By Ron Powell
On Saturday evening, August 22, 2009, during the telecast of the Arizona Cardinals preseason game on ABC against the San Diego Chargers, there was an exchange between commentators Darren Urban and Mike Lewis that helps explain why we are part of a culture that often promotes the spirit that cheating is OK…as long as you don’t get caught.
With 12:08 left in the 3rd quarter, defensive back Wilrey Fauntinot of the Cardinals was called for a holding penalty on the Chargers intended receiver, Buster Davis. The following interchange took place:
Darren Urban: “I had a coach that used to say: ‘If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.’”
Darren Urban: “If your not cheating, you’re cheating yourself.”
Mike Lewis: “Amen!”
Darren Urban: “Right there he just got caught cheating.” “It’s OK to cheat, you just have to know where the officials are.”
Mike Lewis “That’s an excellent point!”
Is it really OK to cheat as long as you don’t get caught? Is that the message Mr. Urban would give to his children, or any other child, before they go off to school to take a test? If not directly, he certainly delivered that message indirectly to everyone who watched the game last Saturday. It’s ironic that Mr. Urban and Lewis humored themselves while at the same time exposing their own flawed opinion to thousands of men and women of their listening audience. As Jim Rome would say; “Uh Oh!”
This mentality to cheat as long as you don’t get caught subtly permeates every aspect of our sports, business, and educational systems. We are currently in the midst of a steroid/drug era that threatens to jeopardize the validity of every individual and team record in every sport. Athletes are taught every day to take risks with their bodies, their health, and in some cases their very lives, while being convinced by a culture that the rewards far outweigh the risks. Does this not explain why we see other high-risk behavior exhibited in the day to day real lives of today’s professional athletes—be it Plaxico Burris, Michael Vick or the many other iconic players and coaches. Yes, this problem even extends to some of our coaches who shape the attitudes of these young receptive athletes whose lives have been given to their care by trusting parents.
This attitude is also clearly visible in the business world where lying, cheating and corruption are the order of the day. It explains why the U.S. economy has been crippled due to the multi-billion dollar scams perpetrated upon U.S. consumers by mortgage companies and other financial services organizations. So let’s give a “shout out” to Bernie Madoff and the many other like-minded white-collar con artists of our time. Moreover, let’s not forget the complicit leaders of some of the world’s largest corporations at Fannie Mae, Citiroup, AIG, Bank of America, and the many other publicly owned companies that are not mentioned here.
How might these examples in the sports and business world influence our children—the future leaders of this country? An article written by Susan Donaldson James, February 29, 2008, and reported by ABC, sheds light on this thought. The article included the following statements of a 16 year old that attended one of the nations top U.S. high schools:
“90 percent or higher” of the students at his school engage in cheating — from tucking vocabulary crib sheets under their hats to stealing math exams.
But Sam insists he has a moral conscience — he won’t use his last name for this article — and he swears he will never cheat in college. But he justifies his cheating.
“My parents would consider this cheating, but I don’t have any major problems with it,” Sam told ABCNEWS.com. “It’s school, and you’re cheating your way through the system.”
Sam is typical of most American students. An estimated two-thirds of all high school students admit to “serious” academic cheating, according to a national survey by Rutgers’ Management Education Center in New Jersey.
If Sam is “typical” of most students today, what should we expect of the future leaders of this country?
While it may be difficult to make a connection between the thoughts that Urban and Lewis expressed during their telecast, and any future corrosive or criminal activity in our society, we cannot ignore the principle of one of nature’s laws—We Reap What We Sow. Hence, when corruptive seeds are sown through the words and ideas of media broadcasters and their corporations, and in this case Darren Urban and Michael Lewis who represent the Arizona Cardinals, we should expect that some of those seeds will germinate and sprout in the minds of our community’s inexperienced and most impressionable personalities. Eventually it manifests its fruitage later when these grown children are making important decisions that will impact others.
Shame on Darren Urban and Mike Lewis, shame on the Arizona Cardinal organization, and shame on all the coaches and leaders in our society that subscribe to this “win at all cost” mentally. It’s NOT OK to cheat, even if you don’t get caught!