For the Larimer County, Colorado, trail systems, I found that the fine for using the trail system without paying the proper fee is $50 for the first offense. The rules and regulations go on to explain the increasing fee structure for multiple offenses, which can lead to "...a Class 2 petty offense as defined in Section 18-1-107, C.R.S., as amended. If any of the regulations set forth in Section III hereof shall conflict with any other applicable law or regulation, the more stringent requirement shall control."
Yes, using the park without paying the fee is illegal.
When people steal resources, they are not stealing from "the man" or some other nebulous form. Real people make a living from race directing. Real people manage parks, and some parks get shut down due to lack of funding and resources. Cheaters deny someone else a rightful spot on the podium or entry into an event.
Cheaters are hurting you.
Some people don't like the idea of confronting cheaters, liars and thieves. In some cases, avoiding the issue is for personal reasons. The cheater is a family member, friend or business associate. The cheater tells you because they want you to be part of the crime. In the legal world, your support is called aiding and abetting.
What about the people that don't want to be part of aiding and abetting, for whatever reason? Being the one that steps forward to expose a cheater is not without risk. For example, The Cheating Culture noted that there was rampant cheating at Allerdice High School. The so-called "chief cheater" was made co-valedictorian of the class and headed off to a top college. The girl that initially reported the incident was harassed in the hallways and her family received obscene phone calls in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately that student was punished for doing the right thing and exposing cheaters.
It's not easy to step forward and do the right thing. One of the experts I contacted noted...
I don't think I'm morally obligated to turn in a pirate, and since I find reporting friends uncomfortable, I would prefer to apply social or peer pressure by expressing my disapproval. If a friend of mine repeatedly pirated events, I would tend to distance myself from that person. It would harm our friendship if someone repeatedly acted in a way I think is immoral.
More recently, there are a good many people that are happy, even grateful, for the individuals that exposed wrong-doing at Enron, WorldCom and the long list of other corporate wrongdoers listed on Forbes.com's Corporate Scandal Sheet.
Every informed individual has a choice to be part of any wrong behavior, to support it, or not. Know that doing or saying nothing about someone else's wrong-doing is supporting the behavior.
Where Are We Heading?
Though there have always been liars, cheaters and thieves, statistics show that things do seem to be getting worse. More people have an expectation of cheating or being cheated. If we have slowly inched our way to the current system, what is next? Will it be a continuous slow degradation so that at some future point it is a free-for-all system run by thugs? Think that's not possible? Take a hard look at a few other countries around the world.
If cheaters can fly under the radar, can those attempting to do the right thing do the same?
What if a small group of people carried business cards with them that said, "Please pay the appropriate fee to use our park. We want our park to continue to remain open and maintained. Thank you."
These calling cards could be placed on the windshields of cars that intentionally park outside the park to avoid paying the fee. It wouldn't take much to snap a photo of the car, license plate and, if possible, the riders. This photo could easily be sent to the park manager and the rangers can take it from there.
Maybe there is even a "Wall of Shame" in the parks office for people that continue to use the system without paying the proper fee. Rangers can watch for these people on the trails and simply ask if they have a park permit. The appropriate action can be taken from there.
Maybe this is already happening somewhere?
And just maybe, if more people start or continue doing the right things—things that are legal, moral and ethical—then simple cheating in sport, as well as major economic disasters, can be avoided. Maybe then when we say, "everybody's doing it," the "it" is the right thing.
I don't know.
At minimum, I hope these topics bring discussion about what is moral, ethical and legal in sport. We have to start the change somewhere, and perhaps it is in sport.