Alex Rodriguez, for better or worse, is the face of Major League Baseball right now. Targeted by the Commissioner’s office as the kingpin in the “new steroid era,” A-Rod will sit the entire 2014 season for his involvement with Biogenesis (an anti-aging outlet in South Florida). A-Rod vows to fight the suspension in federal court. Regardless of the outcome, his is a sad story filled with seemingly unending lessons.
Here are six.
1. When there is significant financial reward, the temptation to cheat is overwhelming for most people. Make no mistake, money comes first for most professional athletes. I have no problem with that. The problem is that those pursuing the money are not necessarily morally grounded, meaning they often see no problem with doing whatever they must to get more. If we’re honest, at our core, we’re no different. Let’s not throw stones, but learn from what our character looks like on steroids and in public.
2. Those who live to be liked are their own worst enemies. I’ve never met Alex Rodriguez, but I think he, like many others, may struggle with this. When the cameras are on him in “candid” moments, he struggles to appear likable and as “one of the guys.” In fact, his facial expressions seem forced and awkward, some would say disingenuous. My point here isn’t to criticize. As they say, it takes one to know one. The point is only that a quest to be liked never ends. A quest to find your value in the opinions of others is a lifelong exercise in futility. You’ll never find it outside of Jesus.
3. It’s easy to convince yourself something isn’t wrong if you tell yourself enough that it’s OK. At some point, it’s hard to distinguish between lies and truth, right and wrong. Interestingly, A-Rod has done what many of us do when caught in a web we can’t untangle–play the victim. Once you’re a victim, you are no longer responsible for your actions or for what people have “done to you.” Once you’re the victim, right and wrong can be redefined. Once you’re the victim, the narrative you repeat in your mind becomes true, even if it isn’t.
4. Where are you standing alone in the wrong place? A-Rod has only the support of those he’s paying to support him. Even the players’ union has distanced itself from him. Sometimes, it’s noble and courageous to stand alone. Sometimes, it’s just stupid.
5. Sin gets you what you want…until it takes over. Let’s face it, no one is going to be taking A-Rod’s money from him. In that, he got what everyone wants. Maybe if he had stopped after signing that first huge contract with Texas. Maybe that would have been enough. But it’s never enough. That’s the thing about sin. Always a little farther. Always a little more. You’ll get what you want, for sure, and then it will take over your life and ruin you, even if no one knows, even if it you don’t face it until you die.
6. When there’s little chance of getting caught, human nature is a powerful force. Why would a star like A-Rod take performance-enhancers for most of his career? He didn’t think he would get caught. And, he didn’t, technically. He never failed a drug test. Let’s no throw stones, since all of us face this battle every day. What would you do if you knew there was little chance of getting caught? That’s where you find out who you really are.
Those are just six of the innumerable lessons from a case like this. What have I missed? Chime in on Twitter @BaseballPastor or leave a comment on the blog.