Three hours a practice, twice a day, six days a week. This was my workout schedule when I was a rower both in high school and in college. We would row for hours working on stamina, power, and technique all in order to cut an extra tenth of a second off of our total time. What is amazing, though, is that in the world of rowing we were not doing anything above and beyond what any other team was doing. Continue reading
You know the old saying, “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose but how you play the game”? In today’s sports world, that saying rarely holds true. In youth sports, last place is hardly rewarded compared to the winner’s prize. At the professional level, there is no consolation prize for the losers. Is rewarding winners and consoling losers unethical then? Celebrating achievement is not in itself unethical – but it can drive some competitors to unethical behavior.
Unethical behavior in sports is nothing new. From the “bounty scandal” involving the New Orleans Saints to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse occurring at Penn State, professional sports has been a fruitful one for ethical analysis lately. And, of course, there are the issues we hear of on a weekly basis – cheating, doping, and recruiting scandals. The list goes on. Continue reading
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.
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.
For someone who’s life has essentially revolved around sports, this is finally a prompt that I’m interested in writing. I rowed for just two years before college, but have competed in both the lightweight (130.0 lbs maximum) and openweight categories while at Bucknell. More importantly, I’ve been involved in hockey as a player since I could walk, as a referee for the last six years, and now as an intern for the Hershey Bears in the AHL. So to say I’ve seen my fair share of ethics play out in sports is an understatement.
The NCAA very actively attempts to ensure ethical behavior, especially in recruiting and compliance. Their entire process is a hassle for the 99% (figuratively) of athletes that report honest test scores, medical history, amateur status, and drug (non)use. Most student-athletes don’t even understand what the NCAA actually does, but we all just go to the meetings, sign the papers, and try not to get caught doing anything stupid that would cause an investigation. Although the NCAA is far from an exemplary organization itself (read about the NCAA’s Ethics Problem according to the New York Times), it does encourage ethical behavior from its athletes and coaches as stated in their operating bylaws. How well these rules are actually followed and how well they can be monitored is whole other story, but in general the NCAA imposes some ethical boundaries that promote fair competition and sportsmanship but it is up to individuals to actually make the ethical decisions. Although I have never had to verify practice hours, I know of coaches that do exceed the allowable weekly hours and put their players in a difficult ethical position when they are asked to confirm team compliance.
As a referee, I run through more ethical questions in my head in one game than I would otherwise in a year. Continue reading
For this week’s blog post we will be revisiting the topic of ethics. We have talked about ethics in business during our class time, but ethics goes beyond the realm of business into nearly every aspect of our lives.
When it comes to sports, ethics also play a major role. Whether it is the conduct of a single athlete, the coach, or the organization, ethical decisions are constantly being contemplated.
For Blog 5, write about your own experiences or opinions on ethics in sports. Have you ever been presented with a situation where you felt you had to be “unethical” in a given play? Is there even such a thing as ethics in sports? Are there any sports organizations you feel are the models for ethical or unethical behavior? Can the idea of ethics in sports be tied to ethics in business? Do people take what they learn and internalize from sports into business (or their careers in other areas), or is it the opposite? What they learn in sports becomes the basis for understanding one’s own actions in business, work, and professional contexts.
These are a few questions to get your brain active but feel free to approach the prompt however you feel addresses the overall topic of ethics in sports.
You need not be an “athlete” to write! Feel free to discuss other aspects of sports in society.
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- Medical Ethics in the Ancient World by Paul Carrick (conorcaffrey.wordpress.com)