An NFL coach is the hot topic of conversation du jour for stating that certain championships have a stain on them. He's done lots of backpedalling since in an attempt to avoid the heinous crime of disrespecting an opponent and I think that is unfortunate. Mostly because I think he's right. The championships he was referring to are the New England and New Orleans Superbowl victories. The stain he referred to comes from both teams being sanctioned by the league for systematically breaking the rules during the periods they won their championships.
A lot of the talking heads focus the debate how much value or competitive advantage, if any, was gained from the forms of cheating they did and the fans of the teams always rest on the cheaters' eternal claim – that everybody cheats. Well, everybody doesn't cheat.
Philosophically my problem with cheating in sports comes from the fact that sports are silly to begin with. People agree on an arbitrary set of limitations and objectives and compete to achieve the objectives within the outlined constraints. In that sense to cheat is simply to privately admit defeat. Cheating is admitting to yourself that you don't think you can achieve the objective within the agreed constraints – admitting that you think our opponent(s) is (are) better than you. In recreational sports this is the height of pathetic.
In pro sports it is unfortunately understandable but I still object to cheating in the pros for two reasons. The first reason is because, like it or not, the pros are role models for other athletes so when they cheat it encourages cheating at all levels of sport. The second reason is the reason that cheating in the pros is understandable - because professional sports is all about the money and I don't like to be reminded of that.
One last problem with cheating is the result. Now some people will say “hey, they won” that's what it's all about. But really, for the reason I outlined above they didn't really win and when your talking about the kind of questionable advantage cheating these teams were engaged in you can only wonder, could they have won fair and square? I'll never know, you'll never know, and they themselves will never know if they really could have been the best playing by the rules.
That's the stain and cover it, conceal it or ignore it but it's still there.