Everybody Cheats

Cheating is a central facet of sports.  Your team cheats, your rival cheats, the team you think is the greatest of all time cheated.

Cheating and sports go together like banana and chocolate.

The pertinent question though is, do you care? Is your enjoyment of sports tied to an ideal of fair competition and honest sportsmanship? If it is and you still love sports, you’re burying your head in the sand.

Let’s look at some historic teams…

The John Wooden UCLA Bruins. One of the, if not the most dominant dynasties of all time. A shadowy figure named Sam Gilbert was the bag man for the Bruins. Whether or not you believe that John Wooden had no knowledge of what Gilbert was up to or didn’t want to know is irrelevant. There is no real disagreement about what he did.  Do you care? Does this ruin the Wooden legacy for you? Or are these just college rules that are stupid to begin with and players should get paid anyways?

Jim Boeheim got nailed last year, Jim Calhoun had his issues, John Calipari, well I doubt I need to elaborate on his doings.

How about College football? Surely Notre Dame, that hallowed institution, does things differently? Ehhh, not so much. We can do one of these for every team. My favorite team is Alabama, who have had a long history of excellence and cheating.

But that’s college athletics, everyone knows that’s a wild west atmosphere of corruption and silly rules and unpaid labor and handlers exploiting kids and coaches desperate to win and keep million dollar jobs. Surely in the professional ranks, where there is no pretense of amateurism, these issues don’t exist. Uhh, guess again. The best team of the last 15 years has an incredible record of various types of cheating.

In Baseball, cheating is an ingrained part of the sport as much as “Unwritten Rules” are. Pine tar, corked bats, vaseline, scuffed balls, amphetamines, PEDs, etc. Baseball even has the ignominious distinction of a team throwing a World Series. The Cardinal Way now includes hacking another team’s database.

Does it matter?

Barry Bonds was the best before he cheated, was the best after he cheated. Same for Clemens. If the guy across from you cheats, are you going to take the high road when millions of dollars are at stake?

The sport of cycling is basically built on cheating. It turns out it’s impossible to ride a bike really fast for 100‘s of miles up and down hills without using PED’s.

Track and Field is riddled with doping scandals, as are many other Olympic sports.

I haven’t even mentioned soccer, mostly because I don’t know that much about it but I do know that FIFA is considered to be the most corrupt sporting organization in the world.

Marathoners have snuck into the race at the end and acted like they were racing the whole time.

People even pretended to be handicapped to win in the Special Olympics.

The sport of Boxing is basically synonymous with shady dealings and fixed fights.

In Tennis, they start early.

Cheating is as old as sports are, I’m sure they were cheating at the first Olympics in Greece.

This list doesn’t even include corruption inside a sport independent of teams or players. How many times has an official been slipped some money to shade calls one way or another? How many Donaghys are out there?

Why should sports be any different? They cheat on Wall Street, they cheat at Enron, they cheat in Government, they cheat in Banking.

Anywhere there is money to be made there will be people and institutions willing to cheat to get it.  Sports are in a way just a reflection of societal values, they don’t stand apart from them.

Cheaters win, and win big.