The northern hemisphere summer/southern hemisphere winter is coming to an end and that means FOOTBALL is just around the corner! I have long been an American fantasy football player — started the habit back in 2001 or 2002, I think. And I’ve already signed up with my usual league. Here’s hoping that I can finally get the time and date right for our live draft (I’ve missed it the past two years).
But, for the very first time, I’ve also just signed up for my very first English Premier fantasy football team! Very exciting, I must say. In contrast to my American football league, there’s no draft and, much to my dismay, I discovered that I don’t get a chance to change players once I’ve selected them. Oops. Surely there’s a way to trade at some point? This is what happens when I just go and do things without reading instructions. Sigh. I am more than willing to take any and all recommendations on who I should put on my team!
Anyway, since this weekend brings us the beginning of the English Premier League, I’m finally getting around to sharing a commentary on cheating in football. As many of you no doubt witnessed, there were quite a few dubious acts committed by players during this year’s World Cup. Peter Singer asked back in June whether it is Okay to Cheat in Football:
… in a game between France and Ireland that decided which of the two nations went to the World Cup … the French striker Thierry Henry used his hand to control the ball and pass to a teammate, who scored the decisive goal. Asked about the incident after the match, Henry said: “I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.”
But is it? Why should the fact that you can get away with cheating mean that you are not culpable? Players should not be exempt from ethical criticism for what they do on the field, any more than they are exempt from ethical criticism for cheating off the field – for example, by taking performance-enhancing drugs.
I love this sport and I love the dedication of the fans and the way this game unites people of all backgrounds and nationalities. But cheating cheapens all sports, regardless of the game’s intensity or the history of rivalry. And it’s not as though soccer is the only sport suffering from cheating — I’m reminded of Bill Belichick’s decision in 2007 to “spy” on the New York Jets, which resulted in the largest fine ever imposed on a coach. Whether in American or English football, let’s hope we see more honor in the game this season.