powers cracked down on several teams at the Daytona 500 for trying to
cheat during qualifying. Fines were levied, points were docked, and
crew chiefs were suspended all in an effort to curtail the devious
But will it keep teams from bending the rules? There is an old saying
in racing, "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying." One of stock car
racing's supposed charms has been those who try and find extra speed
with a wink and a smile while pulling one over on the inspectors.
But if NASCAR really wants to get rid of the shenanigans and have
everyone follow the rules, they are going to have to make the
punishments stronger. Jimmie Johnson's crew chief was suspended for
four races last year, but JJ won the Daytona 500 without him, and then
went on to win the championship. That message didn't seem to scare this
year's crop of crew chiefs. If NASCAR really wants to stop the
then start suspending drivers. The fans and sponsers will get upset,
but that will in turn put pressure on the teams to think twice before
illegally duct taping those air vents and inventing ways to get an
The same can be said for all sports. If you want to curtail cheating,
up the penalties. If a baseball player uses a corked bat, ban him for a
year. If an NFL player uses steroids, ban him from the league. If a
hockey player injures another player with a cheap shot, he should sit
out as long as the injured player needs to recover. Rules are made for
a reason; to ensure fair play. If the players aren't scared of the
consequences, then they will continue to cheat the game and the fans.
The question is, do the powers who govern the sports want to really
stop the underhandedness? It is entertainment, and those in charge
want to make money; that means putting fans in the seats and getting
great television ratings. I am sure owners and college presidents have
looked the other way at times to help their own interest, and they
should be just as culpable. But the only way that will happen is if
they get hit in the pocketbook by fans disgusted with their behavior.
It used to be sports were a great teacher of the lessons of life. Now
we look at athletes and their games with skepticism, which is too bad.
Most people do follow the rules, but it's those that break them, get
away with it and prosper, that sends all the wrong messages.