Motherlode: Watching the World Cup, and Watching Children See Dishonesty Pay Off


What do you tell your children when cheaters win?

If you’re watching the World Cup like we are with our 6-year-old Cai, then you’re probably confronting this dilemma. In our house where three out of four of us (excluding me) hold a British passport, we rooted for the English team. During the first round, we watched England face Uruguay and lose. But if it had been a fair match, many commentators (English commentators, anyway) believe England probably would have won.

Why? The Uruguayan captain handled the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and later smashed his elbow into the neck of an English player. He should have been sent off for most of the game, which would have left the Uruguayans a man short. Of course, that interpretation is arguable, but what is not really up for debate is that in soccer, instead of offenders being punished, it’s more often the case that liars and fakers are rewarded. This sad state of affairs is so institutionalized, that one of England’s best players lamented the fair play of his own teammates after England’s elimination in the first round.

“Maybe we’re too honest,” said the English soccer hero Wayne Rooney, suggesting that unless his team incorporates “nastiness” and fakery into its play, it won’t be able to win in international games. But don’t take it from Wayne Rooney. The minions from “Despicable Me” express the inequity of World Cup cheaters winning perfectly in this hilarious 11-second video.

So what do you tell your child?

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