The New England Patriots are one of the most successful football dynasties of all time. They also face stiff sanctions
and league-wide condemnationfor their covert videotaping of an opponent's defensive signals during their game against the New York Jets last Sunday.
Is this akin to stealing signs in baseball--a somewhat accepted tradition of the national pastime? Or does the fact that technology is involved disrupt the integrity of the sport? I'm curious to see what other people think....
Outright cheating! Seems like an unfair advantage to me... Maybe they felt like they really needed some help this year...
Great question. I've been thinking about this on and off, especially when I heard the punishment of revoking draft picks from the Patriots that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, decided upon.
Picking up signs in baseball or softball is definitely fair game. I would go so far to say it is commendable. If you can pick up on a certain sequence that the third base coach is giving and can figure out what is planned to happen, that is smart ball. I think it is along the same lines of being able to pick up when a pitcher is tipping his pitches; being able to tap into the nuances of the game gives you an advantage and does so fairly.
I think it is the introduction of technology aiding one's ability to pick up on signals is where it crosses the line into cheating. Athletes no longer need to be able to sense what play is coming or be able to discern it from body language because electronic surveillance allows them to match up signals and play calls to immediate review of the plays.
Setting up a camera in center field that relays the catcher's pitch calls to the opposing team crosses the line. Catching something the catcher's signals is giving away while on second base... fair game.
I would rather watch an honest team play a fair game then watch coaches try to outwit each other.
Where is the fun in calling plays based on what you know the other team plans to do?
The expression on Bill Belichick's face says it all. He looks like a seven year old who has just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
I believe it was the 1955 Giants whose miracle run to the World Series was decades later found to have been aided by a telescope in the outfield that allowed them to know what pitches were coming. This was not admitted until over 40 years later hoping I suspect to avoid the anger of those they had cheated. I found it out by reading an article in the Wall Street Journal. The Giants went from a mediocre team to a bogus champion team.
The next question hanging over this is how long have the Patriots been doing this as it could taint their past accomplishments. Not surprisingly Belichick didn't want to answer any questions at all concerning cheating.
As a lifelong Patriots fan, yes, this incident is embarrassing. I'd like to dope-slap Belichick and say, "Dude! What were you thinking?!" But I've been interested by virtually every response I've seen from an NFL player; they all say, to a man, that such gamesmanship
and yes, that's what it isdoesn't influence the game. Even the sainted LT, star of Active's hometown San Diego Chargers, laughed it off.
There are two issues here. One, is it fair? And two, will it matter? The answer to the first is quite clearly no. It's not fair. But anyone who thought modern American sports was about fair play also believes in the Easter Bunny. Sadly, the United States today is about winning at all costs
and nothing is more American than the NFL. Sad but true. The second answerwill it matter--is a direct outgrowth of that fact: No, it won't matter. Once this weekend's slate of NFL games is finished, media coverage will move on to the next news cycle and this incident will become a footnote. Does that make it right? No, of course not. "Might may not make what's right," wrote Edward Abbey. "But it makes what is." Societal mores may not make what's right, but they make what is...and what is is that trying to gain any and all advantages is just part of the game, circa 2007.
With all that said: GO PATRIOTS!
To be honest, I don't have a problem with what Belichick did.
Baseball teams have been videotaping the pitchers they are about to face for a few years now, using technology to prep their batters. Baseball organizations actually employ people to videotape the opposing pitchers, organize the clips, and upload them onto player's ipods. On the plane to the away games the batters study the pitcher's arsenal repeatedly, and often do so right up until they enter the dugout. They are definitely using technology to be prepared for the team they are about to face, and I don't see how what Belichick did is very different.
If he would have broken into the other team's front office Watergate-style and physically stolen the playbook I would be singing a completely different tune. I don't blame him for using technology as an aid, followed by a lot of manual work of matching up signals to plays, to be prepared as a coach.
Belichick's punishment: $500,000 fine, loss of a first-round draft pick in '08, $250,000 fine for the Patriots but no suspension. Is that a fair punishment?
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune today, John Madden said this kind of stuff has been going on since he was coaching in the '70's.
We'd play the Chargers and every helicopter that went overhead during practice, everyone would stop and say, 'There's Sid (Gillman).' We all did a little of it and we sure as hell were paranoid of the other guys.
I think anyone who thinks it's just the Pats doing this is naive. It took an ex-Patriot coach (Mangini...who has reason to think Belichick is a jerk based on the way he treated Mangini last year) to expose the scheme. I'm sure there will be a lot less cameramen on the sidelines league-wide on Sunday.
There is a big difference between watching game film of a team in any sport to prepare youtself and videoing the bench to pick of signs. I'm not really sure how effective what they did was but it wasn't smart.
Michael S. Taylor
Cheating. Unfortunately, I bet if you asked any NFL coach if they cheated slightly or bent the rules a bit they would say yes though. If they didn't...they'd fall behind cause everyone else is doing it.