Vittert: Fishing scandal shows there’s no shame in cheating

On Balance with Leland Vittert

FILE – A sailfish jumps out of the water. (Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — By now, you’ve probably seen the social media videos of heated fisherman at an Ohio competition that’s now become embroiled in scandal.

Turns out anglers don’t take kindly to cheating. Fishing tournaments get decided by the weight of fish, and this one came with a $29,000 purse. Of course, that prize money comes from everybody else’s entry fee.

Equally important — maybe more important — is the character issue: It’s not fair. Especially in America, and on this show, we believe in what’s fair.

The fellow competitors had enough. One of them said the cheaters should go to jail. OK, the cops might be a little much. Jail time for cheaters or even thieves of $29,000 is a lot.

We could go back to the stocks. As described by the New York Times in 1887, offenders against public morality formerly sat imprisoned with their legs held fast beneath a heavy wooden yoke, while sundry small but fiendish boys improved the occasion by deliberately pulling off their shoes and tickling the soles of their defenseless feet.

That could be fair: The stocks for cheaters, the shame of ridicule by your fellow man, but this brings up a larger point: there is no shame in cheating anymore.

Just recently, poker player Robbi Jade Lew faces charges she used a vibrating ring to get help during a poker match. Hans Niemann turned the chess world upside down. He faces a charges of using a vibrating device placed inside him to also get messages (I’m not kidding and I’m not going to expand on the device or where it was allegedly placed).

Lew’s purse was $270,000. She called a poker hand when it clearly made no sense. She won the pot and her competitor seemed, well, confused.

She ended up giving the money back. The prize money at the poker tournament was 10 times the amount in the fishing tournament. But, if she didn’t cheat, is that fair?

Fair seems to matter less. She’s not ashamed of it. She changed her story multiple times, but she’s clearly not ashamed, and nobody’s banned her from poker tournaments.

Clearly, fisherman have a different justice system.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

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