Will cheating ruin the Olympics?

With the Olympics starting in 3 months’ time, it’s worth considering the possibility of cheating. It takes many forms, but bad behaviour in sport is cheating.

When an athlete or player seeks an advantage other than by skill in the sport itself, that is cheating, whether it be through drugs, pulling on an opponent’s shirt, intimidation or feigning injury. In all its many forms, it derives from a fundamentally dishonest mindset that goes beyond the specific incident itself.

In a recent football match between Chelsea and Barcelona, the Chelsea captain, John Terry, was sent off for kneeing an opponent in the back. When interviewed after the match, Terry claimed he had been defending himself. From whom? From a man who had his back to him?

Not only did he cheat (see above), he also lied. And that tells you all you need to know about his value set.

Drug cheats do that too. When caught, they lie about how the drug came to be in their system, and then about who or what made them take the banned substance, and finally they plead contrition. Finally? Not quite. They want the slate wiped clean so that they can compete again for Olympic glory.

Meanwhile they may have deprived clean athletes of sporting glory.

My concern is about the culture that drives such people to cheat and go on cheating until they are caught. It’s a flawed set of values, a fundamentally dishonest culture.

People with the right set of values just don’t cheat. They don’t pull an opponent’s shirt, don’t feign injury, don’t move their golf ball to a better lie. They don’t steal either. And they don’t avoid such bad behaviour just because they are afraid of being caught. They do so because they are honest.

Honesty has little to do with who might be watching. It’s about the right values, and that derives from the right culture, and possibly education and example in our formative years. It now rests with us to transmit those values to those around us and the next generation.

Now apply that thinking to business. Would you do business with someone who is always trying to outsmart you and steal an unfair advantage? I rest my case.


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