In Problems in Youth Sports

I recently got a phone call from a college student who was writing a paper on the abuse of steroids. He asked me what I’d say to a collegiate athlete who was cheating in that manner. What I said to him was that by college age, it’s just a little too late to address this particular problem of dishonesty. The cheating issue needs to be handled much earlier.

Cheating is rampant in youth sports today. probably more so than when I played as a junior athlete. There is a tremendous amount of pressure today on kids to perform and win. Pressure to make select teams, to keep mom and dad happy, to break into the starting line-up or to get a college scholarship at that big school. One way young athletes respond to this pressure is by “bending the rules just a tad.” Those who cheat, convince themselves that they’re not really cheating. They use a little smoke and mirrors on themselves, sealing their dishonesty off into a windowless room and only taking it out when they need it. And, just as soon as they take it out and use it, they quickly put their dishonety away, giving themselves the illusion that it was never really there, that they hadn’t really cheated.

When cheaters are confronted for cheating, they will often self-righteously deny that they were bending the rules. That is, they do cheating “squared,” using a little additional dishonesty to hide their original dishonesty. The idea is that if you deny that you cheated long and hard enough, it won’t be considered cheating.

Cheating or any other version of dishonesty in sports is a corruption of the entire character of competitive games. It makes a mockery of the pursuit of excellence and the idea that you can work hard to achieve your goals. Cheating violates good sportsmanship and a sense of fair play. Simply put, the cheater is making a joke out of the entire process. When you cheat and “win,” you have really lost. Deep down, you are really a loser! You have lost your sense of fair play. You have lost your good character. You have made a deal with the devil, trading your good name and reputation for the “fool’s gold” of a “W.”

If you win by bending the rules, your “victory” means nothing! And if you think it does, then you are simply lying to yourself. Just because a lot of your competitors may be cheating, doesn’t mean that you have to engage in the same corrupt practices to stay competitive. Cheating doesn’t make you competitive. Instead, it completely removes you from the competition. For all intents and purposes, YOU HAVE DISQUALIFIED YOURSELF, whether the coaches and officials catch it or not!

Cheating is very “popular” today, both in and out of sports. A lot of adults seem to run their careers and daily lives by using a healthy dose of dishonesty. Our economy is partially in the bad place that it is today because of the cheating, greed and personal corruption of a number of dishonest individuals. How about YOU personally putting an end to it right now! How about you rising to the challenge of conducting yourself as a real winner, an honest winner! Don’t compromise your integrity, character and good name just so that you can say that you won. WINNERS DON’T CHEAT, ONLY LOSERS DO!


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