Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Post 13

Sports Betting - Who Me?

As the days of February fly by, I start looking toward March and basketball's approaching mini-season of March Madness. There's the built-in excitement of games between big rivals - and at the same time, there's the hope that a nationally unknown team will sneak in a totally, unpredicted victory over sure-winning stars. It's kind of like a countrywide version of the old-time Indiana end-of-season basketball tourneys, wherein every high school started the State finals on equal footing. With March Madness, it could be Hoosiers all over again!
And so, with such tournaments, is there excitement with unknown outcomes? Yes, indeed. Are there risks that odds are beat and unexpected upsets arise? Yes, again. Win/loss charts are kept and it's fun to track the teams' trails to victory. Still, temptation to bet on the games runs high during this heightened time of basketball awareness.

Once again, there's the reminder: sports betting is illegal! For team members, sports wagering can be disastrous. Academic and professional careers are placed, seriously, at risk if any athlete involves himself/herself in betting.

Moreover, there is the danger that betting on sports can become compulsive. An addiction can develop. Below are the warning signs for which to watch.

Signs of a Compulsive Sports Gambler
  • excessive telephone bills to 900-number services
  • obsession with point spreads
  • unusual interest in obscure games
  • association with other sports bettors
  • shifting allegiances: for/against same team on different days
  • frequently hitting up friends or family for loans
  • extremely defensive when questioned about gambling behavior
  • debts, unpaid bills, financial troubles
  • going to others to get bailed out of desperate financial situations
  • after losing, eager to bet again to get even or ahead
(Source: "Don't Bet on It"; National Endowment for Financial Education and the National Collegiate Association, 1999)
If you or someone you know has one or more of the above characteristics, get help. The National Council on Problem Gambling National Helpline Number is 1-800-522-4700. Call for help!
So enjoy the games. Enjoy the excitement. Have fun with predections. AND - don't bet!
For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, go to

Rev. Janet Jacobs
Director, Gambling Recovery Ministries