Youth football does nothing if not foster young athletes into the NFL stars we watch every Sunday. But when the motives of the coaches become financial instead of genuine, concerns turn away from wins and losses and onto point spreads and bookies.
That is what has been happening in the South Florida Youth Football League where nine men were arrested on charges related to a betting ring that had totaled over $100,000 in winnings, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Of the nine men arrested, eight had served as coaches in the league and had placed bets both on and against their teams.
According to the report, bets were taken at a store called Showtime Sports and Apparel and at Red Carpet Kutz Barbershop. The ring was uncovered after an 18-month sting operation known as "Operation Dirty Play" that was launched following an ESPN report in 2011 touched on the issue of gambling on youth sports.
Four of the nine men were charged with bookmaking and keeping a house for gambling and were held on $100,000 bond. Four of the other men were held on bonds ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, while one man was held without bond for violating probation.
"It's disappointing anytime we have role models that get arrested," said
Ross Sinel, president of the American Youth Football League. "But there are
a lot of good coaches who give back to their communities and teach kids
discipline, structure, how to win and lose and how to achieve."
Each city has its own way of screening coaches, something Sinel said they will look to change. At least four of the men arrested in this case had criminal records.
With more than 4,000 players in the AYFL's six leagues in South Florida and player safety concerns at an all-time high, the presence of coaches with impure motives and questionable backgrounds makes what should be one of the purest forms of sport suddenly loses its innocence.
Screengrab via Yahoo! Sports