Cheating: Is It Ever Okay?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about cheating since the New England Patriots have been in the news all week.  First, there were the allegations about cheating and then there was the confirmation that they cheated.  (If you live under a rock, you can catch up here: Essentially, the Patriots were accused of using under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.)  This isn’t the first time they cheated: Back in 2007, Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for spying on the New York Jets to learn their defensive signals.  If the punishment history repeats itself, the NFL will fine the team and/or take away draft picks.  To guarantee you’ll make it to the Super Bowl and your only punishment for cheating is a lost draft pick and a fine that doesn’t make a dent in your overall operating expenses, would you cheat?

Let’s brainstorm – when/how/why do people cheat?

Professional Sports (besides the use of PEDs) – To win

  • Football – Exhibit A: Bill Belichick’s Patriots
  • Baseball – Pine tar on bats, a pitcher spitting on his hand or rubbing his pitching hand through sweaty hair before handling the ball or wiping his hand in the dirt on the mound
  • Soccer – Faking injuries
  • Tennis – Exaggerating injuries to extend medical time outs
  • Basketball/hockey – Other than things like steroids, I’m not sure how one would cheat in these sports
  • For all sports, there is insider betting where one player or team may deliberately throw the game knowing the money on the line

School – To pass

  • Tests – Texting (if the teacher doesn’t take your cell phone away), going to the bathroom at the same time as a friend who needs help (guilty – I wanted my friend to pass), hiding formulas in the programming section of your graphing calculator (who didn’t do this?), writing a speech on an index card that sits in your pocket then lies under your leg on the seat during the test (I did this with a Shakespeare soliloquy in 11th grade English that I just could not memorize)

The Gym – To finish first

  • I see cheating a lot more in CrossFit than I did when I was at NYSC.  People do 25 burpees instead of 30, 4 rounds instead of 5, avoid a full extension at the top of a deadlift or box jump, all to finish the WOD before other people in the class.  But what does that get you?  Absolutely nothing.  in CrossFit, there is often joy in finishing first (especially if you are a Games Athlete).  For the everyday athlete, the person that does CrossFit to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the person who finishes last is cheered the loudest.  Odds are, that person did every rep correctly and counted accurately.
  • Indoor Cycling Classes – People don’t add enough resistance on their hills


  • I am of the belief that people in romantic relationships cheat when there is something wrong with the relationship.  They may say, “Oh but the opportunity presented itself.”  They didn’t have to act on it.  They did because something is missing from their relationship.  Cheating is an avoidance mechanism for people not wanting to take the time or put in the effort to fix the relationship.  It’s easier to break up with someone for cheating than it is to explain why the relationship isn’t working or do the work to fix the relationship.  (Fitting that Brooks & Dunn’s “She’s Not The Cheatin’ Kind” just came on the radio.)

I’m coming down from my pedestal now.  Your turn: What do you think of “Deflategate” or cheating in general?

Author’s Note: I am neither a Patriots fan nor a Jets fan (any loyalties I felt to the Jets vanished when they signed Michael Vick).  I don’t really follow football.  The Mets, on the other hand, well, that’s a different story.

One thought on “Cheating: Is It Ever Okay?

  1. Sometimes people in healthy relationships cheat anyway because, as you said, the opportunity presented itself. Doesn’t necessarily mean there is something inherently wrong with the relationship, just with the person/decision made. Just my opinion though.


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