This past weekend the Golden Nugget in Vegas hosted a big charity poker tournament to benefit the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The Starkey Foundation raises money to provide free hearing aids to children all over the world.
25 NFL stars were slated to play but were forced to pull out at the last minute when the NFL stepped in and forbade them from participating in this philanthropic evening of poker.
With a $2,000 buy-in and $500 re-buys, the NFL's decision denied hearing-impaired children of at least $50,000. We're not sure about the price of hearing aids but that sounds like a lot of kids who will be unable to improve their quality of life.
Let's look at the reasons for what, surficially at least, appears to be an incredibly callous decision by the NFL.
The NFL isn't exactly a supporter of poker. When Barney Frank and Jim McDermott first began forming legislation that would regulate and tax online gambling, they included poker and sports betting.
The NFL pulled out all the stops to get sports betting removed from those plans and through a concerted effort by their lobbyists they did just that.
To the NFL poker represents a time and money-consuming activity that has a serious demographic conflict with football fans. The NFL would prefer that instead of playing poker, males age 21-40 spend their time, and money, on something football related.
But this isn't the reason the NFL stepped in and stopped their players from taking part in the charity poker tournament this weekend.
It's well known that NFL players are subject to extreme restrictions as far as what they're allowed to do with themselves, especially when it can be construed that they're representing the NFL brand.
Gambling definitely falls into that category and when the promotional material around something like a charity poker tournament is full of "NFL player" this and "Football star" that, the NFL is quick to step in.
We can only assume that this was the reason for their decision, not that they have anything against cute deaf children in Africa struggling in vain to hear the lion quietly approaching through the grass.
But seriously, charity poker to benefit deaf children? It's not hard to see why giant corporations like the NFL get a bad rap.