101 Great Goals has a roundup of press on the Hand of Gaul today. The summary is that Thierry Henry could have owned up, but that the normal thing to do in this sport (maybe any sport) is to cheat until the referee spots it. This is exactly the kind of environment in which a hero stands up.
Some quotes from their post:
“Thierry Henry is a liar and a cheat. He is also a footballer, and he stands out from his fellow professionals as a sheep stands out in a flock of sheep. It is a a fact of life — footballers cheat. Their duty, as they see it, is not to obey the rules but to do what is best for the team. If a footballer can get away with something that helps the team, he is duty-bound to do the dirty deed. That is the morality of 21st-century professional football.”
“Why you, Thierry? Why you of all people? You always stood for something purer in the polluted world of football. You sent ‘good luck’ texts to rivals like Steven Gerrard. You sought out Frank Lampard after one Chelsea-Arsenal tear-up, wishing him great joy with impending fatherhood. You played the game with style and a smile. So why cheat? … What is truly dispiriting about this skulduggery at the Stade de Fraud is that the perpetrator was Henry, an individual admired within an oft-criticised game for possessing principles. Until Wednesday.”
“You are the captain of France, the country that gave us the World Cup, and here you had the chance to show us what sport can mean – or, at least, what we tell our children it means.”
This argument that players should cheat until the referee spots it was a large issue in cricket not too long ago, and still boils under the surface. This attitude is prevalent in sports, but also in life. Imagine what the financial world would look like if cheating until you’re caught was not the standard. The fact is, sports, and the way they’re played, influence those who watch. If there are no morals in sports, there will be no morals in society.
This is not the way to play a sport. It is not the way to live life.