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Football is everywhere these days, with games being played virtually every day of the week, televised nationally on cable and network TV. All the more reason for the NFL to set a dramatic precedent by dishing out an unparalleled punishment to the New England Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick. In case you haven’t heard, the perennially successful franchise has been caught cheating–for the second time. This time, they were found to have videotaped another team’s plays and signals.
ESPN.com ran a poll asking what its readers considered appropriate punishment. The choices were: forfeiting draft picks, suspendingr the coach, or even forfeiting the game.
I say: “All of the above!”
Inspire us, Mr. Commissioner! Make us proud, and restore our faith. Because this is getting ridiculous in ways that are as discouraging as well as unethical. The nation of “hot dogs, baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet” is becoming the nation of “overpaid cheaters and the uninspired people who check their brains at the door and zone out watching them.”


This isn’t just about sports, but its about the kind of ethics that we should always be insisting on, even in the entertainment industry. When game shows cheat to select a winner, it’s been a major scandal and the show goes away. Great care is taken to be sure that reality shows don’t cheat. Why should NFL football be any different? Baseball heroes are banned from the game and sometimes the Hall of Fame due to their indiscretions. The steroid issue took away from the greatest record in baseball being broken. Heck, an Ohio high school team was forced to forfeit a 66-6 win last week when it was discovered that an academically ineligible kid played one play–after the game was already far out of reach! Why should we train kids that the NFL is exempt?
The NFL’s Game Operations Manual says, “No video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game.” These guys cheated, and it should cost them the game. To penalize them with some future draft pick that may not make the team anyway won’t send the right message, won’t help the team (the Jets) that lost, and won’t help our kids overcome the already blurred lines of ethics they already see in their mentors and heroes. Make this punishment count.

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