Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen

Some cheating’s business as usual

Scott Jagow Sep 14, 2007

Some cheating’s business as usual

Scott Jagow Sep 14, 2007


Scott Jagow: The National Football League has made its ruling against the New England Patriots for spying on opposing coaches.
Coach Bill Belichick will be fined half a million dollars for using video cameras to steal the other team’s defensive signals. The team was fined a quarter of a million, and the Patriots will most likely lose next year’s first-round draft pick.

Joining us is our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad. Diana, how common do you think this kind of cheating is?

Diana Nyad: I think that this has been going on forever. The Texas/Arkansas coaches, you know, with their famous rivalry, evidently years later, they’re riding on a plane together — they’re both retired — and one says to the other, “Did you steal my defensive signals in ’72?” The other ones says, “Did you steal my offensive signals in ’61?” They both said, “I did, I did,” and they shook hands and forgot about it. It’s like it’s all benign.

On the other hand, Brett Favre says, hey listen, if this is going on and the Patriots were semi-accused of doing the same thing to the Packers last year, Brett Favre says, “Are you kidding me? If they know our offensive/defensive signals, it’s a big jump on us.”

Jagow: But the Patriots have an amazing collection of talent. Why do they need to do this?

Nyad: Well that, isn’t that the big issue? You know, so many of the bloggers are writing the last couple of days. You know, why tarnish that squeaky-clean, you know, almost iconic reputation? And I think, as I said before, I think it’s just business as usual, and . . .

Jagow: OK, but if you look at this compared to other sports, are we suggesting that it’s OK to cheat?

Nyad: I think where the, you know, the deliniation comes in is, what is exactly cheating? You know, take baseball. I mean for years, we’ve been talking about, you know, scratching up the baseball, or you know spitting on the baseball, pine tar on the bat. But do we really look back at those particular people compared, to what we’re talking, like, with steroids, and say, “Oh, what a bunch of cheaters?”

You know, and I think we can go all the way back to, you know, the Greeks, the ancient Greeks, who used to crush the testosterone from the testes of bulls and drink it in teas. Now, they didn’t have a particular rule against it that time, but they were sure looking for every advantage they can get. And it will be forevermore.

Jagow: Since we’re talking about this on Marketplace, let’s do a little cost-benefit analysis. When you weigh the penalties versus the benefit of cheating, do you think that it pays?

Nyad: Well, I guess all we have to look at is Floyd Landis’s bank account. He spent $4 million on his defense last year, and he’s wound up being — if not technically yet, at least virtually — stripped of his title and, you know, his fame and his good name. And was that worth it? Has it been worth it to the sport? I mean, look what it’s cost the Tour de France — the television ratings, and you know, the public trust. So when they’re caught, boy, it sure isn’t worth it.

Jagow: All right Diana, thanks for joining us.

Nyad: Thank you, Scott.

Jagow: Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad. In Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.