Perhaps it is a product of age but I hope not.

The product … a commitment to the integrity of sport through an absolute acceptance of the rules and laws of games.

Last week I wrote about the play spirit that connects us in games and sport. I think it is an immensely powerful connection.

Reading USADA’s report on the Lance Armstrong investigation was an overwhelming reminder that rules do not bring about conformity but a different kind of non-conformity. I wondered naively why any athlete would seek to dope if our contract in sport is with the essence of playfulness.

I do struggle with arguments that emphasise that “there is a lot at stake” to rationalise any form of cheating. I am nervous that such arguments transform our threshold of repugnance (Elias) and increase our selective indignation (Lunn).

I did like Matt Hickey’s take on these issues in a Drum post. He observes “Winning isn’t everything, but the existing incentive structure for athletes certainly places a large emphasis on it – and it comes with increasingly large costs”.

My hope is that we can address the incentive structure in all sport, starting with the nation state. In my naivety I do hope we have gone beyond equating winning in international competition as an index of status. I wonder if we might develop an alternative indicator … evidence of athletes, coaches and scientists working to support acceptance of the laws and rules of games. What a remarkable sport system we would have without a Prisoner’s Dilemma.


Photo Credit

Rainbow Valley