Gambling in Youth Football
If you haven’t read about or seen the latest on the widespread gambling that is going on in youth football in South Florida- please take a look at this:
The reports seemed to tell a story of rampant betting of large amounts of money on youth games. We are talking about point spreads and even bets on the success of individual plays. Even a current coach and Board Member is shown participating. Much of this activity was shown being blatantly done right under the noses of law enforcement.
What does this mean to the game, when known drug dealers are betting large amounts of cash on a youth football game? When known drug dealers are putting $100 bills into the waist band of kids who run kickoffs back for scores?
I just spoke to a good friend from Cincinnati who coached in a league where a $10,000 bet had been placed. One of the bettors, seeing that his team was losing the game and was in danger of losing his $10,000 stake, started riding the referees and created a riot that caused the game to be called in mid-game. What a simple out these guys have, if they are losing the bet, just get the game called off. If some of these guys are dealing drugs, would they be above firing a gunshot to save from losing a $10,000 wager? Do we need these impressionable kids looking up to drug dealers who flash around wads of cash and who hand out $100 bills to players? This isn’t just a Florida or Ohio problem. I received a report from a coach in Maryland, where someone who had won a large sum of money betting on a youth football game was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot after the game. Do we really need to put our kids and families in these types of situations?
Many of us already cringe at the pressure the referees have to put up with from wayward parents, imagine what the refs have to put up with when there are large sums of money being bet on a game. We all know, once a few motivated people start riding the referees, others quickly follow and before you know it, you have a faceless mob ruining a kids football game. Should referees and coaches have to fear for their lives as they head to the parking lot to drive home from an event that is designed to help develop youth in a positive way?
What do the players learn when they see the authority on the field being disrespected and abused? Often times after seeing this type of behavior, the player then feels they are entitled to blame their shortcomings on the referees. Who can blame them, they are impressionable kids in their formative years, THAT’s why we as coaches and leaders must take a zero tolerance stance on gambling on youth football. We need to talk to our parents and stakeholders before the start of the season and let them know why gambling on these games is harmful to the kids and the team. We need to let the parents know there is a zero tolerance policy on gambling and to help the leadership and coaching staff by letting them know if they see any violations occuring.
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