Photo by: New York Daily News

#DeflateGate - Talking to Your Kids about Cheating

by Kristen of "Mommy in Sports"
Photo by: New York Daily News

"Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win.”

Or so we thought.

The headlines the past few weeks in the New York papers are superb, and the story is now trending. It appears the Super Bowl-bound Patriots have been caught red-handed yet again. Deflate Gate is the lead story everywhere, and it highlights something that’s prevalent not only in sports but in life; people cheat.

I never realized it until we started playing board games last year with our daughters – this need to win. This need is so intense that our eldest started rigging the cards in Candyland. Or, she’d move her piece to premiere spots on the kids Monopoly board when she thought no one was watching. And, when she isn’t the victor, the tears flow. And not just crocodile tears, I’m talking pure agonizing defeat… over Old Maid!

Unlike our kids though, professional athletes are playing for the greatest prize, to be a champion. With that comes loads of money, but more importantly, glory. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to hear that the New England Patriots may have cheated again with under-inflated footballs, just as they were embroiled in drama in 2007 with Spygate. Obviously, someone on their staff knows something, but the story of athletes or teams cheating isn’t a new one. In baseball it’s performance enhancing drugs, same as cycling, and the great Lance Armstrong. Cheating happens, and if it didn’t, there would be no need for referees.

Watching their heroes fall, though, might be toughest for our littlest sports fans. And it brings up a vital conversation we all need to have about dishonesty.

While our children might be receiving mixed messages from the media (and their parents) about the importance of winning, we can all learn some lessons from the Patriots latest scandal.

Cheating is wrong. It’s a universal truth, karma will always come back and bite you. Though the people and athletes we admire might cheat, that doesn’t mean we do the same, or that we have to stop liking them. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what you do afterwards that counts most.

No matter how much you lie about it, you will get caught. It may not be right away, it may take years before someone finds out… but deep down you will always know what you did. And most times our conscience is our greatest enemy. It’s vital to be truthful about cheating right away to avoid further consequences for lying.

There will be many times this may come up in our parenting journey. In sports, board games, and even in school. And when stories like this pop up in the mainstream media, it’s an excellent way to teach at home. And if your kids are Patriots fans ask them, “Do you think they deserve to be in the Super Bowl if they really did cheat?” Their answers might surprise you! And if they are frustrated with New England, remind them that life is full of disappointments, but it’s always better to win honorably.

Kristen Hewitt is an Emmy Award Winning Television Producer and Reporter for Fox Sports Florida and the Miami HEAT. Her favorite job though is raising her two daughters, and she chronicles her misadventures in sports and mommyhood on her blog mommy in SPORTS. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but warning…she’s currently obsessed with Instagram!

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