06/30/2011 12:32PM

Counseling programs: Racing vs. other pro sports

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Racing: Track by track

A sampling of counseling and addiction programs available at some North American racetracks:

Arlington Park (Arlington Heights, Ill.)
Services for licensed personnel provided by the Racing Industry Charitable Foundation. The foundation’s social services aid individuals and families, ranging from generic social service to highly professional and comprehensive counseling.

Churchill Downs (Louisville, Ky.)
The Lifestyles Program is situated in a building with the backstretch media center. It is managed by a staff of two and administered by The Healing Place, a Louisville-based addictions-counseling service. Churchill donates to The Healing Place, which in turn runs the racetrack program. A free service to licensed personnel.

Fair Grounds (New Orleans, La.)
Fair Grounds encourages horsemen and stable-area workers seeking help to work through the track’s chaplaincy program, which is funded by Fair Grounds and the Louisiana HBPA. Fair Grounds chaplain Waverly Parsons makes referrals to a certified counselor.

Hollywood Park (Hollywood, Ca.)
The Winners Foundation, funded by the California horse racing industry, provides services for mental health issues as well as for substance abuse and problem gambling. These services are available free of charge for licensees and their families.

New York Racing Association
Licensed racetrack personnel are covered by BEST, a nonprofit organization funded by NYRA and NYTHA. BEST provides counseling, health insurance, and a special recovery dorm on the Belmont backstretch for people who need the support of separate living arrangements after undergoing detox treatments.

Other pro sports: League controlled

MLB
The Rookie Career Development Program, jointly funded by MLB and the players’ union, gives first-year players training in financial management, media relations, fan relations, and lifestyle issues. The collective bargaining agreement includes a Joint Drug Agreement that provides rules for drug treatment and testing.

NBA
Rookies are required to attend a three-day rookie transition program, which covers subjects such as fiscal responsibility, law, anger management, and sexual health. The league’s anti-drug program, written into the collective bargaining agreement, lays out terms for treatment and testing.

NFL
Rookies are invited to attend a league-organized annual symposium, where topics include financial planning, the personal conduct code, the banned-substance policy, and how to deal with the media. The collective bargaining agreement includes a drug policy for an intervention program and testing.

NHL
The players’ association and NHL jointly fund the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, which assists players and their families in the treatment of health problems, including substance abuse, and offers an educational program for the players on the dangers of performance-enhancing substances.