Thursday, May 6, 2010

Conduct Unbecoming

Several days ago, I was doing some work on the computer and casually watching the morning sports talk show “Mike and Mike”. The “dynamic duo” of mouthy morning sports chat were discussing the atrocious behavior of Pittsburg Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who managed to dodge criminal charges of sexual assault related to his forced rendezvous with a intoxicated woman in a public bathroom. Though the “Mikes” conceded that “Big Ben’s” behavior was abominable, they argued intensely that his behavior had nothing to do with football itself. “What do you want the Steelers to do?” One Mike bellowed. “Charge him with conduct unbecoming an NFL Quarterback?” Actually, that would be a great start!

As an NFL Quarterback, Big Ben qualifies as a sportsman. A sportsman is expected to exhibit sportsmanship on the field of play AND off. Because of their high public prominence, professional athletes are particularly expected to be sportsmanlike in all areas of their lives, understanding that their conduct will be emulated by others, especially children, the world over. Here is a standard definition of sportsmanship found in numerous dictionaries: Sportsmanship is “Conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing or winning.” Fair play – courtesy – grace. All character traits desirable not just in quarterbacks, but in men in general. So Ben’s conduct is not just unbecoming of a quarterback, it is unbecoming of a man – period!

In 1 Corinthian 13:11, the Apostle Paul makes the case for maturity:
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” It’s time for professional Athletes to grow up. As a man, it is imperative for me to talk, think, reason and act as a man. I must be ready to be responsible, ready to be considerate and ready to lead others in the way they should go not following along as one of the boys, or acting is if exceptional physical abilities entitle me to immoral, harmful and demeaning behavior.

As a man who has grown tired of excuses, I’m throwing down the gauntlet and issuing this challenge to other men, including professional athletes: Think like a man. Walk like a man. Stand up like a man - the man committed to standing up for righteous, standing up for justice, standing up for the helpless and standing up for future generations to take notice so that the stand they take will be a stand worthy of a champion. Anything less, is Conduct Unbecoming. Until next time…