(FAQ) How much fair play is fair?

(About the Author)

When you are playing pool and you see a rule violation about to be made by your opponent, how far will you go to ensure fair play? Do you do anything to win, salivating over the opportunity to get a cheap and quick advantage? Or, do you try to ensure a level playing field. Do you point out the potential error? Do you expect you opponent to be similarly concerned with an equal sense of sportsmanship?

Here are some circumstances:

  • In a league match, you see your opponent getting ready to shoot the wrong ball. Do you say something before he shoots?
  • The shot requires a called or marked pocket. You make the ball but don’t make the call. Do you point this out to your opponent?
  • You didn’t make a legal hit. Your opponent fails notice and doesn’t pick up his ball in hand. Do you say anything?
  • You are shooting and accidentally touch the cue ball with your tip. It barely moves and your opponent doesn’t notice. Do you proceed with the shot?

Self-declaring an error could lead to a game and match loss. How important is winning to you? How important is good sportsmanship to you? Do you respond differently if the error occurs early in one match or on the final game? Would you act differently if he is a good friend? Does it bother you to win by such a means?

Some places have a rule that states, only the opponent can call a foul and if he doesn’t, it didn’t happen. Most other playing places are dependent on every player maintaining and demonstrating a sense of sportsmanship.

The problem with situational ethics is that other people notice. They may not say something, but they will spread the word that you are fully capable of being morally flexible. There are always consequences.

On the other hand, if you follow a rigid personal standard of honor regardless of playing circumstances, you don’t have that pesky conscience bothering you at all hours of the day and night.

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