This is the script of this morning's Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

Call me biased, but this season has to be the best for football fans everywhere. I lived in Leicester for nine years in the 1990s, so am really pleased to see the Premier League tables looking a little bit upside-down. And I say that as a convinced Kloppite.

There is no shortage of aphorisms about sport in general and football in particular. But, and I feel this might be almost blasphemous, Bill Shankly was wrong when he claimed that football was more important than matters of life and death. Of course, in his day sport wasn't quite the big business it is today.

And perhaps that is where the challenge lies.

In the last few months we have seen a crisis in world athletics over doping. The high-earning tennis player Maria Sharapova has had to step back and has now lost a number of lucrative sponsorship deals. And now we see allegations – albeit strongly denied – about further doping in major sports, including Premiership football.

It seems to me that there are two problems here. The doping is one thing, but the real issue is the duping. I don't think anyone would disagree with the notion that to win by cheating – whatever form that cheating takes – is always a failure. Yet, the real problem is not what the Bible calls “the prospering of the wicked”, but, rather, the wickedness of those who prosper. It is the duping rather than the doping that causes the ultimate offence.

We teach our children not to lie or deceive – as moral goods in themselves – and that is surely right. But, then we and they end up watching their role models, particularly on the football pitch, diving and dying on the grass. So, we should surely be more concerned about character and integrity than lost sponsorship deals, and see sportsmen and women more embarrassed about shame than about illicit points gained or deals lost.

Now, I realise that there are other dimensions to this whole business. Sport is never simply about winning or losing. And I have a certain sympathy for those who take allowable drugs one day, only to find that what was legal then is now deemed illicit today. Again, if the moral complaint has to do only with inequity on the part of those competing, then what do we do about those imbalances and unfairnesses inherent to sport anyway? For example, leaving drugs aside, those individuals or teams with the most money at their disposal will always have the best support and resourcing – the rich are inevitably advantaged over those who are more poorly funded.

Well, one American sportsman once said that “sports do not build character; they reveal it.” No surprise then that in theological circles character ethics are de rigeur these days. Sport might want to take a look at some very old ethics for a not-so-new world? Character matters more than charisma or a cabinet of medals.

I am about to depart for a break. The timing is terrible. The new Premier League season begins on 17 August, my fantasy league squad is ready, and… er… I won’t be here.

So, in order to distract me from Luis Suarez’s shameful behaviour at a club that has nurtured and defended him despite at least 18 games missed by ‘bad behaviour’ bans, here is a video I have only come across (courtesy of a friend in the USA) after everybody else.

I'm writing this before the QPR-Liverpool. Just in case all motivation has evaporated by the end of the game. I need Raheem Sterling to score a hatrick today, if my fantasy league team is to recover from its current despair.

Last night we watched the Julia Roberts film Eat, Pray, Love. Only because the film club thing sent it. Having watched over two hours of selfish psychobabble (how to find yourself by using other people), the DVD got stuck in the final scene – so, we still have no idea what great wisdom she articulated at the end of her search for herself. But, there were two good lines in it and I'll stick with them.

An at-the-end-of-her-tether Roberts decides to pray. Not being sure where or how to start, she suggests she might go with “I am a big fan of your work.” She could have chosen a worse opening line! She's actually summarised half the Psalmists with that line.

The second – and funnier – was when a bloke says to her: “When I look into your eyes I hear dolphins clapping…” Er… was that supposed to be romantic? I don't even know what it means. If you were a girl and a bloke said that to you, would you be flattered, swoony, seduced or what?

Mind you, I'm not sure what might be funnier. “When I look into your eyes I hear the Kop laughing at Everton…”? Or, “When I look into your eyes I hear cows fertilising the field…”? Or, “When I look into your eyes I hear Iron Maiden singing 'Only the good die young'…”? The mind boggles. However, I am open to alternatives.

I really should take lessons from the excellent blog of Stephen Cherry – this year's best find – and do something serious about looking ahead to the new year. Sitting here in the pub watching Liverpool beating QPR 2-0 (so far), my imagination isn't proving very fertile, but I'll venture the following quickies:

  • Liverpool to finish in the top six of the Premier League
  • Rowan Williams to enjoy his new post as Master of Magdalene, Cambridge, after a decade of ABC
  • Justin Welby to get a good start as ABC despite those who will either (a) chop his legs off while pleading 'mission', or (b) look for any weakness to exploit
  • West Yorkshire dioceses to have vision, courage and creativity when we vote for a creative and different future organisation in March
  • The safe arrival of a granddaughter in March
  • A useful visit to Sudan in January
  • Growing confidence in the churches
  • World peace and economic justice…

Oh, and Liverpool are now three up. I'm going while we're winning…