If you are a football fan, you have been waiting for the National Football League season to start since the big game in February. Maybe you’ve even followed all of the training reports and draft news along the way! Many already have ideas of what team will be the top dog. Will New England return to glory yet again? Or will an underdog team take everyone by surprise?
At the beginning, even the best sportscasters cannot make reliable calls about how the season will go, let alone how one team will fare or how a certain player will perform. Weather conditions, coaching decisions, and player injuries are just a few of the uncontrollable factors that can have an impact on the outcome of a matchup. Your predictions may have already shifted after yesterday’s games. Even artificial intelligence can’t get it right.
Nonetheless, friendly banter about who made the right call can be good fun and is part of how we enjoy sports. But if all this is so uncertain, why put money on it?
The Risks Go Further Than You Think
A bet of even $5 on one of tonight’s game risks much more than a Lincoln. To someone who is able to gamble safely as a form of recreation, that may be all the bet is worth. But for those individuals who are in recovery from gambling addiction, being asked to bet is like putting a needle up to a balloon.
Because problem gambling is a behavioral addiction, the risk of relapse is something those who suffer will carry for life, regardless of their stage of recovery. Those who cannot control their urges to bet face countless consequences, including financial devastation, troubles at work, the loss of important relationships with family and friends, and an increased risk of suicidal ideation.
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians suffer from gambling addiction, and due to its lack of physical symptoms and prevailing societal stigma, it’s also known as the hidden addiction. You may not know when you are in the company of someone who is in recovery. Not to mention, sports betting remains unlawful in Florida.
“Keep your eye on the ball” is common advice for those just getting started in sports, and it applies here, too. Stay focused on the game itself, keep it fun, and stay away from sports betting. The risks are too great!
Help and hope are available. If you or someone you know may be suffering from problem gambling, call Florida’s 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual HelpLine, 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848) and get connected to a wide range of services and supports.
 Heath, Thomas. “Microsoft’s Prediction Engine Is off to a Bad Start Picking NFL Winners.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Sept. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2016/09/12/microsofts-prediction-engine-is-off-to-a-bad-start-picking-nfl-winners/.