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September 22 • 04:34
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The Slippery Slope

September 06, 2011
The Slippery Slope


A friend of mine has two tennis playing kids. They are serious players, with junior rankings and all the latest and greatest equipment. The family spends weekends driving all over south Florida and beyond so the kids can play. I've heard all the horror stories about junior tennis, but this one really frightened me: retaliatory cheating.

My friend told me that all the kids do it. She herself told her son to cheat back against a player she felt was ripping him off. Hmmm…..she actually gave her son permission to cheat. I find this very disturbing. In essence, she's telling him that it's ok to break the law when someone else does it to you first. How's that work in real life? Is it Ok then to lie on your tax return because you feel the IRS unfairly estimated your return? Where do you draw the line? The answer is simple, you can't draw that line.

Giving your child, or your tennis partner or anyone else for that matter, the green light to go ahead and cheat back is a slippery slope from which you will not recover. The old saying, "Two wrongs don't make a right," holds true. Taking the law into your own hands returns us to the days of the Wild West. It didn't work then, and it won't work now. I also strongly feel that you undermine the integrity of the game when you cheat back.

What does your cheating in return accomplish? Nothing, really. It will only anger your opponent, probably further reinforcing their cheating. It will tell the world that you feel that the rules of sportsmanship and fair play do not apply to you. And, worse still, you will be seen as a cheater. Once you're labeled a cheater, you will always be known as a cheater. You may have only cheated once, and you may have immediately regretted it, but if one person saw it, word will get out that you are dishonest. Try living that down in the small and incestuous world of tennis.

I said nothing to my friend when she told me that her kids engaged in that kind of behavior. I was embarrassed for her, and I felt sorry for her kids. She has done them a huge disservice by encouraging them to cheat. I feel that we, as parents we are way too involved in the sports our children play, but this was a whole new low.

Here's what I would say to any kid or parent who was contemplating retaliatory cheating; DON"T DO IT! Be above the fray, take the high road, fight and win with dignity or lose with your head held high.

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