Is cheating in sports OK?

Gray Hughes

Baseball, my favorite sport, has been marred by a cheating scandal. Allegations run rampant for months regarding teams, namely the Houston Astros and Boston Rex Sox, and earlier last week Major League Baseball (MLB) handed out punishments to the Houston Astros.

People got fired, and rightfully so. The other organization singled out as part of the scandal, the Boston Red Sox, let go of manager Alex Cora, who was also part of the Astros’ scandal. The New York Mets let go of their manager, Carlos Beltran, before he even managed a game, when he was named as one of the ringleaders of the cheating scandal during his time in Houston.

Since the MLB handed out its punishment for the Astros, the baseball world has been in a state of upheaval. Other players and teams have been accused of cheating. Mike Trout, undisputedly the best player in baseball who everyone seems to like, was even named as someone using human growth hormones (HGH) to treat a thyroid issue, but the person who alleged this said Trout uses his supposed thyroid condition as a loophole to use HGH. This claim, I seriously doubt holds any water as Trout has become one of the most likeable, genuine people in all of baseball.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the history of baseball, simply put this is the biggest scandal to rock the sport in quite some time. This rivals the steroid scandals of 15 years ago, and some say the Astros have rivaled the Black Sox Scandal (where eight Chicago White Sox players — or seven depending if you believe Shoeless Joe Jackson is innocent — threw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds) in terms of crookedness.

If you were like me and turned to sports radio to listen to all the takes on this issue, you might have heard people starkly divided on the issue. Some say cheating is rampant in all of sports, and it was the fault of the organizations for getting caught. Others say that cheating has no place in baseball — or any sport for that matter.

Sports are no stranger to cheating. Look no further than the New England Patriots, who have been involved in two cheating scandals — Deflategate and Spygate — in the last 15 years.

But I got thinking: does cheating have a place in sports?

To me, it’s tricky. Sure, I cheated a little when I played. When I played baseball as a kid and you weren’t allowed to take a lead off the base, I might have taken a step or two off the bag. Sometimes I got caught, sometimes I didn’t. I wasn’t very good, so I needed every advantage I could get (by the way that year I lead the league in runs scored).

But something like this, purposely stealing signs using electronics — or a trash can in the Astros’ case — has no place in sports. Nor does any other form of cheating have any place in sports.

You could make the argument that it doesn’t matter, that the batter still needs to make contact with the ball. I get that argument, but if you use that argument, you need to admit that steroids are OK in baseball because the batter still needs to make contact, and that Barry Bonds (who allegedly used steroids) is the true home run king.

There are examples in life, though, where cheating is OK. A caller to Sports Radio WIP in Philadelphia said that “we would all be speaking German and Japanese” had the Americans not broken the German’s and Japanese’s codes. Examples like this, though, aren’t comparable — or even applicable — to sports. One deals with life and death, the other deals with winning a game.

Cheating, obviously, gives an unfair advantage to one team over another. That goes against the very purpose of sport — to establish a winner and a loser. I think about Jason, my boss, and how cheating by the Astros and alleged cheating (or at least alleged at the time of this writing at 1 p.m. on Jan. 17) by the Red Sox saw those team beat his beloved Dodgers in the World Series in 2017 and 2018, respectively. I can imagine the frustration he has, and I can safely say I would be equally frustrated and angry.

No, you can’t take away a team’s championship, but you can address the issue. What can they do? I don’t know. That’s something that the experts can debate on and decide.

What we can do, though, is instill in our children that there is no place for cheating in a game. If you were like me and took a lead off first when you weren’t supposed to, kick that kid out of the game. Teach that kid a lesson.

We as adults need to be accountable for what we teach our kids, and one of the best ways children learn lessons as a kid is through sports. If someone is taught cheating is OK early on, then they might think it’s OK to cheat on other things later on in life, like on taxes, tests or in relationships.

So, coaches, parents: talk to your kids or players. Teach them that cheating is not OK and has no place in sports — or in life.

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