Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fair Play: Cheating puts everyone under suspicion

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Aug. 15 edition)
INCREDULOUS. That’s what most of my friends’ reaction was on the news that only the Cebu Eastern College player is behind the tampering of his NSO record and that no one else was aware of it.

A friend, who has seen his son go through the youngest age group through the men’s open said, that hte kid received wrong advise from the wrong people. People with a wrong sense of value and principle.



And I agree. The move epitomizes of the dark-side of sports, doing everything to win games.

Another, an outspoken long-time observer in Cebu sports said, “It’s impossible to believe that the Cebu coaches had no idea. A two-year difference in age is very obvious. Just compare a 14-year-old to a 16 to 17-year old. The difference is very obvious.”

That the player concerned was an All-Star last year makes one wonder how nobody really knows his real age.

To be fair, the coach of CEC has denied any knowledge and has expressed his disappointment at losing his star player. I’ve known of him for quite some time, too, and this is the first time that I’ve heard of his team being involved in age cheating. So I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But that’s the thing about cheating in sports, it puts everyone under a cloud of suspicion.

Now, even if the CEC coach denies any knowledge, or school officials profess innocence at the matter, they will always be doubted by rivals or by observers.

“How can they not know the real age of their star player?”

“How can a kid be bold enough to tamper records by himself?”

Look at the first case of age cheating caught by the screening committee, it was obvious it was not the kids behind it, but an official, one who got banned for life too.

That’s what everyone is thinking, too, about the second case. “Is there an official behind it?”

Because of what CEC officials themselves discovered, the whole CEC Dragons will be operating under a cloud of suspicion for the rest of the season, with pissed off rival fans, players and parents looking for the minutest sign that one of them is over the age limit and cry foul online.

And the cloud of suspicion, too, won’t be limited in sports. Rivalry among high schools is intense, and extends to academic contests. Heckling in one isn’t uncommon, too, and this incident has opened that possibility of losing rivals taunting CEC’s academic teams or contestants, “Mga tikasan man mo!”

What’s worse, they really can’t do anything about the taunts because one of their own got caught.

And what of the player concerned who has been banned for life?

Well, a cautionary tale. Once there was a promising elementary sprinter, one projected to become a future international campaigner. He broke records left and right but after he was discovered to have a two-year edge over his counterparts, he disappeared completely. A promising future, gone.

From a future national team player who could win in the Southeast Asian games to a nobody.

That’s where the CEC player is headed. Because of this incident.

At best, he can only pray for leniency from Cesafi, that two or three years down the road, his lifetime ban will be lifted, provided, of course, he shows remorse and perhaps confesses to the whole thing.

Cheating in sports is never good and should never be an option. Parents, players and coaches who even think of the move should study the fate of the CEC player on why it is an ill-advised move.

And if there were adults involved behind the scene in the CEC case, may their conscience keep them awake at what they have done in wrecking a child’s future.

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