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Sports Betting and Rule 21

February 3, 2014

With the Super Bowl having been played last night we have time to shift our focus on other sports. Here is an article about betting and baseball rules.

There is a rule against sports betting in baseball.  It is known as Rule 21 and it is posted inside every dugout on the walls.  It basically says that any player, employee, umpire, club or league official caught betting on any game in which they play an active role in the outcome will be banned from the game for life.

Aside from the famous “Black Sox” scandal in Chicago, Pete Rose is probably the most well documented example of a baseball player suffering the consequences of sports betting. While he wasn’t the only person banned from the game and deemed ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame others have been reinstated. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were both banned in 1983 for taking employment as greeters for casinos.  They were later reinstated by the Commissioner of Baseball, allowing both men to remain members in the Hall of Fame.  As of yet, Pete Rose has not been reinstated.

Recent Consequences

Sports betting on baseball has recently taken other hits due to infractions of rule 21 that have nothing at all to do with a sportsbook, point spreads or sports betting at all.  See, the rule was summarized for you above, but Rule 21 has a number of subsections – the most interesting of which is section F, which states:

“Any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.” (Source)

This section of Rule 21 brings several recent examples to mind, including Alex Rodriguez. A Rod was one of the players recently involved in the biogenesis scandal that rocked the baseball world and dramatically shifted the playing field for sports betting on baseball during the 2013 season.

While many who think of Rule 21 think only of Pete Rose and the like, “juicing” through the use of banned substances, steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are a direct infraction of Rule 21 Section F. This is because of the impression the use of banned substances has on public perception of the sport – a sport known as the “American Pastime” and renowned for its history of players who are role models. This idea that professional baseball players shoul hold themselves to a higher standard and act as role models to children is a big part of the reason why rule 21 was created in the first place … even though it’s not directly related to sports betting.

The players involved in the biogenesis scandal weren’t permanently banned from the game but it’s likely that none of them will ever be voted into the hall of fame since known steroid users haven’t been voted in to date.

While Rule 21 was originally established for things like sports betting on the games that the people doing the sports betting were involved in and the ethical issues that surround that entire situation, the creators of the rule had enough forethought to include the use of performance enhancing drugs under its umbrella through the use of broad, general language designed to preserve the sanctity of the game of baseball.