NFL Rightly Suspends Players for Doping

I became incensed yesterday when, while listening to the radio, I heard “The Goose,” a local Dallas newspaper reporter known for his own self-assuredness on a radio show with local talk show host Norm Hitzges.  In this weekly segment, Norm had asked about the looming suspensions for the NFL players who had recently tested positive for steroids.  The Goose in his somewhat cocky life persona informed Norm that the six players (running back Deuce McAllister and defensive linemen Charles Grant and Will Smith of New Orleans; defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams of Minnesota; and long snapper Bryan Pittman of Houston) would not be suspended until the beginning of next season.

My immediate reaction to this was to day, “What the hell?”  This made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. 

He continued his argument by saying that to suspend these players at this time (going into the playoff run) would be unfair to other players on teams like Minnesota that would arguably be devastated by any such move.  I immediately thought, “But, they cheated in this season, and their teams benefitted from it.”  Any suspensions should rightfully be handed down in the season in which the cheating (and that is exactly what it is) occurred.  As far as the team goes, if they did not create an atmosphere in their own locker room in which this kind of thing would not be considered, then it is on the team also.

Of course, there is no way to really fix the problem.  All of the teams that had to play early in the season against a strong Minnesota run defense anchored by a couple of cheaters had a tougher time than some teams possibly in their own divisions (or possibly in a race for the playoffs) will have from this point on, and none of that is taken into account when it comes to tie-breakers.

So, when I woke up this morning and discovered that The Goose was once again talking out of his ass, and the commissioner had rightly suspended all of these players for the rest of the season, I felt better.  Good for Goodell.

The Santa Claus Conundrum (Or, Christian Attitudes Toward Santa Claus

Many Christians understandably get confused when they are forced to deal with Santa Claus.  If we include getting presents from Santa Claus in our observance Christmas of the Christmas holiday, are we in essence lying to our children?  How can we observe a holiday based on the birth of Christ, and incorporate a lie in the observance?  Does paying so much attention to Santa Claus take away from Christ?

Well, I don’t really think it is all that complicated.  I know several Christians who simply ‘do not do’ Santa Claus.  I think this is a shame.  I encourage my child to have a good imagination, and I think watching her pretend is a great thing, and a source of entertainment for me as well as her.  Santa Claus teaches children about giving and that being good is often rewarded (and being bad is punished).  These are excellent life lessons for a small child.

The problem seems to revolve mostly around lying to our children.  I personally do not have any problems helping my child keep up the Santa Claus façade.  As long as she wants to believe in him, I will encourage her to do so.  However, I know the day will come when she will ask me straight-up if he is real, and I will tell her the truth.  I will also remind her how much she has enjoyed pretending that there is a Santa Claus, and how she should not ruin the same feeling for other kids who still believe he is real.

I feel sorry for the parents that do not let their children believe in Santa Claus, and likewise, I feel sorry for their children who miss out on part of their childhood.  They are robbing their kids of the chance to take part in a great Western tradition, and much of the wonder that comes with being a child at Christmas.  Often, these children grow up and become embittered by the fact that they did not get to participate in the fun that their friends had.  These are not good feelings for a teenager who is facing other temptations such as sex and drugs from their friends.  I do not want my child left with the feeling that, “Maybe, my parents just don’t want me to have fun.”

On the other hand, I once knew a girl (a twenty something) who said that because her parents lied to her about Santa Claus, she could not trust them.  I have to say that this was one of the most offensive examples of an ingrate that I have ever seen.  So, the fact that her parents got her all of those gifts, and tried so hard to give her a fun childhood meant nothing to her.  In the end, I think she was just looking for a reason to blame her parents for all of her problems, which she did.

The question about whether Santa Claus detracts from Christ at Christmas is a touchier subject.  It is true that Santa Claus is a big part of the secularization of Christmas, but that just means that Christian parents have to do their job, and make sure that their children do know ‘the reason for the season.’

About twenty years ago, Amy Grant’s music was becoming so popular that it was crossing over from the Christian music stations to the pop music stations.  At the time, Christian stations found themselves in a conundrum.  Her music could be interpreted to be either about God, or maybe a friend or boyfriend depending on how you applied the lyrics.  As a result, many Christian music stations found the need to determine if they were still going to play her music or not.  In the end, most played the music because they correctly argued that having young people listen to the music might actually draw them to Christianity.  The same argument works for Santa Claus.  If you prefer, think of Santa Claus as a gateway drug that draws the world to ask, “Why are we celebrating this holiday, anyway?”  As Bart Simpson once said, “Christmas is the time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Christ.”

It is also helpful to remember that the Santa Claus legend is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra who was by all accounts a Christian that anyone would do well to emulate in his life.