Talk about a slippery slope, and it starts so early. We, as children, and our own children push the parameters of behavior. We try to influence. Well, BF Sally has her ears pierced. Why can’t I stay out until midnight? Jim’s parents let him. We are all looking for that edge, and, if it pushes the boundaries, so what. These are the tests of character.
We cannot very well look to Washington for leadership here. Corporate America has been less than responsive. Our idols in Hollywood crumble left and right. So, perhaps sports?
The corrupting influences start pretty early on. High school coaches suggest that football players need to bulk up – wink, wink – think steroids. Trash talk on the parquet floor. Learn how to slash and spear in hockey. A little off balance and we have an advantage. Ah, the spirit of competition.
This is why we have penalties to help even the playing field. In hockey a two minute player advantage for the aggrieved opposition. In other sports, move the football a few yards; basketball foul shooting; game ejection, suspension, and fines across the spectrum.
If everyone is doing it, it must be right! Whoa, what about the rules and regs? Let’s turn to that National pastime, baseball, akin to Mom, the flag and apple pie. They have always handled such issues with aplomb. No hypocrisy here!
During a game on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, two storied teams took to the field – the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. In the second inning, Sox Manager John Farrell reported to the umpires that the Yankee pitcher, Michael Pineda, seemed to have a foreign substance glob on his neck. Sure enough, it was some pine tar. Casual readers may know that any foreign substance used by a pitcher on a baseball is illegal. This includes pine tar, Vaseline, even a file to roughen the ball surface. The pitcher was ejected and suspended for ten games.
Here is the kicker – it is supposedly a known fact that many pitchers use pine tar on the ball to improve their grip on the ball, particularly in the colder weather. However, most do it surreptitiously. Yet, it is still against baseball regulations. Sox Manager Farrell does not think there needs to be a rule change. Rather, as quoted in the Boston Globe, he said “There are probably ways you can be a little more discreet.” There is a great lesson, essentially learn to cheat better and smarter. How do you reconcile that hypocrisy?
This incident will not ruin a wonderful sport, but it does give you pause. What do we tell our children? What does it say about how we conduct our business and life? It is like what is the difference between a white lie and a full-blown lie? You can chip around the edges, but both are still lies. Keep that wink alive!
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
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