Editorial: Has Cheating in Sports Gone Too Far?

Zachary Grover, Staff Writer

With the newest sports scandal surrounding Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox regarding sign stealing allegations, a debate has sparked; has cheating in this tech-heavy era of sports reached its boiling point? What type of impact does this have on the great unifier that is sports culture?

   According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of the Athletic, a sports news agency, the Houston Astros were reportedly stealing signs with the use of a camera in center field at their home ballpark en route to their 2017 World Series title (theathletic.com).According to NBC Sports, the camera broadcast video into the Astros home dugout, and players were told the pitch by Astros employees banging on trash cans. The MLB is also investigating the Astros for the use of buzzers under players’ jerseys as a more efficient means for letting the player know which pitch was coming, and the Boston Red Sox for possible sign stealing during their 2018 World Series run (nbcsports.com). 

   Former San Diego Charger and current analyst for KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report Burt Grossman said, “Stealing signs in baseball has been an accepted practice for [about] a hundred years but only manually, not with the use of technology. Cheating to win [in sports] was always expected as the old saying goes ‘if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.’” Grossman continued, “We all decide what is acceptable in the pursuit of winning and I think the scandal and uproar from what the Astros have done sends a loud and clear message that this form of  “cheating” is not acceptable [in sports].”   

   These new allegations unfortunately signal the beginning of a new era of cheating in sports. Now with stricter drug testing all across sports, and many other ways to clamp down on “old school” ways of cheating, long gone are the days of Barry Bonds and others hitting 70 home runs in a season. The use of technology has become the new way to get the edge in sports. We have seen it among many teams of varying sports, including illegally videotaping opposing teams, “doctoring” baseballs, not disclosing medical records, using performance enhancing drugs, deflating footballs, or even faking a disability. 

   The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) recently put out a survey on the Astros and Red Sox scandals and asked people if they thought it was serious and what the punishment should be for the teams. According to ESPN’s report, 86 percent of fans believed the situation was serious, 58 percent of adults surveyed believe that the Astros players should have been punished by the MLB, and 56 percent said the Astros should relinquish their 2017 championship (espn.com).

   Many athletes have said the words, “I will do whatever it takes to win” in press conferences and interviews. Is cheating now becoming something “it takes to win”? Also, when these cheating scandals surface we must consider the effect it has on the “integrity” of the game and the fans of the sport. Athletes are people who are looked up to and idolized, especially by kids. They are constantly in the public spotlight and are held to a higher behavioral standard. Now imagine being told that your idol is a cheater and violated the value that was instilled in you when you started playing sports — “win or lose with integrity.”  

   What does this mean for high school athletics? UC High Varsity Quarterback Gunnar Gray said, “I think the fact that you hear about the cheating going on in pro sports is not good at all. It won’t be good for high school athletics. If pro athletes can’t be held accountable, how can you expect high schoolers to be. They should be setting the example for younger athletes.” Cheating stinks. Even if you win, that win is forever tainted. We have reached a crossroads in sports, and it is up to the athletes playing the game to make the right decision and play by the rules. As the saying goes, “one lie is enough to question all truths.”