Cheating — a reality check

There are so many ways to cheat that do not break rules, need performance enhancing drugs or skirt fair play.

Yes, steroids are an unfair advantage, but only if you monitor all steroid consumption by every athlete. Do the hormones put in cattle feed in America count as cheating? Nope, the FDA says they are safe (yet the FDA doesn’t actually test meat, only blood — and all final animal feed carries the instruction “Stop Feeding Three Weeks Before Slaughter”).

Do you really think American teenagers are naturally bigger, faster, stronger than kids from less affluent countries? Do kids from, say, Kazakhstan, cheat when they supplement their dietary hormones to match the American ones?

And what about the technology of swimsuits, more slippery than normal fabric, that Nike made for the U.S. Olympic Team at great expense? Did they give them to all the countries’ swimmers? Nope.

And how about the $7 million snow half-pipe test facility built especially for our snowboard team by Red Bull, is that cheating?

The fact is, when sport is a commercial enterprise and there is profit to be made by athletes, managers, coaches, agents, licensees, and, of course, the athlete, pressure builds to find a way to maximize revenue.

If maximizing revenue means winning, then every means available will be employed to and for the athlete to deliver the reward he or she is expected to deliver. And when that athlete does not deliver, there are penalties for the whole team, not to mention the athlete’s psyche and well-being.

What? You thought these tennis players, skaters and gymnasts were weak to have mini-breakdowns?

The pressure on them to deliver everyone’s paycheck is overwhelming.

And that’s the issue here. If you told your 5-year-old that she would not get dinner unless she won the playground sack race, you could, reasonably, be accused of abuse.

Professional sports is like that. The threat is always behind achievement potential. Fail to catch the winning football pass and your contract gets dropped, your agent drops you, your manager quits, your personal trainer wants more money, your banker sees a drop in your income and forecloses on your mortgage. Think that doesn’t happen? It does, all too often.

Now tell me you would not try and gain an edge, with all that weight of responsibility on your shoulders? Any professional sport is a business, tainted by a desire to win at all costs for profit. Sometimes, the human carnage, like a Russian 15-year-old skater, is just the inevitable outcome.

 

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now resides in New Mexico.

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