Friday, January 23, 2015

Deflategate Is Mostly About Entertainment, Not Morality

I have Google News set as my homepage, and the Deflategate story has been at or near the top day after day. I've seen the story getting prominent attention from the Drudge Report, USA Today, CNN, etc. Rush Limbaugh has been discussing it a lot on his radio program. There are a lot of threads about it, and those threads are getting a lot of comments at the web sites I've seen. That includes conservative political sites, where I'd expect the people involved to show more discernment. The story is getting an absurd amount of attention.

I no longer watch football, including the Super Bowl. I gave up sports, as well as video games and some other trivial activities, back in the 1990s. I'd prefer to spend my time on other things. Aside from the trivial nature of activities like following sports and watching sitcoms, think of all of the accompanying inappropriate television ads and accommodation and promotion of false environmentalism, the homosexual movement and other unworthy causes. I don't consider it inherently sinful to do something like watch a football game, play a video game, or go out to see a movie. And if I see people's involvement in such activities accompanied by a good relationship with God, high ethical standards, and a lot of time spent on theology, apologetics, and other important matters, for example, I don't make an issue of it. My biggest problem is with the typical American and the typical Evangelical. They spend inordinate time on things like sports while being so negligent of theology, apologetics, prayer, and other matters that are so much more important.

Having said that, I want to make a point about the Deflategate story. There's a lot of talk about the ethical issues involved. What example is being set for our children? I suspect that the same parents, media figures, etc. who raise such issues in the context of Deflategate knowingly violate traffic laws and do other unethical things just about every time they drive (going over the speed limit, driving through red lights, swearing at and mocking other drivers, passing other drivers for no good reason, etc.). And they behave that way in front of their children. Some of the same people objecting to the unethical behavior of NFL figures will sit down with their children to watch the Super Bowl, with all of its secularism, triviality, false priorities, promotion of causes that don't deserve to be promoted, immodestly dressed cheerleaders, inappropriate commercials, etc. I heard somebody comment about his need to have a conversation with his son about Deflategate and the ethical issues involved. I wonder if he ever has conversations with his son about God, the gospel, etc. The Americans who will be watching the Super Bowl are the same people who are almost twenty trillion dollars in debt, have murdered tens of millions of unborn children in recent decades, are promoting same-sex marriage and punishing opponents of it, are so ignorant of the Bible that they can't name the four gospels, etc.

Is Deflategate primarily about morality? No. It's primarily about entertainment. Americans make much of the Super Bowl. It's one of their most valued forms of entertainment, and entertainment is a high priority for the average American. Games are more entertaining without cheating. I suspect that's more of a concern to most Americans than the ethical dimension of cheating. (I'm not denying that there's some ethical concern. I'm addressing what the primary concern is.) Most Americans do a lot of cheating in other contexts in life, and they don't seem to be making much of an effort to stop it. As long as most of the drama of Deflategate is unfolding off the field, it's another form of entertainment. It's a form that can be enjoyed without disrupting the entertainment of the football games themselves, which are more entertaining without cheating. Deflategate also gives people an opportunity to think of themselves and portray themselves as more concerned about ethical issues than they actually are.

I don't deny that other factors are involved as well, including some good motives and valid ethical concerns. But so much of what's going on with this Deflategate story is disingenuous, misleading, and ridiculous on other levels.

Try not watching the Super Bowl. Try dropping football and sports altogether. You won't be missing much. No, as a general principle, you're not morally obligated to drop those things. But, at the same time, I'm not morally obligated to refrain from making my recommendation. And I suspect that there are many individuals for whom this is a moral issue. They ought to stop giving sports (and some television programs, etc.) so much attention. In some cases, they should drop them altogether.

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