A Troubling Exercise In Justice For Brady

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Justice is an exercise we sometimes avoid for fear of opening a can of worms. Our rationalization is maybe no one will notice- as in a troubling exercise in justice for Brady.

I have a pet peeve: it’s called cheating. Most of us I suspect feel the  same way. Sometimes cheating is a blatant disregard for the rules, and that is not hard to miss. The NBA calls it a flagrant foul. But there aren’t just flagrant fouls, there are degrees of flagrant. There are flagrant fouls 1 and 2, the second could well earn you a one game suspension. We have degrees of cheating… that is a mistake.

It happens all the time, athletes bend the rules for the purpose of an advantage. It seems to me that if you need to bend the rules, it’s because you basically don’t believe you can win fairly, or that in some way you as an athlete are being left behind. Your talent and skill are no longer enough; you need an edge, an equalizer. The more edge we need the more likely we are to cheat. If our livelihood is involved, the temptation maybe irrepressible- witness sports and steroids.

Courtesy Bigjom at Freedigitalphoto.com

Since the beginning of baseball, pitchers have sometimes doubted their ability to throw an assortment of pitches whose trajectories or movement are unpredictable enough to result in either strikeouts, easy fly-outs, or weak groundouts. The various legal choices of pitches are never quite enough, and pitchers may resort to putting something on the ball that will change its trajectory or behavior. The rules prohibit such practices. Does it stop them. No.

We understand there are rules regarding “carrying” the basketball, or the number of steps one can take without dribbling. When I was a youthful player, “traveling” was a frequent call, as was “carry.” The game has evolved from a strategy of spacing and finding the open man to “Stop this freight train if you dare.” The logic, I imagine, is that I’ll move so fast the refs won’t have time to notice and the defense will be too intimidated by the speed and size of me to stop it – nobody wants to get hurt!

We all understand that football is a violent game and because it involves tackling and blocking the likelihood of injury is high. That likelihood escalates when the mindset of assassin creeps however clandestinely into the players head. Recently, a host of players, coaches, and one team were penalized for the purposeful use of bounties on specific players. If the targeted player left the game because of injury, the perpetrator was rewarded with a bounty payment. The players and coaches were soundly disciplined with fines, suspensions, and much talk about the integrity of the game.

I don’t believe it. One way to win today is to knock out your opponent. Don’t bother with beating him, send him home for a vacation. Grown men, most of whom are theoretically college educated – yes, I’m writing that with a straight face; that’s another post – are willing to risk the increased likelihood that too many head injuries will render you incapable of enjoying your signing bonus, may render you incapable of knowing who you are or where you are. The money invites a win at all costs mentality. The games are slowly eroded in spirit until they become gladiatorial and ultimately a war – take no prisoners. We like to identify with our sports heroes, and that was easier in the days of knuckleheads, rogues, and rascals. Our heroes were flawed like us, and not otherworldly or superhuman. Arnold Palmer had a swing that defied his greatness – “That was a remarkable shot, for that swing”. I remember my father practicing that swing, trying to look like Arnie. Never did, but that didn’t keep him from going to the course every weekend with aspirations that this weekend wil be the break through, it all come together.

Frankly, I think baseball needs Pete Rose – the rogue, rascal, and knucklehead. He bet on baseball and its prohibited. He never bet against himself, and I cannot imagine Pete Rose losing a game on purpose. Charlie Hustle is not wired for that state of mind.

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Speith are too nice, too cool, too methodical. They are gentlemen in a gentleman’s game, but they’re almost unregcognizable, despit hitting the ball a ton of yards.They are machine like and that does not inspire identification, awe maybe of the power… but, how do we identify with that?

Our professional sports have crossed a line brought on by everyone being bigger, faster, stronger, and the insidious growth of a win at all cost focus. You’ll notice that no one ever says, “It’s only a game,” when they are winning. Philosophy seems to be a refuge for the loser!

imgres-1The use of steroids in sports has been a most troubling scenario. Sports leaders have cracked down on the use of performance enhancing drugs, but there are always new ways to outwit the “sheriff.” There is a new game on the horizon, however, that is troubling. I refer to Tom Brady and the overturning of his suspension. The problem for me is that there has been no judgement of guilt or innocence. The punishment has been thrown out based upon a technicality, not a judgement. No where in the arbiters decision does he address guilt or innocence. So we duck the win at all cost question, yet again. Some argue that the deflated balls had no impact. Players do; and if they think it does and attempt to circumvent the rules, it’s still a problem. What other rules will they duck under or around. Win at all costs distorts the value of sports and the ethics of all games.

Someone needs to take a stand. Like fossil fuel, too many people make huge amounts of money for needed change to occur.

I’m just sayin’…

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