The gambling adventures of some of the top baseball, basketball, NFL football, and Euro football players have been well-chronicled in the press. What else is a young athlete with millions in the bank going to do for entertainment? Unfortunately, some of these well-chronicled stories have not ended well.
As an example of how wealthy athletes can succumb to gambling addiction, here is a list of athletes who struggled to control their gambling habits. Note: some of these names are the biggest names in sports:
- Michael Jordan (NBA) – High stakes sports and casino gambler
- John Daly (PGA) – Wasted over $55 million with gambling losses from 1993 to 2007
- Charles Barkley (NBA) – Claims over $10 million in casino losses over his basketball career
- Rick Tocchet (NHL) – Did prison time on bookmaking charges
- Wayne Rooney (EPL) – Euro soccer great who lost millions in his football career while casino gambling
It’s worth noting that all of these athletes have reportedly dealt with their gambling issues. One can only imagine the extent of the gambling addiction they would have had if online casino gambling had been prevalent while they were stuck in their cycles of addiction.
For the athletes who have lost money while betting on sports, the GamStop self-exclusion program could have been a savior. Of course, they probably would have bet on sports providers that aren’t on GamStop in the UK to get around GamStop.
Why Professional Golfers Don’t Fall Prey to Gambling Addiction
There is one interesting name of note on the above list, that being John Daly. Daly is an outliner. He comes from a sport where athletes don’t tend to exhibit addictive behaviors. It’s not to say they don’t enjoy gambling every now and then. It’s only to say that golfers tend to be able to control their gambling activities.
Yes, John Daly admits to over $55 million in gambling losses over his career. It points to the fact he was talented enough to make that kind of money on the PGA tour. At the same time, his behaviors belied those of the golfing elite. It’s worth noting that Daly also admitted to having an alcohol addiction, which likely contributed to his gambling fiasco.
So why don’t more professional golfers become compulsive gamblers? Since there have been no studies related to this topic, the answer is conjecture. However, the reasons we will discuss make sense.
Golf is a Sport of Great Precision, Discipline, and Concentration
As a kinetic sport, playing does not require a lot of strength. It really requires precision, discipline, and concentration. The ability to precisely duplicate a golf swing over and over is a physical talent. It’s also a mental talent. To rise to the level of a professional golfer, the individual has to hone their swing to the point their precision is off the charts. That requires absolute discipline and concentration.
Being able to control oneself is an important attribute when it comes to avoiding addictive behavior. Through the discipline and concentration, they have developed as golfers, golfers have the advantage of being able to control their thoughts and many times, their emotions. The ability to control thoughts and emotions is a necessary attribute when it comes to avoiding harmful addictive behaviors.
Golf is a Game of Priviledge
It costs a lot of money to buy quality golf equipment and pay for green fees. Also, golf lessons can come with quite a price tag if the instructor is a golfer of note. Given the kind of financial investment that’s needed to become a top-level golfer, it’s a sport that tends to attract young people that come from families of means.
Addiction experts are quick to point out that gambling addicts tend to come from broken and financially challenged families. That’s not to say a wealthy adult won’t fall victim to gambling addiction as did some of the athletes that were mentioned above. It’s just to point out that most people who end up as compulsive gamblers come from a lower social-economical status. Most pro golfers have never encountered social-economical challenges in their younger years.
Most athletes in leagues like the NBA, NFL, and EPL will practice a couple of hours a day in preparation for 1, 2, or 3 games a week. Each game will only last 3 hours at most. Translated: a lot of big-time athletes only invest 20 hours a week plying their trade. That leaves a lot of personal time to divulge on other activities like hobbies or gambling.
Pro golfers don’t have that luxury. The good ones will practice for 4-6 hours a day and follow up with 10 to 20 hours of competitive golf a week. After tacking on the time spent traveling from one tournament to the next, pro golfers just don’t seem to have a lot of discretionary time to do other things.
Here’s the upshot. Highly skilled athletes tend to have fewer issues with gambling addiction than athletes with great athletic ability.