I’ve had an interest in Nascar, and most motorsports, for years. With the recent fines imposed on teams and the expulsion of crew chiefs for cheating, it seems Nascar has joined the ranks for sports that are character-challenged.
Before any sports fans get defensive, let me clarify: I know that not all professional athletes use performance enhancing drugs, cheat, or behave badly off the court or field. But you’ve got to admit that the NBA, NFL, professional cycling and now Nascar provide ongoing examples of the underbelly of professional sports.
In Nascar, they say it’s only cheating if you get caught. It is a light hearted comment, but the reality is that cheating is cheating whether or not you get caught.
Yes, professional sports are entertainment, and maybe that is part of the problem. But with so many amateur athletes who aspire to go pro, wouldn’t it be nice if there were more visible and consistent role models of character in professional sports?
Nascar had its original roots in running moonshine, a quaint concept now but obviously high-illegal back then. Nascar established itself as a legitimate motorsport and won fan loyalty by being “grassroots”. As popularity grew, so did sponsorships and money. Of late there is more at stake financially, so could that be one reason why cheaters take more risks and get caught more often?
Cheating in business was once taken more lightly until Enron and WorldCom showed us that cheating is never good and at worst disastrous. When will professional sports learn what companies learned the hard way.
Kudos to those who continue to play their sports, amateur or professional, the “old way:” through commitment, practice and hard work within the rules of the game.