Massive cheating scandals have become the norm in modern sports. In the past 20 years alone, iconic scandals including Reggie Bush, ‘“Deflategate,” and the Houston Astros have all surfaced with serious national consequences. So as we get conditioned to accept massive cheating scandals, it begs the question: is cheating natural, and is it time to just accept it?
The MLB might say so. In their current lawsuit regarding the infamous Houston Astros cheating scandal, the MLB has come out with a statement suggesting that attempts at cheating in sports are “normal.”
The Astros were recently caught sign-stealing, or recording the catcher’s signs to the pitcher and relaying them to their hitters. The team was punished with a one-year suspension of General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch, the stripping of their future first and second-round draft picks, and a five million dollar fine.
Following the break of the scandal, five sports bettors sued the MLB, MLB Advanced Media, the Houston Astros, and the Boston Red Sox for fraud and violation of consumer protection laws. The men were participants in the DraftKings fantasy baseball contest and blame the Astros’ cheating for their lost money — and maybe pride, too.
In a statement about the lawsuit, the MLB said that “rules violations … are a never-ending source of sports television, talk radio, web and elevator commentary by sports pundits and fans alike,” also making a comment about fans’ general understanding of this phenomenon. The MLB also cited a 2010 opinion by Judge
Robert Cowen in the Patriots Spygate scandal, stating that “it appears uncontested that players often commit intentional rule infractions in order to obtain an advantage.”
So the MLB has been clear in stating that cheating is not only common in sports but should actually be expected by fans. But is the fact that cheating is common make it natural?
As both a fan of and participant in sports, it’s easy to see why athletes have the urge to cheat or gain an advantage in a contest. However, it is just as difficult to believe that this is a natural part of being an athlete. We should not accept cheating as “natural” in order to normalize it or evade a lawsuit. In order to maintain the integrity of competition, we as fans must continue to hold the teams we watch to a higher standard of honesty and fairness.