In Greek mythology, Pandora is given a box filled with terrible things and told never to open it. The story tells us that Pandora married Prometheus's brother, Epimetheus, and could not contain her curiosity. She opened the box, releasing sickness, sadness, and other afflictions into the world.

While I'm not suggesting that the NHRA's venture into mainstream sports betting will unleash sickness, sadness, or other afflictions, I am cautioning that this new arena could expose the sanctioning body to a host of unprecedented challenges. 

An email informing me that I needed to complete an NHRA Gambling Policy Course administered by IC360 piqued my interest. The first thing I did was laugh at it, close it, and move on to the next of the thousands of unread emails. I am not stupid enough to bet on a drag race. 

The next day, I got another one. For poops and giggles, I decided to take the course, and then it dawned on me just how serious this deal is. Folks plan to wager serious money on drag racing, and if you're deemed an insider like me or any of the close stakeholders of the sport, you are not permitted to participate. 

How serious are they about people such as racers, crew members, race officials, and public relations agents not participating? They provide a 15-minute course on all the bad stuff that can happen to you if you do. Though the course didn't necessarily name the media, it alludes to hard-card holders as prohibited.

The course goes as far as to say, "Participating in any form of sports betting that is prohibited by NHRA's gambling policy puts your eligibility to participate in NHRA drag racing at risk. Additionally, it exposes you to disciplinary action by NHRA, which may include suspensions, fines, and potentially a lifetime ban from the sport. Finally, in certain instances, it may lead to your arrest and criminal prosecution."

And Big Brother is watching you.

It continues, "Using a solution called ProhiBet, IC360 helps NHRA keep track of wagering by insiders and other prohibited bettors. ProhiBet contains the names of all the people covered by NHRA's policy, including you. If you try to place a wager that is prohibited by NHRA's gambling policy, ProhiBet notifies IC360, NHRA, and law enforcement in certain instances, ensuring transparency and compliance with policies and regulations."

Holy smokes!

NHRA introduces something it deems an asset to the sport, and those stakeholders who help build the sport into what it is today cannot partake for apparent reasons. It makes sense if NHRA is to maintain the integrity of its product.

While we are at it, let's forget about Pandora's Box and talk about the 800-pound gorilla in the room. 

The course informs the student, "In NHRA drag racing, prohibited betting conduct, race fixing, and any other conduct that undermines the integrity and reputation of our sport are serious violations of NHRA's gambling policy, which will be thoroughly investigated and addressed through discipline when necessary."

If there's the temptation for team orders, by this edict - one would be better off leaving a team car at home than risk the legal ramifications for making good business sense. 

"IC360 has ample access to pertinent data sets, ancillary and supporting information, regulatory contacts, and law enforcement. The IC360 platform is robust and comprehensive, and if something nefarious or malicious were to occur in relation to sports betting, IC360 will find it and highlight it to NHRA sports books and law enforcement. 

"Secondly, remember that there is no sum of money that's worth it for any impropriety related to sports betting. Reputational harm alone will cost you your career and potentially result in criminal proceedings. It's just not worth it. 

"Finally, remember, if you see something, say something. To ensure that we have a comprehensive integrity program we need everyone's help."

So, all I am guessing is a disgruntled crew member or driver can accuse an owner of team orders, and it's big time. Remember all the times Tony Pedregon accused John Force of team orders? All it takes is an accusation to start a firestorm that puts the integrity of the sport in question albeit on a much bigger stage with legal ramifications. Then again, who can say an underpaid crewmember didn't really make a mistake.

I remember criticizing the NHRA for announcing a rule punishing team orders, yet with no concrete way of proof. One cannot help but wonder if this whole course of maintaining drag racing integrity was a warning and not a simple scare tactic. In this instance, the burden of enforcement wouldn't be on NHRA alone, as government agencies can get involved. That's the last thing we need in drag racing. 

It makes me think back to the colorful 1990s when team orders were as prevalent as the mullet haircuts in the 1980s. I remember seeing a certain Pro Stock driver -- after receiving clear-cut team orders -- holding up a sign going down the return road that read "I still have a job."

After NHRA enters the sports-betting era as early as Bristol, hypothetically, that same sign could be met with one in the stands proclaiming, "Yep, and your ass is going to jail."

The NHRA's infrastructure is not as ready for a program of this magnitude as are the stick-and-ball venues. If race fans are to place their bets from the grandstands, how do you think the cell signals will be in venues like Gainesville, Norwalk or Brainerd? Those are just a few places where we struggle to get an internet signal for our media work. 

What do you think will happen if there are controversial disqualifications for technical infractions from a hard-working tech department that's already strained to the mere thread of its existence? Or if there's a technical issue that goes beyond their expertise?

Those are just two viable issues. 

Let the record reflect that I am for the racers getting more money and the ability to engage more race fans. I want to impress upon anyone who will listen that this engagement comes at a high cost.

We better be willing to open up Pandora's Box for this type of engagement.