Posted: August 12th, 2013






            Cheating has become an integral part of our day-to day lives. It has become accepted in several aspects of our lives like in politics and in the places of employment. Therefore, sport is no exception to this practice. Several teams to ensure that they have an uncanny advantage over their opponents resort to cheating. This is done in most cases to ensure that they win the competition in question. For instance in basketball, cheating has been there for a considerable amount of time. Players have even devised strategic methods that ensure that they cheat without being realized. Cheats in basketball are called “ticky-tackers,” this paper will address the various techniques that they employ and the opinions that famous philosophers may have had with regard to the subject of cheating in basketball.

The prevalence of the ticky-tackers in basketball today is astonishing. They are people who continuously call for non-existent and fictional fouls.  In the case of the basketball players, they do this strategically in order to obtain a competitive advantage over their competitors. Ticky-tackers in basketball maybe strategic or honest based on the approach they use in the field. The honest ticky-tackers call for the fouls when they have occurred truthfully during the game and they have no hidden agenda behind their actions. Strategic ones on the other hand call for the fouls only when it suits their team. For instance, they may resort to calling for fouls if their team is at risk of losing the game, calling for the fictional or phantom fouls would enable them to catch up and they may win the game (Green, 2004).

In order to stop or counter ticky-tacking in basketball, it is important to find out the logic behind the practice. That is, it is imperative to find out how they think in order to anticipate their actions in the field and subsequently stop it altogether. The principal motive behind ticky-tacking is the yearning to win. For this reason, the players are willing to beat the odds in order to win. The logic behind the practice is quite simple; for a team to score it requires to score more points that the opposing team. They are only able to score if they are in possession of the ball. Calling of phantom fouls enables the team in question to have possession of the ball more often that their competitors. For this simple reason, probability of their team scoring more points than their opponents is high (Wolfers, 2006).

Ticky tacking has continued to gain popularity unrelentingly because of two main reasons. First, there is no neutral referee present during the basket ball games in question. If such a referee existed, he or she would be able to identify the strategic cheats in the course of the game. Secondly, the people in charge of the sport should come up with a proper governance system, which should be accompanied with a hefty fine if cheating is committed. If these two recommendations were put into place, it would be a lot easier to curb the routine ticky-tacking that occurs routinely in the basketball games. The present situation in the sport in question is similar to the idea of the state of nature in philosophy. The idea suggests the existence of no laws in a country and the reactions of the citizens of the country.

The idea of the state of nature refers to a situation whereby there are no laws or officers to ensure that the individuals do the right thing. In such a state, all the citizens have the same amount of liberty and freedom to do whatever they life without consideration of the effects their actions may have on other citizens. Therefore, the theory is appropriate since basketball does not have binding and authoritative rules that govern it. For this reason, the players have unrestricted freedoms that they may abuse if they so will as evidenced by those who participate in strategic ticky-tacking. Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher responds to the theory of the state of nature by stating that the lives of the people in question will be” nasty, brutish and short” but it will all depend on the nature of the people who live in the particular state (Hobbes et all, 1839).

John Locke is another important philosopher who interpreted the state of nature in a different way. In his case, he imagines that the people in the state of nature are not all brutal but rather they are of a mixed variety. That is, the some of the people may be nasty and inconsiderate but some people also respect their counterparts and have a sense of duty towards them even if they are motivated by an element of self-interest on their part. Basketball resembles Locke’s definition of a state of nature. This is because, even without the existence of clear and definite rules, not all the players choose to participate in cheating; some have a reasonable measure of conscience that enables them to fulfill their duty to their opponents. On the other hand, some players have a great semblance to the brutal people in the state of nature who do not follow the rules (Locke, 1690).

Basketball also complies with the Lockean description of the state of nature because it is a game, which encourages cooperation. For a team to win a game, the members have to cooperate by passing the ball to each other for instance. Basketball players may comply with some of the rules and respect their duty to their teammates out of self-interest just as Locke’s interpretation suggests. For instance, a team member may only cooperate with the team members in order to attain the title of the most valuable player of the team. Finally, even though the game does not have a set of definite authoritative rules, the players have made up some rules over the years, which they adhere to and for this reason; it conforms to the Lockean definition of the state of nature.

Niccolo Machiavelli one of the most popular philosophers is very famous for his advice, which was very candid and unembellished. For this reason, his philosophies raised a lot of controversy and he offended several people. His beliefs were absolutely against the conventional moral laws. For instance, he believed that for one to prosper in politics, he has to be strong and ruthless since the two were virtues in that particular field. For this reason, his name has been used to refer to immoral acts and cruelty in several instances. This practice was especially common during the Elizabethan era in the writing of plays by Shakespeare for example. One of his most controversial statements was one that pertained to “political necessity” in which he stated

“A wise prince guides himself above all by the dictates not of morality but of necessity: if he wishes to maintain his power, he must always be prepared to act immorally when this becomes necessary.” (Machiavelli et al, 1910)

From this statement, it is evident that Machiavelli supports immoral acts such as cheating for instance as long as it is to ensure that the person in question maintains his power. In addition to this, Machiavelli also states, “the prince should act treacherously, ruthlessly, or inhumanly if necessary to increase his power” (Machiavelli et al, 1910). However, even with such ideologies, Machiavelli should not be considered a diabolical amoralist. This is because in spite of his statements, he had great respect for values like honesty, fairness and hard work (Lukes, 2001). He recommends the use of immoral act in only two situations, if “glory” requires it or if the immoral deed is a way to achieve greater good for the public (Machiavelli, 1950).

What would Machiavelli have to say about strategic ticky-tacking? Would he justify it based on the two situations that he gave? Surely, Machiavelli would have definitely condemned the matter of ticky-tacking. This is because, the action does not comply with any of the two situations in which he recommended the use of immoral deeds. First, strategic ticky-tacking is not considered glorious in any way. The act is in complete contradiction to his belief in fairness and hard work (Major, 2007). Secondly, immoral deeds would be allowed if it were for the good of the public. In the case of ticky-tacking, only the members of the winning team benefit and not the public as Machiavelli stipulated in his philosophy. Therefore, the issue of strategic ticky-tacking is not supported by any of Machiavelli’s philosophies (Machiavelli and Detmold, 1882).

Strategic ticky-tacking is morally wrong in whichever way it is considered. Three reasons depict why the action is not right; it is against all the moral rules, it is a reflection of an individual with lacking character and it has bad consequences. Ticky tacking is a form of cheating that is wrong. The individual who participates in this practice depicts that has questionable character because he is willing to cheat for personal gain. With regard to this matter, Immanuel Kant, a philosopher from Germany states that the individual “makes an exception of himself.” This is to mean that he or she violates the rules of the game to benefit him. In this way, the ticky-tacker is to some extent a parasite that is relying on victory without working for it and at the expense of the other team members.

Taking up of the practice is also an indication that the person in question does not love the truth. For human beings, they may result in cheating occasionally but for the strategic ticky-tacker, it is a conscious decision he or she has made to cheat during every game. This is why his moral character is disputed. Finally, ticky-tacking may have severe effects on the team members. F or instance, if the practice continues repeatedly, the opponents of the team will become ugly and may resort to the same measure or even harming the players physically in the course of the game. If this took place, the game will be destroyed and it will not be enjoyable to watch. For this reason, ticky-tacking is wrong and should not be encouraged. The use of the ideas put forth by the philosophers is a clear indication of this.

If the practice of ticky-tacking persists in basketball, the game in general will be destroyed. This is because the players will not follow any rules and will be ruthless during the game. In order to avoid this, it is important the related association create a set of rules that will guide the players in the game. These laws will enable them to counter that habit of ticky-tacking that will result in a fair game. In addition to this, the installation of a neutral referee who will just observe how the players play will make it very difficult for the players to call false fouls because the neutral referee will watch them very closely. Inception of these laws will ensure that basketball retains its present popularity since the competitions will be based purely on the prowess of the teams making it an interesting sport (Jimerson, 1999).


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