If I have a choice between winning or losing, I prefer to win. I played sports in school and we were all taught winning was good. However, we were also taught good sportsmanship was more important than winning. You had to play fair. You didn’t cheat. “Cheaters never prosper” was the mantra of the day.
Has that all changed? Just today the Little League team from Chicago which won the Little League World Series was stripped of their title because of cheating. It seems they violated geographic boundaries when fielding their team to make it a better team.
I am a big fan of Little League, especially its World Series. Teams from all over the world come to play and show off their tremendous talents. I understand these are 12- and 13-year-old youngsters and definitely include young ladies. Early on when this first got started, some of these 16-year-olds showed up with full beards, but I think the International League has gotten a better handle on that issue now.
All of the members of the Chicago team were black, which added to their uniqueness and let me tell you, they were very talented. They probably would have won even without cheating. Because they are all black, Jesse Jackson is now claiming the team is being discriminated against because of their minority status. No, Jesse, being black doesn’t give you the right to cheat any more than being white does. Cheating is no respecter of race.
Let’s consider the New England Patriots. They just won the Super Bowl, making them the best team in professional football. Did they cheat to get to that position? Many say they did. In fact, there is an ongoing investigation into their practice of deflating the football illegally to make it easier to control when passing. Again, they were so good they would have probably won without cheating. A final determination has not yet been reported, but it probably will be soon.
So, what is going on? I know winning is important, especially in professional sports, but is winning at any cost what we are talking about? Are we supposed to look the other way when cheating and lying happens? Where is the honor in that? And is honor important anymore?
Consider Brian Williams of NBC News. He apparently concocted a story about being shot down in a helicopter while in Iraq. As it turns out, the story was a complete lie. Now here is a respected newsman whose job and future were secure. He didn’t need to make up nonsense to make him look good. Today he has been suspended for at least six months while his employer, NBC, looks to see if there have been other embellishments of stories on which he has reported. No one, including Williams, knows what his future holds. I am sure NBC hopes this all blows over.
I could fill these pages with other stories of liars and cheaters from bike racers to politicians, to a point of pure boredom, but I think you get my point.
Is fairness dead? Is honor a thing of the past? Do cheaters really win now? Do they prosper? Does the end justify the means even if the means is dishonest?
I hope not. I long for the time when there was honor in sports and in business. I long for honesty in politics. I believe in winning, but winning only has value if it doesn’t involve cheating.