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McAa 530 Ethics and Sport - Ethics and Sportsmanship

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MCAA 530 Ethics and Sport

Chapter IV Ethics and Sportsmanship

Chapter IV

Ethics and Sportsmanship

Sports and athletics play a major role in today's society at the local, college and professional levels. With 24-hour sport channels, the public is well informed and aware of scores and rankings, as well as the news that surrounds competitive sport. Sadly, reports of athletes who make poor decisions, arrests, illegal use of drugs, and infractions of rules for recruiting athletes have become a daily occurrence in such programs as "Outside the Lines" on ESPN. Young people watch high profile athletes who have behaved unethically or illegally continue to play for their respective teams.

Brown (2003) believes that it isn't surprising that the result is an assumption that winning is more important than expecting ethical behavior in sport. It is also apparent that the need for ethics and sportsmanship in competition begins with coaches, athletic directors and administrators to uphold a code of ethics that has precedence over winning at all cost. Rudd and Stoll (1998) believes that for athletes to practice sportsmanship, they must possess an understanding and valuing. "That is, athletes must have conceptual knowledge of sportsmanship as well as a valuing of sportsmanship" (p.49). "Remember that striving to win the game is an important objective of the contest, but it is not the most important objective of sport participation. Winning or striving to win is never more important than the athletes' well-being, regardless of the mixed messages our society sends" (Martens, 2004, p. 26).

An example of an ethical dilemma took place when the starting quarterback on the top ranked 5A high school football team was caught drinking and driving the weekend before the first round of the football playoffs. The player was stopped by the local policeman who recognized him but rather than arresting him, drove him to his home and informed his parents of the incident. The officer, a friend of the head coach, contacted him and informed him of the incident. The officer told the coach that he did not arrest the player because he knew who he was and what the arrest might do to the young man's scholarship opportunities.

The player and his parents met with the head coach on Sunday to ask the coach to overlook the situation because several top college coaches were going to be in attendance at the first round playoff game. The officer disclosed that the only people that knew about the incident were the player, the parents and the head coach. According to team rules as player is not allowed to engage in behaviors that could lead to an arrest. If one is involved in such an incident, it could lead to loss of playing privileges.

The individual and groups directly and indirectly involved in the dilemma have options and choices. The coach has several options beginning with ignoring the incident and allowing the athlete to continue participating. A second option is to create a reason that avoids putting the player on the field such as an injury. Third, the coach could suspend the player a set number of games for violating team policy. Finally, the coach could remove the player from the team.

The parents have options and choices starting with whether or not to punish their child starting with not allowing him to play the next game or even play anymore the rest of the season. A second option is to discipline their child at home but not make a decision that would affect the rest of the team. Another option is to talk with the coach and give the coach their support to his decision on punishment. Finally, they could inform the coach of the incident and ask him to overlook the mistake made by their son.

The policeman has choices and options related to this dilemma starting with just warning the player, follow him home, and not mentioning it to anyone else. A second option is to contact the parents to inform them of the incident and get him home safely. Finally, he could arrest the player for underage drinking and driving.

There are options for those indirectly involved in this situation. The athletic director could be contacted by the coach prior to making a decision and choose to take the decision out of the hands of the coach and make it himself/herself; or the athletic director could give advice and allow the coach to pass judgment; or he could speak with the parents and the players before determining if he will make the judgment or allow the coach to do so. The individuals who were drinking with the player had the choice of keeping quiet or speaking on his behalf. It is possible that the player was drinking with other athletes in which case they all have the choice of coming forward or saying nothing. Should other parents become aware of the drinking incident and if their children are involved, they have the choice of encouraging their own children to be honest about their involvement; to speak up on behalf of them; to keep quiet and hope that no one finds out. The parents who might become aware of the actions of the players and the coach - although their children are not involved - may choose to honor the judgment of the coach or athletic director; speak negatively about the coach and player and/or parents; or speak constructively about the situation with others and with their children.

This ethical dilemma may be analyzed with respect to social, emotional, physical, spiritual and academic considerations. These considerations affect more than just the decision maker and the people directly involved. Responsibility lies with the person who ultimately makes the decision in an ethical dilemma to uphold the organizations commitment to sportsmanship and high moral standards. "To make an appropriate moral judgment at the expense of a valued victory is a real test of character, and it is an opportunity to build character" (Martens, 2004, p. 25). The head coach has to consider the message that his decision will send not only to the player involved but also to the rest of the team and the community; that the goal is not to win at all costs.

The academic considerations for this dilemma could affect the quarterback in his future endeavors. If the coach acts on the incident and the player doesn't play in the game, it may result in lost scholarship opportunities. A college education could be directly linked to attaining an athletic scholarship.

The social considerations for this dilemma are much



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