, including betting against the Cyclones in a game against Texas.

Iowa State won 30-7 and Lee made just one tackle, begging the question, did he purposefully under perform?

Bet on Yourself

Eyioma Uwazurike, a former Cyclone football player has also been charged in the Iowa State betting scandal.

He was also suspended by the NFL indefinitely for betting on games his rookie season, placing bets on 5 Broncos games. His complaint stated he also made four wagers on Iowa State football games.

What About Betting Other Sports?

While these guys actually bet on games they may have participated in, other guys have been suspended simply for using the app at a team facility.

Just ask Jameson Williams of the Detroit Lions who is suspended for six games this season. All he did was bet on college games, but he did so at the team facility, violating the NFL’s gambling policy.

Is this an issue?

Well, let’s think about it this way.

The Leagues Employs Players

Bet on Yourself

Whether we like to believe it or not, our favorite professional athletes are still employees of a team, which operates under policies and rules set forth by the league.

This is no different from any other job.

Any job will have you sign some sort of Code of Conduct that will spell out certain rules or policies this company expects their employees to follow.

Otherwise, there could be fines, suspensions, or termination.

The NFL, the NBA, and any other professional sports league is no different.

So What’s the Big Deal?

Bet on Yourself

Why are you ruining all the fun, Roger?

In hindsight, I don’t have much issue with a player legally betting on another sports league.

If an NFL player wants in on some NBA action on his bye week, I say go for it. Personally, I don’t really see a problem.

However, these guys should know their league policy by heart if they want to mess around with sports gambling while playing professionally.

Do I think NFL players should be allowed to bet on non-NFL sporting events? Absolutely.

Do I think NFL players should also be smart enough to follow their employer’s gambling policies? Absolutely.

It’s not rocket science. Follow the rules, plain and simple.

Same goes for NBA, NHL, or any other sports league.

If the player is doing so legally and on a sport/league that doesn’t involve them, within their league’s policy, I think it should be fine.

Just be smart.

The Bottom Line

We can’t have players betting on themselves. It just can’t happen.

Integrity of the game would be lost forever.

However, I really don’t have a problem with guys betting on sports outside of their league.

Do I have the perfect answer? Absolutely not.

But what I do know is the NFL specifically needs to figure out some consistency with their suspensions.

Regardless, these guys are professional athletes.

They are plenty smart, and are capable of following a few simple rules.

I’m sure some policies and legislation need to be updated for the times at hand, but screwing up the opportunity of a lifetime for some degenerate action is such a waste.

Questions for Policy Makers

Bet on Yourself

Here are the hard hitting questions that policy makers need to think of when drafting up such legislation.

  • Should we ban betting on the same sport?

This would ensure NFL players do not bet on College Football or CFL, and therefore would not compromise the integrity of the sport across leagues.

In a past life I worked for a professional women’s soccer team. In our league policy, I was unable to wager on any FIFA event, men’s or women’s regardless of the competition.

We had no affiliation with any MLS team or International team, yet we could not bet on any soccer event.

  • Would NBA players be outlawed from betting on the WNBA?

I bring up this question simply because the two leagues are directly affiliated with one another. It goes along with the question above, and personally I think would be a no brainer.

Teams could have associates working for both franchises in each league and information could leak in several ways.

  • Should we just say no sports betting completely for professional athletes?

This is no brainer solution, but also the no fun solution. We could make it very cut and dry.

If you play sports professionally in any capacity, you can not wager on any of them. However anyone would admit that seems a little extreme.

I mean, come on, these guys and gals are still humans. They might be itching for some off-season action.

Look, I say give it to them, but do so responsibly.

We can’t risk the integrity of the sport for us non-athlete sports bettors.

Let the kids have some fun, but always think about the bigger impact it may have.

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Nate Hornung
Nate Hornung

Nate has been a recreational sports bettor for about 5 years. In that time, he has grown to love the pursuit of winners and sticking it to The Man. Nate loves data and uses his understanding of numbers to help him be a more profitable sports gambler, however he will be the first to tell you this game is about more than just stats.

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