A major component relating to the success of sport competition is that it is built upon pillars of sportsmanship, integrity, and fair play. Beyond the rules associated with each unique sport, there is an assumed expectation that athletes and coaches adhere to standards that ensure everyone is competing on a level playing field. This means, specifically, that athletes will refrain form doing things they shouldn’t — in other words, no cheating. Unfortunately, cheating does exist in sports, and the means and methods being used are becoming more complex and difficult to detect. This modern-day paradigm puts athletes (and teams) in positions where integrity may be more valuable then ever before — with new technology and easier ways to cheat, individuals and organizations must hold themselves more accountable than ever before.
Cheating & technology
As technology advances, so too do the many ways in which people can cheat. Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and countless new advances have helped society on many levels, but at the same time invited some to disregard integrity and use these new advances in unscrupulous ways. Even in schools across America cheating has changed — from previously writing answers on your hand to today’s advanced methods of using websites to gather and organize college-level papers that are created to get around worries of plagiarism. The bottom line is that cheating has become easier to do in almost every facet of life, prompting us to revisit the importance of integrity and making fair, sound decisions even when there are seemingly easy opportunities to cheat.
Cheating in sports
Examples of modern-day cheating in sports in recent years can be found with the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, and New England Patriots to name a few. Long-range cameras and video footage are just two quick examples of the advanced, covert means being used to get a leg up on the competition. In addition, there are masking products to hide illegal performance substances, and countless ways to modify sports equipment to create an on-field advantage. In the classroom, some student athletes have been caught using websites and other questionable means to stay eligible to compete. The question today isn’t around if athletes can cheat, but instead how do we continue to incentive athletes, coaches, and entire programs to play by the rules, even when the odds are small that they might get caught? Self-monitoring, or simply prioritizing integrity over cheating, will need to be the primary focus for sports in the future as the means and methods of cheating become easier and more widespread to use.
While cheating has always been in the background of sports (with stories of cheating going back as long as sports have been played), because of advanced cheating methods being used today we are now living in a time where self-governance and prioritized integrity is more important than ever before. The spirit of healthy competition hangs in the balance as we move into the future where even more means and methods of cheating will be available, and important decisions will need to be made. By playing by the rules — even when it’s tempting not to — the games will remain fair and true champions will emerge. Do your part by modeling fair play and encouraging everyone around you to do the same.