Many years ago the English football commentator, the late Kenneth Wolstenholme, made a memorable statement. Following an outstanding - and probably unexpected - victory by Fife's finest... Raith Rovers FC ...he remarked, 'They'll be dancing in the streets of Raith tonight!' But clearly his knowledge of football outstripped his knowledge of Scottish geography as of course he was referring to my home town of Kirkcaldy.
SERIOUS OWN GOAL
But you may well have heard the name 'Raith Rovers' hitting the headlines a bit more recently... though sadly for all the wrong reasons. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Club signed a player, David Goodwillie, for good footballing reasons. But the problem was he'd been convicted of a serious sexual offence in a civil court some years previously, to which he had never admitted guilt. As a result, a virtual epidemic of moral rectitude broke out down Kirkcaldy way, as well as further afield. Directors, sponsors and other notables cut ties with the Club, who subsequently (and perhaps consequently) changed their mind and then, no doubt, tried to avoid having to pay the player... for NOT playing for them!
PUBLIC LEAGUE TABLE
Now, as a supporter, shareholder and having had the privilege of playing on their 'hallowed turf' (before the artificial pitch was laid) this whole affair troubled me greatly as I hate seeing the good name of the Club being so discredited, even though the damage was self-inflicted. But this whole misadventure also raises a number of other issues for me...
1) Like you I'd roundly condemn all forms of sexual assault, of which I've seen plenty at first hand in almost 20 years of social work. But aren't we also rather good at calling out the 'sins' of others whilst conveniently body-swerving some of our own? To be honest, I'd have to admit that I certainly am. After all, in pointing a finger at someone else, automatically we have another 3 pointing back at ourselves!
2) This particular event also got me wondering if there's a hierarchy, or 'league table' of 'sins' within public consciousness. If so, where would kicking a cat rank, for example? And if we were to have such a list, how would this compare to God's list? This is an important issue as it seems that although some behaviours would always be considered 'wrong', certain forms of human conduct can be widely accepted by one generation, only to be roundly condemned by another... and vice versa.
3) If the player in question had admitted guilt in this particular case perhaps a more forgiving and rehabilitative approach might have been adopted. Yes, we can all be good at occupying the high moral ground from time to time, though the moral compass of public opinion seems subject to such radical fluctuations these days. How we need, in my opinion, to return to the unchanging and unchangeable truths, values and principles of God's Word, the Bible.
THE CRUNCHING CHALLENGE
Yes, the good name and hard-earned reputation of Raith Rovers FC have been severely tarnished of late, but hopefully not beyond at least some form of redemptive restoration. Of course when it comes to the crunch, the challenge for all true supporters should be to stick by the Club, especially at times of adversity such as this. And just as followers of Jesus know Him to be the 'God of the second chance' let's hope that now having rejected (albeit rather belatedly) the services of the player in question, good old Raith Rovers will receive some welcome, and much needed goodwill, in exchange for Goodwillie!