11 09 2010

If you know me you will know that I am passionate about sport. I was brought up in a home where sport was always centre stage, we played, we watched, we discussed. Later on I became an athlete then a coach and in recent years I have worked closely with any number of organisations in the hope of improving the development of sport.

Yet I ask, even for someone like myself, is there a point at which sport loses credibility?

Fernando Alonso

This week we have seen Ferrari let off any meaningful punishment for a blatant breach of the rules of Formula One at the German Grand Prix. As a fan of motor sport, someone who spends a lot of money following the sport each year, how should I feel should Fernando Alonso win the world driver’s title by less than the seven points he gained by his team’s cheating?


I’m less of a snooker fan but in the same week we have seen John Higgins also let off any meaningful punishment for being caught on film agreeing to take £300,000 to throw a game. Next time we see him miss an easy pot; can we believe what we are seeing?

In both instances the governing bodies tasked with protecting the integrity of the two sports in question have let the very same sports, and thereby the fans, down.

But I am not picking on motor sport and snooker, the fall in standards, the acceptance of cheating as the ‘norm’ is rife. The issue of taking bribes and spot betting has been at the forefront of cricket news, rugby union suffered the ‘bloodgate’ fiasco and in football ‘diving’ has become an accepted part of the sport, even cheered by fans of the player getting away with it.

Standards in football have even dropped to the level where a player who has served a ban for missing a drug test is seen as a better option as national team captain to one who has cheated on his wife.

Athletics, swimming, cycling and other sports have all had their share of performers who thought they could cheat their competitors and the fans by taking illegal substances or who missed tests put in place to catch such cheating, but at least in those sports the governing bodies don’t then reward the individuals concerned.

Cheating is cheating. The rules of each sport define what is and is not permitted. An athlete taking steroids is no more or less a cheat than the cricketer deliberately bowling no balls or the footballer taking a dive to win a penalty.

Sport isn’t losing its moral compass, it has already lost it. Following the latest high profile contributions to sport’s ethical decline from Formula One, snooker and cricket is there a point at which credibility drops to the point at which we lose faith in what we are watching?

Where is the point at which sport will lose its public or, are we all contributing to the moral decline by simply accepting cheating as an integral part of sport, an acceptable way to improve the chances of fame, fortune or victory?

© Jim Cowan, Cowan Global Limited, 2010

Twitter @cowanglobal



2 responses

14 09 2010
Mark Leary

I think football is already close to losing it’s public.

Ordinary fans feel alienated from the players, who earn ridiculous amounts of money, only to put in the kind of performances we saw at the World Cup and act like thugs and idiots off the pitch (Rooney anyone?).

As a life-long football fanatic even my interest wavered over the summer and I genuinely wasn’t looking forward to the new season as I still felt aggrieved after the World Cup.

But… we’re a few weeks into the season and it’s ‘getting’ me hooked again, Sky TV and the club chairman know this, that fans can’t give up on the thing they love and play on that with increasing ticket prices etc.

I’ll let you know if I’ve ‘finally’ had enough by the seasons end.

15 09 2010
Richard Waldridge

It seems to me that almost all sports can be ‘manipulated’ in some way or other with money – as long as it’s there, someone will benefit from it somehow. We are trying to develop a new formula of oval motor racing whereby money does not get you the wins or the plaudits. Keep it simple, monitor the costs on a regular basis and make sure that the rules are adhered to. All our drivers and associates run with the same ethos thereby hopefully eliminating the high costs that are normally associated with some motorsports to achieve ‘the win’, keeping it like this and the fun element remains, controlling it on the other hand, well we’ll keep you informed…

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