I can’t really say how I’d feel. I can’t really say because I’ve never been in such a position. A position where you have to choose between the loyalty you feel and the reality of the situation. I’m not talking about some personal relationship. I’m talking about the relationship you have with your team, specifically, your football team.
As a Colts’ fan I know the amount of air in the balls wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game. We were clearly outplayed. It wasn’t our year. Regardless of how poorly we played, though, I’m still a fan. We had a good season. We made it to the final round before the big game. We played with heart and we’ll back next year with our heads held high and hopes of a Superbowl in our sights.
So I get being a fan when you don’t win the big game…when things just don’t go your way. I get being a fan when you played your hardest and that wasn’t close to good enough. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for playing hard…for playing fair…and still losing.
What I don’t understand is how it would feel to be a loyal fan of a team that regularly gets caught breaking the rules….or even flat out cheating. Maybe the first time you chalk it up to someone being dumb…but the next time? And the time after that? At some point do you start to question if the team you thought was so great is really that awesome?
I mean isn’t part of being a proud fan being…um, I don’t know…proud? How are you proud of your team when it cheats? Even if Deflate Gate was an honest mistake, the reputation of the Patriots is such that everyone who isn’t a Pats’ fan assumed without question that they deflated the balls on purpose. We didn’t doubt for a second that they were up to something shady because they have a history…a reputation…for not playing fair.
It’s a shame really. They are a remarkable team They may go down as one of the greatest team dynasties of all times. But if they do, there will always be an asterisk behind any record or any claim of dominance because we’ll always wonder “How often did they cheat that we don’t know about?”
You see, that’s what happens when you cheat. You get labeled “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” It happens to anyone and everyone whether playing a game or just playing at life. The natural assumption is if you cheat once, you’ll cheat again and again and again.
Now, as a former cheater, I know this isn’t exactly true. There are extenuating circumstances. There are reasons people cheat and they don’t always have to do with winning. In fact, most cheaters – especially those that have cheated in relationships – will tell you, there are no winners. But that’s at life.
I don’t think people feel the same way about business or a game…because let’s be real, the NFL isn’t just a game. It’s very, very, very big business. So big, in fact, that we have to look the other way when teams like the Patriots cheat because there’s too much money riding on them staying in the game. In essence, they are too big to fail.
I’m pretty sure they know this, which is why they continue to push the envelope…bend the rules…look for an advantage…whatever you Pats’ fans need to label it to make yourselves feel better at night. Whatever you decide doesn’t really matter because to the rest of us, it’s still cheating. Plain and simple…cheating.
I can’t really say how I’d feel if my team behaved like the Patriots. I hope I’d want to see them punished so I could trust that they wouldn’t do it again. I hope I’d want to see my team win fairly…because they played by the rules and winning means they are the better team. I say I hope because I don’t know what it’s like to be a fan of a cheating team.