By DONALD DeMARCO
Professional sports and morality were born twins. In baseball, the “foul pole” and the presence of umpires attest to this. The game must be played fairly and fairness is consonant with the cardinal virtue of justice. Consequently, when eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox baseball team were convicted of throwing the World Series, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first commissioner of baseball, banned them for life. Nothing damages the credibility of sports more than cheating. Performance-enhancing drugs violate the integrity of the game and cannot be tolerated. The rules of sport are sacrosanct.
Nonetheless, while cheating has never been condoned in sports, other vices have been allowed to flourish without fines or suspensions. Adultery, cursing, greed, egoism, gluttony, intemperance, megalomania, and other conspicuous shortcomings were regarded as private matters and not subject to the censorship of any of the respective leagues. Professional sports held to moral responsibilities, but only up to a point. Ballplayers could be as disreputable as Ty Cobb, but remained in good standing with their league as long as they did not cheat.
Things have changed. Professional sport has now widened its concern about morality to embrace, among other things, the homosexual agenda. We now receive reports almost on a daily basis of athletes in various sports who are fined, suspended, and publicly denounced when they fail to agree with the politically correct view on homosexuality. Violations of the PC perspective include defending traditional marriage, holding to biblical values, or even expressing discomfort at witnessing televised instances of homosexual male athletes in an amorous embrace.
Professional sport has no authority to issue its new set of moral commandments. It has neither the Authority of God, nor the objectivity of the natural law. Nor does it operate from a coherent philosophy. While it attempts to protect some from what it believes to be discrimination, it severely and mercilessly discriminates against those who merely bring a reasonable view to the table. It is counterproductive and divisive. It requires that athletes quiet their consciences while adhering to the mores of the time with unquestioned allegiance.
Christian morality is God-centered, consistent with the natural law, free of internal contradictions, and equipped with mercy and forgiveness. The attempt to organize a system of morality without God, as history has shown, is doomed to failure. Without God, no matter how many sensitivity training sessions are convened, it is inevitable that a system of morality is organized against man.
By embracing the homosexual agenda, professional sport is attempting to legislate against discrimination. Yet, in its ambitious march to end discrimination, it remains unaware that it does not know what discrimination is. It fails to realize how much it discriminates against all those who believe that a real marriage is between a man and a woman. It discriminates against all those who recognize that certain homosexual acts can be lethal. It discriminates against all those who are responsible members of the medical profession. It has greatly increased the number of people who are now victims of discrimination.
This unhappy revolution has been assisted, in no small way, by President Obama. He took time out to praise a particular basketball player for “coming out of the closet,” for his “courage.” He found time to praise a college football player who also declared himself to be an active homosexual, for being a “leader.”
Realistically, courage and leadership require a lot more of a human being than being homosexual. Such hasty and misdirected praise, traditionally, has been identified as prejudice. If the attempt to end discrimination is leading to prejudice, it is clearly on the wrong road.
The current revolution in sports has taken a major step backward in its attempt to eliminate discrimination. It has overstepped its bounds. It has blinded itself by its own self-righteousness. The desire to reduce unjust discrimination is surely praiseworthy. But it cannot be successful if it operates without understanding, patience, fairness to all, and a goodly amount of wisdom. Rushing into battle with but one isolated aim is to repeat the folly of Don Quixote who fought windmills all the while thinking they were giants.
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(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)