Poll Finds 40% of Sports Reporters Gamble on Sports

By: Joe Strupp Forty percent of sports reporters admitted in a recent survey to gambling on sports, while 5% said they had bet on sports they had covered.

In addition, those who gamble on sports were more likely than their non-gambling colleagues to admit that gambling hurts objectivity in coverage, according to the study.

The telephone survey, conducted by the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State University, polled 285 reporters who
cover sports for newspapers and their Web sites, according to a release.

The report added that gambling on sports by reporters who cover them is banned by the ethics codes of some news organizations, including The New York Times, because of the potential conflict of interest.

"What was most interesting was the admission by reporters who gamble on sports that it likely influences the ways they covered stories," Marie Hardin, associate director of research for the Center for Sports Journalism, said in a statement. "That's exactly the reason why it's considered a no-no by some ethicists and editors."

The survey, "Sports Coverage: Toy Department or Public-Service Journalism," was conducted by Hardin, an associate professor of communications; Bu Zhong, assistant professor of communications; and doctoral candidate Erin Whiteside. Full results appear in the September 2009 issue of the International Journal of Sport Communication.

The survey asked reporters if they believe sports journalists should do more investigative journalism, with 85% saying yes and 68.5% saying their primary role was to be a watchdog. Some 91% of respondents said investigative work was part of their job.

"Sports reporters have generally shied away from such an approach for a number of reasons, but they've been stung in recent years by
scandals they have failed to adequately cover -- such as that of
steroids in Major League Baseball," Hardin said in the release.

The study also found that reporters "who embraced a public-service function for sports coverage were also more likely to reject behaviors like gambling on sports or taking free tickets." It added that 45% believed accepting free tickets or meals from teams did not compromise their objectivity.

Other findings: Thirty-eight percent said they had been threatened with violence by a fan, coach or player during their careers; 53% had considered quitting the sports beat at one time; 93% were satisfied with their job; and 74% believed they had a good job future.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here