“Deflate-Gate” and American Culture

Jan. 22, 2014 (San Diego) The New England Patriots allegedly had 11 out of their 12 balls under inflated. We are hearing that they were fine when officials first checked them. We are learning teams don’t use the same ball. All these factoids are even revelations to actual sports writers.

We even had a pundit ask the obvious question: What is the chain of custody for balls during games? What I have yet to read is why?

There is great pressure from the league, and the owners to perform. This means winning games and being a successful franchise. This directly translates to earnings.

In the modern ethos of business deflate gate is a perfect allegory. This will include the ultimate punishment the league gives out. None in his right mind expects the league to force the Patriots to forfeit the game; just like none expected prison time for bankers who almost caused a worldwide depression. At least none of us who were realistic about it.

No, we do not expect a bail out. The Patriots are a very successful franchise. So this is not a matter of them getting money. They might get punished in draft picks. But when all is said and done this is water under the bridge. Like the banks, some will be angry, but we will go back to business as usual in short order.

While the actual score board of the Super Bowl does not matter to me. The politics of sport is always a wonderful teaching moment of the underlying values of the society we live in. This is a society that prices winning at any prize, ethics are for fools. If you get caught, punishment will consist of a slap in the hand if you are well connected.

That slap, mostly, is for getting caught; not for doing something wrong   The National Football League is a business. It is quite likely one of the most competitive and profitable business around. It is also a small microcosm of American business culture.

Many of us were angered by the reaction of the government to the bank failures. I am sure many of the fans will be angered by the league, but as long as we celebrate the win at any cost mentality, things like this will continue.

Categories: editorial

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