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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.