- - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Respect. Honesty. Sportsmanship. Fair play. As professional athletics continue to proclaim these values, it becomes more difficult to explain their demise to children. Advising youngsters that cheaters who win are really losers — as these children witness ostensible professionals cheat their way to trophies and rings — makes it tough to direct those kids to the moral high ground in their own athletic endeavors.

Increasingly, professional sports organizations break faith with America and our youth, intent on collecting the millions of dollars that have become their raison d’etre. Certainly, there are individual athletes who feel fortunate and thankful to be able to play a game that affords them such a lucrative living, and we know who they are because they stand out clearly in a crowd of attitudes, egos, tattoos and criminality.

The New England Patriots, from the top down, are cheaters and losers regardless of the scoreboard tally or what soft-pedaling sports-radio commentators believe. Their behavior has branded them as such. The conduct that showed them to have cheated in the past and placed them under suspicion of cheating led inexorably to their ball-deflation hijinks in Super Bowl XLIX. It’s the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” adage personified by the behavior of head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and others, that points to a deceptive, win-at-all-costs (even if you have to cheat) culture in the Patriots camp.

A Super Bowl ring gained dishonestly is just a piece of metal instantly aged and tarnished by the wearer’s misdeeds. If you were caught playing dirty to get it, why would you be caught wearing it? Besides, it’s just going to turn your finger green.

JOHN M. DANIEL

Leonardtown, Md.

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