Up front, yes, I KNOW this is a completely unimportant issue, and it deals with a show I never even watch (okay, not quite true- I saw the last 15 minutes of the episode where Richard Hatch won all the money).
A LOT of people came to despise Richard Hatch, and they’ve learned to hate several of the current “Survivor” players, because they seem to be duplicitous, manipulative phonies, ready to betray each other at any moment.
Now, I don’t begrudge ANYONE the right to love or hate someone they see on TV. Everyone who watches a game of any kind on TV forms a rooting interest, as well as utterly irrational likes and dislikes. (Can I offer ANY sane reason why I liked Carl Yastrzemski and LOATHED Carlton Fisk? Since I didn’t KNOW either of them, no!) So, if you like any individual contestant (even if it’s just because he/she looks good in a Speedo), fine. Or, if there’s just something about one of them that makes you sick, that’s fine, too. But what I object to is the idea that Richard Hatch’s victory represented a triumph for Evil, or that people who employ deceit to win the money in this game are somehow immoral. In short, a lot of people are making value judgements about the players , and that makes no sense. This is JUST A GAME, not a metaphor for life. And deception and trickery are part of MOST games!
Consider a few hypothetical scenarios.
The Yankees are playing the Braves in the World Series. There’s a man on first, and Andruw Jones hits a deep fly ball to center field. Bernie Williams has lost the ball in the sun, and doesn’t really know where it is, but he signals for the catch, and acts as if he’s settling under it to make the catch. The baserunner is fooled, and hesitates to stary far from first base. When the ball drops in, Williams quickly grabs it and throws it to the shortstop. As a result, the baserunner is forced to stay at second, when he could easily have gone to third or even scored.
The Broncos are playing the Bucs in the Super Bowl. Brian Griese fakes a handoff to Terrell Davis. He fakes it so well that the entire Buccaneer defense bites and pursues Davis to the outside. Meanwhile, Griese has kept the ball, and throws a touchdown pass to Ed McCaffrey, who is all alone in the end zone.
Gabe Kaplan is playing in the finals of the World Poker championships. He has 4 hearts in his hand, and takes one new card, hoping for a flush. He gets a spade, so his hand is worthless. Nonetheless, he looks and acts confident, and bluffs his opponent (who has two Jacks) into folding.
Now, in all three cases, has an athlete misled his opponent? Yep. Has he tricked his opponent? Sure. Deceived him, made a fool of him, all in an attempt to beat him? Absolutely. But does anybody think less of Bernie Williams, Brian Griese, or Gabe Kaplan as a result? Not at all! We all know that winning is the name of the game, and that in some games, a player can and will resort to trickery, in order to win.
If a player DOES fool his opponents, and this enables him to win, does this tell us ANYTHING about how virtuous or moral a person that player is in everyday life? Not at all. Brian Griese could be a thoroughly honest, honorable man, and still resort to deception to win a football game. Football is a GAME, after all, not a metaphor for life!
Well, “Survivor” is a game, too, a game where ONE person only stands to win a lot of money, but only if he can get his rivals booted. Richard Hatch seemed to be the only contestant on the first show who grasped that (everyone on the current show knows that by now, of course). Hatch manipulated people the same way Brian Griese did in my example. That doesn’t make him a good or bad person. HE didn’t create the game or make its rules, after all.
If you want to establish your own game show, one where people win prizes for cooperative, team-building, problem-solving efforts, be my guest! Good luck with that game! But until such a game exists, why should ANYONE resent a player who does whatever he/she can to win, under the currently established rules?