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In a very short time, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has become the new poster boy for poor sportsmanship in American professional sports. The National Basketball Association has repeatedly assessed him six-figure fines for his courtside actions, the latest coming during the NBA finals with the Miami Heat. Cuban was recently cited for "several acts of misconduct" that occurred during Dallas’s 101-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat. He screams at officials, uses profanity in press conferences, and in general is known for his explosive fan behaviour as much as for his ownership of the team.

Since buying the team in 2000, Cuban has earned a business reputation as a turnaround specialist, taking a team in the doldrums and positioning it to double its revenues to $100 million in the past year. Meanwhile, his recent fine is his tenth in the 6 ½ years he’s owned the team and brings his total fines to about $1.5 million. He claims to have matched this fine total with similar donations to charities.

The question is, is Mark Cuban another example of what’s wrong with professional sports—too much greed, too many prima donna personalities, too much unsportsmanlike conduct? Or is he an otherwise nice guy who has shrewdly positioned his fan behaviour as part of a larger marketing scheme to put the Dallas Mavericks on the map? If that’s so it seems to be working. A million and one-half dollar fine doesn’t mean much in financial terms if it’s just one of the costs of running a business grossing one hundred million dollars.

But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt that he might be a decent person in his “other life” out of the arena, and even if we bought the idea that his antics are a part of some marketing scheme, his fan behaviour is a form of leadership pointing in the wrong direction. Unsportsmanlike conduct, cheating, drug abuse, and even violence are increasingly defining sports culture in America and globally. One more example of a person who misuses and abuses his notoriety and position is not something American sports culture needs. A “Bobby Knight” in the owner’s box isn’t very appealing.

While the Dallas Mavericks are winning, people will tolerate Cuban’s bad example. Some will even point to it as a supposedly necessary part of their winning organizational formula. But sometime, as it comes to all teams, the Dallas Mavericks will lose again, and when that happens people will not likely celebrate a choleric, fickle owner. His actions won’t be amusing. They’ll be annoying.

Cuban could learn to evidence passion and enthusiasm for the game and his team in a way that models sportsmanship for young players on his team and even younger players and fans across America alike. He could yell for his team, not against the other team or the referees. He could promote wearing team colors. He could literally wave their logo flag or dance with their mascot. He could compliment the opposing team, coaches, and owner during press conferences. He could do silly fan-atical things that otherwise do not illustrate negative attitudes, language, and actions.

He could do all this and more in a positive way and be even more effective in marketing his team than he has been as a shrewd businessman and poor fan. If he did these things, others in professional, intercollegiate, and interscholastic sports would respect him. Now they just think he’s a flash in the pan like other misbehaving sports figures have been in the past.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident this week was serious and unfortunate. The youngest quarterback ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory required fairly extensive facial surgery, and I wish him the very best toward a quick and full recovery.

Whether or not Ben’s head injuries could have been avoided if he had worn a helmet cannot be definitively answered. But we can speak from patterns and experience. Helmets are required in 20 states and the District of Columbia. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that have repealed such laws have counted significant increases in injuries, deaths, and medical costs. The same organization tells us that the fatality rate per million miles traveled by automobile is 1.23. For motorcycles its 38.93. Motorcyclists are always at greater exposure and greater risk.

On June 7, 2006, the Michigan State Legislature repealed Michigan’s 37 year old mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Only a veto from Governor Jennifer Granholm will stop the newly endorsed bill from becoming law. The old law required a helmet for all riders whereas the new law would allow those over 21 years to make a choice.

A 2004 study by the Michigan State Police contends a repeal of the current law would result in 22 additional fatalities next year, along with 742 additional injuries and $140 million in added economic costs to Michigan citizens.

I’m both a political conservative and a parent of two sons who ride motorcycles. The conservative in me is sensitive to arguments that government should not function as “Big Brother,” telling adults what they must wear when they ride motorcycles. But the father in me doesn’t buy it. The “Big Brother” argument could be applied to virtually every traffic law on the books, but we maintain them because our collective need for public safety outweighs our concern for minimal intervention in individual rights to do whatever one chooses.

To me the motorcycle helmet law simply makes common sense. I must part company with some of my conservative friends and say that I hope the Governor vetoes the Michigan State Legislature’s bill.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

It was good to see that a federal judge in California rejected atheist Michael Newdow’s lawsuit contending that the words, “In God We Trust.” on American coins constituted a violation of his First Amendment rights. Newdow is a Sacramento doctor, but he’s become something of a professional anti-God slogan complainant. He’s also involved in an ongoing effort to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools because it contains the phrase, “Under God.”

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr. based his ruling on the fact that “In God We Trust” has been recognized as a kind of national motto, not a governmental promotion of religion.

Despite what atheists and secularists would have you believe, the Founding Fathers never intended for American life to be sanitized of all religious expression. Their main concern was that religion not be allowed to control government and that government not establish religion. They wanted freedom of religion and liberty of conscience, which Dr. Newdow enjoys as a citizen of this free country. He is free not to believe as I am free to believe.

Some 98% of the American population consistently says they believe in God. So atheists are indeed a small minority. Praise God for this, and let’s pray it remains that way. In God we trust.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

For children, and for that matter, for teenagers, the Internet is not a harmless toy. In fact, like many other features of modern life, people need to exercise a degree of spiritual discernment and maturity when the access the Net. Since all children, most teenagers, and many adults do not possess the requisite maturity, the Internet can become a pathway to trouble.

Gambling is the number one cash transfer business on the Internet, out-pacing pornography by about two and one-half to one. Both gambling and pornography can seduce people to ever higher levels of involvement to the point of addiction and to the point of emotional, financial, and other forms of harm.

Young people are particularly susceptible to new youth websites like or Not that there is anything especially wrong with these sites in themselves. But young people often naively post personal details that attract pedophiles, perverts, and pornographers.

Sometimes the danger is a relational one. This week, a 16 year old Saginaw, Michigan girl lied to her Mother about why she needed a passport, then ran away from home, caught a flight to the Middle East, and finally was detained in Amman, Jordan. She was on her way to meet a 25 year old man she met through her account. Thanks to U.S. government customs officials, she is apparently well and will be returned to her home in the States.

Young people have posted nude pictures of their friends, not realizing they could be committing a crime. Youth have been accosted by sexual deviants because of what the adult learned from the teen’s website. Students at a Michigan high school posted party pictures of friends involved in underage drinking and were later suspended from high school and barred from attending the senior prom.

Unfortunately, we are probably going to hear more of this. Access to the Internet is too extensive and too easy to think otherwise. At the very least if we are responsible for young people we need to warn them about the danger of unfettered expression on the Internet. We should not teach them to “live scared,” but we do need to make our youth aware of the evil that lurks within and around any human endeavor. Learning this and learning to identify it when they see it is one step toward maturity.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

I’ve written before about the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas and Pastor Fred Phelps. But I must write again. Why? Because I do not want to be associated in any way with Pastor Fred Phelps’s followers’ demonstrations outside the funerals of American soldiers who have died in their country’s service. I’m concerned that some people will think everyone who claims to be a Christian, everyone who believes the Bible, or everyone who happens to be a Baptist is in some way in agreement with Pastor Phelps’s warped theology and hate-mongering proclamations. Not so.

Phelps believes that each soldier’s death is a result of God’s judgment upon America for the fact that some Americans choose homosexuality. His followers travel the country to hold up protest signs with messages like “God Is Your Enemy,” “God Hates the U.S.A.,” “God Hates Fags,” “God Hates Fag Enablers,” “God Hates Your Tears,” or “Thank God for IEDs.” Needless to say, a lot of people consider this behavior a “10” on an Offensiveness Scale of 1 to 10. Some 31state legislatures have considered bills banning such protests and the United States Congress recently passed a bill restricting such demonstrations at national cemeteries. President Bush signed this bill into law on Memorial Day, 2006. Now the father of a Maryland Marine, Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder who died in Iraq, has filed an invasion of privacy suit against the church demonstrators.

Homosexuality is addressed in several passages of the Bible, and God does make it clear that he does not condone this form of human sexual expression. God also makes it clear that he is a loving, forgiving God of grace and that his ways are not our ways. So even if we believed God is not in the forgiveness business, we are still not able to look about us and say, “Lo, the Lord is doing this,” or “Lo, the Lord is doing that.” We don’t know the omniscient mind of God.

I do not know Pastor Phelps’s heart, but I assume he does indeed trust Christ for the forgiveness of his own sin. Assuming this is true, I will be in heaven with him some day. This thought does not repel me, because God has forgiven me of sins too. Nowhere in Scripture can you find a passage that allows us to say another person’s sin is worse than our own and that they therefore deserve some special condemnation. Certainly you cannot find Scripture that preaches hate.

Beyond this, even if you set aside questions about the pastor’s theology, your sensibilities and proprieties will still likely be shocked at the lack of respect Pastor Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist Church evidence toward the grieving family and friends of fallen soldiers. There are many other places Phelps’s deluded followers could demonstrate their views. The fact that they choose soldiers’ funerals smacks more of media savvy and sensationalism than any real sense that American military efforts are somehow responsible for the state of sexual morality in the United States.

I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. For most of my life until only the past few years I have worshipped in Baptist churches. I believe homosexuality is a sin. But I do not believe God is a God of hate. I do not think American soldiers or for that matter the War on Terrorism or the War in Iraq are direct judgments of God upon America because homosexuality exists in this country. I don’t want to be associated with unbiblical hate or demagoguery, and that is what Pastor Phelps’s work represents. He is another form of David Koresh or Jim Jones, blindly leading his people into religious extremism, all in the name of God. I am sorry for this, and I am sorry for his people. I pray God’s Spirit will work within him to lead him to a new understanding of the truth of his Word.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Bill Cosby has been pulling no punches about what he considers poor choices and lack of personal responsibility among low income Black individuals. As commentator Clarence Page says, Cosby’s choice of words is harsh (“We’ve got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English…In neighborhoods that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on…These people are fighting hard to be ignorant.”), he doesn’t have all the answers, and he doesn’t have all the facts. But Cosby is at least speaking up.

Cosby is right in at least one thing—destructive forces working against Black families and Black self-reliance are as much about each individual’s values and choices as they are about community opposition, politics, or racism. The same can be said for destructive forces among Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and any other hyphenated American.

The point is not to claim naively that racism doesn’t exist or to heap all the blame and burden upon the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. Clearly racism does exist, and clearly many individuals cannot make it on their own. They need help. There’s nothing wrong or inconsistent about exercising compassion even as one calls for more personal responsibility.

But the answer to turning around individuals and even entire communities is not found solely in government help programs, more money, or pointing fingers everywhere but at the individuals making the choices. People are born in to very bad situations. People are hurt by limited education, poverty, broken families, and a host of other social pathologies. All of these negative circumstances take a toll. But people are still responsible.

Black or White, Asian, Hispanic, or new immigrant—people are free agents. Their lives are determined by their values and the choices they make based upon those values. They can exercise their moral will, apply their talent, learn, work and contribute, and demonstrate basic values like honesty and reliability. Individuals who choose not to learn, who choose delinquency and crime, who choose sexual promiscuity, who choose anger and belligerence, who choose laziness, who choose amorality, always pay a price.

Cosby is right: Poor and disadvantaged Black Americans [and I would say any other racial or ethnic subgroup] need to work harder to construct their own future and hold themselves accountable to proven value choices. Clarence Page is correct: “Black America needs to look not for what’s right or what’s left but to what works in our drive to liberate those who have been left behind by the civil rights revolution.”

In other words, it’s not about race. It’s not about power, politics, or ideology. It’s about values. This is not a “conservative thing.” It’s a time-tested, religiously supported, common sense thing.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at