If you are like me, you are getting weary of stories about celebrities and sports figures. Many of these people have become embarrassments to our country, their community, their teams and their families. Ranging from spoiled brats who need a good whipping to sports thugs who need some time behind bars, the stories seem to surround us and, at the same time, nauseate us.
What happened to that little Lohan girl from the Walt Disney movies? She’s in and out of rehab, living life in the fast lane and embarrassing herself beyond words. Substance abuse, partying, DUI charges and a host of other indiscretions have made this once cute actress into a pathetic human being forced to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet because she has no self-discipline. .
Then there’s Britney Spears—in and out of rehab, shaving her head, married and divorced, driving around without putting her kids in safety restraints. Someone needs to restrain her. She’s a terrible role model who needs to be banned for life. No parent in their right mind would want their daughter to grow up to be Britney Spears, no matter how much money she might make.
How about Paris Hilton? Is anyone really that dumb? She has redefined the image of the “dumb blonde.” Didn’t her parents teach her anything about being responsible? After all, if a child will one day inherit a fortune, shouldn’t she learn something about responsibility?
Can we just send all these girls on a trip to Reality Island? They need someone to step in, get in their faces and discipline them. If they don’t get help soon, they will end up in a cold grave at an early age. Blame them. Blame their parents. Blame the culture that rewards or, even worse, excuses such behavior.
Almost every major professional sports league is plagued by spoiled, undisciplined athletes. The NBA looks like an advertisement for a tattoo parlor. I still remember last year when players complained because they were asked to wear a suit instead of wearing jeans hanging down to their knees when they arrived and departed from games. That’s not much to ask from someone who makes millions each year.
Top that with a referee who is involved in betting on the game, and you’ve got trouble with a capital T. As Professor Harold Hill said in the Music Man, “Trouble with a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for pool.” This pool is a gambling pool. This official has drowned his family’s image in the community in the pool of gambling and self-centeredness. Commissioner David Stern says the situation with referee Tim Donaghy is the “worst situation” in his twenty-three years as commissioner.
Barry Bonds will never be a hero to anyone who believes in the integrity of the game of baseball. He denies any use of substances or steroids, but he can’t explain his physical changes satisfactorily for anyone on the planet except for crazed Giants fans. He can hit six million homeruns, but he’ll never be the homerun king in my book. Most true baseball fans will always have a raised eyebrow when his name in mentioned. He’s not a nice man—he’s rude, arrogant and self-absorbed. Not the kind of guy who should be applauded or voted into the Hall of Fame one day.
Michael Vick has taken Atlanta to a new low. The great talent is destroying himself because of his attitude and his apparent involvement in dog fighting. Talent cannot overcome a lack of character. While some would admire his natural abilities, they would have to question his ability to make wise decisions. Resting their future on Vick, the Atlanta Falcons may find their future is very restless.
Don’t forget the number of Cincinnati Bengals who have been arrested over the last few years. They’ve had enough guys arrested that they could be the founding members of the first NFL team in history located in a prison facility. Who knows—if this keeps up, we’ll have the Folsom Prison Felons playing on national TV on any given Sunday. All of this converging in such a short period of time is starting to make some of the isolated incidents of the past look like a chewing gum infraction at an elementary school in the 1950s.
Eric Dezenhall, author of Damage Control, says the NBA has a “hemorrhaging” crisis. He calls baseball’s steroid issue a “death-by-a-thousand-cuts loss of confidence.” Dezenhall writes, “Baseball and basketball have in common a character crisis when an organization or product is being questioned. It makes people wonder why they’re going to these games. It gets to the integrity of the game and gets to a business problem because people will stop coming.”
There’s the word, or maybe two words that say much the same. Character. Integrity. Why are these words lacking in our heroes and stars? It’s very simple. We aren’t teaching them in our homes, schools and public institutions. When you forsake moral absolutes and Judeo-Christian ethics, anything and everything is acceptable to someone somewhere.
We have issues in our culture because we are catering to people who have no character. We are giving them millions of dollars to entertain us, teach us and in some instances even lead our government and churches. Without character, are we really any different than animals? We’re in a crisis of character. Nothing will fix it until we get back to the Scriptures and see God’s unchanging standards for life. Anything less than that will lead to us making excuses, not making people take responsibility for their actions.
© 2007, Michael Catt
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.