Cheating is cheating. That’s all there is to it. No getting around it. You can explain it away or justify it or blame someone else for it, but it’s still cheating. Like other behaviors, however, I suppose you could categorize cheaters to some degree. Take Bill Belichick for example. He’s what I’d call a “no good, evil, low-down, win-at-any-cost” cheater. Remember in 2007 when he sent a videographer over to the other team’s sidelines to capture play calls? Unscrupulous fellow, that Belichick. He was fined half a million bucks and his team was fined another $250,000. Cheating on that scale is expensive business.
Then you have the “everyone’s doing it” cheater. Cameron Van der Burgh, this summer’s Olympic gold-medal-winning swimmer from South Africa admitted, without shame or guilt, that he indeed took extra dolphin kicks (two extra, to be exact), violating Olympic Committee rules. The time for sanction had elapsed and so Van der Burgh admitted his wrongdoing without fear of losing his medal. He apparently felt he was justified and therefore offered no apology.
Sexual infidelity is so rampant among politicians, celebrities and athletes (and the rest of us too) that it’s impossible to name any particularly egregious offender. Apparently it has turned out okay, however, for South Carolina’s ex-governor Mark Sanford. He announced recently that he is engaged to his “soul mate.” You remember, the one he was canoodling with in Argentina while the taxpayers of his state and his family thought he was hiking the Appalachians. He lay in wait in a restaurant bathroom for an hour to surprise his girlfriend with a proposal. Seems an appropriate spot, don’t you think?
The cheating cyclists are a breed of their own. They fall into the “if you don’t get caught” or the “deny till you die” category. Floyd Landis would be a member of the former group until he, well, got caught. Now he’s claiming that EPO doping is the foundation of competitive cycling and that everyone does it, even Lance Armstrong. Armstrong’s a member of the latter group, which might be more aptly named “deny till you die, or until your guilt is so evident that your continued defense is an embarrassment to you and your family.”
The next category is my favorite one: the “too stupid to realize you’ll get caught” cheaters. Last week, a member of the U.S. National Scrabble Association cheated during the third round of the annual championship in Orlando. The player, a minor whose name has not been released (no big deal, his parents probably grounded him for life), palmed two blank tiles from a previous game in hopes that he could use them during the game he was playing. A fellow player spotted them in junior’s lap. Now, for those of you who have never played Scrabble, there are 100 tiles. Not 102. There are only two blanks, not four. And Scrabble officials can count as well as they spell.
Lastly, there are the cheaters who don’t get caught. Let’s face it, sometimes a cheater doesn’t get found out, whether it’s sexual infidelity, cheating on your taxes, or discovering the case of soda on the bottom of the cart that didn’t get rung up. You can call it necessary, justified or good luck. I’d call it cheating.