Just Do What’s Expected of You, Revisited

Last year, in the aftermath of the news about a runner who gave her Boston Marathon bib to a friend because she was unable to run the race, I discussed a topic that I am passionate about: cheating.  It seems that no matter where we turn, we are surrounded by stories regarding cheating.

What many cheaters don’t realize is that the people that they are hurting most when they cheat are themselves.  They are focused on finding immediate, short term solutions to whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, whether that is cutting a course in order to finish a race quickly, taking an extra medal to give to somebody else, or running a race that they didn’t properly acquire a bib for.  By just focusing on the short term, they often neglect to consider the long term effects of their decisions, which could include being banned from a particular race or race series.

Cheating is not just limited to the running scene.  It is an ongoing issue that I have to deal with in the classroom with my students.  When my students cheat, they are often only focused on the immediate impact of their actions, whether that is quickly completing an assignment before the deadline, trying to get the “right” answers on a test or a quiz, or avoiding putting in the effort to ethically complete a task.  They aren’t looking at the long term impact of actually learning the academic material for the sake of learning it, and are often just completing tasks for the sake of getting a grade in the gradebook.  However, when students cheat, they haven’t actually “earned” that grade in the gradebook.  And as I often have to remind my students, grades are earned by them, not given to them.

It is certainly difficult to expect students to make ethical decisions when they live in a society where they are constantly surrounded by cheating.  Instances of cheating have become so prevalent that it is almost the norm.  This is incredibly sad.  Even if somebody doesn’t get caught the first time that they cheat, it is more than likely that they will get caught at some point, and could face some potentially harsh consequences that could impact their life in ways that they didn’t even imagine.

What ever happened to hard work and earning what you’re after, whether that’s a grade, a fast finish time, or the chance to run a particular race?  Putting forth 100% effort, but not 100% succeeding, is much more admirable than cutting corners in order to check a box off.

Often times I hear the excuse “Everybody else is doing it” as justification for making unethical choices.  Just because it might seem this way doesn’t mean that cheating is the right thing to do.  And just because it might seem like everybody has joined a bandwagon, does that mean you should automatically jump onto it?  Instead, make decisions for yourself and focus on doing what’s right instead of what others are doing.

QOTD: Which school of thought are you in: always do the right thing, or cheat the system and hope you don’t get caught?

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34 Responses to Just Do What’s Expected of You, Revisited

  1. One of my French teachers at school used to say we should “fail with pride”. Basically meaning exactly what you’ve said that you should always put in 100% effort and even if you don’t do too well, that’s a lot more to be proud of than “passing” while having cheated.

  2. I’m not too keen on cheating. I don’t think it does any good especially in running races – any races. When it comes out in the media, people rip them apart, which also isn’t great.

  3. Karen :0) says:

    I cannot stand cheating! Cheating then trying to cover it up also makes things ten times worse and you’ll almost always get found out! Great post Kathryn!

  4. kookyrunner says:

    It’s definitely sad and I think children suffer from it most. If they see people they look up to, and those people are cheating, it kind of normalizes it for them.

    I’ve read about a few instances of cheating that took place in the Boston Marathon this year. It just makes me so angry because they took spots from people that qualified!

  5. I know from my kids that cheating is fairly common in HS these days. It’s very upsetting as a parent and I am sure as a teacher for you. Do you think the schools put so much pressure on the kids they think it’s their only hope? Do you think it is the fault of the parents? I don’t know but just thinking out loud

    • I think both of those factors play into the motivation behind cheating, but I also think there are a multitude of other factors too. One of the most frustrating things about cheating in schools is that the consequences aren’t severe enough to deter the cheating from occurring in the first place. But that’s a topic for an entirely different discussion.

  6. Wendy says:

    My boys tell me all the time about the cheating that goes on in high school. Cheating is a problem everywhere you look. My spam box is full of people trying to scam me. I’m on my 4th credit card in a year bc people keep stealing my number. It’s sad.

  7. Marcia says:

    The psychology of cheating fascinates me. I’d like to think some kids don’t know any better but they do. It’s despicable that adults cheat and in some twisted way are able to rationalize it. I know someone who traveled to London from New Zealand to run the marathon with a fake bib. And pasted it all over Facebook like it was no big deal. I’m speechless.

  8. Cheating is one thing that I completely disagree with. I think it is more important to fail than have the thought of cheating cross one’s mind. It’s huge in college, you cheat you are gone there is no first offense or anything. People know cheating is wrong, it’s their choice when they do it, and I don’t feel bad a bit when people are fired at work for it, called out by the marathon investigator guy or suspended from school, if they are willing to cheat they are willing to face the consequences.
    I was actually thinking about this a few weeks back in the running world, it’s really a sad sad pathetic thing when you have to cheat at your own hobby, for what I don’t know. I can’t imagine there is any gratitude holding a medal in a race you didn’t really run. I don’t get it, not even a little.
    With students, maybe some get under too much pressure or are just trying to take the easy way out, but I think it’s becoming more and more common and it’s sad, just sad!

    • I 100% agree, Kristy. I hate that my son will be growing up in a society where cheating is becoming more and more the norm. I can guarantee you this though, my son will be taught right from wrong, and that cheating is unacceptable.

  9. Cheating is a horrible habit that unfortunately kids are picking up and sticking with. I just don’t understand how you can feel good about yourself or accomplished if you cheat. Wouldn’t you rather put in the effort and understand what it means to achieve success or learn from your failures?

  10. Definitely not a cheater and I don’t know if I will ever qualify for Boston even though it is my dream. I would never cheat to run a dream race. I’m not sure what people are thinking when they do? I think some just don’t realize the consequences of their actions.

    • I doubt I’ll ever be fast enough to qualify for Boston either, but you know what, I’m okay with that. Even if I wanted to desperately run Boston, or another race that you have to qualify for, I certainly wouldn’t resort to cheating as opposed to putting in hard work in order to accomplish my goal.

  11. I seriously cannot fathom what goes on in people’s minds when they cheat. All the time when I’m in races, I can see opportune spots for people to cut the course….I know if I’m seeing these opportunities, others are also. What satisfaction is there in achieving a goal if it’s not authentic?

  12. MB Jackson says:

    Cheaters never win. I raised my kids to always do the right thing. My hair stands when up a kid says, well everyone else is doing it. Who cares about all those kids? IT is terrible that cheating is so common, just makes me sad!

    • When somebody tells me that everybody else is doing it so that is their justification for their choices, I ask them whether they’d follow along with others who jumped from a bridge and risked their life, not knowing whether they’d survive the jump. I’m often met with silence instead of an actual response when I ask that.

  13. Rachel says:

    Cheating is seriously so ridiculous. But I feel like it’s even *worse* when grown adults (ha!) do it during races. WHY!? Unless the stakes are so high you may potentially bring home tens of thousands of dollars in prize money — WHAT IS THE POINT?!

  14. Farrah says:

    I’m with you on this! I’m generally one to follow the rules although I’m forever bitter about health insurance issues from last year–if I hadn’t listened to my school and gotten the insurance they insisted we get, I’d be $1500 richer right now. 😐

  15. Lisa says:

    I am all about doing the right thing. And kids see what goes on around them. Cheating in races just boggles my mind.

  16. Coco says:

    I think some people “cheat” in races without realized what they are doing is wrong – like using a friend’s bib – but for other incidents there is no excuse. Maybe it stems from a feeling of entitlement?

  17. I feel like we keep seeing more and more of this articles pop up about people who just print bibs and don’t actually pay to run the races.
    I just wonder how they think that is fair to the race, the other runners, etc?

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