Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Apr 27, 2010

Cheating - thy name is Sports !!

We used to say: 
Be sporting or sportsman-like. 
It means “gentlemanly, generous, considerate, fair, just, honourable, decent. But that was rather long ago.

Now, is it still so? We will have more than one opinion!

Poor sportspersons! They also have to cheat.

We have read enough about this. Cheating wives, girlfriends, match-fixing, etc. The list can go on.

These days, India’s bad luck, there are more skeletons than cupboards. Rather the politicians and sports organizers are hiding in the cupboards and throwing the skeletons out! Some one wrote: “The Good, Bad & Lalit Modi” Only the time will tell who is who.

Some say our national pastime is cricket. Some in Eastern India say it is football. Elsewhere in the world, it is baseball, basketball, soccer, rugby, and hockey, whatever.

But when it comes to sports, mankind’s favorite pastime is lying, cheating, pulling pranks, and spreading hoaxes! Not counting sportspersons cheating their fiancé, wife and so on (and making their self-mockery public)

History is replete with instances, when some times a footballer overstates his injury or a Formula One race driver hits a wall with his car or a rugby player chews a blood capsule to pretend that he is injured.

Kirti Azad, former cricketer and presently MP said on a TV channel 3-4 days ago that while entire team can not bought, few players can always be. They will, in return, get out, drop a catch or will not take wicket!

  1. In a recent post, we read how Rosie Ruiz cheated in Boston Marathon, by joining it in the last mile! Cricket season has just been over and this is the time to take a glance about this favourite passion of the sportspersons – i.e. to cheat. Let us see some more.
  2. “Monster Bat” was used in a game of cricket in 1771 in England. The teams were Surrey Vs Hampshire (of today). The prize money was a mere fifty pound sterling (equivalent to 70,000 pounds in today’s terms).

It was to be a 2-day match and one player brought a bat so broad that it covered all the stumps. It was certainly not against the laws of the game as they stood then, but it was certainly against the spirit. The trick did not work and the opponent team won by one run!

But, within next two days, the influential Hampshire team declared “the breadth of the bat will be restricted to 4¼ inches” Three years later, the LBW law was devised, to bring some method in the madness to win name & fame and money.

  1. Money often speaks louder than one’s conscience. If it was a matter of 50 pounds in 1771 in the UK, it was a question of $100,000 in the US in 1919. One of its greatest baseball teams, Chicago White Sox – lost the World Series because its one player had ties with the underworld. Two gamblers, backed by one gangster bribed its eight players $100,000 to lose the match! 
The scandal came to the light very late in next season. All the players were banned for life from the game of baseball.

  1. In 1976 Olympics games, Onishchenko rigged the electronic scoring system in such a way that machine would score a point for him even when he has not touched his opponent in a fencing event!
  1. In 2000 Paralympic games (for the physically challenged), Spanish basketball team was declared the winner.  However, it was revealed that as many as ten of their players were not having the required ‘disabilities’ and they were forced to return their medals.
6. Tour de France is considered one of the most renowned cycling events in the world but it became notoriously well known for its scandals. A favourite contestant had to be dismissed from the race after he tested positive for transfusion of his own blood (preserved a few weeks before for this purpose), a practice not approved under the rules. The 2007 winner’s victory was called the greatest swindle in sporting history, because the winner Alberto Contador of Spain had used drugs!

  1. In 1993, Monica Seles, the tennis pro was stabbed by a German in the back so that the no.1 ranking is not snatched away from his compatriot Stefi Graff. And he did achieve his goal also. Today, Serena, Hingis, Kournikova and Seles  all have their personal bodyguards around them. ( We saw other day that even Lalit Modi has them – for beating the journalists).

  1. Who does not know Hanse Cronje, cricketing captain of S Africa.  In his confession for match-fixing, he indicated that Mohd. Azharuddin had introduced him to two bookies. The CBI report in this case reads that : “ it is clear that Azhar contributed substantially towards expanding bookies/players nexus in Indian cricket….he received large sums of money from the betting syndicates to fix matches…. He roped in other players also to fix matches….the underworld approached Azhar to fix matches for them..”

Azhar also admitted fixing three ODI matches. BCCI banned him in 2000 for life from the game of cricket. He claimed that he was targeted because he was from a minority community. This statement so much backfired that he was forced to give a public apology and withdraw his words.

On 19-2-2009, he joined Congress party and is now a MP from Muradabad, UP. Less said is better.

Others who have been banned for match fixing were Ajay Sharma ( for life) and Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja ( for some time).

  1. Can the glamourous and thrilling Formula One grand prix lag behind in the matters of swindling and scheming?

The unworthy son of a three time world car racing champion, named Nelson Piquet Jr. did something weird and unbelievable in Singapore Grand Prix in 2008!

He was asked by the team owners ING Renault to help his other team member Alonso to win. For this,  ‘all’ that Piquet will have to do was to hit the wall when the race is in full swing. If he does, perhaps his contract could be extended. He was threatened 15 minutes before the qualifying finals that he can be replaced by another driver if not agreeable to the orders.
Pequin Jr. obediently hit the wall at turn 17 in lap 12-13, very close to the spectators watching the race. He risked his own life and the lives of the sports fans and the marshals also.

No body suspected him initially. His confession came eleven months later!

Coming to a close now in somewhat lighter vein, if all this has been a painful commentary of the state of affair of sports and games ( ever since they were developed centuries ago).

  1. Sports Illustrated (SI) is a world renowned sports magazine from US. It has a weekly circulation of 3 million copies and a readership of 23 million ! It is well-known for its stunning photography as well.

At least on two major occasions, it carried articles which fooled its readers.

In 2002, it ran a five page article, profiling Simonya Popova, a female tennis sensation from Uzbekistan who mad beautiful Anna Kournikova like the old aunt Billy Jean King. No such person existed because it was a fiction! Her image was computer generated and her name was chosen from a film SimOne, the theme of which was a computer generated actress who becomes a superstar.

Readers were shocked to learn later that it was a hoax, because the article carried the interviews of three real tennis pros, which gave it unintended credibility.  But the SI team said that they had ended the five page article with a sigh: ‘ if she only existed” ! But who reads a five page article till the closing line?

SI did something similar in April 1985 also. It wrote about an incredible baseball player being trained in Florida, named Sid Finch, who had a 165 mph fastball , almost 50% faster than the existing best speed! His name was shortened from Siddharth. He was raised in  an English orphanage. He was trained in yogic powers for mind-body mastery by some lamas in Tibet.

SI received more than 2,000 responses to this article, which went on to become one of their most famous stories ever.
SI admitted, after 15 days,  on 15th April that it was a hoax.

The sub-heading of the article was :

“ He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style. Sidd’s deciding about yoga – and his future in baseball”

The first letter of each of these words, taken together spells 

H-a-p-p-y-A-p-r-i-l-F-o-o-l-s D-a-y”.