Cheating Commonplace in Sports

Bobbie Thompson's shot heard round the world. Maradona's "Hand of God" goal in soccer's 1986 World Cup. The former East Germany's dominance of international swimming for years.

These are just a few well-known sports situations where cheating was either alleged or proven. It's no exaggeration to say that cheating in sports is an everyday occurrence, and in the U.S., it's as American as apple pie. Americans love to win, and while we tell ourselves that we'll do it fair and square (and most people do), there is more than enough evidence to suggest that we and our sports heroes are not above "loading the dice" to get an advantage.

And it's not just at the professional level. I'd wager that most of us who played sports growing up know of at least one instance of cheating — either by teammates, the opposing teams, or even ourselves. Cheaters never prosper, we are told growing up, but they often win.

Mark Bowden wrote about how much cheating there is in sports — and has been for years — in The New York Times on Sunday:

Americans have always tolerated, even enjoyed, a minor degree of cheating in sports at all levels. If winning is "the only thing," as the expression made famous by Vince Lombardi (the offensive coordinator for the Giants in that 1958 championship game) asserts, then playing strictly by the rules is, by definition, a lesser priority.

(Actually, the late author James Michener wrote in Sports in America that Lomardi always claimed he was misquoted. What he intended to say was that "Winning isn't everything. The will to win is the only thing.")

Do you agree? Is winning the only thing? And if you cheat a little to win, is that so bad? Or does cheating automatically spoil the moment, even if you're the only one who knows about it?

Bowden will be on the show today to talk about cheating in sports and why he believes it is so widespread.



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Professional sports is entertainment!
Do you complain when Harrison Ford uses a stunt-double instead of taking a punch? Is THAT cheating? No. Because you're still entertained.

Adults playing schoolyard games! For entertainment!

Bring back jousting!

Sent by Harold | 3:06 PM | 5-19-2008

The NFL issued a memo to all teams to stop video taping. that make me think that they are aware that this practice was common and not exclusive to the Patriots.

Sent by Jerry Piasentin | 3:52 PM | 5-19-2008

When I tuned in I thought the topic was spying in relation to politics and war. After I learned it was sports they were referring to, I found it interesting how closely related war is to sports. War is a sport? One could certainly argue this point.

Sent by Nancy Reid | 4:05 PM | 5-19-2008

I remember my first little league coach taking me aside after remarking to the umpire, "No here's where the ball hit.", telling me that it's not my job to play for the umpire or the other team. If they don't catch it that's their problem. Hearing similar instructions from subsequent caoaches is the whole reason I stopped playing sports in high school. My moral compass prevented me from being a "team player". The fact is, organized sports simply operate this way. Like it or not. Referees and umpires aren't blind. They simply choose their battles. It's what can't be controlled on the field that seems to upset most folks. If folks were shooting up or taking bets on the sidelines there'd probably be a lot less abuse, or maybe folks just wouldn't mind if they know it's going on.

Sent by Jim | 5:08 PM | 5-19-2008

I thought that your discussion group's laughing support of the idea that cheating is fine was disgusting. The cost of sports programs in schools is rationalized as, "character building", and supportive of, "good sportsmanship". Obviously the men discussing the concept did NOT learn the lesson

Sent by Ken | 6:16 PM | 5-19-2008

Is Cheating Just Part of the Game?
Cheating is cheating, maybe a part of the game but maybe a part of a larger way of thinking which involves the EGO.
When it is accepted as something that is happening or will happen then everybody is lessened by it.
Next stop, "Ladies & gentlemen, we will be flying to New York today at approx 30,000 feet(I think) because I cheated on that part of my training and I,m really not very good at this." or "sir ,we will be removeing your spleen in this operation (I hope) because I cheated on my exams in med school"

Sent by Curt Yeager | 11:21 PM | 5-19-2008

I was really disgusted when I tuned in to the last half hour of the program on cheating and sports. Both the host and all of the people calling in seemed to think that as long as you didn't get caught cheating was just part of the game. Call me naive but I thought that school sports were supposed to teach fair play and teamwork not winning at all costs. No wonder we have Enron scandals and we now need ethics coursed in business schools. If we started teaching ethics on the playing fields perhaps we would have less need to relearn it later in life. Citing the Greeks as an example of how cheating has been going on forever doesn't exactly justify it. Do we really want to go down the road their civilization went down? How about returning to learning personal responsibility and caring for your fellow man? Then maybe won't need so many police and prisons for all of those people who think they can do anything just so long as they don't get caught.

Sent by JANET HOFFMANN | 1:40 AM | 5-20-2008

Your discussion was very bothersome. "Everybody does it" is a sorry defense of bad behavior. Didn't you mother teach you anything? Cheating is wrong, period.

Sent by Dawn Sorgea | 11:06 AM | 5-20-2008