Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NFL Scandal - Is It Really A Big Deal?

The accusations started flying the day after the New England Patriots absolutely demolished the Indianapolis Colts to earn yet another trip to the Super Bowl. By the time the game concluded the score was an embarrassing 45-7. Since then the majority of talk has not been about who will now win the classic duel, but if Tom Brady’s team did in fact cheat to help themselves get there.

The NFL has been investigating whether or not the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game. A report claimed that the league found eleven balls were not filled to the correct specifications. If true, this could have given the Patriots' superstar quarterback an advantage since Brady has said he prefers using a softer ball in challenging weather conditions.

When listening to sports analysts, I noticed a clear division between those who think this infraction, if it did in fact occur, to be a big deal. Some believe that the offending side should be disqualified from any Super Bowl participation. That did not happen of course. But then there were others who simply brushed this off like it is absolutely nothing to get excited over. One radio host stated, “Illegal ball or not, you still have to play the game in order to win.” And former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura showed his twisted moral compass by stating, “It is only cheating when you get caught.” Really? Then is a corked baseball bat only illegal if the batter gets a hit using it? Or is a pitcher allowed to alter a baseball on the mound only if his actions do not succeed against the hitters he faces?

There seems to be a growing philosophy today, regardless of any established rules, that bending or breaking them altogether is justifiable - especially if not getting caught while doing so. Studies have revealed that many students now believe it is fine to cheat on exams as long as they can get away with it. And despite joking about cheating on one’s taxes, how many do just that or seriously think about it if a decent opportunity comes and would likely not be discovered?

The bottom line is this: Getting away with anything that is known to be wrong, no matter how minor it may seem, is still wrong. And where this matters most is not in the shifting attitudes of flawed men, but in the eyes of a holy God. His standards are always right, pure, fair and unchanging.

Not only are God’s values perfect, so is His total knowledge of all sin and His righteous judgement of the same. This is clearly outlined in passages like Hebrews 4:13. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Even when wrongful acts remain behind closed doors in this life, they do not escape the notice and response of an all-knowing Creator (Romans 2:16).

The current NFL scandal will soon find its way to the back pages. It will be either totally dismissed or perhaps result in some token slap-on-the-wrist disciplinary action. After all, professional football is big business above all else. And having the Patriots be front and center is best for the league regardless of whether or not they got there with a little extra help under the training table.

So the human jury remains out on whether or not this whole mess was really wrong and, thus, any big deal or not. But this scandal is not about football, fan reaction or a team's legacy. It is about right versus wrong. It is about truth mattering, not to sports fans and organizations, but to almighty God! It is about sin - large, small, discovered or undiscovered. And it is about the reality that all sin is a big deal to a righteous God - something easily revealed through His Son's death on the cross to deal with it all. And that is the biggest deal of all both in this life and especially in the one to come!

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10)

Bill Breckenridge

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