When does “It’s About Trying to Win” Become Cheating?



“It’s about trying to win.” That is what Jason Kidd said the other day after he said “the league fined me for something I probably shouldn’t have done, we’ll move on.” And he said that after being fined $50,000 by the National Basketball Association for intentionally spilling a drink on the court in the waning seconds of a game in a failed attempt to diagram a three-point play to win at the buzzer.

Not long before, Pittsburgh Steeler coach, Mike Tomlin, wandered on to the field and interfered with Jacoby Jones, a Baltimore Ravens player who was running down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Baltimore quarterback, Joe Flacco, seemed particularly upset at Coach Tomlin, but not for the most logical of reasons. Instead of being concerned that the opposing coach had diminished his team’s chance of winning, Flacco accused Tomlin of stealing his idea.

Meanwhile at the opposite end of both the money and values axes (though in different directions), a player on a ten-person team adapted the famous “Band of Brothers” speech from Henry V to “rouse from deep in us the spirit of good will and determination to give it our all, against great odds, but not without hope, to wring out an unlikely match here and there such that they might add up to a victory for our side; to advance to the finals and claim our first crown of this era.”

And, in the same contest another Captain encouraged his teammates:

“We need to be at our absolute best to beat the Empire.  Talk with your partner to finalize your game plan. If you win the toss, are you going to serve or receive? Why? Focus on your serve and find the one that works best. Serves are key and they set up the whole point. Look forward to competing with you all.”

Neither of these men won, but the captain who did called three points against himself that had gone undetected by the official.

Be assured Coach Kidd and Coach Tomlin, none of these competitors cared any less about winning than you did, but unlike you they would not have considered cheating.

As a parent, which sort of coach would you prefer for your child?



  • John Patton

    Part of me is impressed by how much Kidd and Tomlin care about winning and what they are willing to do to have a shot at winning. Another part of me thinks the officials need to do a better job of preventing this and maybe opening up some of these violations for review.

    Ultimately, I would probably want to compare this type of coach cheating to a non-sports scenario and try to understand if there are other areas where parents are “stepping onto the field” to help their kids win. It seems to me that there are a lot of parents who step out of their lane by bullying teachers or in other ways try to cheat the system to advance their children unfairly over others.

    I would definitely prefer the latter coach who called his own strokes and points. Although, that team might lose more often, they probably sleep better at night!

  • http://www.wellplayed.us/ Dan Laukitis

    Yesterday I played in a club championship match in which I corrected/overrode the referee’s call a number of times to the benefit of my opponent, who in turn did the same to my benefit. Does that make us uncompetitive? Would ‘Melo accuse of not wanting to win?