By Darius Williams
With thighs thicker and flabbier than what usually accompany the svelte body types of world class distance runners, Rosie Ruiz stepped up to the winners podium to officially be crowned as the winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon in the women division. A slight pudge about the midsection left many in attendance that brisk April afternoon amazed at the unlikely physique of the winner of what is widely regarded as the most prestigious running event in the world.
Bill Rodgers, who had just won his third straight Boston Marathon in the men’s division, noticed in conversations with Ruiz shortly after the race that she could not recall any intricacies of the marathon’s route. Other competitors just didn’t see her amongst the leaders of the race at any point. Not to mention, race officials noticed that she had managed to somehow run for two and a half hours without breaking a sweat.
An investigation was soon launched and it was revealed that some time shortly after the race started, Ruiz vanished into the crowd of spectators and made her way to the subway station about three blocks away. She paid a quarter for a ticket and comfortably rode until she was near the finish point of the 26.2 mile race. Without shame, she eased back into the race just ahead of the leader a mere 800 yards from the finish line and briefly fooled the world.
Many in the world of competitive sports subscribe to the theory “If You Ain’t Cheating, You Ain’t Trying”. The need to gain a competitive advantage knows no bounds. Brought to light recently are the New England Patriots. ‘Deflategate’, as it is now widely known, was a game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts back on January 18th of this year for the AFC Championship and the chance to represent the conference in the Super Bowl.
A Colts defender noticed after a Patriots turnover that the ball appeared slightly “softer” than accustomed. Shortly after, the Patriots thrashed the Colts 45-7 and eventually went on to be crowned World Champions, it was determined after weighing all 12 of the footballs used by the Patriots, 10 were measured at 11.5 psi (per square inch). The NFL requires footballs to have a gauge pressure range of 12.5-13.5 psi. On May 6, 2015, the NFL released a 243-page investigative report, known as The Wells Report, regarding the “purposely” deflated balls by the Patriots.
Throughout the last century, many attempts at “unsportsmanlike conduct” or as it in better defined CHEATING, has plagued athletics at all levels. The Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The Spanish basketball team of able bodied players entering the Special Olympics. The performance enhancing drug (steroids) usage by the Eastern Bloc countries and countless of others in Track & Field in the 1980’s. Baseball’s “Juice Era” of the 1990’s… Remember Danny Almonte, the 12 year old Little League pitching sensation in 2001? Well, it was later revealed that he was actually old enough to legally drive the team bus to the stadium on game days.
My take on the matter is that it only becomes cheating once you are caught. Any other time it’s just strategy. If you can get by with it, by all means do it. Everyone with a competitive drive wants to be a WINNER. Nobody remembers who came in second. Without the assistance of the internet, please quickly tell me who did Bill Clinton defeat in the Presidential Election his first term in 1992? I will wait….Understand my point better now? If you don’t come in first you may as well come in last. If I knew that two doses of an anabolic steroid a week would make me a half-step faster than the fastest guy, I would then ask for four doses of it to make it a full step ahead of him.
The downside of cheating happens only when caught. The Patriots were levied with a one million dollar fine, lost drafts picks and a 4 game suspension of their future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. He subsequently will lose two million dollars by missing those 4 games. Oh yeah, if you are wondering what became of the portly, subway riding marathoner Rosie Ruiz, well she spent time in prison for embezzling $60,000 from the real estate company for which she was briefly employed… still cheating it appears.