Children 'pressed to cheat at sport'

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Two-thirds of UK children feel under pressure to cheat at sports because of a "win-at-all-costs" culture on the playing fields, a survey suggests. A quarter of the children questioned for the survey thought team mates would cheat frequently if they could get away with it.

Ninety per cent of the 1,002 eight- to 16-year-olds said their team-mates felt pressure to win while playing sport.

More than a third said they felt no remorse at winning by cheating.

The survey for the MCC and the Cricket Foundation charity found as many as one in 20 of those questioned said they were proud to have arrived at victory dishonestly.

Yet about half said they would have felt angry or frustrated if they lost a game because of cheating by the other team. And one in five insisted that their teammates had never cheated.
'Fouling and diving'

The majority of children said they felt the pressure to win came from other children and their teammates, while a smaller number said the pressure came from parents and teachers.

Examples of cheating cited by the respondents to the survey included tripping up or fouling people, diving and or hitting other players with hockey sticks. Other tricks used to win included not running the right amount of laps in cross-country races.

Wasim Khan, chief executive of the Cricket Foundation, said: "It is a real concern to us that so many youngsters struggle in this 'pressure cooker' to win at all costs. We teach children the importance of playing sport competitively and fairly whilst also respecting the rules and the opposition."

The chief executive of the MCC, Derek Brewer, said: "This survey highlights the pressures children feel under when playing sport. With this backdrop it is vital that children are taught the importance of playing sport in the correct spirit."

The children were questioned by Opinion Matters in February and March.

The results come several weeks after the education secretary for England announced plans to increase the amount of competitive sport played in school, and at an earlier age.

The Cricket Foundation runs the Chance to Shine initiative, which aims to encourage the playing of competitive cricket in state schools.