Cheats Never Prosper by Trevor Plumbly
Hottest news from these far flung shores is that a NZ cricketer has been found out for cheating! So what’s the big deal? People have been cheating at sport since they invented the stuff; I have no literal proof that the ancient Olympians fiddled with the rules, but it stands to reason that if you made your javelin a bit lighter than the other bloke’s, you’d be able to throw it further. Let’s face it, them early Greeks might have been artistic, civilised and all that, but I betcha they still didn’t like coming second. Winning never really troubled me, not because I was of the ‘may the best man win’ school of thought, but because I just wasn’t really interested. As I’ve mentioned before my sporting achievements were far from notable and my first experience of diluting the sporting spirit came just after the start of the school’s cross-country run: I watched with horror as Jumbo Mercer, Tosser Harris and Spot Simpson ducked into the bushes, fagged up and waited to rejoin the rest of us five minutes out from the finish line. Since none of them ever won or got caught, it didn’t really seem to matter that much to anyone.
A Fair Fight
My next experience did matter though: after a series of problems with a senior boy we were instructed to ‘sort it out in the ring’. I had absolutely no knowledge of boxing; my entire concept of physical violence was based on ‘do what you have to do then run like the bloody wind before some bugger does it back’, a sound enough theory for the playground, but it was obviously not going to work in a roped-off square. I discovered that fact immediately after the master called out ‘box on’; my opponent danced towards me and smacked me in the face, I responded in the only way street Arabs know by kicking him in the crutch. In the hush that followed I felt I’d done rather well: I was vertical with a slightly bruised eye, whilst my opponent was writhing on the deck desperately trying to soothe his goolies through boxing gloves. Far from being hailed as a worthy victor over an older and bigger adversary, I was labelled a disgrace to the school, to sport and to just about anything else they could tag me to, but I didn’t get picked on after that, so maybe cheats do prosper.
Knowing the Score
With the huge financial rewards available for sporting stardom, is it any real wonder that people cheat at one level or another? Are the orgasmic grunts of the tennis gals a means of pumping adrenalin or an attempt to distract an opponent? In rugby, a spot of eye gouging, ear chewing and even squeezing a chap’s breeding tackle can level the playing field a bit. Soccer players could well find a home in Shakespearean tragedies when their on-field antics fail to pull the punters. With athletics, you get your run-of-the-mill drug cheats and the odd gender bender for variety, but to be fair they don’t seem to be in it for the money. But cricket? Ye gods, the old school tie positively bristles at the thought that a chap hasn’t played with a straight bat. Cynically, I wonder how many of those horrified by match fixing have stayed in their crease knowing full well they’ve clipped the ball but waited for the umpire to tell them. Sorry sports fans, cheating has been around a long time and as long as there are winners and losers, it’s here to stay.