That’s Just Not Cricket

Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald.

Any readers who are cricket fans will have struggled to miss the controversy of two weeks ago.  English all-rounder, Stuart Broad, elected not to ‘walk’ even though he knew he had edged the ball to, firstly the wicket keeper and then the slip.

For any who do not follow cricket; the furore was because the honesty part of the game was called into question.  The moral fibres of the game being lost are worrying for the traditionalists, but merely part of the evolution of the sport for the newer members of the cricketing fraternity.

This is much the same for Formula One, and the way in which the rules and regulations are respected.  Is pushing the limits as far as you like okay, as long as you do not get caught?  Michael Schumacher, all those years ago in 1994, springs to mind.  Is it a fair way to win the WDC by taking out your opposition?  A sportsman would do whatever he (or she) can to win.  After all, ‘Winning is everything!’

A look at nature

The Queen wasps in a nest will eat the eggs of other Queens in order to guarantee they win the battle for dominance.  By ensuring there is no competition, there is no possibility of a struggle.  This basic desire to succeed is something which is paralleled in the Formula One paddock as well.  There are no prizes for 2nd place, as Felipe Massa would tell you.

Fernando Alonso has lost 3 separate WDCs at the final race of the season in 2007, 2010 and 2012.  2010 and 2012 must have been especially tough, given he was leading the WDC, at some point in the day, in both of these cases.  Although, even he has been involved in more than one scandal over the years…

A driver and more importantly, a personality, like Fernando Alonso, which controls all aspects of a team so tightly, would surely know the entire goings on, down to the core management.  So how could he have not known a thing about 2007 and spy gate.  Then there is the following year, a planned crash around the streets of Singapore to bring out the safety car.

Are mind games any different?

So why is it frowned upon to break or bend the rules, but perfectly fine to distract your opponent with games that will affect them mentally.  Last year (2012), we heard of rumours being spread by, (as it has now come to light) the Maranello setup, of Sebastian Vettel moving to Ferrari in 2014.  Christian Horner’s words over the team radio in Brazil referencing this.

All this, after Red Bull were vilified for their engine mapping antics at the German GP earlier in the year, which eventually caused a change in rules from the FIA.  At the time, this was not against the rules, so surely this was a clever move, not one to be frowned upon.

Money changes everything, right?

If the £££ signs increase at the same rate that success does, how can human beings be expected to not ‘cheat’.  If as they say, ‘money makes the world go round’, then that would be the motivation for professional sportsman to cheat.  However, that does not explain the reason for cheating at an amateur level.  This would take it back to a more primal desire to win at any cost.

If you can’t beat them, join them!

Lance Armstrong, in the words of the UCI, “ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”  People everywhere were outraged by the cheating that went on, but in truth people in they should be applauding him and the US postal team.

It is widely known that a high percentage of cyclists at the time were using illegal methods to enhance their riding potential; it was Lance Armstrong who was able to maximise this.  Professionalised for me is the key word.  Blood doping had become a profession, and the man from Texas was the best at it.

There is only one man who finished in the top 3 in the Tour De France during Armstrong’s reign (1999-2005), who has not been linked to a drugs scandal.  He was Fernando Escartín, who described the situation as, “illogical and unreal.”  However, it seems perfectly logical to anybody outside of the sport…

When glory is involved, it means so much more to so many more.

So maybe we should be teaching kids everywhere to be more like Stuart Broad.  Honesty and integrity are noble, but they are rarely awarded.  After all, it was that ‘non-walking’ incident which in truth won the match for England.  Worth it?

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25 responses to “That’s Just Not Cricket

  1. Brilliantly written article, but I have to disagree on one thing. The outrage about Armstrong was not mainly about his doping – as you wrote everyone did it – the thing what made him fall from grace so violently was that he engaged in outright criminal action to protect his “secret”. After several of his former team mates had testified against him, he slandered Betsy Adreu, psycho-terrorized Levi Leipheimer’s wife and threatened Tyler Hamilton. He gave false testimony under oath in the SCCA case and he sued money from the Sunday Times, fully knowing that their article was truthful. You can’t compare Armstrong to Schumacher, RB or that cricket chap. Armstrong is a raging psychopath, the latter three aren’t.

    But a very thought-provoking article overall, I like it 🙂

    • He had gone to the point of no return; but yes they are on different levels.

    • ” the thing what made him fall from grace so violently was that he engaged in outright criminal action” — this is simply not true and I’m shocked that the Judge would allow such a radical distortion of the record to appear on this site, even as a comment! Armstrong did not engage in criminal conduct, or else he would’ve been charged (and convicted)!

      • Joe, you’ve been a (confessed) doper yourself. You should know better than most of us. Have you read the USADA’s reasoned decision? Armstrong is guilty of perjury, drug trafficking and blackmail. Read Levi Leipheimer’s affidavit about the threatening SMS’s his wife received.

        And Armstrong IS being charged or did you forget Landis’s whistleblower suit?

    • Lance Armstrong: “These accusations make my blood boil Danilo! .”

      “but luckily I’ve someone else’s in my fridge”.

    • And no disrespect to you personally, Danilo, but I stand by my reply/comment, that it’s completely not true that Armstrong engaged in criminal conduct in the US. In fact, the US DOJ closed its criminal investigation and the only outstanding action in which the gov’t is involved is purely civil.

      Cheers.

      • Joe, after you confessed to doping yourself, how can you defend a man like Armstrong? Seriously, he cannot be charged for most of his crimes because too much time has passed (don’t know the english word for it). He gave false testimony in court, under oath, that’s a criminal offense in every judicial system.

  2. Cricket… the bane of my life. Then again I’m Italian.
    I still have nightmares of Sunday Grandstand back in the 80’s starting with the first few laps of F1 and then heading off to hours of cricket with Boycott playing… ZZZzzzzz

  3. Just to clarify, as someone intimately involved in professional cycling and doping and Armstrong, USADA’s claim that USPS ran most sophisticated doping program ever was a load of BS, a soundbite delivered for consumption by the uninitiated and sophisticated fans and media alike.

    In reality, the most sophisticated (and nefarious) doping program of all time was that orchestrated on a national — NATIONAL — basis by the East German state.

    Those so inclined can learn much more about it in “Faust’s Gold: Inside The East German Doping Machine” from amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Fausts-Gold-Inside-German-Machine/dp/0312269773?tag=s601000020-20).

    Just saying we should be correct in this. And it was for national political reasons, and not money, that the most sophisticated and nefarious doping system was established lol…but that was a lifetime ago, during the Cold War (remember that?).

    • Very good point Joe. But could you say the political reasons were also motivated by money? What is politics for that matter? It all seems to boil down to who can stay in power for the longest and the biggest gain…

      • The East German doping regime was established for one reason alone – to show that our system was superior to that of the West.
        I was born and raised in the G.D.R. You have to understand two things:

        a)
        Within the Eastern bloc, the GDR was ‘the west’, the promised land. It had the strongest economy of all non-USSR states. It was so bad that the Soviets banned us from producing certain things (airplanes and heavy railway machinery for instance) and moved such industries to other states (aircraft prod mainly to Poland and Czechoslovakia, Heavy Locos to USSR and Romania).
        Foir all the economic power within the eastern bloc (in comparison to the west we were still a 3rd world country), the GDR wasn’t officially recognized by most states until 1974. So the regime decided that massive success in sports would be a tool to gain recognition.

        b)
        The sporting successes were also needed for internal matters. Most people saw themselves as Germans, not citizens of the GDR, The man on the street never saw west germany as a foreign country. The regime wanted sporting successes, hoping that people would start identifying themselves with the state, not Germany as a whole.

        • Thanks for this fascinating insight from inside the DDR, Danilo.

          Just curious, were you a support/fan of Ullrich? He is such a great guy, not pretentious or threatening at all, someone who I enjoyed very much so training w/ in Tuscany in ’06, just before his abrupt fall from grace. I remember when he won World’s as a 19 year old amateur…what a precocious talent, and unlike Lance, Jan was the real deal, even if he had to dope as well ultimately to maintain form against other elite dopers.

    • There is no question that in contrast to the state-driven doping program of East Germany, Armstrong’s operation looked positively amateur. For that matter, however, things tend to be looked upon pretty one-sided these days. All the way through the 80’s and 90’s American Track&Field athletes were part of a systematic doping regime that could easily rival the East Germans. Someone remember Flo-Jo? Some east european results looked positively natural in comparison.

      This whole doping business is, where I think Adam’s comparison is slightly flawed. Things like Red Bull’s engine mapping skullduggery or Ferrari’s starting grid manipulation at Austin last year are things that bend the rules, but can be argued to be just within the rules, technically. Doping is outright fraud and a blatant violation of the rules. So these two things aren’t really comparable.

      • GDR? Thing with doping is, define what doping means? Supplements, synthetic produced growth hormone etc or natural performance enhancing food?

        Agree though, there are rules and if they are ambiguous and there are loopholes exploit them. When there are rules and you look at how not to get caught… Well that does not seem so right.

      • But what I strayed away from slightly was that if everybody is doing it, at what point does it become ok?

        • Good debate raised, Adam. There are many ethical/moral grey areas around a lot of this: “using the rules to your benefit” versus “breaking the rules” and “spirit of the rules/sport” versus “playing to the rules” are but two of them.

          Personally, I lament some of the things we now see in cricket, but then I only ever played at club level and even there some people played it more “straight” than others. I can only imagine what the pressures are like at the top level…

          Nonetheless, I still subscribe to the concept that it is not only THAT you win…it is HOW you win. My own participation in motorsport is rallying where the rule of thumb isn’t “no cheating” (as per golf, for example) but it’s “if you wouldn’t be happy to tell everyone in the bar afterwards what you did, you probably shouldn’t have done it”. Is that “ethical”?? We seem to think so, but others may disagree…

          Good article!!

        • Adam, that’s where personal ethics comes into play. Some things, you might feel, are NOT okay just because everyone else is doing them. If that’s how it feels, then don’t do it. Really, winning is NOT everything. Knowing you didn’t cheat, even if others are, should give you knowledge about yourself and your relationships with others. I was racing FF years ago, and everyone was pretty much using illegal cams; I didn’t, and felt way better about winning than if I had cheated. You have to follow your own conscience in these things and decide for yourself what’s right. There isn’t a ‘point’ where it becomes okay. Reading the post above, I was surprised at the concluding statement: honesty and integrity are rarely rewarded. That’s weird to me. They are their own reward.

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