The Colorado sports betting market will soon provide an avenue for college athletes to receive mental health support and report harassment when they are targets of online abuse.
The Colorado Department of Revenue on Thursday approved $215,000 in grant funding for Kindbridge Research Institute to develop the Colorado Athlete Wellbeing Program.
Launching later this year, the program will deliver app-based mental health services and training to more than 20 collegiate athletic programs in the state.
Protecting athletes from harassment
A recent ESPN article claimed an increase in social media threats against athletes nationwide. The Colorado Athlete Wellbeing Program will provide a ‘pathway to treatment’ for college athletes dealing with online abuse.
The app will combine a mental health assessment with an avenue for reporting and investigating CO sports betting harassment. Kindbridge will use its network of investigators and resources to attempt to find the person responsible and share the intel with law enforcement.
The app would be the first of its kind in the United States. Kindbridge is partnering with Sportradar on this latest athlete well-being initiative. The pair has done similar work together, most recently with University of Iowa basketball player Connor McCaffery.
Recent incidents outside Colorado sports betting market
The harassment of college players took the national spotlight earlier this year. University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant shared frustration over the vitriol his players received online after losing to conference rival Virginia Commonwealth in January.
Then, with March Madness betting at its peak, the TCU Horned Frogs were four-point underdogs against Gonzaga. Although his team had no chance of winning, TCU’s Damion Baugh faced attacks online after making a buzzer-beating shot. The final score was 84-81 and losing bettors attacked Baugh on social media.
Funding also approved for veterans program
Kindbridge will receive an additional $362,000 in grant money to support a veterans’ services program.
The Colorado Military Problem Gaming Research, Education, and Recovery Program will help veterans struggling with gambling addiction.
The grant will also fund a fellowship program for veterans pursuing higher education in the mental health and counseling industry.