Only Cheating Yourself
Although, some feel that cheating in sports and academics can help in getting ahead and avoiding confrontation, it also leads to dishonor and hinders one from being truly successful. Cheating used to be considered an unmentionable sin. However, in this day it has become more common and somewhat of a daily occurrence.
For athletes, winning is the goal and many will do whatever it takes to win, even if that means playing unfairly. It is comforting to believe that cheaters never win and winners never cheat. People love the thrill of competition and strategy, making sports enjoyable for fans to watch. Fans will create a “mental connection” to their teams and will go as far as saying when one becomes a fan of a team, they are in fact part of a family. By doing so, this gives athletes the drive to give their fans something to talk about and they will go to any extent to be sure their “fan family” is proud and keeps rooting for them. “Cheating is as old as the sports themselves” (Pugmire). Team members will play unfairly to “get ahead.” Whether that is to make a big win in the professional leagues or to cheat in high school and college sports to make it to the top. These participants ignore ethical values and morals to be able to reach their goal. As Lance Pugmire states in his article “Cheating in Sports: Exceptions to the Rules,” “[i]f you are not cheating, you are not trying to win.” They are willing to cheat to guarantee success, either through the use of performance-enhancing drugs, the act of faking injuries, or the act of injuring others. The importance to win in sports today has led to endless methods of unethical behavior.
At first, these unfair tactics may seem to bring positive results, such as, glory and the financial incentives; however, in the end they often bring dishonor. Watching professional sports today, many would not believe the percentage of athletes who cheat. There is so much money at stake in major leagues that the temptation to “game” the system or cheat is particularly strong. In professional sports, the team members focus on the wins and how many people they can have cheering for them instead of holding the idea that one truly wins when they play their very best and play fair. Turns out, these tactics eventually bring negative results. “If you are going to take advantage of the rules, you have to be smart about it,” Fisher said, “[t]oo many people who have cheated have not been smart. That is when you have the problems” (Pugmire). Cheating is dishonorable whether or not the athlete gets caught. Pugmire states that professionals are supposed to be role models for today’s society, although, they get “powerfully motivated for the wrong reasons.”
In high school, sports are supposed to build character and instill the values of success, teamwork, and good sportsmanship (Pugmire). Pugmire’s statistics show that 65% of athletes admit to cheating through their high school career. Not only do professional athletes cheat, but so do high school and college team players. “The sporting world has produced a nonstop parade of shamed athletes who cheat their way to success” (Schaller). The players feel they have to do what it takes to win and to get them to the next level, whether that is continuing on to college leagues or professional leagues. “The athletes are not the only ones to blame,” Josephson’s report, based on interviews across the country with 5,275 high school athletes concluded, “too many coaches are teaching our kids to cheat and cut corners” (Pugmire). There has been a growing acceptance of cheating to gain advantages in competition. Although, cheating might seem to get a young athlete ahead in the game, the player is never truly winning. Values should be promoted ahead of success. There can be two winning teams on the same night, no matter what the score board reads. Sports may promote winning, but true dignity and success is shown with honesty.
Academic dishonesty for the purpose of getting ahead has been documented in most every type of educational setting, from elementary school to graduate school. Cheating on tests, homework, papers etc. has become commonplace in schools. “Educators try to teach students not to cheat, but many students still feel the need to be dishonest” (Rettinger 294). “This dishonesty is pervasive in the higher educational setting due to several potential factors, including the pressure to excel, peer perception, and the lack of faculty enforcement” (Hendricks 68). Current research shows the number of students who admit to academic cheating is increasing with time. When students are academically dishonest they are finding an easier way to complete their assignments. These acts become fundamentally destructive in the process of a student’s mastery over a subject. Many students cheat their way through high school to help them get ahead, when in all reality they are cheating themselves by not truly learning the information they need.
Many question if students cheat because they are lazy or because they are given too much work. Sometimes students get overwhelmed with the busyness of the rest of their lives that finding time to make good grades gets difficult. “In academics, the pressure to excel in every course is paramount” (Hendricks 68). Teachers will set the bar high to make sure that students benefit from their education. Students want to do well in high school to be able to get into the college of their choice and will sometimes go to any extent to reach that goal, causing students to feel pressured. At school, there is a range of academic pressure that is felt, the need for perfection, worrying over grades, parental pressure, competition, sports, or a tough class. Schools are mostly based on how well students do, and those letter grades determine futures. High school is where the pressure to excel and be better than the rest begins. “After constant reminders that cheating is not acceptable, delinquent behavior should decrease in the college years; unfortunately, it is actually quite prominent” (Hendricks 68). This pressure to do well brings stress to many students and colleagues. Choosing positive and supportive friends to help relieve stress can help maintain an enjoyable lifestyle or it can become the reason behind stress.
Student’s attitudes toward academic cheating can be influenced by simply witnessing a peer’s dishonest behavior; however, few realize the dishonor that can result. Cheating has become a result of social values, instead of moral values (69). Some peers perceive cheating as an accepted behavior. When pupils see others doing this unethical act and receiving positive results, they begin to see it as okay. Also, students, especially in their high school years really care about what others think of them. So when a classmate asks for an answer, if the student cheats, then they are, in turn, more likely to be liked. Some outgrow this unmoral act, but too many bring it into their college years as well. In a self-reported study by Staats, more than fifty percent of college students admit to cheating at least once in their academic career. Also, a study by Chan stated that out of approximately 800 participants only three claimed they had never academically cheated in college (69). Copying answers is not the only form of academic cheating, but also giving or selling answers. Peers cheat off one another for many reasons, one being motivation. Students are not always motivated to learn the material, but to make good grades. A student who is motivated by performance is more likely to cheat, while a learning-motivated student is less likely to cheat (Rettinger 294). It is not only the students who often lack motivation but also the instructors.
Teachers being slack hinders students from truly being successful. Students have many different methods of cheating, especially with the technology today. Cheating occurs in classrooms for various reasons and at deferring rates, depending on the particular student and the particular classroom (Hendricks 69). Students have gotten more creative with their ways of getting around the system, so instructors can get lazy in trying to put a stop to it. “Though most professors assume that a handful of students might cheat, it is important to asses why a student cheats in order to prevent academic dishonesty from growing into a common occurrence” (69). Maybe the teacher is giving too much work too fast. Instructors always try to teach students not to cheat, but too often they will let it slide. Although, educational institutions have strict academic dishonesty policies, the professors are the ones responsible for enforcement. Maybe if the issue of academic dishonesty was pushed, it would improve a student’s motivation. When teachers are motivated to really teach their class, instead of giving busy work, it shows the students that their teacher cares about their success. Personally, I know that when my teacher tries to make learning fun and they put forth effort, it makes me as well put forth effort.
People always say “cheaters never win, and winners never cheat.” Yet only about fifty percent of students and athletes truly believe and follow this statement. Many find this dishonest behavior beneficial at first, helping them to gain an advantage and get ahead; however, the act of cheating can become harmful and result in long term problems. For every action there is a reaction. With cheating come consequences. Whether it is getting kicked out of a college or everyone finding out that the winner in a sports game was just a phony. Cheating is deceitful, dishonest, and hurtful to the cheater and possibly those around them. One is truly successful when honesty is chosen over the possibility of getting ahead.