Why Integrity Matters…

I am a huge sports fan.  I especially love Big 12 Football.  In our corner of the world, the sports media outlets have only had one story to cover in the past 2 days.  The Sports Illustrated article called “The Dirty Game”  that details all kinds of underhanded activity going on in Stillwater.  I’ll have to admit that when I first read the article on Sport’s Illustrated’s website, I thought that OSU was in for some serious trouble.

Then I started hearing former players calling into the local radio station vehemently denying the allegations.  Which is pretty standard for stories such as this…

But on my lunch hour I heard Billy Bajema, who played tight end for OSU during the time period described in the article.  I don’t know Billy Bajema personally, but several of my friends do.  One of them used to be his youth pastor.  He came and spoke at my Alma Mater’s chapel this past year. (Southern Nazarene University)  He is known to be a Christian man of integrity.

So when he went on the radio and completely denied that any players were receiving money after games or that boosters were allowed in the locker room, my ears perked up.  Then I started to hear the radio hosts say things like this:

When Billy Bajema says that these things didn’t happen, I believe him.  I covered the team for his tenure there and he is a stand up guy.  He is a man of integrity.

I heard at least two different radio show hosts say something like this.

And then I started to look at the other side of the story.  One of the writers involved in the story has a history of writing articles that are more fiction than fact.  Another way of saying it is he makes up stories.  When I was a boy, my mom called that lying.  His name is Thayer Evans.  Until yesterday I didn’t know who he was, but since he was trending on twitter I looked him up.

Apparently, Mr. Evans did a similar piece on my beloved Texas Longhorns on the recruitment of Jamarcus McFarland.  Unfortunately, he hadn’t verified his facts.  He later wrote a retraction, although the folks in Austin felt like the retraction was a bit of a joke.  He also went after Cam Newton and even tried to convince others not to vote for him for the Heisman.  In short, Thayer Evans has a history of writing stories based more on speculation than truth.

It didn’t take long of me scrolling through the twittersphere to realize that there are a great number of journalists who consider Thayer Evans to be less than credible.  His reputation precedes him…

Not to mention the fact that the folks that SI spoke to all tended to be guys who did not make it in the program.  They were guys who had an axe to grind.

Now I am not suggesting that the team at Stillwater is a bunch of choir boys who would never do anything wrong.  I am not that naive.  I also know that a person like Billy Bajema could be lying.  We have seen even the most well-respected church leaders fall from grace right in front of our eyes.

But I think there is something to be learned from all this mess.

How you live today matters…

Your reputation proceeds you.  If you live your life as a person of character, when someone calls your integrity into question, you will be vindicated.  Eventually the truth will come out.  When God tells his people not to lie, it isn’t because God is some sort of killjoy trying to ruin everyone’s fun.  It’s because lying destroys trust, which in turn destroys relationships.

It can even destroy football programs…

Just a thought,

n8

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