Calling on Athletes to Take a Stance Against Problem Gambling

This week (June 8/2023) the winningest NFL quarterback of all time spoke out against sports betting. A recently retired Tom Brady took a snap from the National Football League in delivering a message to follow the league’s guidelines on gambling. It was a highly publicized affair that got picked up by YAHOO Sports, FOX Sports, Sports Illustrated, the NY Post, and a variety of other media outlets. The timing coincides with a wave of recent offseason NFL suspensions regarding gambling policy violations. While it’s important to read between the lines (which we do below) the move is a step in the right direction. Let’s look at why America needs to see more of this, and why there’s still much more to do to chisel away at the false sheen of sports betting across the country.

How Athlete and League Endorsements Against Sports Betting Can be a Strong Defense Against Problem Gambling (and why more must be done)

Why It’s Important

Sports betting advertising is running rampant in the United States, even in states where the activity remains illegal. The use of influencers is of particular concern, as it contributes to the massive growth in young adult gambling and why America now has a teenage gambling problem. Among these influencers are popular actors, musicians, socialites, and retired athletes like Tony Hawk and Kevin Garnett. When sports betting recently became legal in Massachusetts, Tom Brady’s former teammate Julian Edelman was used to promote the state’s opening of WynnBet Sportsbook. He was filmed with a briefcase full of cash as he bragged about placing an $11,000 wager on a Celtics game before asking his followers to follow suit.

When influential sports heroes from past and present are enlisted to promote gambling to vulnerable populations, any effort made in the opposite direction is appreciated. Tom Brady’s message to current and future players may have limited reach, but it’s a start.

Why It’s Not Enough

Here’s a snippet of headlines to follow the NFL’s publicly announced reminder about the league’s gambling policies for players:

“Tom Brady delivers stern gambling warning to NFL players”

New York Post

“Tom Brady is the NFL’s secret weapon to help stop players from sports betting”

YAHOO Sports

“NFL enlists Tom Brady to send players message on gambling hazards”

NBC Affiliate

These headlines remove some of the luster for players who are tempted to bet on sports. This can also have an indirect impact on impressionable fans who look to them as role models of behavior. However, when you get into the articles, the message becomes more clear. It’s about the protecting the integrity of the league and not necessarily the mental or behavioral health of players:

“[Brady] talks about his love of football and how the opportunity to play in the NFL was a privilege of a lifetime. He then says betting on NFL games hurts the integrity of the league and the reputation of everyone on your team and it’s just not worth it.

YAHOO Sports

If governing bodies within and surrounding respective leagues could refocus motivations so that they point towards the dangers of sports betting, greater strides in protecting player (and public) behavioral health could be made. We take a look at examples of this in action below.

What More Can Be Done

If league organizations invest in greater mental and behavioral support for athletes, fewer of them may fall prey to the dangerous grip of gambling. And as alluded to above, their example may reverberate amongst the impressionable masses (fans). Look no further than recent partnerships with Kindbridge Behavioral Health for shining examples of this. For instance, the NFL Players Association’s Professional Athletes Foundation (PAF) has partnered with Kindbridge to help former players who struggle with problem gambling. Meanwhile, NASCAR recently invited Kindbridge to take part in their NASCAR Day Giveathon to raise money for problem gambling research. More recently, the Colorado Athlete Wellbeing Program was launched between Kindbridge Research Institute and Sportradar to deliver mental health services and training to more than 20 collegiate athletic programs in the state.

We call upon other athletes, leagues, and athletic organizations to join Kindbridge in taking a stance against problem gambling among vulnerable populations. To learn more about what you can do, reach out to Kindbridge today.

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email: [email protected]

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