Chasing losses is a term related to what someone does when they gamble and lose. Instead of counting these losses as the cost of playing, a disordered gambler comes back later that day, another day, or at the earliest opportunity to try and win back what they’ve lost. This usually leads to more losses, which are then chased, and the downward spiral continues. The losses mount up, and the desperate need for a bigger and bigger win to make up for it continues. How an athlete responds when losing is another characteristic that doesn’t translate well from sports to gambling. A competitive athlete doesn’t quit when they are losing. They grit their teeth, swing for the fences, and hope for a wild hay-maker to turn the fight around. They fight through the pain. High level athletes often continue training and competing despite serious injuries. The big win will make it all worth it. Likewise, there is pain that comes with problem gambling (crushing debt, relationship problems, job problems, guilt, shame). And the only solution, to a problem gambler, is to keep playing, to look for that big win that will make everything alright. But, as we already know, in the event they actually do win, they won’t stop then either. The playing continues, and the associated pain mounts. Further, competitive athletes view themselves as winners, not losers. If they find themselves losing, it goes against everything they believe about themselves. It challenges the foundation of who they are. They dig deep, push on, leave it all in the ring. So, gambling like an athlete means chasing losses to the point of a career ending injury. That’s a spoiler for a later post on the subject. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Published by Elizabeth Thielen
I'm a Problem and Compulsive Gambling Counselor and a former athlete. Always looking for opportunities to increase public awareness about problem gambling, I am particularly concerned about the potential impact of legalized sports wagering on athletes, a group already at increased risk for problem gambling. Though I am neutral on the subject of legal gambling, I advocate for those at risk to have access to education and other prevention tools, and for those already impacted by problem gambling to have access to treatment and support. View all posts by Elizabeth Thielen