Friday, August 14, 2009

The Price of Prominence

The sports world has been rocked by reports of misdeeds by many of its prominent figures:

• Michael Vick recently completed his jail term for sponsoring illegal and inhumane dog fighting.
• Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair was found murdered by his girlfriend, who committed suicide. McNair’s survivors included a wife and children.
• Ex-New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was indicted by a grand jury for illegally carrying a gun into a New York City bar (wounding himself in the process).
• Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was the latest baseball player exposed for using illegal supplements – although he claims not to have known he was doing anything wrong. He joins the elite club that already included Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and others.
• Most recently, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino, also married with children, purportedly admitted providing money to a woman with whom he had one or more sexual liaisons when she said she could not afford an abortion.

The reaction? I have heard everything from “ban them from sports forever” (in McNair’s case, relegate his memory to public disgrace) to indirect references to Jesus’ statements, “Judge not lest you be judged” (Matthew 7:1) and “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).

Frankly I don’t favor either complete condemnation or complete exoneration, but while we’re quoting Jesus, He said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

Each of these men was given much – talent, fame, money, influence. Shouldn’t we have a right to expect much in return, at least in terms of personal ethics and integrity, as well as on-field (court) performance?

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