- more abstaining being applied to already monkish living situations;
- cutting edge sports science akin to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters;
- athletes wanting it more;
- athletes doing things other athletes don’t do in order to achieve their successes;
- and so on
We can dissect each one of these and realize they are all simply and wholly PR Spin. The public, which is largely ignorant of – and nearly wholly apathetic to – what goes on behind the scenes in sports – the cheating, the corruption, the match fixing, the silent bans, the pay-offs, the mob influence – laps it all up. They cheer blindly for their favorite athletes, teams and sports as if these things are hermetically sealed within an impenetrable bubble of virtue.
Well, they aren’t.
Let’s take a step back and look at humans as a species. Cheating is a survival instinct. It is hard-wired into who we are at our most basic level. Without turning this into an anthropology lesson, prior to sedentary civilizations, humans didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or when it would come. Desperation and starvation forces people to act – in this example, to steal from others in order to survive. And what is cheating, if not a form of robbery?
Competition is a modern form of combat. Humans are also hard-wired to fight, to survive, for me to show that I am stronger and more dominant than you so that it is my DNA which gets propagated and not yours. So that my lineage lives on. Simply because we are now monogamous, and procreation is no longer a matter of species survival, does not mean our hard-wired tendencies disappear. They are very much alive and firing in our brains. Every day.
Speaking of monogamy and marriage, people cheat every single day. More than half of all men cheat in their marriages and nearly half of all women do. And, if we look at students, anywhere from 75-98% of college students admit to cheating in high school. Another study about college students breaks it out a little more granularly – 64% admit to cheating on tests, 58% admit to plagiarism and 95% admit to some form of cheating – on tests, plagiarism or copying homework from another student.
The examples of the extent to which humans cheat is endless. So, what happens when we up the stakes? When fame and fortune are folded into the mix, as is the case with sports? When egos get stroked and pockets get lined, it brings out the worst in humans. Yet, as I stated at the beginning of this, we are spoon fed that top-level athletics is a nirvanic Utopia of cleanliness.
How and why do people believe this astounding level of horseshit? How are journalists not openly questioning it? It is frighteningly bizarre.
We hear about magic pillows and mattresses. We hear about hand sanitizer. We hear about training harder and smarter. We hear about innovative coaches being pulled from underneath rocks and put in influential positions to affect change. We hear about swimming 7 days a week instead of 6 because that extra 52 pool sessions a year makes all the difference between 1st and 2nd. We see videos of athletes pushing themselves to their limits in workouts, especially weight lifting workouts. We see clean cut, smiling faces in front of the camera talking about passion and dedication and the reward of single-minded dedication to a goal.
We are told this from and about individual athletes, teams, coaches and owners. We are warped with feel good stories meant to inspire us and create affection between us and them. Our heart strings are pulled. And, you know why? Because back at that primal level, humans are also meant to be followers. The select few who are the biggest, fastest and strongest are meant to lead. The rest are meant to put their trust in those leaders to keep them safe, feed them, protect them – to help them survive. This is why people are so fervent with their sporting heroes and will defend them to the proverbial death.
So, we know humans are inherent cheaters. Almost unanimously. Yet, we suspend this reality when we look at sports. Why? Why is the sporting world impervious to cheating? Sports encapsulates every survival instinct hard-wired into humans – all of which trigger cheating – and, yet, we are told the best of the best have achieved their results without even the smallest hint of impropriety.
Does this sound rational? When the stakes are highest, our moral compasses suddenly point True North and don’t deviate. Does this sound even remotely plausible?
NO! Of course, it doesn’t! Yet, we’re told it is the truth. Too many times and too often from too many individuals and organizations that “clean sport” has become the biggest cliché on the planet.
When people use to get caught stealing, punishment would range from hands being chopped off to imprisonment to death. Today, litigation and obfuscation of the truth has led to diluted punishments and absolution to the extent that the benefits of cheating far, far outweigh the associated risks.
When we see a national class athlete transform not only into national best but also world beater; when we see an athlete with zero Grand Tour pedigree become the best GT rider on the planet; when we see bodily transformations in either direction which defy logic; well, shit, it ALL defies logic. We are seeing way too many once-in-a-millennia athletes across too many sports to think any of this is happening within the protective bubble of ‘clean sport.’ So, those who spout that we are have to believe the general public is a bunch of stupid idiots. But, has the general public given them any reason to think otherwise?
The point of this is that hard-wired human nature cannot be overridden. We see fantastical feats in Sport because they are unbelievable and not because they are incredible. They are, in fact, uncredible.