Cheating in all sports is all too prevalent.
Some athletes, parents and coaches seem to sometimes think that winning is more important than the integrity of their sport. They somehow can look at themselves in the mirror after the competition and feel good about the win. But do they really feel good?
Unfortunately, cheating in tennis is also too prevalent. Breaking rules, bending rules or ignoring them seems to be OK in their mind. Bad line calls, changing the score and coaching from the sidelines are not OK, and those guilty people don’t deserve to win.
You know who you are. Stop this behavior.
Seriously. Is it really worth it? Is it so important to win that you base your self-worth so much on your performance that you will do anything to not lose?
You know that this obviously damages your reputation in the tennis world. You are talked about behind your back. Occasionally, a fellow player or fellow parent or coach will tell you of your reputation. You either won’t admit it to yourself or maybe you don’t care.
But if you ask any adult tennis player who played in the juniors, they will tell you story after story of the cheaters, along with their names, of who they remember as the cheating players, parents and coaches when they were younger. Everyone remembers. Once you get the reputation, it will stay with you forever. I’ve even heard of adults conducting job interviews only to have one of the cheaters from their junior years walk into their office. Do you think that cheater from the past got the job?
There have been cases where a player’s parent was later confronted, in a business situation, with the problem parent having shown poor character at the child’s tennis tournament. They were trying to conduct a business deal; however, it was obviously difficult for the good parent to trust the other parent knowing the other parent did not exhibit mature behavior at their child’s sporting event.
Most behaviors are learned. And that behavior is learned from someone. What does that say about where these kids are learning their cheating behavior? From their parents and the adults who are influencing their lives.
One of the worst aspects of this problem is when the adults turn a blind eye. They pretend to look the other way and not see or hear what their child or student just did. These people are just as guilty as the player, maybe more so because they are the adult and they could stop this behavior. So if your child or student has the tendency to play dirty, please do the right thing and correct them now.
Tennis is one of the few sports in which participants are forced to make their own calls and judgments. The temptations are there to stray from honesty and integrity. It’s the mature players who will make the right decision when they are confronted with these situations.
Temperament behavior from our juniors has actually improved over the past few years, however, gamesmanship and cheating has increased. Keeping the temperament issue in check, everyone needs to do their part to help with this cheating issue.
Actually, there are few tennis players, parents and coaches who are guilty of cheating. But even one is too many, and these few are giving our sport a bad name. We need to do everything we can to curb this behavior and stop these few.
As is the case most weeks, this column can be transferred to almost any sport. Competition in one sport is the same as in any sport and the temptation to do whatever it takes to win is common for all athletes. That still doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
If you cheat in sports or on a school test as a kid you are training yourself to cheat as an adult whether it’s in your business, your job or your marriage. It’s not worth it. Not now, not ever.
If I have made any of you feel guilty today, I’m not sorry. If you feel even slightly guilty while reading this, then maybe it’s time for you to take an honest look at yourself and make a change.
For those of you that are guilty of this abhorrent behavior, just stop. An unfair win is a meaningless win. It’s the wrong thing to do. You can’t feel good about yourself at the end of the day. Competing will be a lot more fun because you won’t get caught up in arguments with opponents and roving umpires. You will be more popular with your fellow players and parents on and off the court. And the friendships will last a lifetime long after the competitions are over.
But most importantly, you will be developing honesty, integrity and strong character that will last a lifetime into your adulthood and long after the competitions are over. You will respect yourself and have more fun. Know the rules, respect the rules and play by the rules. It’s the right thing to do for your sport, your opponent and yourself
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