What does the ball deflation scandal in the NFL and any punishments that should be meted out in regard to the alleged activity have to do with Virginia Tech football, baseball, basketball, or even club sports like Hockey or Rugby? That’s the NFL and the New England Patriots, it’s not the Hokies, and we’re supposed to be writing about Virginia Tech related topics, here.
I don’t know if I can live that sort of compartmentalized life. Sports Entertainment (and that’s what it is, a very lucrative form of entertainment) has much to do with our daily lives. The jargon on the diamond about striking out, low ball, change up, and the most famous double entendre inserted into a rock and roll ballad (Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto’s play by play within Meat Loaf’s "Paradise by the Dashboard Light") are all fixtures. There are touchdowns, first-downs, fumbles, interceptions, and audibles that have little or nothing to do with a football game. Sports are an actual part of the language and culture of this nation.
So what does punishing Tom Brady for his inferred/alleged involvement in the scandal have to do with us, here, now? Well, it’s all about honesty, and how that all fits into good sportsmanship, fair play, and how they fit into integrity. Dictionary.com defines the word ‘integrity’ as:
- Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
- The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
- A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.
We spend a good deal of our time, and our treasure viewing sporting events. Many of us are fans of multiple teams in multiple sports, and even multiple levels of the sport. I still love going to see the Potomac Nationals (High A – Carolina League) game as much as going downtown to see the Washington Nationals play. The cost is certainly a factor in showing up at the ‘Pfitz’ instead of the Navy Yard; but matters most is that what is going on is "real". It’s not a staged spectacle. The home team might not win. The pitcher might not get that critical strike out, or the batter merely pops out to deep left field instead of knocks it out of the park. This is the same whether it’s a High A or MLB game.
And this is certainly true for my favorite Hokie sport topic, Football. It’s also one of the reasons for this short opinion piece. You see, we all want a winner, and we all want that National Championship Trophy to be placed right in front of the big windows in the Merryman Center Hall of Fame. And currently, I am thankful as a fan that the drive for that achievement is still being conducted in a manner that befits the integrity of the Hokie Nation, and the people who run the Virginia Tech Athletic Department.
This week, the NFL is going to take a huge hit. Whatever it does, whatever decision it takes or punishments it issues, the 2014-2015 season will forever be marked with a stain. I am always accused of being too harsh when dealing with cheating. Be it known, that from the book of good and bad taught to me by my parents; if you cheat, you are never a winner, even if you have all of the trophies, money, and goodies you are still a cheat, and are therefore never really a winner.
Frank Beamer has brought winning to Blacksburg, and along with it, he’s brought some losing, too. Because, when you aren't stacking the deck, fudging the numbers, and gaming the system losses happen. Down seasons occur. Recruiting falls off, because as I have mentioned before winning attracts recruits better than anything else. We are struggling, right now. The team has finally got a player leader after a few years without a clear field general in charge of things. We finally have a defensive line that looks like all of the players could be drawing serious interest from teams at the next level. Who knows we could jump up and surprise lots of people. However, one thing that will not be a surprise is that Frank Beamer will do his utmost to put the best possible team on the field without violating his and our institution’s integrity. That is something for which Hokie Nation should be very proud.
So this begs the question if you wish to opine: In light of the current suspension of Brady, the fine, and the draft hits, What should have happened to the New England Patriots, and what do you think should have happened? Remember to consider - how the question is answered by the NFL will have a long term effect on everything in the sport, including Virginia Tech.