Upset with people cheating on the tennis court, I told a friend of mine what I was learning about cheating in professional sports and mentioned proudly that I even knew about the Derek Jeter incident . As a former college varsity baseball and tennis player, he laughed at my naivete and recommended an article by Bob Ryan, a sports columnist for the Boston Globe. What an eye-opener..or really mind-opener. Here are some excerpts from that story.

…Let’s talk about this so-called gamesmanship. Only the terminally naive think our sports are played with constant devotion to the ideas of rule-adherence and sportsmanship. In truth, it’s very much a get-away-with-whatever-you-can sports world, with one glowing exception: golf.

Think about it. Basketball gives us flopping. Hockey gives us diving, which is the same thing. Soccer is so concerned with diving it actually calls for a yellow card, if so determined. Football also gives us flopping/diving on the part of pass receivers, and that’s before getting into the idea of holding, which, as is so often said, happens on multiple occasions on just about every play in the National Football League. They’d need 11 officials to catch it all, and 99 percent of it is intentional.

…Ever hear of an outfielder saying to an umpire, “You know, that ball actually bounced before I caught it?’’ Me neither.

…Along those lines, do you recall John McEnroe ever screaming at a linesmen or referee, “You imbecile! I did not deserve that point! The ball was in, not out!’’ Me neither.

To me, all this stuff is rather self-evident. Seeking an edge and accepting a bogus gift from an official have always been considered “part of the game.’’ At the very least, it can be rationalized as, “You win some, you lose some, but I want my share.’’

Well that’s the way it seems it really is. Of course tennis is supposed to be more of an honest, honorable and gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) game. I mean in prep school—and maybe college—tournaments, your opponent is trusted to tell you whether a ball was in or out on his/her side, even if calling it “in” means he loses the game, set or match. Andre Agassi writes in his book how one kid knowingly called a ball incorrectly that cost Andre the match and maybe the tournament. He waited years to play that cheater again and get even somehow (I’ve forgotten). But talk about conflict of interests. You can see on TV how a ball can be in or out by just a few millimeters. So tempting for a cheater to call it in his own favor.

And that happens all the time. For me…I take pride in calling a close ball “in” that is in, even if the other guy then wins the point. Makes me feel good about myself. Same feeling I have when I examine a restaurant bill and point out that I was UNDERcharged. Good example for the kids. And an ego boost, because I believe I am one of the few people taking that unusual and honest action.