When you can’t win a medal legitimately by winning, perhaps you can get one by losing. I know that logically this does not work, but when losing gets you seeded lower in the final round, it could actually work. At least this was the thought of a few badminton teams the other day at the Olympics. I have heard that this sort of thing is not completely unheard of in sports and that it is not classified as cheating. Why isn’t it? Cheating means to defraud, swindle or to deceive. They defrauded, swindled and deceived. It sounds like cheating to me.
Countries inherently place enormous pressure on athletes to do well in the games. Individually there are monetary benefits to winning medals that are hard to pass up. But, when teams start to lose on purpose, the fun of the sport is lost.
In youth ministry I have had students in the past who would do this. They would play a game, but intentionally mess it up for everyone. They are no fun to play with as a result and have a way of taking the fun out of competitive games. Competition is fun, when it is friendly. If no one wins, or tries to win then what’s the point?
The issue at play here is honesty. How much is it worth to give up being completely honest? The concept of deception is glamorize on television all the time. Shows like ‘Survivor’ play a game where people are lied to in order to advance in a fame worth a million dollars. Is a million dollars really worth the integrity surrendered? Is that alright because there is a game involved?
The truth is that honesty is appealing when dealing with our own personal finances or family. Companies that deal dishonestly with someone are publicly flogged. But, when it is in the name of friendly competition people look the other way.
There is a fundamental flaw in believing that honesty is only worth it sometimes. A game is only a game, but to sacrifice personal integrity for a piece of metal is absurd. Honesty means coming to grips with the reality that you might not be the best athlete in the field, or that you might not actually know everything.
Honesty is about more than just what is said. Honesty is a heart condition. It recognizes who you are and what is really going on. It does not elevate self over others and it certainly does not give up a reputation in order to get ahead. Instead, it works hard, tries its best and accepts the results. After all, wouldn’t you rather have something you truly earned instead of something that just sort of landed in your lap with limited effort?