Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gamesmanship... or cheating?

In today's ultra-competitive world of pro-sports, gamesmanship is becoming a bigger and bigger factor in the outcome of games. Here are some things which tread the fine line between gamesmanship and cheating:

1. Sledging (or trash talking) is rampant in cricket. The motive is most often to disturb the concentration of the batsman.
2. In tennis, players grunt loudly when hitting the ball, wear squeaky shoes or annoy the opponent by varying the number of times they bounce the ball before serving.
3. In NFL and college football, coaches routinely take a time-out just a split second before the opposing kicker is going to kick a game winning field goal, thus making him kick again.
4. In basketball, fouls are an integral part of the game plan, especially during the closing seconds.
5. In soccer, players fake or amplify injuries, to pressure the referee to penalize the opposing player.

I'm sure there are many other such instances in other sports too.

So, whats the solution? On one hand, we could have stricter rules to prevent these things from happening. Or we could adhere to the principle: If you can't take it, you don't deserve to be there. I think there is no simple solution to this problem. Making rules stricter would take the fun and emotions (and ultimately spectators) away from sports, while keeping them unchanged would lead to more and more players finding inventive ways of gamesmanship.

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