Liars, Cheaters and Thieves in Your Sport: Part II

If everyone else is cheating and the system is rigged against honest people, then this is perfect justification for people to do whatever they please to get the result they want. People become self-centered or egoists.

Dr. David Newman, who taught philosophy for Colorado State University, commented:

The two most well-regarded theories among professional ethicists both would say that pirating an event and other similar selfish behavior is unethical, but there is a theory of ethics that might justify pirating an event, depending on the situation and on how you interpret the theory.

It's the theory of egoism, which (roughly paraphrased) says that one is morally obligated to do that which is most beneficial to oneself. On that theory, if pirating an event is more beneficial to the athlete than paying for it, it's what the athlete should do.

But even on that theory, some philosophers would argue that the greatest personal benefit comes from paying for the events you participate in. There would be many reasons to think this is so, perhaps because otherwise such events are unlikely to occur, or perhaps because the risk of being exposed as a cheater is very costly, etc. I tend to lean toward one or the other of the theories that say pirating an event is unethical, so I don't accept the kind of reasoning that attempts to justify pirating on the basis of egoism.

However, I imagine that there are many people out in the world who are egoists, even if they don't realize it. But even people who aren't egoists may pirate events; what about them?

If we all feel justified in making our own individual rules in sport, and other arenas, we should not be surprised if the bank teller skims $0.50 per month off of our account. How about off of every account in the bank, because "the system" is just so darn unfair and that teller deserves a nice raise? That teller deserves better; deserves to make decisions about other people's resources as long as the action is beneficial to the teller.

Now you're thinking "Wait just a minute here. That teller can't steal from me! Why, that's illegal! They can't get away with that!"


Is pirating an event illegal? Bob Mionske commented on this one:

One possible criminal charge that might be brought against a person who pirated an event would be theft of services. I don't know if any event promoter has ever attempted to have charges brought against persons who enter an event without signing the entry form or paying the entry fee. One potential difficulty would be the need to identify entrants who have not paid the fee; I don't know if event organizers have the resources or interest to identify these unpaid entrants and press charges.

If an event entrant lies on the entry form, the event promoters might have grounds for a civil suit for misrepresentation. However, the event promoters would have to prove that they relied on the misrepresentation to their detriment. This raises the question of what, if any, harm was caused by the event entrant lying on the entry form.

Again, I don't know if any event promoter has ever brought charges against an event entrant for lying on an entry form, and I don't know if event organizers have the resources or interest to check entry forms for veracity.

In both instances above, it's more likely that the entry form (or lack of an entry form) would serve to protect the event organizer in the event of a lawsuit against the organizer, rather than as a basis to prosecute cases against event entrants.

Pirating a charity century ride is tougher for an event organizer to do anything about than an actual race director. Typically racers must belong to an organizing body for racing. For the athlete that lies on a USA Triathlon sanctioned race entry form, that behavior is considered fraudulent. This kind of behavior can get you suspended as stated in USA Triathlon's rules:

3.8 Acts Warranting Suspension. In addition to other penalties which may be imposed at the discretion of USA Triathlon, the following acts may be grounds for suspension for a period of time designated by USA Triathlon:

    d. Any fraudulent act, such as falsifying name or age, filing a false affidavit or protest, or providing false information to USA Triathlon, the Board of Hearings and Appeals, or race officials;

If said liar is racing with a license issued by a particular organization such as USA Triathlon or USA Cycling, that liar's behavior could get them suspended from racing. Some feel there is little risk in getting caught and suspended so the potential gains of lying on an entry form or cutting the course at an event is well worth the gamble.

What about the cyclists from Part I that rode into the park without paying the fee? Is that illegal? To find out if entering two local park systems without paying the fee is illegal, I did an online search. I could not find any rules or potential punishment for breaking the rules and skipping out on a permit for the Colorado State Parks system.

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