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Have a deep talk with the young prospects about drugs

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Marko Jantunen left the pro hockey many years ago.

But it feels like yesterday that he was a well-known hockey star in Europe, especially during his highlight period in the Swedish club Frölunda HC that occurred during the mid-1990s.

Jantunen’s success on the ice with Frölunda gave him a chance in the NHL and Calgary Flames but the journey to Canada and the biggest stage of all didn’t bring him to further triumphs.

He was sent down to the farm team and he wanted to return to Sweden where was seen as a superstar.

Already then he had begun to drink a lot of alcohol and use drugs.

It finally broke him down and his wife, nowadays Ex-wife, Sari Jantunen and their children separated from him.

The last years before he was sent to a rehab center he weighed around 45 kg only (99, 20 Ibs).  

For any person including me, it is hard to imagine how a well-trained hockey player could shrink basically to nothingness, but he did and was close to the death.

An old friend saved his life at the last moment and helped him to the rehab where he could somehow recover from the drug addiction.

Nowadays he says that he lives a normal, boring life with right values; that’s enough for him and he has contact with his children again.

Jantunen's jersey in Calgary Flames. Image courtesy: www.dana.fi

Jantunen’s jersey in Calgary Flames. Image courtesy: www.dana.fi

There are a few aspects of this Jantunen case for example, and it is a bit complex as well:

First of all, he probably had no one in his closest surroundings who stopped him, and the control of drug, alcohol or doping usage was not as hard as it is now.

Secondly, the lack of awareness how to handle a life as a pro-athlete in combination with the ego’s hunger to be famous and celebrated, and remain so as long as possible.

He’s been lucky to have a saving friend but the consequences have made Jantunen walk on the line where he can still fall back to the craving for drugs.

As his ex-wife, Sari said to the Finnish magazine Anna “If he falls now, no one can save him anymore”.

In the sports world, Jantunen is not the first athlete of course who have fallen for drugs and alcohol, but his fate is one of the most recent that affected me deeply in many ways, as I remember his fantastic deeds on the ice.

However, I asked several reliable sources from the KHL, the NHL, the Norwegian league, the Finnish Liiga and the Swedish SHL if there are players who use drugs and alcohol today.

The clear answer from each source was that they don’t believe that any player takes drugs, even if they also said that they can’t be 100% sure of course.

Except for the case of the Norwegian player Lars Erik Spets who is at rehab according to the Norwegian source for alcohol addiction.

The essence of the message though I was given from most sources was that there is too much money at stake for ruining the career because of using drugs.

As a comment to that, that’s a good thing even if the amount of money is the main cause for avoiding the misery and not the awareness of where drugs and alcohol can lead one if not being careful or avoiding it totally.

With that said, we are all humans and I am not talking about prohibiting alcohol for pro-athletes as I think myself it’s alright to have a few occasional glasses from time to time.

However, my main point in this: it would be a good thing for the organizations, the players union and higher authorities such as the hockey associations to inform and have a talk with young prospects about the risks.

I think it wouldn’t hurt at all as the good thing would be that young prospects who supposedly should have a long career ahead would be aware of what they are doing, why they are there and where they are going.

Overall, a deep talk with the young prospects about how a pro-player should behave off the ice as well and give them support and guidelines to make a successful life off  the ice.

It would also save a lot of costs in several levels for the organizations and for the players too, and we who watch beside would have a greater chance to see much more of these superstars.

But, the most important above all, of course, it would make their lives a lot more prosperous.

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

-Bertrand Russel

Notable:

I have myself experience from a person who chose to drink instead of being with his children in a normal way, my own father. Here are some words about it: https://icenationuk.com/2014/06/09/guest-post-arto-palovaara-watching-hockey-from-another-point-of-view/#comments

Sources about Jantunen, in Finnish and Swedish. I recommend using the rough google translator for the main articles:

http://anna.fi/ihmiset/julkkikset/sari-jantunen-ex-miehensa-marko-jantusen-huumehelvetista-varma-etta-marko-kuolisi-kohta/

http://www.expressen.se/sport/hockey/shl/marko-jantunen-valde-drogerna-over-barnen/

http://www.iltalehti.fi/jaakiekko/2016093022395155_jk.shtml

http://www.iltalehti.fi/jaakiekko/2016092922383364_jk.shtml

20% Off at Steiner Sports with code GETGIFTS

 

Arto Palovaara, Sunday Chronicler for Sports Rants Europe. Previously, he contributed for the betting company Betsafe, Svenska fans, Get real hockey and Ice nation UK. He is also an educated archaeologist and life coach who loves literature and history. Not to forget: probably he is the only sportswriter that plays the banjo.

MLB

Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith

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The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.


“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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MLB

The New World of Sports Betting in the United States

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Earlier this year a monumental breakthrough was achieved when the United States Supreme Court ruled against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA, allowing each state in the nation to decide if it wants to allows legal sports betting or not.

That led the nation, and all of the states, on a new path, with a lot of lucrative opportunities in an industry that has operated underground for decades.

With casinos and eSports thriving, sports betting adds a brand new element to the gambling industry and presents one of the richest outlets for businesses, the government, and the nation.

There will likely be a boost in employment rates, a growth spike in business, and an influx of money that no longer has to be hidden from the eyes of the government.

As of now, a number of states have already started their journey, and another, Utah, has decided not to act on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of sports betting, opting to maintain their stance on forbidding sports betting, at least for the time being.

As the world of sports, eSports, and gambling embark on this industry shifting journey, let’s take a deeper look at what has been going down so far, and what is in store for the sports betting industry, thanks to an info graphic from NJGames.org.

The info graphic will take a look into the impact that sports betting legalization is expected to make on the nation’s economy.

The info graphic takes into account that the United States’ gambling industry already generates around $28 billion. The legalization of ports betting legalization is expected to increase tat number dramatically.

Additionally, sports betting operations will also result in a higher number of jobs, and the info graphic will provide you with an estimated number of both direct and indirect jobs that will open with the introduction of sports betting.

As the fantasy football season is ready to kick off for many of you, we should start seeing a lot of changes to the sports betting landscape and it will be interesting to see just how companies in fantasy sports navigate through the implementation of these changes.

The future of the sports betting industry seems bright, and there seems to be quite the trickle down effect that will have an immediate benefit to numerous industries.

Whether you’re ready or not, legalized sports betting is on the way, if it hasn’t arrived in your state already, and big things are on the horizon.

 

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NHL

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis Pays for 200 Employees to go to Stanley Cup Final Games

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Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is celebrating the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Final for the 1st time in 20 years in a special way.

According to the Washington Post, Leonsis surprised 200 employees of Monumental Sports & Entertainment with tickets and a chartered flight to Vegas for the first leg of the Stanley Cup Final.

The employees were chosen based off how closely they work with the Capitals, as well as seniority, and they received an email last week from a senior VP that had the subject line: “Let’s go to Vegas.”

The selected employees received tickets to Games 1 & 2.

“It’s truly amazing and out of this world,” Omar Castro, a guest relations manager, said.

“I never expected an owner of the company to do this. We get to share in this with them. … He’s thinking of us as part of a family, as part of the experience. There’s no reason for him to do it. All I can say is a big thanks to Ted and his family for the opportunity, and for truly making this into something memorable for all of us here in the company.”

Not only did Leonsis provide tickets, but he also organized two chartered flights and is putting the employees up at the Excalibur.

 

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