Friday, December 11, 2009

I Am Guilty

I’m Guilty
Those are the first words in a book written by National Basketball Association ex-referee Tim Donaghy. By his own admission Mr. Donaghy bet on NBA games and passed along inside information to others connected with the Gambino crime family to bet on games as well. In the commission of this crime he lost his integrity, his career, his family and his freedom.
As many of you know, I have done psychological work with the Milwaukkee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. I am very fond of the NBA and the entertainment it provides young and old alike, all over the world.
Here I am attending a professional speakers convention in Key West and a good friend of mine, attending this convention, is in the Public Relations team handling the book launch of Tim Donaghy.
They had just filmed their segment in the popular CBS program “60 Minutes”.
And, best of all, she had copy of the manuscript of the book which you can now all buy in Amazon or bookstores all over the nation. During the day I was attending the convention and at night I was glued to her computer reading the manuscript. I couldn’t put it away for God’s sake.
In his new book Personal Foul the readers get an inside view of what it’s like to be an NBA referee and how easy it was for him to predict the outcome of games. I also was able to get a peek at the 60 Minutes interview, where he was asked the tough questions regarding his career, his insider views on the NBA, and how someone who had it all could fall so far.
Like most people who get caught in this kind of scandal, Donaghy can trace the path of his slippery slope and takes us with him along these small steps of self-destruction. That certainly does not excuse what he did, nor does he expect the reader to forgive him. We do, however come to understand why someone in his position can easily make the wrong choices and we get an insider’s view of the prison life and other consequences that resulted from those decisions.
The fact that Donaghy is a self-described gambling addict does not let him off the hook, nor should it. The fans that pay good money to sit in the stands, the TV and other media outlets that support the NBA, and the NBA itself have all been cheated when this kind of fraud occurs. Indeed this book makes us question everything about the culture of major league sports in general and what it is that we don’t know.
Life throws temptation at all of us. Just look at Tiger Woods’ current situation, but even more importantly look at your own. It is not only NBA referees making in excess of $250,000 per year, or multi-million dollar athletes that face challenges. It is also the politicians, lawyers, accountants, telephone repairmen, barbers, office workers and even your family members. Each of us wakes up to situations that can make or break our lives and the lives of those we love. Each day we choose how to spend our money, with whom to spend our time, what to put in our bodies, and most importantly we choose our attitudes. All of these have consequences on our lives and the lives of those around us. Many of us go through life less successfully than we could because our own poor choices get in the way.
Tim Donaghy is certainly a good example of this. But if there is any redemption in his situation it is an obvious acceptance of accountability. Personal Foul does not function as a plea for forgiveness or understanding; it is merely one man’s story of success and loss. Each of us has one. The difference is that this story has far-reaching consequences inside a beloved and respected American institution, the NBA. Most of our stories are not that far-reaching, but on the other hand it is important for each of us to understand that we never know whose life we are going to intersect with and how each choice we make may have an impact on the world or in our future.
It is up to us to show leadership in our lives and first of all to try to prevent us falling into this kind of trap and if we ever do fall in it, to have the courage that Tim Donagy had of accepting his mistakes, paying the price and moving forward to re establish the character of the kind of man he chooses to be.