After writing recently about the fact that football (and the watching of it) is not inherently sinful, the news out this weekend (actually saw it Friday) strikes me as worth mentioning.
The NFL is accusing the New Orleans Saints of putting “bounties” on opposing players. As reported by the AP:
New Orleans Saints players and at least one assistant coach maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons to reward game-ending injuries inflicted on opposing players, including Brett Favre and Kurt Warner, the NFL said Friday. “Knockouts” were worth $1,500 and “cart-offs” $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.
The NFL said the pool amounts reached their height in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.
The league said between 22 and 27 defensive players were involved in the program and that it was administered by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton.
Williams apologized for his role, saying: “It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it.”
That is absolutely reprehensible, and if the penalty is simply going to be fines and other sorts of “hand slaps” the league should be ashamed of itself. Is it too much to suspend a team for a season for such a thing? Personally, I don’t think so. Would “innocent” players be effected by such a decision? Yes. At the same time, then maybe they would police their own better.
And let me say one more thing in the limited time I have: Why are formal, criminal charges not being mentioned? Someone else mentioned this to me, once: Why is it that violence (say, rushing the pitcher on the mound to punch him in the face) is criminal outside of the arena but simply fined or overlooked even inside the arena? Why is what would otherwise be criminal activity ignored when it happens on a ballfield? (Seriously, feel free to educate me: Is it because the “victim” does not press charges?)
In this case, you have–very literally–hits being bought on other individuals… Money promised in return for causing physical harm and injury to another person. Why is this just a “league” matter and not something criminal?
I reiterate what I said before: There is nothing inherently sinful in playing or watching football. Every sport has its excesses and abuses and wrong attitudes are possible in any competitive endeavor. (Even figure skating: remember Tonya Harding?) Such attitudes are sinful, no matter what sport they show up in.
But, seriously: Why are these bounties not crimes?
Regardless, they are certainly sin.