A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. How many times has each one of us heard that phrase while growing up? A very logical statement if we stopped a moment to think about it. For a winner to become a winner he cannot quit, for quitting would prevent him from winning. And a quitter can never win since he has dropped out. A very logical, yet very simple statement. So simple though there is not much to be learned from it. Not much in the sense that there is a lesson of moral integrity to be found. Yet as youngsters we all heard it whenever we engaged in any form of athletic competition. Ah, yes, all in the spirit of competition. But what about fair play?
Fair play was another subject. Not always taught in the field though. Sure, there was, "Its not if you win or lose, its how you play the game." That is a good assertion. But if winning and being number one meant the most to us, and most of us were taught winning and being number one was the true spirit of competition and the "American Way" (even the immortal Vince Lombardi once said that winning was everything), than how you played was according to how badly you wanted to win. Even if it meant disregarding fair play.
What constitutes fair play though? For some of the lucky kids, lucky enough to have parents and instructors of high moral character, the lesson was taught; a cheater never wins and a winner never cheats. Think about that for a moment. Not as simple a statement as the forgoing. For as a lot of us have learned over our years, sometimes a little deception can make the difference between being number one or just being someone who tried, but did not make it and was thus forgotten about. We all remember the winners, but who can recall the name of the person who took the silver medal next to Bruce Jenner's gold in the Olympics? I thought so. Well, you will never see his picture on a box of Wheaties. So as you can tell, being number one definitely has its advantages. But why do people overlook fair play to win at any cost?
Growing up in America, you get to understand much about the civilization it has generated. It is a competitive nation. In it, competition is in every facet of life. We compete with each other for just about everything; boyfriends, girlfriends, a part in the school play, a spot on the football team, a better grade in math, everyday games, acceptance into a college, and even later in life, a job or a promotion within that job. You cannot deny it, competition is to be found wherever there is a free society.
I do not want to be called a communist at this point, I am simply pointing out that this exists. Why is it so hard for an American to point out something that might not seem fair within their own country? Whenever I say knowledge and good health should be free for everyone to enjoy I get accused of being a commie. And this is America? I am merely suggesting a place to enhance something that is already exceptional.
Now I am sure not every parent is as arrogant as that, but I think you can get the gist of my meaning. Many little kids are put through tremendous pressures by their parents, not only in the sports arena but at others.
"Billy, why didn't you get an A on your math test?"
"I'm sorry mom, I just can't get fractions down."
"That's not good enough, Billy. You've got to do better."
I ask, what is Billy going to do the next time he has a math test and he has not grasped the concept of fractions? My experience has been that the kid is going to cheat on that test. We have all seen or done it in school--formulas written on our hands or up our sleeves, on a small piece of paper neatly tucked in the palms of our hands or inside the clear plastic tube of our Bic pens. Face it; the rewards are far greater than the risks we take.
Now the question comes to be, is little Billy really hurting anyone by bringing a cheat sheet to his next test. Most may argue no. And even though he should not do it, it still will not prevent us from getting any sleep at night. Yet, others will strongly argue against him doing such a thing.
Let us say that Billy cheated his way into college. His parents always had dreams of their little boy becoming a doctor some day and had been telling him so ever since he could understand and speak the English language. Once in college, he knew that his making it through to medical school would be the most important task in his life. But Billy had some of the same problems in college as he did in high school. Looking back on those days he could remember how much easier it was to cheat on a test, then to spend many rigorous hours studying to fully comprehend, or just giving up and being content with not grasping the concept. So like in high school, Billy gives in to the cheat sheet.
Graduation has come and Billy has fore felt the dreams and wishes of his parents. Not only did he graduate, but he was in the top ten percent of his class--just making it by one onehundredth of a point. Being in the top ten percent made it much easier for him to secure a job that three other members of his class were competing for. Has Billy hurt anyone yet? It seems to me that had he not cheated he would not have even been in line for that job and one of the other three would have gotten it.
Most people will disregard fair play in order to achieve what he or she could not normally achieve. In Billy's case, the pressure brought on by his parents drove him to cheat in order to please them.
During the latter half of August 1984, Jane and I were sitting in my condo, smoking herb, and talking. My head was clouded with thoughts of the job. Being a craps dealer at Bally's Park Place was nothing I ever expected it to be. May-be I had been naive. I was very upset as I sat on the couch with her, just starring into space. I couldn't get it out of my mind as I held back the anguish.
Jane could sense something was wrong. "What's the matter," she asked.
"Nothing," I replied.
"Don't lie to me, I know you too well. Something is bothering you. What is it?"
"Nothing," I told her, "I'm just a little tired from work."
"You're not yourself tonight. Why don't you tell me what is wrong."
"I just can't."
"You trust me, don't you?"
I said yes.
"Than why don't you tell me what's bugging you?"
"I, I..." I began to stutter, "I can't."
"Sure you can." She took hold of my hands, "Sometimes it helps ease the pain when you tell your troubles to a friend you trust and who cares about you."
I burst out into tears and started crying. Jane's eyes opened wide in amazement. She had no idea the hurt was going to be so deep. I looked at her and said with tears, "The dice games at work are fixed. They want me to steal from people." Immediately, I turned my head away in embarrassment.
Jane gave me a hug that must have lasted at least five minutes. I kept crying as she held me in her arms trying to calm me down.
When I finally pulled myself together, we began to talk again. I told her it must have been the best kept secret in Atlantic City and asked her never to repeat it. She asked me to quit. I told her the predicament I was in and she understood. From that night on, I could never look at her again without remembering that night or knowing she was the only person who knew and understood the pain I had to live with.