Cheating in Soccer, Cheating in Life

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The Soccer world is in an uproar about the illegal touching of the ball by Thierry Henry which allowed France to advance to the World Cup. The referee did not call the play and there is no replay facility in soccer. So the result stands. Henry admitted to what he did and I’m thankful for that. However, I’m not sure of the timing of the admission and whether it came after Fifa released its ruling letting the result stand. Henry did not admit to this mistake when first confronted.

There is much discussion about ethics and integrity in sport with the conclusion that there isn’t much. What led to this? I suspect it’s the intense competition, the incredible need to win and be #1 and our success culture. It seems that winning is all that matters and we are paying a high price for this. We accept less than stellar moral and ethical standards as long as you get the win. Our kids are being taught that winning is everything and I have seen this played out on many soccer fields. It was heartbreaking for me to watch my son spending endless time off the field in his recreational soccer league because the team and the coach knew he was really ‘good’. My son loved to play, ended up hating the sport- because the message was if he wasn’t good enough, he was worthless to the team. It was demoralizing and discouraging. Cheating was part of the game as long as you didn’t get caught.

Sound familiar? Sound like Wall Street? I wonder where they all got the idea that cheating is okay? And the only mistake is in getting caught. Have they really learned? When Goldman Sach’s chairman says he is doing God’s work, I know that we are lost. When I conducted research among exec in the brokerage business, most of them argued strongly that the problems of fraud and sketchy practices were somebody else’s doing. The industry was fine, it was just those pesky regulators always changing the rules.

With this type of scenario, is it any wonder that trust is at an all time low? Our sports stars cheat, our financial execs cheat, our politicians cheat (Afghanistan’s election comes to mind), spouses cheat. And we all manage the most perfect rationalizations as to why it’s someone else’s fault. Time to learn accountability. Why not start with kids’ sports? It’s about time.

So, what do you think ?