To End Cheating in the NFL: How Far Must It Go? | Sports Watch
by Gus Jarvis
Mar 28, 2008 | 895 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be attending next weeks NFL roundtable where cheating will no doubt be discussed.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be attending next weeks NFL roundtable where cheating will no doubt be discussed.
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Next week, National Football League owners will be discussing the upcoming season – and yes, the New England Patriots and their cheating issues will be brought up if not taking center stage. Unfortunately, like many other instances in the U.S., the cheaters will bring further regulations down on everybody else.

The meeting scheduled for next week in Palm Beach, Fla., is an annual event where rule changes are brought up and possibly voted on. This year, the most pressing issue and largest rule change will be to allow one defensive player on the field to receive communications through a speaker in his helmet – much like what the quarterback already does.

This rule-change has already failed twice in past years, but this year is different, thanks to the Patriots. A speaker in the helmet of one defensive player would eliminate the opportunity for those like the Satanic Bill Belichick to steal, videotape or otherwise take the defensive calls for cheating purposes – something the Patriots were caught doing during the 2007 season opener against the Jets. (According to The New York Times, both Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft will attend next week’s meeting.)

The defensive headset player rule change is a step in the right direction. Last year, the rule changed because only one helmet would have been allowed a speaker. Under this year’s terms, a second helmet would be allowed but only one helmet with a speaker will be allowed on the field at a time. This way, when the inside linebacker, who will possibly hold the speaker and makes the defensive calls, takes a head-on collision with the full-back and is dazed, another replacement can come in and still make the calls.

For now, this is a fine solution. The technology is there and is already being used. But what happens when those hoodlums like Belichick go ahead and decide to crack the fancy looking Motorola wireless headset systems? Has anybody checked into that? I have always wondered how hard it would be to scan yourself right into the head coaches’ communications system like 270,000 race fans do every week at NASCAR events.

I definitely wouldn’t put Belichick past this notion. Not only could he steal defensive plays, but offensive plays as well. Boy, then they would really be champions.

Now, I could be way off on that notion and their communications systems could be impossible to hack into, but never trust one who has already been caught cheating.

At next week’s roundtable meeting in sunny Florida, the owners will discuss, but not vote on, a number of proposals Commissioner Roger Goodell has submitted, finding cheaters before they prosper. This includes spot checks of locker rooms, greater use of technology to monitor teams, reducing the burden of proof needed for a commissioner to impose discipline, and requiring team executives to certify their teams are in compliance with the rules. According to The Times, it would also allow whistle-blowers (no pun intended) confidentiality.

“It would be naive to think that our house has been pure forever, but we are compelled to move forward,” NFL Executive Vice President Ray Anderson told The Times. He went on to say that past cheating events has created a sense of urgency about giving fans confidence “that we’re having a pure game and we aren’t tainted.”

Pure game? At what cost?

The defensive helmet speaker idea is a great idea, but when the league’s top officials start talking about surprise searches, no (or lessened) burden of proof and greater use of technology for the surveillance of teams, I have a serious problem. Yeah, I read that book by Mr. Orwell, and it scared the shit out of me. And these tactics are being used to purify sports? It’s just a matter of time before our government (if they haven’t already) starts to think this way.

Ok, maybe I am taking this too far. Or am I? Think of the trickle down effect after everybody and their moms were busted for steroid use in Major League Baseball. Every one of those players are pissing in a cup on a regular basis – and for good reason. But look at what that has done to high school sports. In many states, random drug testing of athletes is a common thing. Yes, high school athletes are guilty until proven innocent. Is that what we are teaching in our schools now?

To bring this a step further, will high school coaches, many whom are volunteers, be forced to go down the path of coaches/owners in the NFL who are probably soon to be scrutinized by random locker room searches and high-tech surveillance to cut out any cheating? The effects professional sports have on high school athletics could have a serious negative impact.

Here are all these kids who need guidance. What to do? Everybody tells them that successful students and young adults more than likely played sports in high school. I remember my high school councilor telling me to get involved in athletics as much as possible – that it will make me a better, more well rounded person in all aspects of life. And I believe that is still true. But if things keep going the way they do, with all the privacy loss issues and the fact that these “good” student athletes must constantly prove their innocence, why would anyone hit the practice field with their mates? It’s easier to stay inside, play video games and get stoned to the bone on high-octane cola drinks. Nobody is going to give players a piss test for playing a great game of Halo 3, right?

I am simply worried that professional sports will some day push young people away from the dedication that sports require to play. And that will soon thereafter affect society in countless negative ways.

Should the NFL change its rules because of the Patriots past cheating incidents?


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