This isn’t about the New England Patriots, or the science of air pressure, or whether two pounds of air pressure are why the Colts got bug-splattered in the AFC championship game.
We’re talking about a sports nation that entirely missed the point this week when discussing the Case of the Footballs: rules are rules, cheating is cheating, and using the latter to end around the former is wrong to the Super Bowl XLIXth degree.
No juxtaposing the words “yeah” and “but” in the same spew. No reasoning that everyone does it, unless you are willing to adopt that philosophy at cliff-jumping hour with friends.
Did you just call me Captain High Horse? Sorry, hard to hear you over my cranked-up megaphone way up here on a soapbox. If you’re tired of reading about Deflategate, good — you’ll be too fatigued to fire off an angry email today (but if you must, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org).
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The Patriots got caught with asthmatic footballs that were oxygen deprived. The Colts got caught with footballs that weren’t. All the chemistry lab math in the world can’t explain those two inconvenient truths.
Want to argue an appropriate punishment? Have at it. Slap a wrist. Take away a draft pick. Do what the NFL does best, and tell the Patriots, “Stop! Or I’ll say stop again!” For all we care, you can make Coach Bill legally change his last name to Belicheat for ordering the ball boys to go Code Red on the Wilsons.
Just stop arguing whether it matters if they cheated or not. Because it does matter, and it always has and it always will. Stop saying that rule breaking isn’t a big deal, unless you want a shot of anarchy to go with your organized sport.
The Patriots would have deep-sixed the Colts 44-13 anyway? That’s even worse. It’s one thing to cheat because it’s the only chance you’ve got, and that’s wrong enough. But to break the rules when it isn’t even necessary? I always wanted to meet a grownup who cheats against their 2-year-old in a game of Go Fish, just because they can.
That isn’t just being a cheat. That’s being insufferably arrogant. That’s being Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, baseball players who were Hall of Fame gimmes on pure talent, but “allegedly” took steroids because all-time great wasn’t great enough.
The air-pressure rule is a meaningless footnote in the rulebook? Rules are rules are rules.
Don’t like the rules? Change them. Or go follow a sport that isn’t so fine on details. Like an underground fight club.
Every quarterback makes the ball boys deflate the footballs before kickoff? Tell you what: Next time you get a speeding ticket, tell the judge everyone around you was going just as Sammy Hagar on the 55-mph sign. If you get caught shorting the IRS, tell them everyone cheats on taxes so what’s the big deal? Let me know how far those ships sail, because everyone loves a good shipwreck.
We can argue what a fair and just consequence should be: This is America, so everyone is entitled to their wrong opinion.
Here is what’s not up for debate: If those of us in the third estate break the rules, we get our court-ordered comeuppance. Can we start holding the sports world’s nobility to the same standard?
After all, we’d hate for them to think the rules only apply to us.