The Culture of Cheating

By Alex Norman

When news broke this past week that the St. Louis Cardinals were being investigated by the feds for hacking into the emails of the Houston Astros, none of us should have been surprised.

When news broke in January that the New England Patriots were been investigated for deflating footballs, none of us should have been surprised.

When new broke in May that FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, was having seemingly all of its big wigs arrested for corruption (except President Sepp Blatter, who says he is stepping down), none of us should have been surprised.

And when news broke that Texas was performing its own investigation into academic improprieties for the basketball program during the time new Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes was the coach of the Longhorns, none of us should have been surprised.

Barnes has been given a clean bill of health in this case by both Texas and Tennessee, but that’s not the point I’m making here.

At local, national and international levels, the golden rule in sports is simply this…

If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.

It has been this way forever, and it will be this way forever.  Like Brent Musburger said in the great 30 for 30 documentary “Pony Excess,” “Every time I walk into a stadium on a Saturday afternoon, they’re still keeping score.  And as long as they do that, everybody is gonna try to get the athlete who can put more points on the board than the other guy.”

In that case, the cheating involved the SMU football program in the 1980s, which was such a cesspool that the NCAA gave them the “Death Penalty,” and the program has never been the same.

Look at Florida State.  That football program is back among the elite in the sport, thanks in large part to an administration, a campus police force and Tallahassee law enforcement that looks the other way when their players break the law for a variety of offenses.  They are like a pro wrestling referee that somehow doesn’t see the bad guy pull brass knuckles out of his trunks.

Or look at North Carolina, a school that has athletes earning degrees thanks to a decade’s long system of academic shadiness.

In the pros, remember how the Atlanta Braves got their new stadium, right?   $392 million is coming from Cobb County, GA, despite the fact that the public never got a fair shot to express if this is the best way to use their tax dollars.  The County Commission has an open meeting, allowed only 12 people to speak, then made sure those 12 people were the ones in favor of the stadium.

They stacked the deck and made sure the aces weren’t dealt to the other guys.

Back to the international sports scene… does anyone want the Olympics anymore?  Folks in Boston are so adamant about their city NOT hosting the Summer Games in 2024 that at boston.com, a poll was summoned and people were asked whether they wanted the Olympics or a real Jurassic Park.  The dinosaurs won in a landslide.

If Boston wins the Olympics, there will be decades of debt for Bostonians because of an event most of them don’t want.

And the athletes themselves? In all sports many use performance enhancing drugs to give them an advantage over the other guys.

I could go on and on but frankly I don’t have the time.

A couple of weeks ago in this space I wrote an article about the unfair way that youth sports leagues operate.  But maybe that is the best way for my children to learn about sports.  For all their positive qualities (exercise, teamwork, etc), there are people willing to sell a bit of their soul to give themselves every possible advantage.It doesn’t make it right if it is your team either.  Cheating is cheating and sadly, for every person that gets caught, there more many more that skate off without any discipline.

Cheating in sports… same as it ever was…

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