Nobody likes a cheater

Nobody likes a cheater.

But once a single person or a team in any sports cheats, it puts the pressure on every other team to do the same, or else suffer the consequences of falling behind those who are breaking the rules.

Cheating in games has been going on for years. TV westerns are filled with a poker player who gets caught with an ace up his sleeve and then gets a bullet in his head.

Cheating is like a dirty little secret in the sports world. Players who take performance-enhancing drugs that make them do things no human has done before. Remember the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa-Barry Bonds home run era? Baseball never had seen anything like it in 100 previous years and hasn’t seen anything comparable since their game was exposed.

Americans marveled at the story of Lance Armstrong, the first seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Of how he overcame cancer to go where no man had gone before. Then, we learned he cheated. He went from hero to goat. From the penthouse to the outcast house.

Cases such as the baseball and cycling scandals have played out in very public forums. Everyone is aware of them.

But it is the cheating that goes on every day and has become a culture in sports that permeates our society.

Give Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby credit for having the courage to raise the issue of how cheating pays in college sports and how the enforcement system is broken.

We’ve all heard the stories. Heard them for years. Local hotshot athlete is being recruited by 10 different schools. Each can legally offer a scholarship. But then we hear stories of payoffs, new roofs, fancy cars, etc. If even one team is doing that, it is going to get ahead of all the others. Which leaves the others with the decision to cheat or fall behind. Not just in wins on the scoreboard but in the all-important game of revenue. It’s a vicious cycle, one that is spinning further out of control as the dollars get larger.

Bowlsby notes the NCAA infractions committee hasn’t meant in more than a year. He adds that “it’s not an understatement to say cheating pays presently. If you conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.”

Bowlsby got some support for his statements from Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy.

“I am convinced there are teams that are cheating that are saying ‘Catch me if you can,” Gundy said.

The problem is there really isn’t anybody trying to catch them.

Cheating goes on at every level of sports. High school recruiting in West Virginia is rampant. Yet, the WVSSAC doesn’t have the staff to investigate every incident.

The NCAA is just as overwhelmed.

The unethical people will cheat while the ethical people will complain about it, knowing there isn’t much else they can do.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com