Cheaters never win and winners never cheat. Maybe that is true spiritually but it is certainly not true on the athletic field. In fact there seems to be a linear relationship between cheating and winning. You take just about any sport and you will find more cheating going on than you will find on...well cheaters. Cheating in sports has gone from being unthinkable and a disgrace to socially acceptable. Essentially cheating in sports is just about a given. Deceit and corruption is certainly not confined to the corporate world anymore. In actual fact the sports world is setting new standards for duplicity all the time. It seems that major college athletic programs are caught bending the rules ever month or so. In professional sports cheating seems to be more the rule than the exception.
I realize that cheating in sports is nothing new. Heck! Nero was notorious for cheating at the Greek games. What I want to know is when cheating became acceptable behavior. In fact, the general consensus among athletes now is that it is all right to cheat as long as you don't get caught.
Integrity is a fundamental value of teaching, learning, and scholarship. Yet, there is growing evidence that students cheat and plagiarize. Powerlifting is just one of many sanctioning bodies in sports that knowingly allows people who to cheat to win.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that we live in a sports-oriented culture where the game is more important than any other aspect of life. In fact, in America sports transcends every other aspect of human behavior. It's sad, but that's the way it is. That's the type of world we've created for ourselves.
Actually, the whole concept that Americans have about winning scares the heck out of me, because it teaches us to judge ourselves and others, not by intrinsic qualities, but rather by how well we play a game. Amazingly, people go around believing that self-worth is a process of chasing down fly balls or lifting record poundages. They have this mentality that superior athletes are better human beings than less successful athletes. Of course, they also believe that unsuccessful athletes are better human beings than non-athletes. A few years ago, for instance, Seth Brady conducted a clever little study which clearly supports the "halo effect" that winners enjoy. In the study, the subjects were asked to make personality ratings of amateur boxers who were viewed on film. The findings were sadly predictable. The winners of the matches were almost always seen as being more mature, better looking, more valuable, more potent and more active than the loser. In other words, the winners were perceived as being better human beings than the losers are.
In the words of Henry Youngman, P-L-E-A-S-E. All you have to do is look at the background and lifestyle of some of our country's best athletes to realize that such a notion is absolutely absurd. Check out Mike Tyson, Michael Irvin, Pete Rose, James Phillips, Jennifer Capriati and Dennis Rodman for starters. Certainly there are more redeeming qualities in life than slam-dunking a basketball or beating someone senseless in a boxing match. At least, you would think so, but that's not the mindset of most Americans. We need to understand that there is nothing wrong with losing, nothing wrong with being number two if you've done your best. It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that counts. Of course, to say such things is to admit defeat, and to admit defeat is not American.
Of course, winning also reinforces winning. If you're a "winner" in America you get it all -- trophies, travel, money, prestige, even women. Winners are even given special privileges in school, in politics, in the media, in business, in the courts--in fact, I can't think of a single place in our society where athletes aren't given special privileges. Generally, the winner gets everything, the loser nothing. Worse yet, even when you are crowned with success the fulfillment is fleeting. In fact, the tendency to deny losing is the American way. Have you ever read the book, A Country of Victims? If not, you should. It will give you a revealing insight into America's inability to take responsibility for its own actions. The book arduously points out that Americans cannot accept defeat or failure whether it's in sports, politics, economics, education, or anything else for that matter. As a country and a people we are constantly pointing fingers at everyone else but never really owning up to our own shortcomings. Like our Lord said in the Bible, we tend to see the splinter in everyone else's eye but we fail to see the log in our own.
Yours in strength,