Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Cheating in Sports--American (and Human) As Apple Pie

Hugh McElhenny, All-American running back with the University of Washington Huskies and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Isaac Brekken/Special to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Cheating In Sports—American (and Human) As Apple Pie
By Carl L. Hager

For those of you Europeans who don’t pay much attention to the politics and drama of American football’s annual professional championship game called the Superbowl, this short article may not hold much interest for you. On the other hand, your own game of football, which we refer to as soccer, is just as corrupt and corruptible, so don’t be bashful. Cheating is an integral part of all organized sports (as the International Olympic Committee knows well).

If you are an American who doesn’t pay attention to our indigenous sports of football and baseball and basketball, I’m not sure I can help you. These sports are live theater, played out by the world's best-paid actors on the world’s grandest stage. They tell the story of life in a way that most movies or plays never do.

For THROWBACK THURSDAY (throwback is defined as “a reversion to an earlier ancestral characteristic” according to Oxford): cheating is, and always has been, an accepted part of organized sports. Every football, every baseball, every game. And as is the case with performance-enhancing substances, the athletes are encouraged to do so by their coaches, managers, trainers, owners and athletic directors, along with the advice to avoid detection. Soccer moms’ concern for child safety notwithstanding, getting caught is the only real disincentive. It’s kind of like lying in politics. Embarrassing, but seldom costly in the long run.

“I made more in college than I made in pro ball.” – Hugh McElhenny, graduate of the University of Washington, All-American and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, commenting on illegality and ethics in sports.

If anyone in the NFL stands to gain from stoking this controversy surrounding the New England Patriots and their under-inflated footballs, you might look to former USC Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, Master of Head Games—and whose familiarity with questionable practices there cost the school the harshest sanctions in NCAA history, even as he was leaving town for his new job as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. As the master Vince Lombardi said: "Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing." The Patriots are the only serious threat to a second Superbowl ring the Seahawks have seen. This is war, kids.

Following is a most excellent article about the aforementioned Hugh McElhenny, with an in-depth discussion of how he was financially supported throughout his college career. Though this is a fairly common practice throughout the world, in the delusional world of collegiate athletics in America there is a Puritanical belief that all athletes are capable of sustaining life on the thrill of victory alone. This will change soon enough--probably with unionizing the college athletes--but while we are waiting, here is a little history lesson on collegiate sports.

The Untold Story of Hugh McElhenny, the King of Montlake, by Dan Raley of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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