Sports Ethics vs. Competition


Watching this video, it is kind of obvious what the right thing to do is. Sara earned the home-run but an unexpected and tragic event hindered her ability to reap the rewards. As a result, Central Washington helping the injured player score only seems natural and maybe even expected of by our society. Think how the public would react if Central Washing denied Sara her first and last home-run of her career because they wanted to win. They would have labeled it as “unsportsmanlike” and  they would have been criticized for ignoring ethics. Saying this, I believe ethics are inherently within sports; however, I also believe that the degree ethical involvement depends on the circumstance.

As a collegiate athlete, I have experienced the intense struggle of ethics and competition in sports.  And many times, the determination to win overcomes ethics because of various reasons. As an athlete, you train hard and put yourself through pain every day to make sure you win the game. So when the game actually comes, you want to capitalize every mistake your opponent makes. This is essentially because you know they would do the same because that is what competition is all about. In addition, your team is depending on you to do your job.  But does that give you the right to act unethically? The answer is no.

In general, taking advantage of your competition’s mistakes is not acting unethical. When a wide receiver scores a touchdown, the corner made a mistake somewhere and let him catch it. When a forward scores in soccer, the defenders and goalie made some mistake that let him through. Winning is capitalizing on mistakes. Great teams make fewer mistakes than others. Now, should Central Washington have allowed the Sara Tucholsky to lie on the ground and miss her home run opportunity because she made a mistake of missing the bag? No. But this case is different that the two I listed. First, she already earned the point by doing the challenging part: hitting the home run. Secondly, she made the menial mistake by missing the bag after she hit the homerun and hurt herself attempting to go back and touch it.  Thirdly, and most importantly, she experienced a serious and painful injury. These three differences create a situation that make capitalizing on her mistake unethical in the eyes of our society.  If you picture the girl crying (ACL tear is very painful and I have seen people cry from it) laying in the dirt after a homerun, you would naturally want to help her. Ethics played into this situation because it was outside the competition of the game. Sara deserved the homerun, but an unfortunate situation not in the play of the game stopped her.

Overall, competition is hard to overcome. Athletes, who are naturally competitive, always want to win the game.  With coaches and teammates depending on them, their competitiveness grows even more. I am not going lie, sports has made me extremely unnecessarily competitive in certain aspects of life. For example, when my friends get a certain grade, I feel obligated to get a better one and if I don’t, I get cranky and jealous. It’s kind of sad. Saying this, athletes are very competitive. Employers know this.  At the job fair a couple weeks ago an employer said that they were looking for athletes because “sales require competition and athletes aren’t scared to compete.” This shows that in certain fields, competitiveness is desired.

However, I believe that there is competition in the business sector as a whole. If you look at capitalism, it requires competing for customers and profit. Those that make the mistakes and do not adapt to changing times, bigger business or whatever, lose by going out of business. This competitive environment forces companies to act unethical to get a jump on other competition or even just survive. But in our society, businesses are viewed differently than sports, so they have different ethical standards. So overall, there is an overlap between business and sports and, unfortunately, just like in sports, competition does sometime triumph ethics.

sports ethics

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2 thoughts on “Sports Ethics vs. Competition

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head here when you point to the fact that she already earned the point by hitting the home run and that this situation occurred outside of regular play. I would think that if the ball was not hit out of the park and she injured her knee during live play, she would certainly be tagged out. An interesting caveat to this story is that she was doing the right thing (going back to the base she missed) when she was injured. Do you think Central Washington would have jumped to her aid if she had fallen during a celebratory jump and skip around the bases after hitting a home run?

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