Do No Harm: Part 4

Dear Chicago White Sox Organization

I am a Person with a Gambling Disorder in recovery. I probably met criteria for a disorder 53 years ago at age 15. Before that I became a White Sox at age 7 during the 1959 World Series. I was imprinted to both the White Sox and to a 2 hour game based on pitching and defense. I have evolved to accept that the Go-Go Era will not becoming back anytime soon. I have evolved to be able to watch a baseball game without making a bet.

I am disheartened to see the White Sox (along with every other professional team) promote gambling. My guess is that your organization has not studied the prevalence rate of People with a Gambling Disorder in general and specific to your fans. If you have I wonder if you have taken any steps to protect those fans as you would with a fan who is obviously intoxicated on alcohol.

I will leave you to do your own research and reach out to resources that might be able to help you create a plan that would give the organization less of an opportunity to cause harm. For example you might find rates of people with a gambling disorder or are at-risk ranging from 1%-10%. You will also learn that those people affect another 8 or so people on average. My own guess is that sports fans are on the high end of risk to develop a gambling disorder.

You might wonder what triggered this note. I have watched Chicago sports since age 7. Over 10 years ago I developed a recovery plan to cut out all sporting events except for the White Sox and one other team. I dropped the other team 5 years ago. When I watch sporting events I see patterns that make sense only to me that put me in a fantasy state. Those moments of magical thinking fed my disorder. That became apparent when I left my then 2-month-old child and her mother alone because I had a devastating relapse. I spent 4 days in a hotel room oscillating between suicidal thoughts and ways to bet on more sporting events. I am one of the resilient people who did not kill themselves.

So, what’s that have to do with the White Sox. And, if I am correct that the organization has not given thought about potential harms to it’s fans, what can the organization do. Your selling airtime to manipulative advertisers, your 50-50 raffle and the discussion of gambling by your analysts (I admit I have heard Garfien only once speak about odds) are three areas I believe you can do better.

I would be willing to discuss further any part of my note or anything else on the topic. Along with having a disorder I am a professional in the field of gambling treatment/prevention. Other resources include:

1-800-Gambler, The National Council on Problem Gambling, Illinois Department of Health and Human Services, Gamblers Anonymous, Gam-Anon

In peace

Brian Meister MS CADC ICGC-1

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