Faith on the Frontstretch: There's no victory in cheating

Sunset over Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sept. 2013.
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

“If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'.”

Sound familiar? It’s an old saying tossed around in sports circles that’s been attributed to various celebrities, from a NASCAR driver to a baseball player to a rodeo cowboy in a movie. Who said it first really isn’t the point. It’s simply a catchy phrase that makes people smile knowingly or chuckle and shake their heads.

But you know what? Smiling and snickering aren’t sensible responses. Because whether it’s finagling a chassis or stealing signals from the sidelines or even doping a draft horse in the county fair pulling contest - it ain’t right. Whether winning is the final result or not, cheating is a bad thing.

Winning is a good thing. It’s fun, exciting, a thrill. It’s a just reward for hard work and preparation and tip-top performance. But in our culture of sports mania, we’ve taken it a little bit too far. We love the trophy. We adore a victory. In fact, we worship the almighty win. We want the win so desperately we’re willing to do anything to get it, including cheating.

Racing has its own history of cheating-related debacles, some more recent than others. At the heart of each one was the obsession with the “W.” Although winning is an admirable goal, achieving it through treachery transforms trophies into tinsel and commendations into contempt.

Like Proverbs 20:17 says, Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

We chase after “wins” in life, too. Especially in tough economic times, sometimes we're so desperate that cheating seems like a viable option. It’s easy to rationalize accepting pay under the table or under-reporting our income, but those things are just as shady as cheating in sports.

Cheating cheapens everything, and like any other sin, it has consequences. Reputations are ruined. Relationships crumble. People get hurt.

Right now, many NASCAR fans and personnel are hurting. Countless numbers are appalled that the sport we love has been tainted by the shadow of scandal. We feel ashamed and angry that those we support and revere sometimes do stupid things in the name of winning. As the ripple effect continues, more people are affected, and it makes us sad.

Drivers, teams, fans – we’re all members of one body: NASCAR Nation. It’s good to speak the truth to each other and play fair, don’t you think?

Fans want teams to follow the rules, on the track and in the shop. We need debris cautions to be authentic and consistent, so no one can cry foul play. And if accidental errors are made that break the rules, we expect people to fess up. Immediately admitting, “I messed up” or “I made a mistake” can be a patch that halts the hemorrhage and starts repairing a situation before it spins out of control.

It’s time to put the “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’” nonsense to rest. There is no victory in cheating, only an empty, lonely defeat. Let’s honor each other, the sport, and most of all, the God we petition before each event, by sticking to clean, honest racing.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ~ Ephesians 4:25

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

Faith on the Frontstretch: There's no victory in cheating Faith on the Frontstretch: There's no victory in cheating Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 Rating: 5