November 09, 2011

Corruption in sports

That corruption exists in professional sports is obvious, often caused by gambling. Usually when players get caught fixing results they face punishments of fines or suspension and exclusion form the game. Last week though, three Pakistani cricketers were sentenced to jail for periods ranging from six to thirty months for agreeing to fix games in return for money, in addition to fines and suspensions.

The deals between the gamblers and the players were arranged by an intermediary but the way that the players signaled to the bettors that they were in on the deal was by bowling a 'no ball' at a pre-determined point in the game. For those not familiar with cricket, the closest analogous situation in baseball is where a pitcher balks. This is a fairly rare event but one that is totally within the control of the pitcher and can be done at will.

Though I used to be a fan, I am now frankly sick of professional sports, and this includes the big college sports programs that seem to provide a steady stream of scandals, the most recent one being the disgusting one emerging from Penn State. I still pay casual attention to it but it increasingly seems like big business, not sport anymore, with all the venality that accompanies it.


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This has been my attitude towards professional and major college sports for some time.

In short, they don't care about me. Why should I care about them.

Posted by Henry on November 9, 2011 04:29 PM

Shalom Mano,

I am totally gobsmacked over student response to the Penn State scandal.



Posted by Jeff Hess on November 10, 2011 10:15 AM

Covering up crimes, especially sexual ones, is practically part of the job description for sports coaches at universities. I recall about a decade ago when the long standing football coach at the local university retired there was giant orgy of hero worship in the local paper and with locals that culminated in the popular demand that the stadium be named after him. The discussion of the various rapes and other crimes by student athletes that he helped cover up was relegated to the back pages in the newspaper.

I still feel sick every time I drive by the stadium with the jerk's name proudly displayed on it.

Posted by Jared A on November 10, 2011 11:09 AM

It never fails to shock me what is uncovered in sport and I don't understand how people can keep a lid on events like this. It doesn't make for a good read.

Posted by Michael Rowe on November 11, 2011 08:20 AM

Most sports are dirty, some just more blatant about it than others.

I have no doubt that since the 1960s, every single world and olympic record holder in the 100m has been dirty, on drugs or using some other method of cheating. Every. Single. One. And that includes to so-called "great" Carl Lewis. Read the link if you doubt me:

The reality is, those who run the big money sports want them dirty. Winning doesn't sell tickets and attract sponsorships, setting records does. Olympic drug testing is a sham, intended to catch a few (the stupid) while the majority (the careful) are paraded as being "clean". Marion Jones was labelled "clean" until she got careless.

The same goes in pro team sports. Major League Baseball owners want steroids in the game because homeruns and strikeouts sell tickets. Singles hitters, gold gloves and sacrifice flies don't sell tickets. Baseball is one sport that could easily and cheaply clean its game simply by enlarging the strike zone. For those who don't know baseball, a larger strike zone would mean power hitters are less valuable than contact hitters (high batting averages), and junk ball pitchers can be as successful as power pitchers. Baseball would return to being a beautiful game of strategy and skill, what people derogatorily call "little ball".

The only sport where cheating isn't as big a problem is the one where it's rampant and obvious: motorsports. Everyone knows it's going on, but because so many people change teams the risk of getting caught is high, making it easier to catch them. And there's also the fact that everyone's doing it, so no team is worse than any other. That's not to give it a clean bill of health, but at least there's more honesty to it.

If you want to see clean sports, go watch your local and lower tier sporting events (high school, youth leagues, Division III) especially when there aren't many highly talented players. When there's less chance of money influencing players, now or later, it's less likely to be tainted.


Posted by P Smith on November 11, 2011 09:47 AM

There is so many scandals in sports that it is now a fact that everyone in sports is cheating.

But with new technologies and new ways to cheat, why are records still holding? They should be beaten each year by new improved drugs and ways to cheat...

This is the case so why not letting sport people cheat, so everyone would have the same stuff...

Look at Lance Armstrong who is a great athlete, and i believe everyone in his sport take the same stuff to cheat, so why blame him afterward?

I agree that motorsports are the only ones where everyone cheat soo much that it is finally quite fair...

Posted by Christophe Mariani on November 12, 2011 09:06 AM

It is a pity that money corrupts everything.

Posted by Alex Vera on November 18, 2011 11:21 AM

Re; Michael Rowe (not THE Mike Rowe, I presume???)

It's a sad state of affairs really that you are 100% correct. It used to be if you wanted to see true sports you would skip the pros and head to a college game. Now it seems even the college level is full of performance enhancers, scandals, and worse. College sports now have just as many showboaters and individualist players as the pros (almost). So you're right, you have to find the few select lesser division colleges or go to the high school level and find those few special teams in order to see true sporting these days.

Posted by Diesel Mechanic Bill on November 18, 2011 09:54 PM

The gambling and corruption is rampant in all sports in my opinion. Maybe we should all just play the lottery instead of gambling on sports least then we wouldn't be ruining the sports we love.

Posted by Mike Smith on December 16, 2011 09:17 AM