Individualist Sports Ethics

The issue of sports ethics to me personally arises in certain situations but is not as prevalent an issue as in other sports. I am a thrower on the track team here and the very nature of the sport limits the number of ethical dilemmas or scenarios available. Throwers take either three or six throws depending on if they make finals. Each throw is measured if it is a legal throw meaning that the thrower does not foul out of the circle being thrown from or throw outside of the sector lines. Once measured the athlete then waits his turn until his next throw. There is no one else inside the circle, no physical interaction with any other athlete, it is just the thrower and that is all. Therefore ethical problems do not often arise. Most ethical problems are what many would call “good sportsmanship” which is simply congratulating competitors on good throws, and generally being courteous. Most throwers tend to have the proper throwing etiquette such as be quiet while someone is throwing, or don’t stand at the back of the circle and stare at them before they throw. Although the faces shotputters and other throwers make are pretty hilarious.

Kurt Roberts

But in general etiquette is the main ethical issue. One issue that does arise for nearly all athletes but in particular throwers is the use of performance enhancing drugs. American throwing philosophy is to get as big, strong, and fast as possible. One way people in the past have accomplished this goal is through the use of performance enhancing drugs. Everything from steroids to human growth hormone have been used. The NCAA bans many more substances than the Olympic committee including amino acids and caffeine (in certain amounts). Most protein supplements and other weight-lifting supplements available on the market contain ingredients banned by the NCAA. Even certain Vitamin Water flavors contain banned ingredients. The current world record holder in shot put is often contested due to the fact that he was found to have used performance enhancing drugs. His throw of 75.85 ft is often considered illegitimate. Here is a video of his weight-lifting sessions.

This is the main ethical issue in throwing, and it is an interesting issue. Consider the argument that if everyone is allowed to use these drugs then the competition is still fair. This presents problems however when you get females being injected with testosterone causing adverse affects. This occurred to the shotputter from East Germany who as a result of the massive amounts of testosterone injected into her decided to just get a sex change and become a man. Also I believe that to allow performance enhancing drugs, at least in the Olympic sense, contradicts the very nature of the sport. The main purpose of throwers, and track and field in general is to push the human body to its natural limits. It is not to see how monstrous we can become through the use of chemicals. Some banned NCAA ingredients are a little strange however. Too much caffeine? To be fair it would take six or so cups of strong coffee before it reaches illegal levels, but I cannot see that happening often or to good affect. Besides, some athletes already use smelling salts to the same affect which is untraceable in drug tests. This is weird to be sure, but it does happen. Should it happen? I believe as long as the athlete is not relying on it and it does not affect performance long term then it is not a real issue. Some drugs are banned for good reasons others are just a little over-zealous on the banning. Either way it is a problem that occurs in every Olympics. Here are some throwing videos for those of you who have no idea what we do. Gneeral information, the shotput and hammer weigh 16lbs for men and 4kg (8.8lbs) for women. The discus is 2kg for men and 1kg for women.   


Ethics are the foundation for the game of Golf

In today’s society, it is not much of a surprise when an athlete comes out with a confession about using performance enhancing drugs. From Lance Armstrong to Mark McGuire, many athletes have been accused and admitted of taking steroids. I think that recently there has been a push to return sports to the once ethical level that they were played at, such as a crackdown on the steroid policy in many sports. People often think that by being ethical, you give up the competitive edge that drives sports. Being an athlete and a major fan of most sports, I do get hung up on the role ethics plays in the competitive nature of sports. I do think that you can be ethical and still hard core compete to win. My life has revolved around sports. I played a sport every season in high school and traveled frequently for golf. Growing up, I was taught to play hard, but play clean. I think there is a fine line between competitiveness and cheating that we find athletes are constantly teetering on today. While I think that every athlete and organization should make an effort to instill ethics in the sport, I think some sports thrive on ethics while other sports need referees and tests to keep athletes from straying away from being clean.

Golf is one of the only sports that players call penalties on themselves and there are no referees or tests. There are rules officials, but you have to call one one of them over for them to get involved. Trust is such an important element of the game of golf. You are responsible for keeping your own score and one of your competitors scores correctly . Most of the time if my playing competitors are not in the fairway, I cannot see their golf ball. Everyone trusts each other to not improve their lie or lie about whether or not their golf ball is in bounds or not. You are trusted not to alter you on score on your scorecard and trusted to know the real rules of the game. If you think about it, ethics is the foundation for the game of golf. You rarely hear about cheating in golf because players know how important ethics is to the game. I think golf is the ultimately test of one’s morals because it shows what a person will really do when no one is watching. Ethics and competitiveness go hand in hand in golf because you truly need both to be successful in the game.

The most famous example of ethics in golf involved one of golf’s greatest players, Bobby Jones. In the 1929 U.S. Open, Bobby Jones was tied for the lead going down the 72nd hole, which is the last hole in a professional tournament. The U.S. Open is one of the four majors in golf so it is a tremendous accomplishment to even play in the tournament let alone win it. Bobby Jones called a one-stroke penalty on himself stating that when he addressed the ball it moved slightly. Bobby Jones was in position to win the tournament when he called a penalty on himself. He finished second, one shot out of the lead. Some tournament officials lavished praise on him for his honesty. He replied, “Praising me for that is like praising me for not robbing a bank!” He did not lose his competitiveness when he called a penalty on himself. If he did not call the penalty, he would have cheated and won unfairly.

Bobby Jones Calls 1 stoke penalty on himself

In the end, I think that ethics does have a place in the competitive nature of sports. Its role in every sport is different. Ethics is one of the founding ideals of golf while football has referees to determine sportsmanship. Golf shows that ethics can improve a sport instead of being criticized for hindering some sports. There is room for both ethics and competitiveness in sports to some extent. I am a very competitive person by nature and I love winning, but I make sure that I win fair and square. Winning by cheating, like using steroids, is not only horrible for the sport, but it does not reflect the values that most of us try to live by.