It’s a sign of our resigned times that people can’t seem to fathom why the recent Cricket Australia ball-tampering disgrace in South Africa is serious. Many think that political corruption is a far worse evil.

Well, I’ll explain it in one simple sentence:

We ask our politicians to be good sports but we never ask our sportspeople to be good politicians.

“Sportsmanship”, being a “good sport”, “it’s how you play the game”, “that’s not cricket”—these metaphors form life’s essence, our undisputed truths.

When all goes skew-whiff in war, economics or devastation, sport has remained our solace. It is the birthright we give to our children when we say:

This is honourable, this is chivalrous, this is spirit, this is fair. Enjoy it. Believe in it. Emulate its passion.

For in times of peril we look to heroes. That’s why sports-corruption can never be tolerated; never minimised nor rationalised in any way. It is a breach of trust of the most fragile kind.

Sport at its purest is not politics, it is not power (that it has become dangerously commercialised is another edge of the sword to be wary). But sport is the strata that unites human with human in its most unpretentious form: rich and poor, friend and stranger, young and old, well and frail, robust and perplexed.

Cheating in sport is the asbestos of our times. It is an existential threat: a poison that must be carried away completely, immediately, never inhaled. It must be eradicated without remorse and its offenders never given a second chance. It is a societally murderous thing.

Cheating in sport can have no redemption, no election: unlike our surrender to the once taboos of home invasion, carjacking and coward punching that we punish with blasé.

That’s the only way it ends.

© 2018 Adam Parker.

Main picture credit: Barry Bonds’ almost hidden 756th Home Run Record plaque at AT&T Park, San Francisco. Bonds’ chase for this baseball feat between 2006 and 2007 caught the imagination of the American nation, until the story broke that Bonds was an alleged steroids user. Thus began the slow death of Major League Baseball. Author’s photo.