Archive for Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Commentary: Don’t take it out on Daly, Barkley

Well-paid professional athletes do stupid things with their money - like gambling - because they can

May 10, 2006


It's not the ethical implications that have some people outraged about the huge gambling losses of John Daly and Charles Barkley.

It's knowing that Daly and Barkley aren't sentenced to a life of tuna fish and ramen noodles because of it.

Life is so good for Barkley and Daly, who says in his autobiography he wasted between $50 million and $60 million on gambling, that they can go to Las Vegas, blow the gross national product of Guam at a blackjack table and then go home and resume their million-dollar lives. Now that's what I call living large.

If most civilians try that, they wouldn't be able to afford the clearance rack at the Salvation Army.

Jealousy is the most overused excuse for fan backlash in sports, but it's applicable here.

Nothing bothers your average sports fan more than a professional athlete who has no respect for his checkbook.

We just loathe the idea of someone being able to spend money as frivolously and foolishly as Daly and Barkley because the majority of us will never know what it's like to earn that kind of money and certainly not what it's like to waste it.

Don't get me wrong. Gambling is a serious problem. Just not for those who have the means to settle up their splurges. Barkley and Daly haven't hit rock bottom because - to borrow a phrase coined by Randy Moss - they have "straight cash, homie!" Their gambling issues would only warrant this absurd round-the-clock coverage on SportsCenter if they couldn't pay.

Well-paid professional athletes do stupid things with their money because they can. Heck, well-paid columnists are guilty of that, too..

If Daly and Barkley were roofers, odds are they wouldn't be in Vegas blowing their hard-earned hundreds of dollars. The money would be too valuable. But when you've made as much as they have, money loses a certain importance.

Besides, Daly is just trying to sell copies of his book, John Daly: My Life In and Out of the Rough, which will be released on Monday.

Save the tired arguments about how if a professional athlete gambles, their habit will eventually cause them to throw games.

This isn't an episode of The Sopranos. Just because you gamble heavily, it doesn't make you incapable of integrity.

Michael Jordan is a heavy gambler, and so is Phil Mickelson. Considering Jordan won six championships and helped the Chicago Bulls win a record 72 games in one season, it's obvious he was too competitive to ever think about throwing a game. The same goes for the two-time Masters winner.

It's awfully hypocritical to balk at Daly and Barkley when half the nation is addicted to fantasy sports.

In case you didn't know, that also is gambling. The same people saying Daly and Barkley should get their problem under control are the same ones who are in six or seven fantasy leagues and spend half the workday checking statistics on Yahoo!

But I'm not judging. It's your money. Blow it as you wish. Just don't take it out on Daly and Barkley because they can bet the $1,000 slot machines and you're stuck at the nickel ones.


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