Before we begin: matches being fixed at tennis tournaments is bad. Widespread doping in the athletics world is also bad. Corruption at the highest levels of football? You got it.

But does that hinder a fan's enjoyment of the Australian Open, will it ruin the experience of the Rio Olympics or cause any lost sleep when contemplating the host of the next World Cup?

Not for me, though I can hardly profess to be speaking for everyone - and sport is wonderfully diverse in opinion.

While shedding further light on the underworld's serpentine relationship with sport, the match-fixing crisis enveloping tennis also illuminated a critical divide in how we think about sport. Is it a morality play or purely entertainment?


Whatever the answer, there is nothing entertaining about such a saga. The usual initial outcry was followed by the recriminations and, eventually, names will be named, sanctions will be levied and perhaps our favourite players will be shamed.

But if we learn certain matches were as rigged as pro wrestling, will that outcome retroactively remove the gratification gleaned at the time? For some, yes. For me, not one iota.

That conclusion arrives from what I believe is the essence of sport - simple pleasure, an escape from the banalities of everyday life, a modern-day opium for the masses.

Once more: no one wants the outcomes of games predetermined. No one wants records rendered meaningless because of superhuman abilities concocted in a lab, and no one wants officials concerned not with the betterment of the game but the benefit of their own bank balance.

And in a perfect world, those stains would be eradicated. But only the naive would deny that world no longer exists. The more sport embraces professionalism the more it's ruled by the almighty dollar and the stronger the chance of nefarious influences seeping into its seams.

Some see sport as a paragon of virtue; a battle between the best of the human spirit.

Maybe, in the amateur years, when the Olympic movement was founded and before it was co-opted by Coca-Cola and co, that idea carried more weight.

But, then again, back in the good ol' days, black players were barred from America's top competitions, cyclists used to drop dead on the Tour de France and, without big brother watching, athletes used to maim one another with impunity.

Sportspeople have never been the best of us. They're flawed, they hold prejudices, they lie and cheat. In other words, they're a representation of us.

Those looking exclusively to sport for role models should turn elsewhere. Sure, there are scores of decent men and women to whose conduct children should aspire, but that's equally true in every industry.

But want to know what separates sport from other industries? Sit a person in front of a screen showing most professionals going about their work and the eye clamps from A Clockwork Orange will be required to keep the viewer awake.

Sport, on the other hand? Sport is fun as hell. And while some fans' enjoyment may be diminished after this week's news, with doubt creeping into their minds while watching future unbelievable upsets, that's far from the case for this fan.

This fan would prefer sport to be free from performance-enhancers, of course, and would like owners to be less naked in their avarice.

But while waiting for that faraway, magical day to arrive, this fan will be busy relishing the unmatched entertainment that sport always supplies.