There’s an interesting case breaking right now in Southern Florida involving youth football and gambling rings. It’s a poorly written article with an obvious bias but the story itself evokes several interesting questions.
In this case a group of coaches set gambling lines for youth football games in South Florida. This area of the country is one of the most football crazy regions in the nation. But, let’s not kid ourselves. There is plenty of gambling going on over Texas high school football. We all know about sports betting for professional and college football. It is a huge industry.
What happened in this case is that an entrepreneur found an avenue for profit. People wanted to gamble on the youth football games and someone provided an outlet. The story indicates, and it could be wrong, that whoever was controlling the gambling exerted influence to make certain that no point shaving occurred. That means they were trying to put up an honest game. An honest game is generally in the best interest of the house. It sounds strange but the house prefers an honest game. It is only the gambler that wants to cheat the house.
The problem with gambling is the ancillary harm and illegal activity it can engender. Dishonest games. Players paid to throw the game or change the final score. Referees bribed. Then of course there are those who gamble too much and must suffer for their mistakes. There are the families of those who lose all their money and must accept the consequences through no fault of their own.
It might be difficult to bribe a professional football player but not nearly as hard to corrupt someone making no money at all, a ten-year old quarterback. A coach, a player, a referee, even the ball boy could deflate a ball at a key moment. All these things are possible. I certainly understand why a state would want to make gambling illegal and they certainly have the right to do so.
I’m just not sure it’s a good idea. Generally making things illegal feeds criminals money, lots of money. This money then leads to violence as fights over who gets it occur. Do we think that once people know how much money can be made from youth football gambling that the problem will go away because of a few arrests? Or do we suspect that the underground nature of the gambling will lead to increased criminal activity?
It’s a difficult question to answer. With that much money involved there are bound to be unshady types attracted to it. I guarantee that right now, in your office, on your block, or even in your house, there is someone making an illegal bet and someone else taking it. Do we extend legal sports gambling down to youth football so that people have an outlet to make their wagers? With a legal outlet available many will choose it.
I’m of the opinion this is the only practical solution but I can see where people would disagree.
It’s a fascinating case and I’d love to see what you think! Please comment and don’t be shy about disagreeing with me!
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