Cheating Aussies and a mealy-mouthed apology

Fallen hero: Earlier this year cricketer Steve Smith was named “Australian of the Year”.

Have public apologies become meaningless? Australian cricket is in crisis after their team was caught blatantly cheating. Captain Steve Smith faces a lengthy ban as his tepid apology falls flat.

“It’s just not cricket.” For years, the saying has been used to describe any situation in life deemed unfair or unseemly — cricket long-renowned for its sense of honour and fair play. But now the sport’s reputation is in peril after the Australian cricket team were sensationally caught cheating in their latest match.

Their specific offence was ball-tampering, considered by purists as one of the ultimate crimes in cricket. The culprit was Cameron Bancroft, who was recorded by an eagle-eyed cameraman illegally scraping the ball with a foreign object.

But it soon emerged that there was more to this story than one rogue individual.

In the post-match press conference, the team’s captain, Steve Smith, revealed that he and a group of players devised the ball-tampering plot as a “possible way to get an advantage”.

In other words, it was a conspiracy to cheat.

And while Smith’s actions were bad, some have also taken issue with his reaction — specifically his unconvincing attempts at apology.

According to psychologist Harriet Lerner, a sincere apology focuses on the specific words or behaviours for which you are sorry. In Smith’s case, the words “cheat” or “ball-tampering” were absent from his remarks.

Have public apologies become meaningless?

Out!

Afraid so, some argue. Elite sport is just like the entertainment industry — where personal sponsorship are worth big bucks. And if reputation is everything, people will defend it at all costs, even if that means ducking responsibility for poor decisions.

Hold fire, others respond. Smith did well to admit his guilt. Moreover, apologies are about more than assessing the guilt of one person. They inform society of what is acceptable. And whether Smith feels guilty or not, his words send out a message that cheats do not prosper.

You Decide

  1. Should cheaters be given a second chance?

Activities

  1. Cheating has happened in sport for as long as it has been played. In pairs research some famous examples from history. Were the incidents career-ending, or did they make a comeback? Do you think the cricket players involved this time deserve a second chance?

Some People Say...

“I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating.”

Sophocles

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Steve Smith has been temporarily suspended as captain and will not play in Australia’s next match against South Africa. Cameron Bancroft has so far only been handed a fine.
What do we not know?
Apart from vice-captain David Warner, we do not know what other players and coaches were involved in the conspiracy. It remains unclear if further punishments will be enforced.

Word Watch

Ultimate crimes
It is technically a level two offence (level four is the maximum), which normally carries a five run penalty and a one game ban. However, the premeditated nature of this incident means it is seen as more serious.
Scraping
Roughing up one side of a cricket ball makes it more likely to “reverse swing”. This is when it deviates late in its flight, making the delivery more difficult to hit and thus more likely to result in a wicket.
Foreign object
A piece of yellow tape, on which had been stuck granules of earth from the pitch.

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