If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this offseason, it’s this: Keeping football in its proper perspective is a struggle in this country.
It’s more than a struggle, actually. I’d argue it’s an epidemic.
There was the “Bountygate” scandal with the New Orleans Saints, where in-game performance and money became more important than the NFL’s rules. Commissioner Roger Goodell responded with one of the most severe punishments in NFL history, suspending Sean Payton for an entire season, saying that the Saints’ actions threatened the health and welfare of players.
The Saints lost perspective.
Then there was the horrific Penn State tragedy, where, according to NCAA President Mark Emmert, “hero worship and winning at all costs” were placed ahead of integrity. Emmert says the NCAA delivered severe ramifications “to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture and daily mindset in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”
Penn State lost perspective.
Indianapolis Star columnist and my good friend, Bob Kravitz, wrote this in his column following the NCAA’s sanctions for Penn State: “Here’s a news flash: There’s never been perspective in major college sports. There will never be perspective in major college sports. The genie is out of the bottle, and there’s not putting it back in…”
I could act like I’m riding a high horse, er, a colt, and condemn New Orleans and Penn State because, one, it’s easy to do and, two, everyone is doing it. But the truth is that we all lose perspective. New Orleans was so focused on winning that they broke the rules. Penn State was so focused on their pride, perhaps, that they kept secrets. Perspective gets out of whack when virtues are compromised. Perspective gets out whack when something replaces God.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
As I mention in “The Jersey Effect,” it’s not about making football less important. It’s about making God most important. The institutions of this world are a revolving door that will never satisfy our hungry and desperate souls. The only thing that satisfies–that quenches–is an intimate relationship with God.
Until then, our worldly perspectives centered around winning and pride will lead us toward destruction.