What an unpleasant topic. In the US with the love/hate affair of Lance Armstrong, it seems to be in the paper daily. I'm a realist but I'm also an optimist. I don't want to believe he cheated but I realize he might have. So, I choose to believe that if he did, the last chapter in his life will undo everything because he'll live a long and healthy life and all his titles will be reinstated as he passes the age of 70 and as he passes age 80 people will be begging for his recipe and he will go on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how to extended people's lives and maintain their health well into their 100s. It might not happen, but it might. Cheater or not, I just can't get behind tearing someone down with such enthusiasm. A little hope for something good feels way better.
Doug and I have discussed the subject of cheating on several occasions. In general, I'm a little loose with rules. Doug is not. But we sail at different competency levels and for different reasons. I don't play to win. Doug does. I just want to enjoy the experience of the wind and water while staying fit and I'd like to be competitive but it isn't an essential for me. Doug wants to stay fit while matching up against the best competition he can find and he wants the playing field level. But, it's not. Lasers may be one design, but nature didn't make people one design. Some have natural advantages, disadvantages or a mixture of both. Doug was born with a couple of disadvantages, one of which he turned into an advantage and the other he doesn't make public. It is inspirational when someone overcomes a setback or disadvantage and climbs to the top. Role models are good. Tearing people down with allegations of cheating seems counterproductive. But, it happens.
In Laser sailing there is Doug's pet peeve of illegal kinetics. What is illegal in international sailing is legal in US college sailing. Having USA on a sail at an international event is often a Judge magnet. Many USA sailors get penalized at their first international event and very few win. Then there is Doug's newest concern. In the past few years, he's learned about the new tweaked out cheater blades being used. He was told many of the top sailors are using them. They say there is a loophole in the rules and it's actually legal but no one talks openly about it. Isn't that sort of like if you can pass a drug test, it's legal? Then justifying it by saying everyone is doing it, so it's a level field? But what about those, like Doug, that aren't using tweaked blades? If you use them and beat him, did you really win? Especially, if it was only by seconds?
While following or breaking rules doesn’t really affect my overall performance, Doug plays by the rules and the finishes are often close. Little things do determine the winners. So, what do you do about cheating so that isn’t counterproductive? For me, a realistic optimist, I'd like to believe that just holding up a mirror every once in a while will make people think twice about their decisions and they will ultimately choose a level playing field.
After all, it’s only a game and in the end, the real winners are the folks still sailing well into their 70s and 80s. At that point, no one can dispute that you're a winner no matter what you did along the way. That's the game I'm playing to win.