Following your alma mater or cheering on the Cinderella story is what makes March Madness so exciting. In 2010, 23 million viewers tuned in to watch the championship game between Butler and Duke. In its first week, the 2012 tournament appears to be the most watched tournament in 18 years. The accessibility is greater, but the competitive spirit among families, friends or co-workers also increases through bracket competitions. I now have a vested interest in the games because whichever team wins or loses directly impacts my bracket. If my bracket comes in first, second or third, I am owed a small chunk of change.
While entering a bracket in a March Madness pool is typically considered risk-free gambling, research has shown that, for a small percentage of college students, the interest goes beyond winning Yahoo! Fantasy sports, and substantial amounts of money will be wagered on the March Madness games. According to www.collegegambling.org, 75 percent of college students gambled last year, legally or illegally. While most of those students gamble responsibly, the most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students in the United States have a serious gambling problem. If you think a brother has a problem, www.collegegambling.org provides many resources to help you or the brother.
You might be asking yourself, how do I know if a brother has a problem?
Here are some signs to look for:
- Frequent unexplained absences from classes
- Sudden drop in grades
- Progressive preoccupation with gambling
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Visible changes in behavior (e.g., mood changes, behavior problems, etc.)
- Decline in health, increased symptoms of depression
- Lies about engaging in gambling behavior
- Feels compelled to chase losses
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop
- Gambles to escape worry or problems
- Exaggerated display of money and/or material possessions
- Unexplained debt
- Borrows money to gamble
- Feast or famine cash flow
- Feels need to increase betting amounts
For the majority of Delts, gambling isn’t an issue and competitions like March Madness can provide fun brotherhood events. However, in the spirit of being your brother’s keeper, be mindful of how prevalent gambling is within your chapter. Like alcohol or drugs, if a brother needs help, don’t wait until it is too late.