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Sports cheats have no integrity

Cheating in sports seems to be more prevalent in the modern day sportsman with the desire to gain the ultimate advantage in order to receive the accolades that then accompany the success.

This looks to be true in both team and individual sports and so I ask the question: is winning more important to players than their morals or values, or does the heat of the moment contribute to the unacceptable behaviour?

Competitive sport is all about winning and losing and therefore teams and individuals are judged on results. This, in my opinion, is a huge contributing factor to out of character behaviour displayed in the competition compared to the personality outside of the competitive environment.

Recently, the actions of Stuart Broad and Ashley Young have been two major talking points by sports pundits. Their actions have been scrutinised and looked upon unfavourably by most sporting commentators.

Stuart Broad blatantly hitting the ball to the slips but not walking against Australia in the Ashes, and Ashley Young of Manchester United diving to win a penalty but instead was booked for diving, makes me ask the question: is this really cheating or gamesmanship?

Whether playing as an amateur or a professional, to be seen as a cheater to accomplish a win always puts a dark cloud over the accomplishment. Who wants to be remembered as the best knowing that they have cheated to do so?

Broad's incident is one that has happened on the amateur front many times. The difference being there is no camera review to watch to highlight the incident. Here on our local shores, some players try to act like they didn't know they edged the ball, while others admit that they knew that they edged the ball, but feel it is the duty of the umpire to give them out.

When discussing this topic with players, an overwhelming response is that not walking evens things out for the many mistakes that the umpires make when they are truly not out.

Dominic Cork, the former England player, said it best when he said: “As a bowler if I get a batsman to nick the ball I expect the umpire to give the bloke out. Therefore, if when I am batting I edge the ball I walk out of respect for the umpire. That way you gain a reputation from the umpires as a trustworthy player”.

Cup Match 2013 whereby Treadwell Gibbons was given out for caught behind, is a perfect example of the above. After our review and replay of the footage, it is clear that he did not edge the ball. The ugly situation that Treddy found himself in could have been avoided if only the Somerset players were more concerned about sportsmanship rather than about winning.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that in the similar situation St George's may have done the same thing, and in future they will remember that incident and act in a similar way if given the opportunity. Two wrongs don't make a right, but the competitiveness of it all certainly has an impact.

Now a young man has had his reputation dented because he acted out, which he shouldn't have, but it all could have been avoided from the beginning had Somerset showed true sportsmanship.

On the football side of things Young dived in an effort to gain a penalty, but was given a yellow card. How many times have we seen this happen in football both internationally and domestically?

If this is deemed cheating then players have been cheating in football for many years.

Diving (the act of falling and making it look like you have been fouled by a player when actually you haven't) has become common because it is the easiest way to con a referee giving a free kick or a penalty.

How do you stop it? Referees do all that they can and give a player a yellow card but some think the only way to stamp diving out of the game is to give players a bigger ban like an automatic red card which would result in a three-game suspension.

But what happens if the referee gets it wrong? Sometimes it is really difficult for the referee and linesman to call.

When a player is running at full speed and the slightest of contact may be made it could appear as he is diving, but try running at full speed and get bumped, or your heel clipped, it is almost impossible to keep your balance. Depending on what angle the referee has and whether other players are blocking his vision slightly could hinder his judgement.

These are just two examples of ‘cheating' in cricket and football, and the two sports have many other forms of cheating.

I have seen times in cricket when a fielder claims he has caught the ball but clearly he dropped it and rolled over and picked it up. Another would be a player diving to save a boundary but the ball still rolls and hits the wall and he claims that he stopped the ball.

In football, players try to butt the ball, but use their hand instead to try and score a goal. Look at Diego Maradona when he scored that famous goal against England in the quarter-finals of the World Cup 1986, now called the “Hand of God”, hence his team went on to win the World Cup.

One thing I have learned from playing cricket and football, and I admit it, it has taken me some time to learn as a sportsman about integrity on and off the field.

It is not good enough to only do the right thing off the field of play. It goes a long way towards who you are and what you stand for, plus how people perceive you. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be comfortable with your actions.

People with integrity are looked at in a different light; hence I encourage and challenge our sportsmen and sportswomen to have integrity when playing their sports, especially when representing Bermuda.

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Published September 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm)

Sports cheats have no integrity

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