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Ryan Braun
Associated Press/Photo by Gene J. Puskar, File
Ryan Braun

Cheating’s shrapnel flies fast and far

Sports

If you follow professional baseball you’ve likely heard the name Biogenesis by now. It is the now defunct clinic in Miami that has been linked to at least 20 players as a provider of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Now that Tony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis, has agreed to cooperate with investigators from Major League Baseball, the story has taken off. All those 20 players, including current and former stars like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, now face the possibility of significant suspensions as MLB begins an aggressive pursuit of justice.

While all this was going in the world of baseball, another story crossed the wires this past week that bears some similarities. Nike announced that it would end its partnership with Lance Armstrong’s charity, Livestrong, with its popular wrist bands and bold yellow workout gear. Earlier this year the United States Anti Doping Agency stripped Armstrong, a former seven-time Tour de France winner, of all seven titles because of his PED use. 

Both of these instances tell a story of cheating, of decisions being made by individual people with thoughts only of themselves in order to gain an advantage. Whether they thought of anyone else as they cheated or whether they considered the consequences, this we know: They determined that that the benefits of cheating outweighed those considerations.

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There is a lesson here for all of us whether or not we care a whit about baseball or cycling. Isn’t this how sin always works? It skews reality and obscures truth. It blinds us to the impending damage that will come through our actions. It draws our gaze downward and inward so that all we see is ourselves—what we feel and want. We are, at best, oblivious to others and sometimes we’re just callous. 

When the Biogenesis PED scandal came to light and when Lance Armstrong’s cheating was uncovered, cheating was put in stark reality. It became clear that those kinds of decisions do not just bring consequences for the cheater. The damage is far-reaching. Livestrong lost a sponsor who had brought them more than $100 million. Fans lost trust in Armstrong and the baseball players as well as losing out on the chance to watch them compete fairly. The game of baseball suffers because losing good players means lowering the quality of play, and the teams suffer because they lose key contributors. 

Sinful decisions are never made in isolation no matter how alone one is when they are made. Such decisions light a fuse that ends in an explosion, with shrapnel flying far and fast. The consequences of self-absorbed decisions are never truly absorbed in the self. They damage and affect those around us in profound ways, far more profound than the loss of some baseball games or the disappointment of some fans. So it is incumbent upon us to be aware of the lie of sin, the lie that hides the consequences for both ourselves and those nearby.

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