We must rid sport of deceit and dishonesty

2018-01-21 06:05
Errol Sweeney. (Supplied)

Johannesburg - No matter what profession I undertook in my life – from daily gainful employment to my sporting activity and participation therein – I always tried to be honest.

To the non-Christian readers of this column, I apologise if I have caused you any offence. None is meant and I sincerely hope that none is taken.

Through the years, I’ve been sneered at and had snide remarks directed at me for this stance, but I warded them off and treated them with the contempt they deserved.

Highest level

Let me state here and now that this column is in no way a means of a congratulatory tap on the back for yours truly.

Far from it. It’s a way to point out how low some of our sports participants have descended in the pursuit of success.

Let’s start with my beloved soccer and the blatant and deliberate cheating and diving that goes on every week in most games, especially at the highest level.

It’s as blatant and as obvious as the nose on your face. It has got to the stage that children are now attempting to emulate their heroes on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

I’ve seen children as young as 10 falling down and calling for a free kick or a penalty kick.

I’ve seen and heard parents, yes adults, advising their offspring to “go down, you’ll get a penalty” or say: “Ref, that’s a [expletive] foul".

Having said all that, imagine my absolute delight when watching the UK Masters snooker tournament on TV the other night.

One of the greatest players to grace the sport, England’s Ronnie O’Sullivan, was lining up to take a shot.

The cue ball (the white ball) was huddled among a cluster of reds.

He was taking careful aim when he suddenly straightened up, said a few words to the referee and walked to his chair.

Sporting gesture

Commentators and the audience were surprised, to say the least. I said to my son: “What’s happening? Why did he do that?”

There didn’t appear to be anything wrong. The referee had been keeping a very close eye on proceedings and he didn’t see anything untoward.

It later transpired that O’Sullivan had touched a red ball that he was not aiming at. When I say touched, I mean touched.

Didn’t move it, just touched it, and that, in snooker, is a foul.

I have always admired this fantastic player, but his “shares” just went through the roof as far as I’m concerned. His honesty was refreshing.

Later, the commentators were discussing this very sporting gesture and were wondering what other sport, if any, enjoyed such high ethical standards. One of the commentators replied that there was probably only one. Can you guess what it is? GOLF.

They – and I – scratched our collective heads to find one or two more sporting codes, thinking there had to be some somewhere, but couldn’t find any.

Isn’t it a sad state of affairs that we have arrived at a place where people, both participants and management, will do whatever it takes to win?

The winning mentality that permeates our sports today is truly shocking and can be blamed only on the amount of money involved.

Referee system

When you have soccer players earning six-figure weekly salaries and being transferred from one club to another for tens of millions of pounds, I guess there is some understanding. But it cannot and must not be condoned.

Am I a lone voice in the wilderness with this point of view or are there others who feel the same way?

For better or worse, this is why we have the video assistant referee system in place in soccer today. A similar system already exists in tennis and rugby.

Some say it will slow the game down. Perhaps they’re right, but with such skulduggery, shenanigans and downright cheating going on, it was inevitable and necessary.

Happy whistling!

Follow me on Twitter @dr_errol

Read more on:    ethics  |  johannesburg  |  soccer


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