The Jewish and cinematic musings of the Rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The Elul Challenge - Day 10 Say it ain't so...
The other day I posted on facebook a lamentation in response to the indictment of Roger Clemens. It was a lament not about how far Clemens has fallen, but instead how far the value of his rookie baseball card has fallen. A card I have held in my portfolio for years. It was a tongue-in-cheek sort of response, but mostly an admission of not sorrow, but apathy.
More and more athletes’ names are coming forward in connection to the steroid era in baseball. And more and more of Americans are responding by saying, “meh.” We are no longer surprised. In fact we not only expect it, but also assume that just many elite players from that era used to one degree or another. Clemens, Maguire, Pettite, A-Rod, Bonds, are just a few of the big fish to get caught or implicated in the snare of HGH and steroid use.
But I do wonder why we are not angrier about it? Part of the reason is because we enjoyed the game with the towering home runs and 100 mph fastballs. We laud performance on the field more than we do excellence in one’s personal life. Character matters, to a point. Yet for awhile, we were really angry and hurt because we assumed it was one or two individuals, not a generation.
But is it really fair to demand this of athletes, when given the chance, many of us may very well have made the same choices under the same circumstances. Clemens' name may be mud now, but he guided two organizations to World Series appearances, and has assured the financial future of his children, grand-children, and great grandchildren. This sort of temptation would be hard for anyone to give up.
Now I am certainly not excusing any unethical choices by any athletes. I am just wondering if, before we begin to hold others to higher standards, if we shouldn’t first look in the mirror and try to ascertain what standards we are holding ourselves to.
Elul reminds us not to spend time judging others. We cannot control their fate. The only thing we can occasionally control are ourselves. So what standard will you hold yourself to this coming year?
Rabbi Sharff is the Senior Rabbi for The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he discovered the acoustic and electric guitar while sitting in his dorm room one day. Rabbi Sharff graduated from the University of Texas and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Sharff is the rhythm guitarist for RTR's in House Band, and he also served as the editor for Howard Salmon's z"l Comic Book Siddur.