by David Sisler

"Tampa's reputation tainted," the headline read, warning ball players and sports fans about the seamier side of the site of Super Bowl XXXV.

In a non-related piece (honest!), Vernon Johnson, writing to The Augusta Chronicle, said of Bill Clinton, "The vicious right-wing conspiracy (yes, it is real still quoting here) tried its best to drive him from office. He was set up and framed at every turn."

Fred Goodall, in an Associated Press piece, wrote, "It's not hard to find trouble in Tampa. Ask Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Lawrence Taylor or Denny McLain."

Darryl Strawberry, former outfielder for the Mets and the Yankees, was charged with soliciting a prostitute, and with cocaine possession in Tampa.

Base brawlers Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield, were arrested after scuffling with Tampa police.

Dexter Manley, tested positive for drugs for the fourth time (while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and received his second lifetime ban from the NFL.

Denny McLain, former Cy Young award winner, and the last major league pitcher to win more than 30 games in a single season, was convicted on charges of racketeering, and possessing and distributing cocaine, in Tampa.

Lawrence Taylor, pro-football Hall of Fame linebacker, in Tampa to play in a charity golf event, was arrested on charges of purchasing and possessing crack cocaine.

Tampa seems to offer many ways to get into trouble, at least if you have enough money (and lack common sense). Of course, it is unfair to pick only on pro-athletes. Lots of people get into trouble in Tampa, and some have never even seen a professional sporting event. But when you make big money and big headlines playing games, you can or should expect close scrutiny, and headlines, when you make trouble for yourself by breaking the law.

Back in the headlines, Ted Donato and Tyler Bouck, two players for the Dallas Stars, were arrested and charged with violating Tampa's ban on lap dances.

I do not know if they have done so, but Donato and Bouck should hire a sharp lawyer and plead entrapment to beat this charge of body checking. Sure they were in one of Tampa's seedy strip joints (maybe I should just say "strip joint" because to identify one as "seedy" may imply that others are "upstanding"). And upstanding, or the lack of it, is what got the Stars stars into trouble. Tampa has a six foot rule for customers and performers in strip clubs (hence the expression, "I wouldn't touch her with a six foot pole"). Lap dancing definitely violates that rule. But I digress from the hockey stars' legal defense.

If those women had not been in that club naked (actually, in the words of the late humorist Lewis Grizzard, they were "nehked" the difference, he explained, is if you are naked you have no clothes on; if you are nehked you have no clothes on and you are up to something) the Stars would not have invited the dancers to sit nehked on their laps. So that is entrapment. You can't blame the poor boys.

And to return to Vernon Johnson's defense of Bill Clinton, if the ladies Flowers, Jones, Broadderick, Willey, Lewinsky, et al, had not been in close proximity to him, the former president would not have groped, fondled, and otherwise not had sex with them while trying to stay legal and lie at the same time. It is their fault, doggone it!

All sarcasm aside now, Bill was entrapped. But not in the way Mr. Johnson meant it.

So was I.

And so were you.

Everyone of us who ever broke a law, man's or God's, was similarly entrapped.

"Every man is tempted," James wrote, "when he is led away by his own lust and entrapped" (1:14).

James H. Peterson translates, "The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flame of our own lust."

When Lucy Pevensie, otherwise known to readers of The Chronicles of Narnia as Queen Lucy the Valiant, made her second visit to Narnia, she remarked to Aslan, the lion who symbolizes Christ, "Aslan, you're bigger."

"That is because you're older, little one," he answered.

"Not because you are?"

"I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger."

Every time I break God's law, I do it because I want to do so deliberately and premeditatedly. But when I turn again to face the cross, I learn what Lucy did, the more I grow in Jesus, the bigger he becomes and the easier it is to exchanged my weakness for his strength.

That is the only way out of entrapment.


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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