DOING YOUR OWN THINKING
By Miki Snell
At recent events, there has been someflack about the issue of competitors cheating while orienteering. Thishas been directed at some of our juniors. For the most part, your leadershave stressed that you must rely on your own navigational abilities, butthis has apparently not sunken in for some people. Over the last ten yearsof my orienteering experience, I have witnessed competitors, who were competingas individuals, but running in groups and conversing continually aboutwhich direction to go. I have heard numerous shouts through the woods tellingall in ear shot that there is a control in the area. This is a violationof the rules. Some people may have not been informed that this is unacceptablein our sport, but it is a good guess that most have, so it appears thatmany are violating the rules freely and with no remorse about taking advantageof their competition. This attitude needs to change for several reasons.Firstly, cheating puts one at risk for being disqualified. Be warned thatthere are some adults who would love to nail those who are not mindingthe rules, and at future events, they will most likely be on the look-outfor perpetrators. To prevent having a finger pointed at you, donât do anyaction that could make you look like you are trying to gain advantage overyour competition, i.e. following and discussing routes with your friends.Secondly, if you win a medal or do a great time on your course, you canâtfeel very proud of yourself if you spent most of the time following a friendand using his brain power to help you find your way. Achieving somethingnoteworthy is void of pleasure if you had to cheat in order to do it. Youmay be able to get by with cheating, if others arenât aware of it, butyou can never fool yourself. If you respect yourself enough, you will betrue to high values and you will be above short changing your own character.If you rely on your own skill to get you around the course, and you dowell, you have only yourself to give the credit to. Earning this creditis much more rewarding and important than winning a medal. Thirdly, cheatingspoils the game. The idea is to have the most fit and the most skillfulnavigator win the race. If cheaters win, it does not keep to the basicnature of what the game is about. Just as performance enhancing drugs threatento ruin fabulous events such as the Olympics, so will people running ingroups and sharing brain power, spoil our sport of orienteering. It isvery difficult to eliminate unfairness in orienteering, and a good coursesetter will spend most of his effort trying to do just this, but cheaterswill negate all he plans and cause results to be skewed and unfair. Donâtruin our sport by cheating.
How can you avoid being in a positionthat might be construed as cheating? Learn to mind your own business whenyou are orienteering. Often when one is near a marker, others will inquireabout what number is on it. Donât give that information out, make themclimb down to check, just like you had to. Donât look at others and DONâTtalk to anyone. Remember that if you ask another competitor a question,you most likely will disturb their concentration and then cause them tomake an error because of your invasion. Donât be guilty of this. Often,only the slightest distraction can change a thought pattern and spoil apersonâs plan. Do everything you can in your training to give you an advantageover your competitors. By doing physical training regularly and withoutfail, you can surpass those who are missing workouts. By studying yourold maps, planning routes, imagining what a part of the map looks likein reality, etc., you can be better prepared than your opposition. Doinggood preparation gives you "one-up" on others, but it is a fair way togain an advantage, as they have the option to do just what you are doing.Put your focus on training and preparation, not on trying to "steal" somethingon the day of the event.
Donât be so rigid in your desire notto cheat that you arenât aware of the safety of others. Always aid someonewho is injured. A personâs safety and well-being is far more importantthan one race in a string of many. If a child, or an unconfident adultis showing fear or abject frustration, you can help them, as that is akind thing to do, but donât help someone who is trying to take advantageof his competition, by getting useful information from you. There are waysto deflect questions from others. You can just ignore them, as though youdidnât hear them, or, using another language, you can say you donât speakEnglish. If they want to know where you are, you can say tersely, thatyou are not certain. You can direct them back to a large feature, suchas a road, and tell them to go relocate. To avoid being accused of cheating,it is preferable that you not talk to anyone, however. Sometimes, you mayfind yourself running along the same route with a competitor on your course.Try to get away from them, if it doesnât spoil the leg, but if you canât,at least DO NOT TALK TO THEM! On the next leg, try to pick a differentroute from the way they are headed, and see if you can arrive at the controlfirst. Be creative on how you go about avoiding being seen as cheating,and you can avert any potential problems that may be lying in wait foryou.