Being in the NFL is a unique experience reserved for only the most elite athletes. It's so intense that, in a sense, you get addicted to helping your team win. And you've been in that situation through high school and college.
But what happens after you leave the NFL and start living a normal life?
The league is worried that many former NFL players will try to seek out the same rush they used to get from playing by betting on games. While you are in the NFL, of course, gambling is forbidden. But once you leave it you can gamble and that's where the issue of problem gambling comes into play.
"Problem gambling is often described as a hidden addiction. The signs are difficult to spot, yet the effects can be devastating. Proactive education offered to vulnerable populations is crucial for curbing problem gambling. We plan to educate former NFL players through motivational talks provided by former professional athletes who've experienced the consequences of problem gambling, first-hand," said Paul Buck, CEO of EPIC Risk Management.
Epic Risk Management has just been hired by the NFLPA – the group that works with former NFL players – to provide on-site and virtual meetings to discuss the risks of developing problem gambling behaviors after leaving the league.
"This is the first program that the NFLPA/PAF has ever run on problem gambling education and awareness," said Andre Collins, Executive Director of the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation. "As the first major professional sports league in the U.S. to undertake this project, we're proud to tackle this issue head-on. We urge all sports leagues to address problem gambling with the seriousness it deserves."
EPIC Risk Management, a gambling harm minimization consultancy, and GVC Foundation US, a responsible gambling nonprofit launched by GVC Holdings, have an existing partnership aiming to co-host educational seminars throughout the U.S. The two groups are further partnering with the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, to conduct research about elite athletes' relationships with problem gambling through these and other educational sessions.