Sunday, November 14, 2010

But honestly, how do you make them honest?

I just read an interesting article by Rudi Webster on 'the psychology of cheating', including possible ways to encourage integrity in sportsmen. Recommend it even for non-cricket fans..especially the results of the tests with and without vows of code of honour.

What the article does not say: Does it work as well even on sample students taking their 100th test with such vow? Those tainted guys across all sport - none of them did it in their first match. In all likelyhood they would not have done it even if there was to be an offer.
Sharda Ugra has her individual take on the factors that may lead to sportsmen demonstrating loss of morality. She tries to answer her question:

Sporting heroes build their careers, their lives, on reputation. Of athlete as fighter, athlete as adventurer, athlete as risk-taker, but a man or woman doing so always within the rules of their sport. When the boundaries around those reputations begin to fray, we are faced with the same old, weary questions. Guilt and innocence. Reason and impulse. It's what was asked of Hansie Cronje or Mohammad Azharuddin or Saleem Malik, even of Mark Waugh and Shane Warne. Why? Whatever the hell for? What on earth were you thinking?

We want to know what leads men of such skill, achievement and fairly firm financial ground, to make choices that, before they are unethical, are so utterly illogical.

She cites another example of a non-cricketing great sportsman explaining the 'why' what for' 'what were you thinking' questions by looking back to that dark phase:

Tiger Woods described what life was like inside elite sport: "I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to, deserve to enjoy all the temptations around me. I thought I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have to go far to find them." That was his answer to the questions "Why?" "Whatever for?" "What were you thinking?"
I also found some words of interest in Sandy Gordon's study of such incidents as excerpted by Sharda. Along side his famous contributions to international cricket teams, Sandy is professor of sport and exercise psychology at the University of Western Australia's School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health.

One of the more unusual terms Gordon used in his responses to ESPNcricinfo was the "derailer". It comes from a psychological questionnaire called the Hogan Development Survey (HDS), used to study an individual's responses under stress.

The derailer refers to traits that belong to the "dark side of personality", which can sometimes take over under pressure and play an important part in decision-making - traits that are normally tolerated, even indulged, as Gordon says, but which, when "tempted with opportunity", can derail. "It's about character meeting opportunity and/or sport revealing character," Gordon said. Temptations come in many disguises; what stays constant, though, is the powerful lure.

The personality types on the HDS scales include "colourful" (seekers of attention, productive, with ability in crises, and possessed of belief in self and ability), "bold" (overly self-confident, arrogant, with inflated feelings of self-worth) and "mischievous" (charming, risk-taking, limit-testing and excitement-seeking). Gordon says "bold" and "mischievous" characters abound in the entertainment industry (e.g. professional sport...) We may often call them "characters" in cricket.

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