How sad that two-thirds of children in the UK feel under pressure to cheat.
A third foul, trip and dive without any remorse. And as many as one in 20 kids were actually proud to have arrived at victory dishonestly, a survey of eight- to 16-year-olds by the MCC and the Cricket Foundation charity found.
It’s not about the taking part for kids with that mind-set. It’s about the winning – at all costs.
While it’s helping to hone balance and body and boost hand-to-eye coordination, strength and stamina, school sport is supposed to be about building team skills and firing ambition in individuals.
It’s meant to encourage children to be the best they can. Only, something is going badly wrong. We can’t blame the kids, though. This is all about pressure from above.
The majority of children said they felt they couldn’t let their team-mates and their school down, which is pretty dreadful. But even sadder, a number felt they had to win so they didn’t let their parents down.
You see pushy dads virtually bullying their sons from the sidelines at so many junior football matches. Competitive mothers boast about their child’s latest medal tally at the school gates. Such parents dedicate their lives to turning their kids into sports professionals so they can be famous and earn massive money – and achieve the status they didn’t.
Of course, kids who made it to the professional cricket arena, football’s premier league and even to the Tour de France – what sort of example do some of them set? There are more famous, rich cheats than you can shake a cricket bat at and more fouls in just one soccer match than Jack Duckworth’s pigeon loft. Maybe their parents told them they had to win at all costs.
Time to teach sport isn’t sport without respect and fair play.