For if we do, let’s build a Cheaters Hall of Fame that ranks the most distinguished, despised, cheaters amongst us. And for that cheater – the award for 2015 must go to Kendall, for she didn’t even pretend, ostensibly, virtually, actually, or otherwise - to run the race, having entered it after the last check point. I mean, if you are going to cheat, run the 26.2 miles and cheat by putting itching powder in uniforms of all your competitors, or something. Or hide all their shoes the night before. At least make an honest effort to cheat. Geez, who knew we needed a cheaters scale?
In America’s “pastime” baseball, cheating is almost lauded and lionized - so long as the cheating doesn't involve drugs. But if you steal catcher signs while standing on second, or spit on the baseball, while standing on the mound, or hit with a corked bat while standing at the plate, well, those time tested, time honored transgressions are just part of the game. Play ball! The difference between our baseball cheaters and Schler are the ingredients of skill, talent, and effort – the baseball players still need them.
So Kendall's cheating is particularly egregious. Cheating to get an edge, here or there, is one thing. Complete and callous misrepresentation is another. At least if she had run the race and won by cheating with home-made rocket powered shoes, we could admire her ingenuity.
Equipment cheats are somewhat admired. Garth Snow, the Philadelphia goalie back in 1997 wore shoulder pads so huge, so oversized, a family of two could room there. Yet because the NHL, at that time, did not have specific sizes for such pads on the books, all he broke was the spirit of the game’s mores. (His miscreant ways didn’t hurt his future job prospects in the NHL either: he later became the NY Islander’s general manager and president.)
Or how about the equipment shenanigans of one Carl Brewer, who played defense for the Toronto Maple Leafs, a million or so years ago - before they became an utterly ugly joke (and team-cheated by purporting to be a NHL franchise)? Carl cut the leather palms out of his hockey gloves so he could hold foes without anyone noticing.
So hockey and baseball, we know, harbored sly individual devils, not above cheating, or at least skirting the edges of fair-to-foul play. But in some sports, like curling, for instance, cheating was so frowned upon – and the players were so decent - for a long time competitors were to call themselves out - if they "burned" a rock by touching it with their foot while sweeping, for example. Nowadays, such an honor system would seem naively quaint, even stupid.
OK, we’ve touched upon individuals – but how about that team cheating stuff? Many know the outlines of the 1919 Chicago White Sox “Black Sox” cheating scandal which had eight of their players accused of cheating - playing below par for payoffs from gamblers - in the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. At least here one can slightly sympathize with their rationale and roguishness. The team owner, Charles Comiskey, was miserly to the nth degree, 9th inning, anyway. Players were hurting, and hungry for cash. Fair enough. Sort of. So team cheating has a history...
But literally, nothing but nothing can top, or bottom, the bogusness of the 2000 Paralympics Spanish Men’s basketball team. The 12 players were supposed to be of below intelligence. 10 of them were perfectly normal in IQ – but obviously leagues below in morality and ethics. They faked being sub-standard (an IQ had to be below 70), won the gold, and were only later disqualified when their celebratory acts looked normal. These fiends are the worst example of cheats coming and going... In a way, maybe the 10 cheaters are way, way, way dumb. Did they honestly think they wouldn't feel guilty for the rest of their lives?
At least the White Sox and Spaniards were adults. How should we grade adults who cheat out kids? Should there be a special, stinky, icky, dirty category for their machinations?
Kids are innocents – at least so far as administrative acts of larceny are involved. You need adults to pad a roster and nefariously pick the cream of the crop from a too-wide pool of eligible players. Here, we’re talking about the Jackie Robinson West, little league baseball team from Chicago. Their national title was stripped from their small shoulders by Little League Baseball, because they had used ineligible players – some being from outside the allowed geographical boundaries. Here is a situation even viler than the Spanish one.
But back to the bigger question. Why do we cheat? If you say you’ve never cheated, you’re a liar. We all have fudged in some ways, minutely or hugely. Is it because we lack self-esteem? Is it the chance for monetary reward, or fame? Is it because of blackmail or peer pressure? Or because we’re bored, or angry with the world? We get sucked into this vortex early. Heads I win, tails you lose - we know that crack from when we were kids...
Let’s close with Kendall. The wayward woman is, ahem, running in good company. Serial cheat Rosie Ruiz cheated in the New York AND Boston marathons. Clearly, Kendall has a way to go before she can fill Rosie shoes – but give her time: her ethics reservoir is dry of honesty and barren of sincerity. Undoubtedly, she can run on those sad facts for miles and miles – from here to eternity...