Scandals in sports are about as unexpected as scandals in politics, right? But how often do the skies open and send us a scandal as entertaining as Deflategate? The ball jokes alone are enough to send those of us who have the maturity of a 12-year-old boy into giggles. While we may think that the NFL has a monopoly on bumbling incompetence in the form of Roger Goodell, who likes to hand out punishments that have no actual link to the severity of the crime committed, it turns out that Goodell is just following in the footsteps of his international compatriots. The NFL is no more corrupt than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee. Strong words, but true. Even though Tom Brady will be suspended for twice as long as Ray Rice, a man caught on video beating his then-girlfriend-now-wife, Goodell and co. at the NFL are only engaging in the time-honored tradition of citing to rules that they make difficult for others to find (seriously, stop by NFL.com and try to find the rule book from which the Patriots violated the game; for bonus points, find the exact rule that was violated), and hiding behind the notion that while players may do egregious things off the field, the true crime is doing anything to ruin the sanctity and integrity of the game on the field. The Patriots, while certainly not saints in anyone’s imagination, are being punished because they’ve ruined the game on the field, instead of keeping their misbehaviors off the field like everyone else.
If you’d like to learn more about the wild world of Sports Law, take a look at our research guide on the Olympics and International Sports Law as well as our guide on U.S. Sports Law. Books like Fair Play: The Ethics of Sport are in their 4th edition for a reason.
Of course, it all boils down to one simple thought at the end of the day: if the Patriots hadn’t engaged in shady behavior, none of this would be happening. Enjoy the schadenfreude until it’s your team in the spotlight. *cough* Washington D.C. Professional Football Organization *cough*