It’s only cheating if you get caught

Is that your mantra; are you ok with the statement about not getting caught?

This is an except from a Jim Rome post and includes a saying he uses on his radio show quite often: ‘But no sooner than I did that ESPN reported that both the men and womens’ basketball programs sent hundreds of impermissible texts and made hundreds of impermissible calls. As always if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying and it’s only cheating if you get caught. And apparently you were. So go ahead and expect the NCAA to come in and smash you again. You have my apology Baylor fan, now I’m waiting on yours.’

I thought of this post as I was watching a baseball game and a pitcher was thrown out of the game for having a ‘foreign substance’ in his glove so he could doctor the ball. In essence this was giving him an unfair advantage to succeed.

Baseball is rife with cheating; so much so, they reward you for stealing bases. Historically, opposing teams will try to steal the other teams signals; some players might cork a bat for extra pop; and some players even inject themselves with steroids to improve their performance, which is a banned substance in baseball.

Baseball is the one sport where this is somewhat expected, but is it right?

Where have all the good men gone? 

When did trust, integrity, character and common sense fall out of vogue? This is a story in my paper about a local securities firm apparently ripping off the elderly. Innocent until proven guilty I suppose, and I know this guy; but even if the charges are false, how can you allow yourself to walk such a thin line this is even a possibility?

Well, you should be able to trust your coach, right? Jerry Sandusky, assistant head coach at Penn State University was convicted on multiple charges of forcing himself on and having sex with under-aged boys. He started a foundation to help ‘at risk’ children but ultimately used this foundation to have complete access to the young men in his programs. I would have been sorely disappointed in our justice system if the verdict would have been different.

On a less serious note, here is an article about cheating in schools in the standardized test taking process. There is such pressure for schools to have passing grades to receive sufficient funding, it makes if very easy to go down this slippery slope if certain people in charge were so inclined.

Do the pressures of receiving certain results make ‘crossing the line’ ok?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg; those are stories from my local paper. Unfortunately, nobody is immune as there are stories about politicians, clergy, bookkeepers, booster club treasurers, on and on and on.

Did these people think as long as they don’t get caught it’s ok; they haven’t crossed the line?

Ok, Mr Glass House

Ah yes, Teflon as in my doody don’t stink; Mr Perfecto… me, I am nowhere near perfect. I go over the speed limit; I have music on my iPod that wasn’t paid for; I have not returned to the store when someone gave me too much change. And those are only the ones I’m willing to share. But I’m still a nice guy, right? That gives me a hall pass, right? That allows me to get away with the little stuff, right?

Is that where it all starts?

Nobody is perfect but it’s just so disappointing when you see people in authority or power who should be role models let us down. We are all exposed to temptations and who knows where that tipping point will be, when you say to yourself ‘just this one time, nobody will know.’

Do you think this type of behavior is more prevalent now? Do you think because it happens so frequently there is less shock value associated with these actions and it’s easier to fall victim to temptation?

I don’t have an answer

I just know I don’t want to be that guy. When I decided to get married and have a family the last thing I ever wanted to do was something that would embarrass my family. That is certainly a good enough deterrent for me and hopefully remains so.

Where is your moral compass? I’m certainly not one to judge, but is 70% a passing grade? Is being a good person, good enough?

Do we even care?


58 thoughts on “It’s only cheating if you get caught

  1. I care, and my moral compass is strong…polite to a fault, honest as the day is long. I think it derives from two things. Clear, strong guidance from my working-class Finn grandparents who, if they didn’t have a dime between them, would try to find the owner of the money they found on the road. And second…sports. Yes, that business that now finds cheating as a norm.

    For me, as a coach and trainer, there is NO room for cheating, in sports or in life. Win it fair and square, or go home. Most people tell me I’m being naive and Pollyana’ish, because cheating IS the playing field. I.Don’t.Care…that does not wash with me. With every team and every athlete I’ve ever worked with, the rules have been clear. NO grey area. Same goes for raising my children. There’s right and there’s wrong: there’s no in between.

    It’s a topic I’m particularly fervent about, especially as it hits the news with the Lance Armstrong enquiry, Ben Johnson disgrace, and sadly, so many others. It doesn’t make it right because “others are doing it”. That’s like saying “if everyone jumped off the bridge into the water, would you do it too?”

    Yikes, this could become a blog post…maybe it will.

    I care. Deeply and passionately. Cheating is cheating…period. Cheers! Snowshoes

  2. Well put, Kaarina: cheating is cheating. Full stop. And right does not equal justice. And even if some clever Italian once wrote “the end justifies the means” I will not ever become a Macchiavellian disciple.

    Enters morale and ethics, I do not want to judge others, I still believe in what I was brought up: a set of (maybe sometimes rigid) rules of not hurting other people willingly, of not stealing or breaking the laws. I am far from being perfect and in my hay days succumbed to the my peer group challenges of shoplifting but did I hate the feeling of doing something not right, the adrenaline rush did not match it.

    Bill, what a start to a new week, and like you said “it’s just so disappointing when you see people in authority or power who should be role models let us down”. Thank you and I hope you had a lovely weekend.

    • Weekend was nice but very wet; we have an almost hurricane sitting in the Gulf of Mexico bringing lots of rain, but much needed rain.

      I’ve done some silly things as well and can assure you the ends never justified the means if I wasn’t doing the ‘right’ thing.

      Hopefully speeding is the worst of my offenses; that I can live with.

      Good to see you Barbara.

  3. I wouldn’t know how strong my moral compass is but I am fairly sure I have a little guy called conscience living somewhere. As a person who has been a “victim” of cheating, I still really don’t get it. Some claim to give the “I don’t know what to say” and “I am sorry” but I feel cheating is something that should be dealt with at the first time itself. Cheating is cheating. End of story. If you have done it once, you get stronger and more willing to do it again and again.

    As for people in power being the bad guys, nothing could be worse than the corrupt politicians I have back home. Sometimes it makes think – did I really vote for them? But then, the big guys are just too tough to fight back so you sit back and see them doing the dirty thing and then you silently wish it changes someday.

    And yes, what’s with the not returning extra change…? 😉

    • It really is sad to see people in power and control take advantage of their position for ill- gotten gains. When and what makes them cross that line; do they think they are ‘above’ it now?

      Most people know right from wrong; it’s when they try to split hairs or look for loopholes to justify their actions. Shame on them, right?

      Ok, ok; shame on me. That has happened maybe twice in my life where I’ve already left the store and realized I’ve been given too much money. The flip side is, I’ve been short-changed more times than that, but it still doesn’t make it right. Never again my dear….

      Good to see you; hope you had a great weekend.

      • Maybe they think its okay to steal from the public because the public voted for them in the first place.How they go to sleep at night is beyond me!

        As for people looking for excuses for their cheating, shame on them. Cheating is bad enough but if they haven’t realized they have done something wrong, it is just downhill from there.

        Weekend was all right! Summers are here….we are being baked at 43 C! 😦

      • Yes, summer is here too but now we have a hurricane out in the Gulf and we have had more rain in 3 days than we have had all year; feast or famine, huh?

        You don’t need a rule book to know right from wrong; if it doesn’t past the smell test, then don’t eat it, right? That shouldn’t be too hard…….

  4. Thank goodness Kaarina’s comment was the first because she’s definitely got my vote on this one. Cheating is wrong and there’s no nice way to put it.

    I was raised to be honest, polite and considerate of others. Am I a perfect person? No, I speed too Bill sometimes. Not as much as in my younger days but I’m no cheater.

    It gripes my you know what when I hear of these big wigs thinking they are above us all because of their positions. That makes my stomach turn and they are the ones we should be sure and make an example of.

    Does that mean some people will have it all and the rest of us won’t. Probably but in athletics, coaching, mentoring, etc. you need to be honest. Abusing the system and in Jerry Sandusky’s case the kids, you should be put away. Makes me sick just thinking about that. What does that say to everyone else trying to make an honest buck. Crime pays!

    Okay, I better quit while I’m ahead or I’ll get on a rant.

    Great topic Bill… Now, have an awesome day!


    • I’m afraid we have become more tolerant of bad behavior and some people think ‘whatever it takes’ but that is a sad state of affairs. If you have to cheat and lie to get by, you probably need to rethink your mission or purpose in life.

      There is just too much of it these days, don’t you think?

      • One thing we have definitely forgotten is to differentiate between the not so right and plain out right. Keeping the change might be unintentional and it definitely doesn’t qualify as being under the sad state of affairs. But when you go ahead and abuse humans and their dignity and respect, that is when you get a sad nod of the head.

      • Thanks for giving me a hall pass on keeping the change…….:). I assure you, it was after I left the store and was too lazy to make the effort to return. That doesn’t justify my actions, but that’s my excuse………:). The problem is, if you can justify something in your mind then the line between right and wrong is no longer a straight line, but becomes a squiggly line. That’s not good……

  5. Hi Bill, I’m not sure whether anyone will admit to cheating, but I am with you and your other commenters. Cheating is wrong and my husband and I try to impress that ideal on our girls. Doing the right thing isn’t the same as doing the easy thing, but the right thing is what must be done.

    I’m not perfect either, especially with the speed limit, though all my iTunes songs are legally purchased.

    I don’t know how people like Sandusky and Madoff live with themselves. Better to sleep well with a clear conscience, I think.

    • Ok, the songs were still illegally obtained, but I didn’t download them. I just copied somebody else’s entire music file; shame on me, right? What if that was my music being pirated?

      I consider Madoff and Sandusky way over the edge however. Jail for life is a good place for them; I just hate we have to pay for it.

      Good to see you; hope you weekend went well.

  6. Well sometimes I take shortcuts (conscious choices not justified by any form of rationalism) in life, but, if caught, I’m willing to pay the penalty. I guess one penalty I’m not willing to pay is an act that really makes me feel bad or unworthy. Speeding, watching pirated pay per view sporting events and inflating my credentials on various applications doesn’t make me feel bad. On 3 separate occasions in one month I found wallets containing healthy amounts of money and spent a significant amount of time locating the owners and returning the wallets. I couldn’t do otherwise. My definition of right and wrong feels inconsistent to me.

    • I have inconsistencies too; a wallet I would return. Even a sack of money I would try to find the rightful owner. I don’t want ill gotten gains at the expense of someone else.

      Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, right? If I am guilty of any infraction I will certainly own up to it.

      Nobody is perfect and knowing the difference between right and wrong; hopefully I will make the right choice when the time comes.

      Good to see you Riley.

    • Cheating does = no; always. Just do the right thing, right? We all know what right and wrong is; we don’t need to look in a rule book.

      Good to see you; thanks for coming by.

  7. I have been looking for that thing everywhere, my moron compass…….

    I guess you could look at it this way. It’s only cheating to you if you don’t feel anything about it. Then again, is that not a sociopath? If you have a conscience and feelings then cheating would have an effect on how you feel about yourself. We all know it’s not as good as winning in a legit way.

    Anyway, I just think we are are exposed to so much more media crap these days that it just seems like there is more negativity than ever. Maybe regulations and penalties are just too lax and society is just not as diligent in enforcing against this type of activity anymore. Maybe the pressure to exceed the guy next door is just too much for us anymore. Anything to edge past the next guy drives us to look for any advantage.

    Sandusky is a royal douche. Guys like that need to be made examples of. There is no punishment worse enough for a guy like that. The fact that he got away with it for so long chafes my you know what.

    On a lighter note I didn’t cheat on my golf score this weekend. Horrid outing though. 97. OUCH! Well, at least I was under a 100.

    • Trust me, I know Mr Moron very well. I do think some of these people who do dastardly things and sleep well at night are sociopath’s to a certain degree. There definition of right and wrong could be totally different than most.

      Unfortunately, sometimes you are so driven to succeed you know if you can just do that one little thing and not get caught it will put you over the top. I see it in my business of commercial sales and have seen some people do criminal things to get a deal done. That is a very short-sighted approach and your true colors will always come out. These are the clowns that give our industry a bad name.

      Sandusky just needs to be placed in the general population in prison; those things seem to work their way out.

      I’m playing so infrequently right now, most of my scores are in the 90’s. However, it’s still a good day when I go out and I’m just having fun so my stress level is very, very low when I play.

      Good to see you Ralph.

  8. I think your role model point is really strong. Who can children look up to in the public eye these days? Sports. Business. Politics. More often than not, it is the cheaters who get the ink, not the ones that quietly trudge away playing the game by the rules.

    Reality/contest television has only made it worse — glorifying behaviors that are not generally tolerated IRL.

    • I concur; we seem to glorify the win at all cost mentality. When I was coaching my kids in baseball and soccer, there was no way I was going to show up w/ alcohol on my breath or be cussing in front of them. Regardless of how good a coach I was or was not, the one thing I could do was set a good example.Some of these kids did not even have a male role model in their household.

      We all know right from wrong; it’s just some have a different line than others it seems.

  9. Hey Bill,

    My opinion : Cheating is not acceptable at all because it deprives people of their hard earned money and time. Cheating when done with the intentional purpose of filling your pockets while the other side which has been cheated is not OK. The bigger the cheating the bigger the punishment needs to be.
    On the other hand, we all have committed some kinds of things that you have mentioned. In my opinion, a cheating becomes a bigger crime, if it is knowingly repeated and harms society or people in some way or the other ( however people often get offended if we speak against them or their business. They do not like “freedom of speech” . They would like to stop that in the name of law).
    It is also difficult to provide role models for younger generation as they are getting tainted faster than ever before. Cheating in sports is becoming acceptable. It should not be but it is . Probably sports is not a great option but then so is politics, business and anything else. Different societies have different yard sticks for measuring cheating and wrong doings.

    We all have to accept that we are humans and sometimes everyone does mistake. The important thing is if we learn from it and not repeat it.
    It is a difficult subject no doubt.

    • When it comes to money and your ill-gotten gains are at the expense of someone else; that is really unacceptable in any form or fashion. I especially have a low tolerance when the elderly are taken advantage of.

      Cheating is so prevalent in sports it is almost expected to a certain degree and that is a sad state of affairs. Politics you have to do so much compromising to achieve your agenda, that too almost condones unethical behavior as long as you accomplish your goal. However, you are right, what’s acceptable in your backyard might be totally different in mine.

      All I know is we all know right from wrong; the line between the two should be pretty straight and not too squiggly just to meet our needs, right?

      When you come up with the easy answer, please let me know. Good to see you sir, thanks for taking the time to stop by.

  10. Fear fuels cheating and it creates a vicious cycle. I have been thinking about this post for a bit and trying to determine where my lines are

    I was a good baseball player, not great but good. I never took steroids, but I really didn’t play long enough for that to become an issue.

    But I have been thinking about this for the past hour and have wondered what I would do if I knew that juicing would get me into the show. I am pretty certain that I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t lie and say 100 percent.

    Maybe that means I am compromised, I don’t know. It is interesting to me because I would return the wallet. If I found a bag full of money I would turn it in and then only collect if no one claimed it.

    I pay my share of taxes because it is part of being responsible.

    So we are back at baseball and I am honestly uncertain. I can’t say that I would do it, but I can’t say 100% that I wouldn’t.

    Is it because I am a “better” man at 43 than at 23? Not sure, but I think that it is easier for me to use my life experience to look back and know some things than it was then for me to look forward and know them.

    • I too would grapple with the steroids if in my mind that was the only thing holding me back from the show. I would try to justify it by saying it’s my body and who gets to be the police to determine if that’s what I should or should not be putting in my body. Fortunately, I never had to face that decision.

      Money is a different thing however. And yes, I have been given change a time or two but I’m pretty sure I didn’t knowingly walk away from the counter realizing the mistake. I will bend over backwards to make sure somebody get’s ‘their’ money and abhor people who prey on the elderly. That’s the lowest of low, equal to Sandusky’s crimes.

      We all know right from wrong; let’s just try to keep that line as straight as possible and not always moving it just to suit our needs.

      Thanks for stopping by; hope all is well.

  11. OK, this post is so spot on, it’s killing me. My rant will not begin here. There are so many other things that bother me; shall we say subsidies, handouts, unemployment and disability for those who shouldn’t get?

    And, the examples on Wall Street and law firms and others in corporate America brokerages, firms, companies are setting poor, poor precedent for the working families paying for this greed.

    Sorry, I let a few slide.

    • Cut it loose baby; and all of those are worthy of a rant. We have become a nation where we feel ‘entitled’ and will do whatever it takes to get ‘ours.’ In doing so, sometimes it gets very ugly.

      We really do know right from wrong; why do you think we struggle with it so. It’s also easy to point a finger all the while thinking it shouldn’t apply to you.

      Hmmmmm……good to see you though; hope all is well.

  12. Hey Bill,

    Perfect timing. I was talking to a friend of mine about this a few days ago. We were talking about politics and I said that politicians (in the parlament) should have higher moral standards than “ordinary” people, because they are role models and are running our country. He didn’t agree with me, and the reason was that they should be ordinary people, like you and me.

    I do agree with him, but I still think that when you are a role model, you should do everything possible to never cheat or do anything that you don’t want other people to do.

    Great example from baseball.

    • They are ordinary people like us but you would think they would try to set an example beyond reproach; and that applies to clergy, coaches, bankers, police, etc. However, we all know it only takes a couple of bad apples to spoil the whole barrel too.

      Cheating or stealing, especially when it will be at the expense of others should be verboten.

      Ok tent man, good luck this weekend; take some pizza with you……….:)

  13. I am definitely a rule follower, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t exceptions. Right and wrong are not nearly as black and white as they might seem. There are notions that are nuanced, depending on circumstance, motivation, impact…so many factors. Heck, I’ve recommended to my readers that they ‘lie, cheat and steal their way to copywriting success’ ( so I guess that makes me a bit of a thug. Please don’t banish me from your blog :-).

    • Ruth Zive, thug life……….throw down those gang signs, tell it sister……..obviously there are some grey areas, but certain things should be zero tolerance; I’m just afraid that lines to seem to keep moving.

      I hope your day has gone well; I see the sun for the first time in 4 days………yay….

  14. Want to know what your problem is Bill? You fail to glorify cheating which is the way of life in the United States. We stole this land. We have a major restaurant chain named the claim jumper. Robber Barons. Inside Traders. Mafia. Jesse James. Politicians being corrupt. Fixed horse races. It is in our DNA. Not sure why.

    Ever listen to the ex mafia guy on Rome who says the only game never fixed in sports has been the Superbowl. He refuses to say about anything else.

    We love cheaters. And I lose often by not cheating. What should I do?

    • You make a good point, however, if we would have been all nice to the Indians we wouldn’t have casino’s now….or fire water. You tell no lies though and even the likes of the Kennedy’s and Rockefeller’s did not acquire their wealth by being ‘nice’ guys and doing the right thing.

      Here’s the deal; I think it’s ok if your parents cheat, just make sure it’s enough they accumulate enough wealth to pass on. When you get it, you can be all philanthropic, judgmental and holier than though. This way you can enjoy the spoils AND sleep well at night.

      You know the quickest way NOT to get into the Hall of Fame? 4,000 hits, of course. Petey must be dumb as a rock to not be able to make it in at this point. We’ll wait ’til he dies and it will become a love affair like w/ Richard Nixon.

      • trust me this stuff drives me crazy.

        But I also think people have to be accountable when caught. Whether it means not making the hall of fame or going to jail or getting your ass kicked or even shot in a back alley…if you get caught…own it.

  15. BTW over 50 percent of people have cheated on their partner. and have you cheated on your tax return. I am on a roll. Maybe a Kaiser Roll. Or a Jelly Roll. But it is flowing.

  16. The problem with cheating is that it becomes habitual, the people who do it relax, and then they do get caught. These guys who go into prison in old age are capping a life of cheating with “golden years” of animal-like existence and misery. So what was the point?

    • You are right as they have already reaped the rewards; jail is not really a punishment per se. And when it involves money, nobody will get their money back. Some of these cheaters are so audacious it boggles your mind; but I guess if you are going to do it, you might as well go big. Why bother stealing $1,000, right?

      Not of it is ‘right,’ it’s just a shame the line from right and wrong keeps getting moved.

  17. Cheating in schools is a worldwide phenomenon. When success rates are tied to funding, state-run* schools will jack the numbers in any way they can. This is a consequence of trying to apply a factory model to education. The factory model is not the only educational model out there.
    In Germany, they still have apprenticeships run by trade guilds (not unions in the modern sense) and it seems to work wonderfully for them.

    So schools will cheat, students will cheat… that doesn’t make it right. What we need is systems where cheating doesn’t make sense at all, but that takes a lot of thinking and effort.

    (*i.e. public — “public school” means entirely different things depending on which side of the Atlantic you happen to live in)

    • In the US, there is a huge pot of public money that goes to the public schools. One of the ways it is allocated of course is through performance. Therefore, many districts will do ‘what it takes’ to make sure they get their fare share.

      Unfortunately the school model of trying to fit everyone in the same box is not a good model anymore. It leaves too many creative, bright people out of the mix because they don’t do well in a traditional model. Also unfortunately, this is one huge big ship and trying to turn it around is a monumental task.

      All this does is promote cheating to get by or get the money to get into the universities.

      As I said above; the right and wrong line continues to move.

  18. I care. I don’t like cheating. I’m not perfect, either, but the idea that one should not do their best to be honest, to strive for goodness, is just wrong. Is it really so hard to do the right thing?

    I like golf. I usually go to the course alone and get sent out with people I’ve not met. For me, I enjoy the rules of golf. If I hit it under a bush, well then I wack the ball out, best I can, and count the stroke. I never “pick-up” the ball on the green en lieu of making the putt. There are a lot of people who have improved their putting by simply skipping the putt. Tiger Woods misses two or three putts under two feet each year, so why do people think they should be exempt from taking the putt? I suspect they are bad people who weren’t loved by their parents and may have a drug problem.

    The Jim Romes of the world say things like that, because they just don’t want to make the effort to sink the two foot putt. Or more accurately, they don’t want to deal with the consequences of missing the putt. It can really make one angry.

    I, too, have downloaded stuff from Naptster, in my youth. I don’t do it anymore, because I grew up. Will I make it to the end of my days without cutting a corner, I hope so, but I am human. All I can say is that I’ll do my best, which I suspect it miles ahead of what Mr. Rome is willing to even consider.

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