Friday, September 21, 2007

Self-righteous pundits love anything with a "-gate" at the end

Think he'd give this up for a little reputation repair? Nope.

With all of this Bill Belichick business finally starting to settle down, most of the national pundits are finishing up their self-righteous rants about cheating and dishonesty.

As you've seen with many controversial subjects on this blog, my stance is usually a bit divergent from the media consensus about incidents.

When someone commits a wrong in sports, national columnists and pundits across the country can't jump to their keyboards fast enough to denounce the evil doer. If there is a juicy story out there, you can bet that anyone with a platform will try and one-up one another in an effort to strong-arm their way into the discussion. Sometimes it seems like some columnists are running for the President of Sports with one strong platform: "I'm tougher on crime than my opponents."

Given, what Belichick did deserves punishment. He broke specific rules concerning the monitoring of another team. What all of these self-righteous yahoos fail to recognize is that what Bill Belichick helped his team gain a distinct advantage that absolutely earned him and his franchise far more than the fines and penalties they incurred. Depending on who you talk to, he's been doing this for some time. If so, he was able to get away with something most teams dream of being able to pull off. He successfully stole the other team's advantage. And in the end, he is only accountable to himself and his franchise. The NFL can impose penalties until they are blue in the face, but until those penalties outweigh the gains derived from the infractions, they'll be useless. If you asked Patriots owner Robert Kraft if he would take a paltry fine and the loss of a draft pick for three Super Bowl championships and a position as a premier NFL franchise...well, you see the obvious answer here.

Other writers have made other logically faulty arguments defending Belichick's actions as just and simply of a competitive nature. These are not accurate either. Stealing signs in baseball has always been the norm, but nobody has been outed for using extra means to attain them, i.e. electronic means. You can bet it's been done though. They've just been too sneaky to get caught. Now that this business about Belichick has come about, the likelihood that anyone will will be caught in the future is slim. There are plenty of ways to survey another team without having a cameraman blatantly standing on the sidelines.

Stealing another team's advantage has been around since sports began. It will continue to be prevalent, even if the perpetrators go uncovered.

Reasonably yours,

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Daniel said...

I think that you are a bit off the mark concerning Belichick and Video-gate. It was not as if he were using underhanded subterfuge. He was openly flaunting the rules that said that teams can't having roving cameras on the sidelines pointed at opposing coaches. All teams have a vast array of cameras all over the stadiums, any of which could be legally pointed at defensive coaches and used however they want. They can have cameramen in the stands doing the same thing, and it would all be perfectly legal. Belichick, in high-hubristic fashion, basically said, "Screw you. I'm going to do it anyways." Then an old colleague (and now an arch-rival) got him busted for it. Then, of course, all hell broke loose, and opposing teams were shocked (shocked!) that an opposing coach would try to steal defensive signals. This just flies in the face of the fact that all the teams try to do it in some manner. In 2002, Bronco's coach Mike Shanahan said, "Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game. With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter." Gasp! Was he admitting to obtaining an unfair advantage?! John Madden said soon after the Belichick story broke, that such things went on before, they're going on now, and they'll go on in the future. (Here: ) For as long as I have been watching football, coaches have hidden their mouths with clipboards or something when talking on the sidelines. Why? Because the other team might figure out their play-calling. The idea that the Patriots and Belichick emerged unscathed from this is just not true. The loss of a first round draft pick is huge, never mind the huge fines. (Belichick's fine is tax deductible, by the way.) But you want some brutal, unheard-of-before punishment for an infraction that could easily be considered typical? I disagree. I say that the controversy was overblown and that the punishment more than fit the crime. (Aren't deliberate salary cap violations much more serious offenses of rule breaking?)

By the way, I am very much on your side on most issues. I am a capitalist, and as such I want a complete separation of government and the world of sports.

Go Sox!

Scooter said...

Thanks for the comment...but I have to wonder if you really read the post. My point was that Belichick wasn't really in the wrong and that he is only accountable to himself and his franchise for his decisions. In fact, if anything, the post made the point that what Belichick did wasn't really wrong at all, he just caught at it. Thanks for reading, maybe give it a re-read and then hit me back with another comment.