(For those of you reading from the WordPress index, do not be discouraged by this posting’s length, about 350 words are in the footnotes.)
The fraternity of sports team owners is a unique group. In the early days, most owners were wealthy sports enthusiasts who paid attention to profit only because it was necessary to stay in business. Their real passion was the sport itself. For every Charles Comiskey who was willing to treat his players so poorly that they were ripe for the temptations of gamblers, there were at least two or three Clark Griffiths who endured financial losses because baseball was their love.
Now, big money rules sports. The bottom line is Priority #1 and if a championship results as well, then that’s a nice bonus!
MAJOR LEAGUE FRANCHISES AREN’T ORDINARY BUSINESSES
Despite the shift in emphasis, owners still appreciate the uniqueness of their situation and operate it as such. For example, each major league has a barrier to entry not seen in other industries. It requires more than money to buy an existing franchise or to establish a new one. In each case, the present owners must approve the action, and usually by more than a simple majority.
Owners in a league are also subject to league rules similar to those in a homeowners association. While these regulations are not as petty as many of those affecting home
owners, the financial consequences of misconduct are far greater for the sports owner.
STERLING’S RACIST REMARKS, THE PUNISHMENT AND A MORAL PRECEDENT
Such occurred recently for Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, when a private conversation was made public in April. (The motives of the individual revealing the conversation should be debated, but in another venue.) This married man told his mixed-race Mexican girlfriend:
“There’s nothing wrong with minorities. They’re fabulous…I don’t want you to hate. I want you to love them – privately.” The clincher was when he said later, “and not to bring them (her black friends) to any games.”1
Infidelity aside, the NBA had to respond when Sterling’s severely disrespectful views became known. The league understands its prominent and privileged place in sports. It requires that it present a higher standard in its public image. The uncharitable remarks by Sterling exhibited not only a shameful view of his fellow human beings, but a blatant disregard for the majority of his players whose efforts allow him to reap the benefits of free enterprise.
This article is not judging the league’s decision to fine Mr. Sterling $2.5 million (the maximum allowed by league rules) or to force him out of the fraternity of league owners. But take note, when it did, it established a moral precedent for itself and other leagues. Unfortunately, it is a precedent which will likely be respected selectively.
WE’RE STILL A LONG WAY FROM PROMOTING ALL THAT IS RIGHTEOUS
That Sterling’s statements were not deemed trivial is a step in the right direction. His sin against charity2, in what is now a public setting, required a serious penalty. His views were morally wrong and they also hinder the prospects of what he and his team’s fans want most—a winning team.
What is troubling, however, is that other gravely improper behavior by owners is not just overlooked, but is glorified by a public with a malformed conscience.
For many, the shame of racial discrimination has blinded them from the severity of great evils such as artificial population control and the push to legitimize the impossible—same-sex marriage.3,4,5 These are direct slams at God, who is the Author of Life, or at Natural Law for those who are unbelievers.
A team owner who espouses racial prejudice commits a wrong which is evident by the damage it does to the harmony needed in business and demanded by a civil society.
A team owner who supports abortion (and its relative, artificial birth control6) trivializes human life and is striving for a control over life which is not within his authority. When respect for human life is compromised, other dangerous rationalizations automatically follow. And they have.
The endorsement of same-sex “marriage” is a most presumptuous act.7 No human can change the definition of marriage because it is not an invention of the state.
These actions represent a rejection of Natural Law are not without automatic consequences, regardless of human attempts at intervention.
Dealing with the Donald Sterlings of this world is the first stage of getting our house in order. Now let’s repair the foundation before it’s too late.
1 – 4/26/2014 on http://www.youtube.com
2 – “’If I…have not charity,’ says the Apostle, ‘I am nothing.’ Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, ‘if I…have not charity, I gain nothing.’ Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: ‘So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.’” Paragraph 1826 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO, 1994) which also quotes from 1 Corinthians 13.
3 – “’ By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is them that it finds its crowning glory…” Part of paragraph 1652, Ibid.
4 – “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” Paragraph 1654, Ibid.
5 – “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided…” Paragraph 2358, Ibid.
6 – “… In contrast, ‘every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, purposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible’ is intrinsically evil…” Paragraph 2370, Ibid.
7 – “… It (homosexuality) has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (citing Gen 19:1-29, Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:10 and 1 Tim 1:10), tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” Paragraph 2357, Ibid.