Gosh, we used to just call it Patriots vs. Steelers. Likely back then, there were players on both sides who were guilty of breaking the rules, and of sexual assault, but we didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we just thought we were watching a football game. That’s what I chose to believe last night when I hung out with some buddies to play Team Trivia and watch the Pats and Steelers. One of the trivia teams named their team “Cheaters vs. Rapists” in honor of the Tom Brady/Ben Rothlisberger QB match up on opening night. I suppose you can kind of say that (though somehow sports fans today tend to generalize, and project the indiscretions of the one or two onto the entire team). Certainly Rothlisberger has had his run-ins, and Deflate Gate has transformed Tom Brady from All-American Golden Child to the whipping boy for everything that is cheating, this side of New England.

I don’t want to defend the allegations against either player, because honestly, I don’t know enough about what happened in either instance. Certainly both are guilty to some degree. I suppose that’s my problem with it all.  When did athletes suddenly “start” becoming guilty? There are 53 players on both sidelines at every NFL game. It has to follow, among 106 players, that there is going to be a handful that have dabbled in sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (Col. 3:5).

Must we be reminded of that at the beginning and end of every game or match? Serena Williams is playing this weekend at the U.S. Open for the Tennis Grand Slam! (Steffi Graf was the last to do it in 1988). That’s very cool, but the bigger story this week has been about “why she’s not smiling”. She gives a refreshingly direct answer about it when asked:

Let the girl play tennis! Is it just me? We seem to be reveling more than ever in the chinks in the armor of our sports heroes. Of course I’m troubled when I hear about alleged abuse, and cheating, and not smiling, but haven’t those things always been with us? Is it ok if I watch the Pats and the Steelers and the U.S. Open without a first thought about felonies and misdemeanors and frowning?

It has all become very shrill – a cackling noise that disrupts and drowns out the sound of a bone crushing tackle or a well-paced cross-court backhand. Yes, we have problems with misbehaving among players in virtually every sport. This has always been true, but now we are made more aware of it than ever. We talk about it a lot on these pages. When we see our heroes fall publicly, especially due to things that we don’t struggle with, we can delight in our ability to identify the specks in their eyes. I’m not smiling. I need a nap.