Olivia’s letter reads:
Daniel, my son, is in his second season as a member of a local mountain biking squad. I’m expecting to receive your opinion as soon as you get the opportunity to reply to an event that occurred during a race.
At a recent race, another youngster jumped ahead of Daniel by cutting around a corner of the path and then finishing five seconds ahead of him. Daniel screamed out to the youngster, devastated, and choked up, “Hey, that’s cheating!” but he didn’t reply as he finished the race.
A little time after the finish, my husband brought Daniel to the youngster’s parents to tell what had occurred. The son strongly denied it. The lads’ race GPS recordings indicate exactly what happened.
It’s not a matter of Daniel finishing fourth rather than fifth. How would you clarify to a 10-year-old that another youngster can cheat, pretend about it, and then get away with it with no consequences or accountability?
Even after checking the GPS information, the father and coach of the other youngster dismissed it. The boy was never addressed in any of the conversations as if they were seeking to defend him from his dishonesty.
This irritates me since I have always encouraged my children to take a stand for themselves. Again, I understand it isn’t about the outcome. Aaron is a huge fan of mountain biking. I’m simply not sure what the moral is or what the conclusion is for a 10-year-old.
Ben’s response reads:
Thank you for the inquiry, and more significantly, thank you for letting your heart be where it needs to be in such matters.
The unfortunate reality is that even in mountain biking, ethics have been degraded. You’d think that in an individual sport where high-tech instruments are used to make judgment decisions, the regulation would be simple to administer and govern. That is not the case.
First and foremost, I believe you did the correct thing in teaching Daniel that cheating is not acceptable. The fact that you took him over to the other boy’s parents and coach demonstrates your devotion and zeal to deal with an incorrect and unacceptable circumstance.
It isn’t that cheating is anything new or startling; it’s that allowing it to go unchecked degrades the genuine value of youth sports.
Daniel was able to deduce from your behaviour that cheating is not acceptable. Your efforts, hopefully, encouraged him and acknowledged some of the incident’s unfairness. Even though the other kid did not receive the appropriate punishment, Daniel was taught the importance of integrity and honesty because he opted to confront the transgression.
Meeting with other adults and watching how this was addressed provided a 10-year-old child with the proper vision of fairness and justice. You went above and beyond what you could and should have done. It is not your duty to determine how the repercussions will play out, but it is your obligation to report it and teach your kid these principles.
In the case of the other kid, we can only wish that the humiliation, dread, worry, and anxiety he felt at the post-race conference will serve as a reminder and a deterrent to trying that shortcut maneuver in any part of his life again.
Yes, enforcing necessary fines for this rule breach would have been the correct thing to do. Whether this was a deliberate or unintentional move, it necessitates a response.
For the sake of a fourth-place result, his parents and coach wasted a golden opportunity to develop character. This is, without a doubt, the most heinous of all the travesties.