Dave’s post about New England Patriot’s head coach, Bill Belichick, being fined for apparently cheating points to a larger question. What does it take to stop cheating? Sure Bellichick has offered the obligatory apology saying how it’s his responsibility, and he made mistakes. He also said “As the commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.” Ah contrition or is that no harm, no foul?
In Formula One racing the fine is much larger. The McLaren racing team must pay $100 million for spying and loses all its team points for the construction title; the drivers are allowed to keep their points and are eligible to win the driver’s title. On a related note, remember James Frey? He had a moving, personal memoir about his struggle with drugs and his wild days called A Million Little Pieces. No. Wait. That was a crock. No matter. Frey now has a new novel coming out. Oh and what about the book that forced the publisher to refund duped readers’ money? It sells around a thousand copies a week.
So where does cheating get punished? The cases above seem to agree with Yahoo columnist Dan Wetzel’s view that “Cheating is everywhere” in sports and that fans really don’t care about cheating. Instead he offers they “want victories and nothing else.” He sums up “Nobody cares. Nothing matters. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. Just win, baby.” Wetzel seems a bit overboard, but not too much. More worrisome is the possibility that society really has changed its view of cheating. Sure if one gets caught red-handed, the knee-jerk reaction is talk show emulating outrage and narcissistic assertions regarding how it affected and hurt you. False contrition ensues and allows everyone to feel better. Soon the cheater is redeemed, perhaps even embraced. A true confession and repentance is a powerful phenomenon. The slaps on the wrist and farces of today fall well short of that. Whether the law and the lack of accountability reflect or feed the view that one should win at all costs is a matter for another time, but I do wonder.