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Rules and Regulations

Fair play

Gamesmanship: just not cricket?

What do we mean by 'fair play' and 'level playing field'?

In ethics, the concept of fairness involves treating everyone equally and impartially.

'Fair play' is usually understood to mean using only tactics that are in accord with the
spirit of the sport.

Playing unfairly

Some players use dubious but legal tactics - such as distracting an opponent, or
misrepresenting their own skill level in order to make opponents over- or underestimate
them - to gain an extra advantage in their sport.

This practice is known as gamesmanship and, while usually not contrary to explicit rules
of the sport, few people would want to argue that it is an ethical practice.

Most sports come with their own rules, conventions and opportunities for cheating.

• Football:
o diving: falling over and pretending to have been fouled, to win your team a
o faking, also called simulation: suggesting you've been punched, kicked or
elbowed in order to get an opponent in trouble with the referee, or
exaggerating a mild injury to make it seem more severe
o This tactic backfired on the Brazilian player Rivaldo in a 2002 World Cup
match. His feigned injury was so obviously fake - he clutched his head
after another player kicked the ball at his legs - that he was fined for
cheating. Players caught faking can be suspended.
• Rugby:
o eye gouging: sticking fingers or thumbs in an opponent's eye
o stamping, particularly in a ruck or scrum
• Baseball and cricket - ball tampering by several methods:
o tampering with the seam of the ball
o roughening one or more parts of the ball by rubbing or damaging it
o rubbing grease or other substances into the surface of the ball to alter its
flight in the air
• Cricket - sledging: distracting opponents by winding them up verbally

Level playing field

Sledging may not be illegal, but some say it's a slippery slope

This is another idea that is used a lot in sporting ethics; appropriately enough, since it is
a sporting metaphor.

A 'level playing field' is a situation in which competitors are required to follow the same
rules and are given an equal ability to compete.

This means that no matter what the rules are, as long as they are applied equally and
impartially the playing field is still level. If drugs (or any currently-illegal tactics) were
allowed, as long as everyone had equal access to them the sport would still be fair.

If some sportsmen did not want to use legal drugs for health or moral reasons, they
would be at a disadvantage, but it would be seen as their own fault.