The main focus in a sport is to win, right? But it often seems that cheating has become a regular part of sports.
“Yea, I cheated before. Everybody does it,” says a 16- year-old basketball player. “But they just won’t admit to it. I don’t do it all the time, but it’s like normal now.”
“People cheat because they want to take the easy way out,” comments an 18-year-old football player. “They want to get the farthest, the fastest. They know its wrong, but they don’t care.”
According to Kirk O. Hanson, the Executive Director of the Center of Applied Ethics at the University of Santa Clara, cheating is just part of American life.
“This type of behavior comes from the rationalization that the ends for cheating will justify the means,” says David Shields, a professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Shields has recently finished writing a book, called The Bounds of Legality, on the subject of competition in the sports world, including the subject of cheating. His research suggests that this problem may be due to different outlooks about competition and personal thinking.
Shields tells SciJourner that there are two ways to look at competition that encourages athletes to cheat. Most athletes look at competition as a battle, war or brawl. They think that their sole purpose is to defeat the opponent. The sense of failure compels athletes to take extreme measures to obtain victory, or in other words cheat to win.
Alternatively, some think of it as a way to bond with teammates and play together. These athletes look at competition as built around the metaphor of partnership.
Although the players are the main focus, the coaches and fans can also be a factor. In an experiment, Shields surveyed middle school athletes and recorded that 98% of the athletes admitted to being guilty of some form of cheating; 15% said that their coaches told them to do it.
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