The High Cost of Moral Shortcuts

The High Cost of Moral Shortcuts

Pittsburgh Pirate’s dynamic All-Star outfielder Starling Marte was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance (PED).

With his suspension effective immediately, Marte is eligible to return to play shortly after the All-Star break; however, due to recent rule changes, he wouldn’t be available for the postseason should the Pirates qualify.

Marte, a winner of two Gold Gloves, is arguably the Pirate organization’s most valuable player. His absence yields a significant statistical loss in on-field production due to haphazard off-field choices.

Steroids in sports are nothing new—only the names change. Though deterrents exist, it would be naive to think players won’t take off-field risks given the significant opportunity to reap on-field rewards.

But, lest we sloppily embrace the spirit of the sports-machine age, let’s remind ourselves: that doesn’t make it ok.

Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo weighed in on Marte’s suspension, asking,

"Is it a big risk if you're suspended 80 games when you have a guaranteed contract? You take that risk to get the reward. It's the question you ask. For some guys it is a big risk; for others you get away with it and get a big deal...It's part of the game and in my opinion we need to drug test a lot more."

If, from a player’s perspective, PED usage is simply an understood part of the game to stay at the same competitive level as other PED users, is that such a terrible thing? After all, like other previously stigmatized behaviors, maybe it’s become more socially acceptable and part of the fabric of sports to such an extent that we should just accept it.

Let’s not give in to that kind of thinking. Instead, check yourself.

Scripture suggests that when it comes to questions of character and integrity—of right vs. wrong—there are no double-standards. It suggests that any areas of deception should be avoided at all costs as it inevitably leads down a road to destruction (Proverbs 4:25-27; Proverbs 11:3).

And no amount of money—no matter how lucrative—is worth forfeiting your integrity to attain (Proverbs 21:3; 28:6; 1 Peter 3:16).

It’s been said that “The greater the risk, the greater the reward,” and there are certainly plenty of examples where this idiom proves true.

But consider this counter-idea: There are some risks whose rewards simply cost too much (Proverbs 22:1).