Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sport- Cheating Itself

So Simon Barnes of The Times has heralded F1's latest scandal as the "worst act of cheating in the history of sport". But is the recent revelation that Neslon Piquet Jnr was obeying orders to crash really so horrifying? That the thought of a team mate deliberately sacrificing himself for the sake of the greater collective should be perceived as unsportsmanlike and what is worse ungentlemanly, seems a somewhat warped sense of sport's significance.

The duplicitous F1 driver, the diving footballer, the joke-shop rugby player are all hung out to dry while sport massages its cleansed ego with the self satisfied hand that has turfed out the skeletons from its closet.

But what has pushed sport to such lows in the first place? Is it indeed the ever increasing demands of a professional industry driven by a results at all costs mindset or could it perhaps be something far more disturbing; the very nature of sport itself advocates cheating.

The intended moral mantra inspired by sport's chivalric background is still ever-present. Victory necessitates sacrifice, but now stuffy rules and regulation consign "true heroes" like Nelson Piquet Jnr to sport's growing legacy of shamed stars.

Bending the rules is part of sport and if you bend them correctly and in a gentlemanly manner you are the maverick genius, but over step the mark and... Well.

So why is Nelson Piquet Jnr, a man brave enough to risk his own life for his team, chosen as the fall guy for such a title rather than the far more duplicitous cheaters such as drug enhanced sprinters?

Piquet is a victim of sport's prevailing chivalric code, because at the heart of sport's ideal lies the essence of its downfall. Sport necessitates a winner, bestows glory and forgets the vanquished- no matter what primary school sports days may have you believe...

Victory necessitates sacrifice and is ingrained in all patriotic cultures, drummed out in national anthems and glorified in works of art.

But apologies, I am being facetious. Sport's ideals have come a long way from the rugby fields of Eton (and thank God it has!)- the cause is no longer reserved to the "noble" and instructive values of the aspiring nobility - it has become powered by the machinery of professionalism and "infected" by money- gone are the days of glorious amateurism bla bla bla...

But if we were for once to peel back our own delusion that sport can still be entirely noble then we may start to understand, and even condone his actions. His ludicrous attempt to emulate sacrifice reveals the folly and nobility that is simultaneously the curse and blessing of sport- Victory at all costs is sport's new mantra.

Don't blame Piquet, blame sport and be grateful for those glorious cheats who have rescued sport from the past.

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