Win at all costs and nothing else counts isn’t the way to run a business – unless that business is sport, it would seem. So much cash is poured into sports these days, be it through commercial interests or gambling, that it’s making the top-level participants a little crazy.

Everywhere you look there’s cheating. “Cheats never prosper,” we teach our children.

That’s all well and good, until they notice footballers diving, tennis players taking bungs and athletes injecting themselves with go-faster drugs…

Where does that leave us parents? It doesn’t half water down our oft-repeated message “taking part is what counts.”

Roger Pielke, a University of Colorado professor and sports governance expert put on Twitter:  “Does tennis match-fixing matter to anyone other than people who bet on tennis and companies that take bets on tennis?” Yes, it does. It also matters to fans who don’t bet and are deprived of an authentic contest.”

This is true, but the issue goes a lot further than that.

Sport is a proving ground where we teach our children many important lessons. Teamwork, obviously. Discipline. Bravery in the face of adversity. It teaches them to accept disappointment and move on, redoubling their efforts their efforts for the next time (all very good lessons for anyone growing up to run their own business when they grow up, I might add).

What lessons are the children learning when they see all the current sports news? That if you think you’re going to lose, drugs are the way forward? Or, just as bad, maybe someone will pay you to lose? It’s disgusting.

It appears the authentic contest is dead and buried.

The price of winning has overshadowed the core integrity, everywhere you look. Drugs and cheating all abound. Every sport is tainted. Even crown green bowls. Even curling, FFS. Where will it end?

Swift, decisive and severe action is what’s needed. But who can police it? The governing bodies are a joke; FIFA are under investigation by the FBI. And the betting companies have got their feet well and truly under the table – around half of the Premier League clubs are sponsored by bookies.

And you even can’t watch a match without constant advertisements nagging you, “put a bet on, go on mate, put a bet on, go on, you know you want to, goooo on, put a bet on.”

The huge obsession with gambling has led to a culture where for many people, sport is exciting if you’ve got a few quid on it.  There are many straws on this metaphorical camel’s back, and listen closely and you can hear the poor things knees creaking…

We know the players and the sponsors are obsessed with money, now the fans are too.

Our children are subconsciously learning that sport doesn’t matter, only money.

Does this mean there’s no way back? Is all sport now about as authentic as American Wrestling? Is beach volleyball now the only sport that’s exciting without having money on it?

It’s hard to see a way back, without banning betting companies. But we know prohibition doesn’t work either – it only makes bad people more powerful.

I’m used to having an answer for everything, particularly in a business context -this time, I’m truly, truly flummoxed.  Any ideas, anybody?

photo credit: <a href=”″>UCNTC2014 (153)</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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