Students like to win. I remember simple competitive games that totally changed the motivation and interest of my second graders many years ago. They focused differently, cheered for members of their team, and enjoyed the change of pace. The activities provided effective and efficient practice of math facts, spelling words, and social studies details.

Because of the influence of video, computer, and online games and competition TV shows, today’s students want to win more than mine did. More importantly, perhaps, they may mistakenly believe they’re entitled to win.

What if their fear about losing coupled with their entitlement mindset causes young people to cheat to win? They copy and paste someone else’s work into theirs to “win” a better grade? They learn something about the test that gives them an unfair advantage? They know they stepped out of bounds, but don’t tell anyone?

Cheating is damaging to one’s heart and character. There’s more, though. Knowing you haven’t earned the victory steals its power. This is especially true if your victory is publically recognized. Now you didn’t just cheat, you lied, too.

You’ll have an unearned positive reputation with no skills to back it up. Repeating the win may be hard or even impossible. Teachers and coaches will expect more of the same and may even assign more challenging work they think you’re ready for. Then, if you can’t or don’t cheat this time, they’ll wonder why you didn’t perform up to your capabilities. What they don’t know, of course, is that you did.