This phenomenon applies to sports as much as to marriage, to international economics as much as to personal finance, to lawmaking as much as to law keeping, to policing as much as to criminal activity. Technology may help us better detect cheating, but it won’t produce humans who won’t try. If we think otherwise, it’s because our worldview is cheating us.
Recently, five-time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen resigned a match with 19-year-old Hans Niemann and accused his opponent of cheating. His allegations have since been substantiated. In professional poker, a relative newcomer was accused of cheating in a game in which she won over $260,000. The CRLG, the world’s largest competitive Irish dancing organization, just launched a widespread investigation of cheating, which included offering sexual favors for presiding judges. And in a video gone viral, over 8 lbs. of lead weights were removed from the bellies of Ohio walleyes caught in a professional fishing tournament.
The string of cheating scandals points to a reality of the human condition after the Fall, a reality that spans time and place and cultures and even sports, ranging from the popular to the less than popular. At the Olympic Games of 388 B.C., the 98th Olympic games, a boxer named Eupolus of Thessaly bribed three opponents to throw the match. In response, the Greeks raised statues of Zeus along the route to the competition, with lightning bolts raised to punish those who would bribe or cheat their way to victory. The irony, of course, is that Zeus, “the Oath Giver” was a notorious oath breaker, cheating again and again on his wife Hera. And lest we pick on professional fishing, we should remember NFL’s “Deflategate” and the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
What is odd about our time and place is the outrage over lead weights in dead fish and yet our simultaneous shrugs over affairs, open marriages, and no-fault divorce. A recent YouGov poll found that roughly a quarter of Americans were interested in an open relationship. According to Gallup polling, though the divorce rate has actually dipped in recent years, the social acceptability of divorce is at an all-time high.