No, I don’t believe God watches football or any other sport for that matter – even though Dallas fans suggest the Boys are His team – but maybe He does keep score. Not the score on the field but the one tallied from life outside the game.
And, no, I don’t think opposing sides in any match can be strictly represented as “The Good Guys vs The Bad Guys,” but one bad apple can smudge the image of an entire team.
We really need to broaden our thinking. Integrity does influence the outcome in any competition and football, like any other sport is complex and therefore, far more than “just a game.” It is multi-dimensional to say the least:
- It’s a buisness.
- A means of income and those who win take home the most.
- A measure of achievement.
- An exhibition of camaraderie.
- A great source of entertainment.
- As well as a means of modeling good character, or bad, as the case may be – on and off the field of play.
And the most recent Super Bowl, XLV-2011, illustrates the point well. Both teams, Green Bay and Pittsburgh, are hard working teams that match up well. Lots of talent, experience and heart on both sides of the ball. There wasn’t much to separate them at the start.
One team, however, had a flaw which is difficult to overcome. A high profile, stand out player, Big Ben, was charged not once but twice with sexual assault the most recent happening in March 2010. In the 2010 case, which involved a 20 year old college student, the charges were dropped but unfortunately for Ben the smear didn’t go away.
Evading the charges only made the outcry worse and for obvious reasons. Every honest person knows that big money and popularity trump the legal system on any level but especially at the grass roots.
And the outcome. The whole team was affected. Their combined talent couldn’t overcome the negative PR.
Fans think the allegations are more real than not and there is good reason for it. Prosecutors dropped the charges, not because there was no evidence, but because the charges couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s one principle of law Ben really appreciates.
Many fans are unhappy because the facts, though not entirely conclusive, paint a nasty picture:
- Ben, celebrating his 28th birthday, visits a night club inviting mostly girls to join him for drinks in the VIP section of the club.
- Ben freely making sexually suggestive remarks with the ladies and insulting those who don’t respond in kind.
- Ben generously buying drinks for his guests.
- A body guard escorting one inebriated lady down an isolated hall.
- Ben going to the girl afterward.
- Ben following the girl into the bathroom.
- The body guards not allowing the girl’s friends to see if she is alright.
Those are the facts not the allegations.
What can’t be proven is exactly what Ben did in the bathroom. Because of that he gets off the legal hook but in this case, and unfortunately for him, the facts are sufficient to reveal a dark side that no one likes. Because it is a second occurrence in a short space of time makes it even worse.
Don’t misunderstand. What’s at question here is not Ben’s appetite for ladies or the number of ladies who would gladly and probably do share his bed. The public has learned to be forgiving on those issues. High profile figures get a lot of sexual attention.
But the manner in which he apparently stalks the girls to satiate his desire doesn’t sit well with anyone.
Forcing oneself sexually on a helpless lady is quite different to forcing a pass into good coverage. One makes the fans anxious the other leaves them outraged.
And why a bathroom for heaven’s sake? If he could have anyone he wants, anytime he wants, why not a comfortable bedroom in a private setting.
Fortunately, all the important people reacted properly if not appropriately:
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slapped a six game suspension on Ben which was later commuted to four.
- Teammates refused to select Ben as a captain for the team. He had been a captain for the two previous years.
- Steeler’s president, Art Rooney, echoed the NFL sentiment about player conduct and publicly endorsed discipline.
From the bleachers
I’m an avid AFC fan. I don’t need more than a few fingers to count the number of times I cheered for an NFC Champion in the Super Bowl but this was one such occasion. In any other situation I would have waved my “Terrible Towel” in support of the Steelers. In spite of their being my home team’s (Jaguars) rival I celebrated their previous two Super Bowl wins.
This time around, however, I wanted Green Bay to win badly.
- Not because Green Bay had a “Cinderella storied” season.
- Not because the team’s history is foundational to what football is today.
- Not because the trophy is named after the greatest coaching legend in pro footfall, Vince Lombardi, whose greatness became apparent coaching Green Bay.
- Not because they are the only franchise owned by their home city, meaning the little people have the power.
- Not because the win took place at the home field of their arch rivals, the Cowboys.
- Not because I thought Ben should be strung up or have a red “R” tattooed on his forehead.
- Not because I don’t respect the Steelers. They too are a great franchise.
But because Big Ben needed to be humbled. He is a hugely talented individual. His capabilities boggle the mind. They’re intangible. You can’t really measure this kind of talent.
- He isn’t a runner but he scrambles well.
- He doesn’t strike anyone as being particularly clever – he scored 50% on the NFL’s Cognitive Ability Test – but he makes great decisions. He is trench smart.
- He doesn’t have the most efficient throwing motion (although it has been revamped recently) and he rarely looks pretty passing the ball – almost cloddish at times – but he finds the open man and delivers especially when the heat is on.
People have been telling him how great he is for a very long time. He carries a swagger to show it. Even in the 2011 Super Bowl he showed flashes of the Ben we all know, love, respect and opponents hate.
The problem has to do with how this greatness translates into his sexual expressions. If you will excuse the colloquialism – it’s not that he can’t keep “it in his pants” but that he can’t figure out how to use it nicely.
When it comes to ladies he seems to be more pushy than romantic. Why would anyone with Ben’s profile need to manipulate a woman with alcohol?
Why would he want to – an even more searching question?
Hopefully this pathology is not hard wired into his DNA otherwise we might have another O. J. in the making.
And hopefully, the Steeler family will do more than chuck him out on the street. That is one way to get rid of an unwanted problem and it would make business sense but it wouldn’t be very family-like.
I’m not anti-Ben. Believing in redemption, I hope he does well but for now I’m not at all sorry he lost the Super Bowl. If handled properly this could be the beginning of a “New Big Ben.” Personally, I hope it is.
And make no mistake, there is no doubt this loss, the biggest and most meaningful of the year, will reflect heavily on Ben. His mystic is founded on his ability to produce in spite of broken plays and to dismantle opponents in two minute drills. He had a chance to do both in this game but there was too little of either to pull out a win.
And what does the Bible say about humility? It says we should be “clothed” with it. That is, wear it like clothing all the time, everyday and we do have a choice. We can wear it willingly or have it shoved down our throats. Which means, of course, that humility is not the choice. How we manage it is.
Yes, in a distant sort of way, I think God does keep score.
What do you THINK!AboutIt?