Gambling on… Pee Wee Football

I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN, and I saw an exposé they did on gambling on Pee Wee football games in South Florida.  I have provided a link to the story here.  What is interesting is that the amount of money being bet on little kids playing football is quite large sums.  Regular season games for the league which ESPN investigated had as much as $20,000 on the line, and the league Super Bowl championship game could net someone about $75,000.  Who would make such bets?  It turns out that the area has a lot of criminal elements and drug dealers who are willing to gamble, and with so much money on the line, there of course has been attempts to pay off coaches, parents, and even the players themselves.

Its even at the point where some of the gamblers will look for kids who are star players and have only a single parent.  The gamblers will then offer to pay the mother money and give the kid shoes and clothes as long as he plays for a certain team.  The article linked above notes that players and their parents often get between $5,000 to $10,000 over a season, while the gamblers can make up to $20,000 a game for 8 to 10 games a season.

Obviously this type of gambling is illegal, but really nothing is being done about it.  Gamblers exchange money at the game, just feet away from uniformed police officers, who stand there doing nothing.  The league president says its a minor crime, yet one of the coaches was found to even be exchanging money with fans in the stands during a game.  The police claim there has been no complaints, so they continue to do nothing about it.  After this piece, maybe some action will be taken.

Either way, I was pretty disgusted by everything going on with this league, it really displays the dark side of when criminal behavior and gambling gets mixed into sport.  Especially, youth sport.

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