Raptors’ Chris Boucher thinks sports betting has worsened NBA fan criticism
Boucher has received some hateful social media messages over his NBA career, and thinks the legalization of sports gambling has only made things worse.
Fan interactions with professional athletes help make sports special, except when that privilege is used negatively, which is becoming a recurring trend amid the legalization of sports gambling.
Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Boucher detailed some of his dealings with basketball fans on the latest episode of the Hustle Play podcast, revealing he’s received plenty of hate-fuelled criticism via social media. It is something he feels has worsened since sports betting became legal in Ontario last April.
Now, Boucher has been unfairly attacked repeatedly on Twitter and Instagram over what fans perceive as poor performances.
“It's just people want to put you in trouble,” Boucher said. “People want you to do what they want and what they see you for. And that's the issue. And the betting is not going to make it better now with the parlays and all that.
“Somebody said 'I chose the wrong slave today.' They literally sent me that message. I had to read it. I couldn't believe it.”
Boucher said the fan was upset because he only received five points from the 6-foot-9 forward when he needed 10 to cash his bet.
With these incidents on the rise league-wide, NBA players are becoming less inclined to interact with basketball fans at arenas in fear of receiving backlash in a public setting. Though that doesn’t apply to all 30 fan bases, it happens far more often than it should.
“And now, guess what, the players now they don't really mess with the fans as much,” Boucher said. “We're lucky we're in Toronto, and we got the best fans. But I'm saying, imagine if you get messages like this. Now, you don't really want to— you don't know why that person is talking to you. I need you to score 10 today.
“Do I really want to talk to you now? Because if I score eight, you're going to flame my Twitter, my Instagram, and everything.”
As a player, Boucher says the hateful comments will eventually crawl under your skin after a certain point. And when that happens, you could react in a way that is completely out of character.
“It gets to you," Boucher said. "Now it's what, you're going to delete all your social and all that? Now you're losing your life, the life that you'd be living. And everything changed.
“So I could see how somebody could lose their mind over this really clearly. If you don't have the right people around you and if you don't have the right motive and the right intention on everything you do, you could lose that easily.”
Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, reportedly being investigated by the Orlando Police Department over an alleged altercation with two fans, knows all too well how aggressive spectators can become.
The police report says one of the individuals targeted Beal over losing a $1,300 bet, prompting the All-Star guard to turn around and confront him. It also alleges that Beal swatted at the man’s head, knocking off his hat.
The alleged victim told police that he wants charges filed against Beal.