SPORT ETHICS Ethics is the study of morals or character; a study of the principles of human duty or the study of all moral qualities that distinguish an individual relative to others.
Moral pertains to an individual’s motives, intentions, and actions as right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, or good or bad.
Values are anything having relative worth.
Moral values are the relative worth that is placed on some virtuous behavior.
Principles are universal rules of conduct that identify what kinds of actions, intentions, and motives are valued.DEFINITIONS
Justice (treating others with fairness)
Honesty (being trustworthy)
Responsibility (fulfilling duty)
Beneficence (fair play or doing good)
Do not violate the rules of the game
Do not use performance-enhancing drugs
Do not cheat while playing the game
Do not lie to opponents or to officials
Do not play an injured athlete
Do not be athletically disqualified by being academically deficient
Do not intentionally harm another player
Do not let others harm opposing playersETHICAL VALUES AND RULES
A lineman or a defensive back is beaten by the opposing lineman or wide receiver, resulting in a big play for the offense. On a subsequent play, the lineman or defensive back “takes out” his opponent with vicious blind side hit to the knees meant to cause injury, even though neither player is involved with action near the ball. Is this hit ethical? If not, how should this intimidation be punished? How should the lineman or defensive back be educated about ethical conduct?
In his first at-bat after his grand-slam home run, Mike is prepared for the expected brush-back pitch. He is not ready for the inside fast ball aimed straight at his head. He attempts to bail out of the batter’s box but is hit by the pitch on the arm. He jumps up and charges the mound, bat in hand, as both benches clear. The ensuing brawl results in the ejection of several players from the game. Why is the brush back pitch seemingly an acceptable form of gamesmanship in baseball? Does a ball thrown at a batter’s head justify his charging the mound? Why are teammates expected to join in the fray? Should these behaviors be changed?
The shoving match underneath the basket has escalated without any fouls being called. Finally, Chris has had enough. The next time Pat pushes off to clear the lane, Chris grabs the jersey and refuses to give ground. Pat retaliates by hitting Chris. Before the referees can break up the scuffle, both players have landed punches. Who is violating constitutive, proscriptive, or sportsmanship rules in this situation? Is the absence of a whistle calling a foul on Chris, Pat, or both tantamount to condoning their intimidation of each other? If you were the coach, how would you attempt to change Chris’ or Pat’s behavior?
During a recreation league softball game, you as the field supervisor learn that one of the teams is playing an individual who is not eligible to play on this team. That team is in last place in the league standings. What action, if any, do you take? Would your response differ if this team was in first place?
Your soccer team of 9- and 10-year-olds is in the last game of the season. If your team wins, it will capture the league championship. Your best player twists an ankle just as the first half ends. The player is in pain, but there is seemingly no fracture and only slight swelling. Do you allow that player to participate in the second half? Should the player be forced to play?
During a basketball game, player #44 (team A) and player #12 (Team B) both attempt to control a loose ball, but it goes out of bounds. As the official, you blow your whistle and award the ball to team A. Player #44 acknowledges touching the ball last. Do you change your call as the official? If you were the player who last touched the ball, would you acknowledge causing the ball to go out of bounds?
As a collegiate football player you are told by the coach to take anabolic steroids to help build muscle bulk. Do you take the drugs? Is this cheating or gaining a competitive edge?
Use conditioning or coaching techniques that are developmentally inappropriate
Permit cheating and unsportsmanlike conduct
Play only those who are highly skilled
Require specialization in one sport
Expect athletes to practice excessively
Play young athletes while they are injured
Expect athletes to train year round
Punish or deride young athletes for anything less than highly-skilled performances
Condon use of performance-enhancing drugsCOACHES SHOULD NOT
Gough, 1997, Character is everything: Promoting ethical excellence in sports, pp. 21-22
Educate themselves about how to coach
Make sportsmanship a priority
Model showing respect to athletes, officials, opponents, and parents
Correct athletes’ inappropriate behaviors
Reward effort and appropriate behaviors
Put the needs of the team first, yet value each individual athlete
Be positive and enthusiastic
Keep winning in perspectiveCOACHES SHOULD
"To educate a person in the mind but not the morals is to educate a menace to society." –Teddy Roosevelt