Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheaters (like Ryan Braun)

Ryan Braun, MVP baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers, is only the latest pro athlete to be suspended from his sport for using banned performance enhancing substances. Braun was caught two years ago in a related case but got off on a technicality - his "urine expediter" did not get his sample to the lab in a timely manner. Braun accused him of tainting his sample. The sample was positive for steroids but it was disregarded for human error. Not Braun's error but the poor guy whose job it was to get his sample to the lab in time. His career was toast while Braun was the toast of the town. He lived the lie for two years and the fans bought it. We want to believe these guys. We want to believe Lance and Barry and now Ryan. Even when they perform at performance enhanced levels that stretch our imaginations to the brink. These athletes were already good even great. Why the need to cheat to be even better? Is it a human blind spot? Cheating is defined as gaining an unfair advantage through illegal or deceptive methods. Cheating is faking it - making it look like you are who you are not. The classic illustration in the Bible is Jacob who disguised himself to cheat his older brother out of his father's blessing. He became someone he was not to gain an advantage over his brother. Cheating deceives: the fans, the spouse, the IRS, the investor, etc. For the sake of gaining an advantage. To do what we could not do. To achieve more than we are able. Even if we are already able to do a lot. Why do smart people cheat on tests? Why do rich people cheat on their taxes? Why do married people cheat on their spouses? Why do we cheat? What is it that tempts us to look for ways to gain an advantage?The baseball pitcher uses an illegal substance to gain advantage over the hitter. The batter corks his bat (remember George Brett). The infield crew waters down the field to slow the faster team. Why do we feel this need to gain advantage? To become more than we are. It's a desire as old as Adam and Eve who cheated to become gods. David, the man who had everything, who cheated one of his generals out of his wife and his life. Cheating is like the original sin. We all struggle with it, with the desire to want more than we are or have. Since we are not satisfied, we are tempted to cheat, to gain advantage. But, we discover there really is no advantage to cheating. For a time it seems to work. We may actually feel like most valuable persons (MVP's) for a time like Ryan Braun who got the award and the huge new contract after he cheated. It seemed like it paid off. He really could  be more than he was, have more than he deserved. Not for long though, for two years in Braun's case, each case is different. Now his reputation with the fans is in the tank and even his own teammates are fed up with his lies. Braun is only the latest reminder that cheating never pays. We don't have to be who we aren't. Of course, we can't be. There is no advantage to gaining advantage. Cheating is a no win situation. It makes no sense. Sin never does.