CASE in point: A message on cheating

by Matt Case / Beacon Staff • September 7, 2016

In the last year, we have seen some major cheating scandals in the world of sports. Obviously, the first one that comes to mind is Deflategate, which came to an end in July, after over a year and a half. Tom Brady’s original four-game suspension, handed down by the NFL over a year ago, was reinstated. It also happened right in Emerson’s backyard. Not only did the whole world see this go down, but the students at Emerson also saw the reactions of one of the most—we’ll call them “passionate”—fan bases out there.

Also at the forefront of sports is cheating in the NCAA. Other than the International Olympic Committee, the NCAA deals with more cheaters and cover-ups than probably any other athletic organization—if we exclude performance enhancing drug use. Most of these scandals appear in Division I. The reasons are obvious: full scholarships, a chance to play in the pros, and the staggering sum of money Division I schools take in from their athletic departments. When all these characteristics, including the prestige of the school, are on the line the pressure to succeed is incredibly high. Students, coaches, and entire institutions are inevitably going to cheat. 

So what does a college with an athletic department like Emerson’s do with all this corruption at other institutions? We all know it’s a school that puts academics above athletics, a school with a low-conference Division III program that has been struggling in recent years, a school where no athlete is headed to the big leagues.

It’s tempting to cheat. We’ve all faced temptation multiple times in our lives. We might be able to overcome that temptation at first based on the ethics and moral code we live by, but it becomes harder to avoid falling victim to it when we’re struggling, when we’re down in the dumps, when we think there is no alternative.

I wrote a story last year dealing with the subject of cheating. Graduate student Alexandra Dezenzo played soccer for Emerson after three years of being one of the highest scorers for the Division I University of Vermont. She graduated early, and moved on to Emerson’s graduate program.

In that article, Dezenzo said that even though the NCAA allows for four years of eligibility, she had to apply to the NCAA to let her play soccer last season. She needed to plead her case that she was attending Emerson to continue her education and genuinely wanted to play for the Lions and was not simply looking to excel in a much lower division. Dezenzo was approved, began studying at Emerson, and led the Lions in goals in 2015.  

Emerson students are going to graduate and move on to the professional world, and they won’t be playing sports. However, they’re still athletes, they’re still competitive, and they still want to win. But they must remember that it is just a game. And they don’t want something like a cheating scandal to affect them later—in their unrelated chosen career—because it will most definitely catch up to them.