Do Fans Really Care About Cheating In Sports?

Myrtle Beach, SC, Orlando, FL May 15, 2015

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent-Yes, fans care about cheating, but only if it’s not their team, or even more so if it’s “their” team’s rival. If it’s their team doing the cheating, then no. Take the most recent example, “deflategate.”  I have friends (Patriots fans) who are labeling people “haters” for even questioning Tom Brady in this. Even though there is evidence directly showing he had a hand in deflating the footballs. Do they care that Tom Brady is a cheater? Nope, all they care about is that their team won the game, and everyone questioning the win are “haters”.

This isn’t a phenomenon only related to football though. Cheating is rampant in baseball, and even the Olympics! But, the level of “care” is the same on all fields. Fans don’t care if their team or their players cheat, it holds no bearings on whether they will remain a fan, and under no circumstances will they admit their team cheated; even when evidence is overwhelming. Basically the ones who care are the ones who got cheated.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Sport’s fans care about cheating in sports, as they hold their athletic heroes to a higher standard and even proclaim them as role models.  When adored and revered athletes cheat in some form or fashion, whether it be through drug enhancement, gambling, equipment manipulation, or infractions with guidelines and rules, these same athletes are labeled culprits and are immediately pinpointed and knocked down a peg or two by angered fans.  They are either fined, severely penalized, banned from the sport and, of course, further ostracized and disapproved of by fans.
Fans want to believe that sports figures are above cheating, lying and dishonesty in general and that sports is a sacred area that is still exclusive to real talent, brains and muscle power, minus any kind of external influence.  Fans like to live through their favorite teams and individual star athletes.  It gives them a feeling of pleasure and confidence and when anything fishy or out of the ordinary upsets the sport’s applecart, fans see red and want accountability whether with a whole team, general manager, coach or individual celebrity athlete.
Fans in particular consider cheating in sports a real no-no, as most have been involved in sports from any early age themselves, and they know the rules of the game and follow those guidelines.  Cheating is not part of that process and is considered immoral and outside of the purity of the process. Cheating has consequences and fans see that as crossing the red line of sportsmanship.  Just the thought of cheating is enough to set fans off and put them in swift justice mode.
Many celebrity athletes have been challenged with cheating and dishonesty and have been held accountable for their transgressions.  Tom Brady is currently dealing with suspension, fines and other penalties over deflated footballs, while Pete Rose, former Cincinnati Reds manager and baseball player, was banned from baseball through gambling.  Even Barry Bonds, considered the greatest baseball player of all time, has faced innumerable allegations of performance enhancing drug use.  Examining and analyzing sports figures at various levels has now become a regular issue with fans.

Sport’s fans want to see their favorite pastimes free of dishonesty, and sports has become one of the last bastions that fans demand be freed of deception and corruption.  Fans, along with the aid of a hungry media, can affect the outcomes of cheating in sports and will continue to insist that all sports issues with cheating and corruption remain under scrutiny and prosecution.  Fans do care about cheating in sports and will not refrain from voicing their grievances now or in the future.

Raleigh, NC Correspondent-Sports play a big role in many peoples’ lives. It is a probably one of the things that unfailingly brings out strong emotions, loyalty, and disappointment in their fans. As a result, every major sporting event, scandal, or personal lives of athletes attract a lot of attention from the public. One of the issues which interests many people is whether occasional cheating in sports really causes concern for sport fans. Once again, recent high-profile scandal with New England Patriots who were accused of deflating their balls during AFC Championship Game raised a question how rampant cheating is in sports. As it turns out, it is quite widespread.

What are usual cheating tactics that happen in sports? First, there are often accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs, most often steroids. Who does not remember Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, Alex Rodriguez’s steroids use, Roger Clemens’ use of steroids—and this list can be quite long.  Also, game-integrity violations are often brought up to the public’s attention. From doing bodily harm to competitors (Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding come to mind) to employing dirty tactics, everything happens in big sports where there is so much at stake: prestige of winning, money issues, and so forth.
How should sport fans position themselves on this issue?  Well, it is probably most often personal stance of each individual fan which determines it. Some feel cheated by their favorite athletes and question their integrity and whether they should be allowed to continue their careers; others feel that as long as their favorite athletes perform on a winning level, they should not be punished. However, it is not clear why athletes should be above punishment for clearly violating the rules and thus the whole moral aspect of sports where, as probably nowhere else, it is expected that the spirit of integrity, honest competition, and honor should be always upheld. Of course, many cheating athletes do get punished for their questionable behavior by being fined or being banned from sports.  Hopefully, such cases will make any other athlete who is tempted to think twice.

Asheville, NC Correspondent-Cheating is rampant in professional sports. Holding occurs on every play in the NFL. Star basketball players routinely take two or three steps to get to the hoop. Pitchers doctor balls in baseball. Boxers cling to their opponents. Soccer players dive, and sumo wrestlers throw matches. With the media outrage alleging an overreaction to “DeflateGate,” it’s reasonable to ask if fans of professional sports care at all about the cheating.

In truth, fans of professional sports do care about following the rules. It’s just not at the top of their priority list. Fans of basketball are willing to overlook traveling because of the incredible feats of athleticism that lax enforcement of that rule allows. Football fans are willing to overlook holding calls because they allow for more exciting swings in offensive momentum. Fans of a sport are fans of a particular emotional and aesthetic experience more than they are fans of a set of rules.

It is only egregious examples of rules violation that get sufficient attention to merit a reaction. Those that happen to coincide with lulls in other sporting news get even more of a reaction. Then, fans of the game can appreciate one of the other emotional aspects of their fandom: tradition. Prior wonderful examples of skill can be celebrated, while the seedier aspects of those moments can be safely swept under the rug. After the steroid scandal in baseball, fans clung to old-time power hitters, ignoring the alcoholism and fighting that characterized the game at the time. Disgruntled NFL fans reminisce about the early days of the league, when, instead of changing the inflation of a ball, players covered themselves in pine tar or wrapped their arms in plaster to make them more effective cudgels.

Yes, sports fans care about cheating. They care about everything related to their sport. That’s what makes them fans. They don’t think cheating makes their sports less fun to watch, but they do like the chance to talk about the mechanics of their game. That’s the essence of fandom. 

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