In light of the most recent doping, match-fixing and corruption scandals in the world of sport, such as the truth about Lance Armstrong’s drug taking in cycling and accusations faced by the Essendon football club as well as the shadow cast over all other football clubs in Australia, the lack of honesty in our sport has been debated by the media.
Sportsmen have always been admired by us, mere mortals, as examples of greatness achieved through a lot of hard work and determination in addition to the obvious possession of talent. However, in recent weeks, most of us have had to grapple with the concept of dishonesty and outright betrayal by those we blindly believed and worshiped.
Although not a cyclist myself, I have always admired Lance Armstrong for his ability not only to rebuild his life and career after beating cancer, but for being able to become the greatest in his sport. Or so I, as well as millions of others, have thought. Finding out Armstrong was a cheat was a blow to my beliefs that one can have it all through hard work despite the circumstances. Discovering he maliciously destroyed many people’s lives in the process as they tried to unveil his dishonesty made me frustrated and a little angry. Finding out that my beloved Essendon footy players have been fed performance enhancing drugs within a few days of the Armstrong scandal just added to the injury.
It is understandable that sportsmen want to be the best at their game. Unfortunately, when they no longer can achieve greatness through natural ability, they turn to other, often illegal, sources. However, what a lot of those sportsmen often fail to comprehend is the effect their cheating has on their fans and people who genuinely believe in them. They also forget that in most cases lies come out and the consequences of cheating are grave.
The impact of all the illegal and dishonest behaviour that came to light in the recent weeks should also not be underestimated when it comes to those sportsmen and athletes, who play fair, are honest and who do not cheat to win a medal or a higher rank or a championship. Such sportsmen should be praised and celebrated. There is only one problem – we are unable to distinguish between those that lie and cheat and those that get to the top through hours of hard work.
So I pose the question: “What happened to the honesty and integrity in our sport?” These essential moral stances appear to have become extinct like dinosaurs. We have most definitely entered the dark ages when it comes to sport as all wins and great performances will now be under scrutiny and slight disbelief as to their genuine nature.