Calling the Shots: Deflategate calls athletic integrity into question

Seth Barshay, Sports Editor

The recent four game suspension of Tom Brady and the related fines to the New England Patriots by the NFL, due to the team allegedly gaining an unfair advantage by deflating balls below the sanctioned limit, brings several questions to the table.

One such question is whether the Super Bowl that the team won last February was deserved after cheating during the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in order to make it to the big game.

This scandal will also likely tarnish the legacy of Brady, one of the most decorated and arguably one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

“Tom Brady is a role model to millions across the country.  What he did was a disgrace because it showed the younger generations that winning can require cheating,” said junior Jed Bondy.

Outrages like what has been called Deflategate, a play on words from the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, show that integrity among athletes is necessary in all sports at every level, including in high school athletics.

This is especially essential in sports in which there is no independent referee officiating during matches, as is the case with sports like tennis, badminton, and golf.

“With golf it’s all honor, which is what makes the game of golf so great.  Going into a match I don’t think anyone (especially not on our team) has the expectation of doing anything but going out and giving it 100 percent in the most fair way possible.  When you win, you want to win because you’re genuinely better than your opponent,” said senior captain golfer Nicholas D’Alonzo.

In addition, like in the NFL, there are preventative measures toward gaining an unfair competitive advantage like Brady did.  However, this apparently does not mean that nobody will still try to gain such an advantage.

“On our team we all carry rule books in our bags just in case something does arise that is questionable.  It’s obviously not fair to the game and your team if you try to cheat because it will come out sooner or later that you did when you can’t match that level of performance.  It actually happens in matches quite frequently where my opponent has insisted he got a lower score than he actually did.  This is why it’s always important to keep track of everyone around you.  Golf is probably the hardest sport to play with total honesty because of the lack of authority, but on our team we pride ourselves with playing our hearts out and giving everyone a fair chance around us because in the end it makes winning that much better,” said D’Alonzo.

Although it seems easier to have less integrity in a sport that is not independently officiated, that does not mean that it does not occur in team sports that do involve referees, even at the high school level.

For example, while playing on a travel soccer team, junior Daniel Ernst witnessed this lack of athletic integrity firsthand, specifically with a teammate point shaving for monetary reasons when in a bind.

“There was a situation on my soccer team where a player and his dad were in a terrible financial situation, and instead of the teammate trying in games, he would play according to how his dad bet on the game with the relatives and friends he brought to the game. When he was kicked off the team, I immediately felt betrayed, but looking back on it, he had to do what he had to do,” said Ernst.