Who’s to Blame for Cheating in Sports?
Growing up as a kid who played sports year round, I never had a chance to stop for a second and really consider how big sports really was. I was just a boy having a ball (pun definitely intended). But as I continued to grow older, I began seeing less "sport" and started seeing more "$port."
There is no telling how much money has been invested in football, at any level, during the past X number of years, but my only question is why? Why has something that was meant to be so pure in spirit turned into a multi-billion dollar company? The easy and most common answer is "greed" or maybe even, "It's all about the almighty dollar."
Remember, effects cannot exist without an equal number of causes. So then if greed is the cause, then essentially something had to cause greed to exist. So what's the cause of greed? What causes football to be ‘all about the almighty dollar’?
I believe at the most basic level, it begins with survival of the fittest: natural selection. If you aren't getting better, then you need to be replaced or eradicated. Football is a violent sport, but within all of the violence (I say that like it’s a slasher film or a new ‘Saw’ movie), our basic instincts can’t be contained. We all have this desire to win, no matter the cost. And here is where one of my favorite sayings comes in to play: “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying; if you get caught cheating, you ain’t trying hard enough.”
Now of course, I do not condone the act of cheating in any way, shape, form, or fashion, but that simple little sentence does reach all of us in one way or another. Let’s all face it, sport is about winning. Like Herm Edwards so famously put it, “You play to win the game.” Winning is a need, it’s no different than hunger or breathing. If you didn’t “win” thousands of years ago, you were probably going to end up being a tasty meal for a bear or some other predator (who, in fact, would have been the winner). Winning isn’t natural, but the need to win is only natural in all of us.
Now, with that being said, has football gotten completely out of control? Many people believe it has. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who legitimately believes cheating isn’t an issue in every sport. Last week, a story broke about how five collegiate football players were given impermissible benefits, including former Tide offensive lineman D.J. Fluker.
For the record, I don’t consider impermissible benefits as “cheating,” but it is definitely not fair to every other athlete who doesn’t receive them. Johnny Football, Reggie Bush, and Cam Newton are ones who were also connected in some way to impermissible benefits, but none of these accusations or rulings was “cheating”. And it’s at this point where things get sad - quick, fast, and in a hurry. These previously named players are/were kids during their collegiate playing days. They didn’t type in some cheat code to win the Heisman Trophy or become an All-American. They won it by being physically better than anyone else in the country. It was the powers that be that decided to bribe them, or allegedly bribe them, so that they could reach their own personal agenda: winning at all costs.
The powers that be, mind you, are adults who spend 18+ years explaining to their children that cheating is wrong and will not be tolerated. But when push comes to shove, they won’t hesitate to auction off the next great athlete if it means they can keep their jobs for a little bit longer.
I unfortunately don’t have the space to rant about the “real” cheating in sports - performance enhancing drugs - but maybe, just maybe, it really is about keeping up with the Jones’s. If player A, B, and C are doing it and not getting caught, you better believe I’m going to do it too because I know what will happen to me if I don’t win. Well, I won’t get mauled by a wild tiger or anything, but I think you get the picture. If not, then see Lance Armstrong. I have a strange feeling he can explain it a little better than I ever could