Ethics Doesn’t Care That Pete Had 4,256 base hits

Pete RoseThe commissioner of Major League Baseball had a clear choice. He could have satisfied legions of fans, autograph hounds and several “on-air’s” by lifting the permanent ban on Pete Rose, or he could have taken the ethical route and respected the game enough to keep the ban in place. He chose ethics. Rob Manfred, not Pete Rose, is our hero.

We are living in an era where people are more concerned with talking over each other rather than to each other and where the perception of good ethics are often more relative than absolute. It is a serious problem obviously not just for sports, but for society in general.

We believe the lack of concern many have for what is right, versus what they want right here and right now, is a major contributor to a societal lack of tolerance, respect and appreciation for one another.

Do we appreciate the skills and the legacy of Pete Rose? Yes, who wouldn’t? Is it enough to gain him entry into the HOF? In our opinion, no. For us to say otherwise is to disregard what is ethically right in favor of those screaming the loudest of what they want “here and now.”

You see, ethics doesn’t care whether Pete Rose got 4,000 base hits or 40,000. Ethics doesn’t extoll the virtues of a pitcher with a 101 mph fastball and a subterranean ERA if he beats his spouse into submission whenever he gets liquored-up. Ethics still regards him as a bum.

Many fans of every sport, are more than content to “put this or that incident behind us,” especially when it concerns “our” teams and “our” players. It is the relative battle-cry. We are willing to overlook bad behaviors because it fits our own historical narratives and rationale.

Many sports fans are very willing to forgive behaviors of their favorite athletes, coaches and even association executives for acts they would never forgive if those acts were inflicted on their own family members, fellow parishioners, friends or business associates. In sports, as in life, there must be ethical accountability. Despite the times or the situations, ethics endure.

Betting on sports

Professional baseball players are prohibited from betting on baseball. There is absolutely nothing new about that. It is not a mystery. It is not a gray area and it should not be a surprise to any fan no matter how much they think a player’s autograph might be worth. That’s it. Those are the rules. If an athlete doesn’t like the rule, don’t play the game.

Professional athletes betting on their own sport are potentially more damaging to the product on the field than almost any other off the field behavior imaginable. Unlike many team sports, in baseball a guy betting against his team can seriously impact the outcome and the wager through his on the field actions. In no way are we suggesting Pete Rose would have done such a thing, but another player might have done so if given the opportunity. Hence, the rule.

Pete Rose changed his story regarding betting on sports (and baseball in particular) many times over the years. At first he vehemently denied any sports bets, then he admitted to gambling on sports, then to gambling on baseball as a manager, then to gambling on baseball as a player, then it was found he had gambled on his own team. He made each new admission after each time the evidence caught up with him.

Bad choices will lead to bad consequences each and every time. It cannot be escaped. On the level of “admiration” for his skills we feel badly for Mr. Rose. Ethically, there is little sympathy. Perhaps, just perhaps, if at the very beginning he had come clean, told the sports world he had a gambling problem and threw himself on the mercy of the commissioner the outcome might have been different. It didn’t happen that way. He knew exactly what he was doing. He is 25 or more years too late with his attempts at slate-cleaning.

Like it or not. Bad choices lead to bad consequences. Even the HOF cannot change that. In fact, none of us can.









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