The headlines of the sports world have been swirling this past week, but not with the majesty of Opening Day in Major League Baseball or the sensational win by Bubba Watson at the Masters on Sunday. Instead, the focus has been on rules involving two teams in their offseasons.
Specifically, how far can you bend rules without breaking them? And should you be pushing them that far anyway?
The first example involves the New Orleans Saints, who have made their living recently by stretching the rules as far as they can to give their team success.
Gregg Williams, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, and (for a quick second) St. Louis Rams, is in even hotter water. His expletive-laden pre-game speech laid out a desire to see San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith, running back Frank Gore, and a host of others hurt and planted in the ground (please note: the link is not censored, so click at your discretion). This tape highlights the problem which Commissioner Roger Goodell had already addressed by suspending Williams indefinitely, along with Coach Sean Payton (for the season), assistant coach Joe Vitt (for six games), and General Manager Mitch Loomis (for six games).
Gregg Williams’ defenders say that he was using coach speak that shouldn’t be judged too harshly. And many players around the league are saying that while Williams didn’t cease and desist when he was told to, he wasn’t instructing his players to do anything different than anyone else. Some players don’t see a problem with attacking an opponent’s weak spot, but even if they did, why would they go up against their coach?
But where do we draw the line? If headhunting can be detrimental to the health of opponents, but they are within the ‘rules,’ is that okay? What’s the point of having rules if there’s an unspoken rule above and beyond that?
The second example hasn’t been discussed as much, but the issue of playing by the rules still exists. The guilty party is a Baptist school known as Baylor University. In an article from Deadspin, the violations involve “nearly 2,000 impermissible phone calls and text messages to recruits over the course of the past few years,” involving multiple sports teams.
The NCAA launched a 42-month investigation into this and found that it began with the recruiting of Brittney Griner, the star player on Baylor’s 40-0 national championship women’s basketball team. But “Baylor hoops, both men and women, were able to recruit, build, and win, all while the NCAA was toiling away through a thankless combing of phone records.” Sadly, the article notes that Baylor “used a text-to-email service called Teleflip, which a school compliance officer mistakenly told coaches was acceptable. Teleflip was launched, thrived, lagged, and went out of business all in the two-year span Baylor was committing these violations . . . [a]nd then Baylor sports managed to commit an additional 405 violations after the investigation started.”
- What do we do when we recognize that the games we’ve created can be more barbaric than anything we had ever imagined?
- Where does the morality of our own decisions play into the way we play a game or do our jobs or interact with others?
- What does it say when a school espousing the Christian faith refuses to play by the rules?