Social media and sports talk radio is abuzz with the news of Tom Brady's four-game suspension, the Pats' $1 million dollar fine and loss of draft picks and the story is once again trending. It appears the 2015 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are once again embroiled in the Deflategate controversy and debate is rampant. Did Brady know the "Deflator" (as he was nicknamed) under-inflated his footballs? Should the team have been fined in addition to his suspension? Why did the NFL revoke two draft picks as well?
The Patriots will appeal the penalties, that is certain, but the bottom line is this: Rules were broken and someone apparently had to pay the price. It's unlikely Brady was unaware of the wrongdoings, but this national discussion also highlights something that's prevalent not only in sports but in life: People cheat.
I never realized it until we started playing board games last year with our daughters. The need to win was so intense that our eldest started trying to rig which card she pulled in Candyland. Or move her piece to premiere spots on the kids' Monopoly board when she thought no one was watching. And when she isn't the victor, the tears start to flow. And not just crocodile tears, I'm talking pure agonizing defeat... over Old Maid!
Unlike our kids, professional athletes are playing for a greater prize, to be a champion. With that comes not only loads of money, but more importantly, glory. And the Patriots' situation reminds us that everyone is fallible. The story of athletes or teams cheating isn't a new one though; in baseball pitchers doctor baseballs, or some use performance-enhancing drugs, same as cycling and the great Lance Armstrong. Cheating happens, and if it didn't there would be no need for rules and the referees that enforce them.
Watching their heroes fall might be toughest on our littlest sports fans, and brings up a vital conversation we all need to have about dishonesty. While our children might be receiving mixed messages from the media (and their parents) about the importance of winning, we can all learn some lessons from the Patriots' latest scandal.
Cheating is wrong. It's a universal truth, karma will always come back and bite you. Though the people and athletes we admire might cheat, that doesn't mean we do the same, or that we have to stop liking them. Everyone makes mistakes, it's what you do afterwards that counts most.
No matter how much you lie about it, you will get caught. It may not be right away, it may take years before someone finds out... but deep down you will always know what you did. And most times our conscience is our greatest enemy. It's vital to be truthful about cheating right away, though, to avoid further consequences for lying.
There will be many times this may come up in our parenting journey. In sports, board games and even in school. And when stories like this pop up in the mainstream media, it's an excellent way to teach at home. And if your kids are Patriots fans, ask them: "Shouldn't there be consequences for our actions if we do indeed cheat?" Their answers might surprise you! And if they are frustrated with New England, remind them that life is full of disappointments, but it's always better to win honorably.
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