Let’s get a few things straight before I delve into what has become known as “Deflategate.” I’m a native Hoosier and Colts fan. I grew up idolizing Peyton Manning, referred to Tony Dungy as my hero in grade school assignments, and stayed up late on Sunday nights to watch countless playoff games. In a sense, I can relate to New England Patriots fans to a certain degree (I know, we don’t have as many Super Bowls as you guys, chill). It’s exciting to see your team consistently have a winning season. It’s even more exciting to get to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, once a team makes it as far as the Pats have in the last fifteen years, the doubters and haters become the speculators.
Judging by Facebook, a lot of my friends back home in Indiana are really pissed off that the Indianapolis Colts lost embarrassingly to the Pats 45-7 this past Sunday. Sure, the loss was disheartening, but what became even more disappointing were the allegations from ESPN that the New England Patriots had tampered with game balls, deflating them in the first half. Nothing could have sent the entire state of Indiana and any other part of the country that hates New England (there are a lot of places) over the edge than this accusation.
Before an investigation could even begin, everyone suddenly had an opinion about what should happen to the Pats. Should they lose draft picks? Should Belichick be fined? One USA Today writer declared that the Pats should be banned from the Super Bowl. The NFL promised to launch an investigation into Deflategate before making any final decisions.
In reality, the response to Deflategate has become a giant media spectacle that ESPN and other sports networks are sensationalizing to stimulate viewers’ attentions and obtain higher ratings. Belichick held a press conference Thursday claiming he had no knowledge of the deflated balls (snickers) until Monday morning when the report came out. The Boston Herald even ran a story with BC’s chair of the physics department (and The Rock’s faculty advisor), Professor Michael Naughton, weighing in on the possibility that cold temperatures could deflate footballs.
In the end, this doesn’t really matter. The refs would have noticed if footballs had been even slightly deflated during and promptly would have had them filled with air again. The deflated balls wouldn’t have even helped the Pats anyway, considering that once they were re-inflated at halftime the Pats would go on to outscore the Colts 28-0 and ultimately win the AFC Championship.
Plain and simple, Deflategate does not matter. The way the general public, fueled by the media’s response, has reacted is almost shameful to me. I’m pissed that deflated footballs are more of a controversy than child abuse or domestic violence. Where was all this outrage when Ray Rice beat the hell out of his wife on camera before dragging her into an elevator? Where was the call for Adrian Peterson to be banned from the game after giving his young son a “whooping?” Where were all my fellow Colts fans when backup linebacker Josh McNary was charged with rape prior to the AFC Championship? I’m angry.
It’s disappointing to see such a strong reaction about something as trivial as Deflategate when the NFL has seen loads of other serious controversies this past season and seasons prior to this regarding domestic violence, rape, and other crimes. Maybe Deflategate is just the public’s response to everything that has occurred in the NFL this year, like we’ve reached a boiling point, but that’s unlikely. Maybe it’s because deflated balls are easier to talk about than your favorite football player beating his wife or son. That’s more likely to be true.
Domestic violence shouldn’t be taken lightly, but unfortunately it is. It’s disappointing. It’s not right. Deflategate will be a good joke on SNL this week, and the Espy’s will probably recycle a joke along those same lines this summer. People will look back at this and either laugh, or hold it against the Patriots for quite some time. Sadly, it’s likely people will look back at the domestic violence and crime this season and lump it in with the other cases from seasons past. It all becomes a blur because players leave everything they’ve got on the field for the world to see, but what happens behind closed doors becomes none of our “business,” so we keep quiet and keep talking about deflated balls.