Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

McGwire and Morals

Today the sports media was talking about the announcement that baseball great Mark McGwire finally admitted that he had been taking steroids during his career and especially during the year that he broke the single season home run record.  Does he deserve to be in the hall of fame or not?  Back in the 1990s the League didn’t prohibit the use of performance enhancing drugs, although they were illegal.  The debate is underway.

The question that got my attention was this:  Would you have taken steroids if you knew that you wouldn’t get caught?  The issue under discussion is over the issue “is it right?” vs. “is it legal?”  This is very interesting.  Now the issue of morals has entered the debate.  But if we are going to discuss morals and what is right – don’t we need to know how to define what is right?  Most people decide for themselves what is right “for them.”  Amidst the discussion you will never hear anyone refer to a higher standard than themselves as the judge of what is right.  In my experience, the same people who argue “their morals” are the same people who reject introducing the Bible as the ultimate standard of morality.  Interesting, isn’t it?

The discussion of morals and doing right is really a study in human character.  Character is doing what is right – even when no one is watching.  You do it simply because it is the right thing to do.  I know that we desperately want to think that professional athletes should be role models for all of life, but long gone is the time where they have lived up to that.  Does anyone really look up to pro football players as role models of life and morality?  How about pro basketball?  Now it’s baseball, and no one wants to judge Mark McGwire or keep him out of the hall of fame simply because “everyone knows” that “everyone” cheats, uses steroids, etc.  Its sad.

Let me make it clear, I am not judging Mark McGwire, and I am certainly not trying to say that all professional athletes cheat.    I am simply interested in the general debate concerning morals and personal character in sports.  You see, at the end of the day, regardless what your profession is, if you have no absolute standard by which to judge morals and behavior, any discussion of “doing right” is a joke – a waste of time.

Maybe we can take advantage of this current sports topic and interject the idea of God’s standard of morality on the discussions we have with people around us.

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