Human beings have an innate desire to succeed. While there is nothing wrong with working hard to realize that goal, sometimes, they resort to sacrificing their regard for ethics and morality in the name of attaining success at all cost. In a world where victory sometimes means a sacrifice of ethics and morality, what can effective sports management leaders do to campaign for success through a fair and just means?
Sports are not just a game of physical skills and mental tactics. As all athletes’ goal is to win, they must place all their efforts to play a clean game that they may be able to taste the sweetness of success and be genuinely proud of their achievement. Moreover, success is not solely about money. It is also about the good of the means utilized to achieve it.
Winning is hard work but not dirty work. Athletes are not commodities obtained in exchange of huge amounts of money. Sports involve the active and harmonious relationship between the body, mind, and soul. It needs people and their physical skills. It needs the mind to conceive game plans and justify loses as opportunities for more success, among others. Furthermore, it needs a sense of right and wrong to win an honest match not just of a sport played but of a much bigger match between upholding ethics and morality in a world where the lines of justice and fairness is bent, twisted, and curved in all possible directions.
There exists a line that demarcates right from wrong. The moment one crosses that line for reasons such as “looking the other way,” failing to help a student-athlete to identify the balance of education and sports, offering and/or taking bribes, ignoring illegal actions blurs that line to the extent that it becomes quite unnoticeable. Consequently, by crossing the line, one is never able to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.
Ethics and morality play a crucial role in a clean game. Athletes, guided by sports management leaders must make it a point not to lean on an obsession for success that the line demarcating right from wrong begins to blur.
Certainly, this would not be an easy feat. Nonetheless, one person will not do the job alone. Teamwork is the name of the game. Athletic Directors, Academic Advisors, Sports Agents, and Team Owners will lead the campaign for success achieved through a clean game. In this light, the Sports Leaders must be models of moral and ethical leadership themselves.
The Team Owner
Team owners regard their teams as assets, toys, and points of access which pave the way to tremendous amount of fortune. A kind of fortune that translates to sports grounds bearing rights, television profits, advertisement, merchandising, sales of private boxes, (Brown, 2003). They ought to view their players as materialistic or franchise markets, and commonly regard the same players to be both. The media reports frequent disagreements involving players, coaches, agents, owners, and general managers over compensation, playing time and image, deals, expenses, and bonuses (Brown, 2003).
A clean game however, does not only refer to the playing field. It starts with a Team Owner’s concept for a sports team aimed to enhance and develop a student’s well-being through sports. The Team Owner must not be solely interested in the financial gains his or her team can deliver. As a Team Owner, one has to make sure that his or her players are not acing the game because they took steroids or other dangerous drugs to hit the maximum potential their bodies can reach for the benefit of the team. It is also the moral and ethical responsibility of the Team Owner not to tolerate the use and abuse of dangerous drugs among his team even though by doing so, they bring home the bacon and that fans filling the stadium are enjoying the game.
An honest recruitment guaranteed by the Athletic Director is another crucial element in the campaign for success achieved through a clean game. Ignoring the presence of illegal recruitment in a sports team is sin against fulfilling the responsibilities of an Athletic Director. It is also a form of deprivation of a student’s opportunity to participate in a sport’s team without sacrificing his academic performance. Student-athletes have the responsibility of balancing his or her academic performance with his extra-curricular activities. Choosing the former over the latter would not produce a whole-rounded individual – which is what is supposed to be the aim of the student upon enrolling in an academic institution in the first place.
It is a must for the Athletic Director to suspend a student-athlete who is believed to be a have a demoralizing and/or detrimental impact to the team. The chief administrative officers of an organization providing sports programs should uphold the fundamental responsibility for not just the quality but also the quality of such programs.
They should guarantee that education as well as character development responsibilities are not negotiated to gain sports performance and that the educational, physical, emotional, as well as moral welfare of student-athletes are at all times placed over the aspirations and pressures of winning. They must demand that program directors and athletic administrators submit annual reports on how the athletic programs caused to advance education and character building goals.
During the recruitment process, it is important to purposely establish whether a student-athlete is sincerely dedicated in obtaining an education and that he or she has or is resolved to advance required skills needed in order to do well in academics. Prior to creating a recommendation for admission and/or scholarship, recruiters must form an initial decision whether the student-athlete is sincerely dedicated in obtaining an education and that he or she will be working hard to realize that goal.
The moment recruiters are not able to confidently establish that the student-athlete is serious about obtaining an education and that he or she is merely seeking to acquire a scholarship to be able to professionally play a sport, then the student-athlete does not deserve a recommendation for scholarship.
An Athletic Advisor must recognize the importance of education over sports. He or she must teach the student-athlete how to do wise time management instead of forcing the latter to choose sports over academics. While school may be a venue to enhance and develop one’s ability to excel in sports, academic achievement should come first. While the student-athlete exerts all possible efforts to win in a game, it is equally important to place high premium on advancing his or her academic aptitude and mental ability as well.
To be able to guide the student-athlete towards the right track, it is the responsibility of the Academic Advisor to aid the student-athlete to change his or her goal orientation inside the classroom from the common ego-centered orientation towards a more suitable task orientation (Curtis, 2006). It is not hard to explain to most student-athletes that goals are essential. The thorough training that is required from student-athletes aim them in solidifying the value of goal setting, attempting to achieve such goals, and then examining the outcomes of such attempts (cited in Curtis, 2006).
An Athletic Agent must never offer a bribe to a college coach for purposes of representing an athlete the moment he or she enters the professional league. A promising student-athlete is a person and not a commodity that may be obtained through an exchange of money.
Sports Leaders are confronted with ethical and moral dilemmas on a daily basis. Managing such problems require competent individuals with a strong ethical and moral standards possessing the ability to translate their principles to those whom they lead.
Since the earnings of professional athletes increase, the number of agents has multiplied and their business has also become more all the more competitive (Staudohar, 2006). Persuading an amateur athlete to sign with a certain agent by means of bribes became widespread. Agents have given cars, plane tickets, gift certificates, footwear, garments, women, drugs, and normally, cash to draw the attention of players as well as their families, some of whom belong to the low income brackets.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association strictly forbids the payments or material gifts of any kind, nonetheless secret dealings are difficult to identify. Certification of potential agents by the players’ association as well as the enactment of state laws which regulate the agents has aided to alleviate the bribery of this kind (Staudohar, 2006). However, the problem will remain to be one so long as there are athletes together with their families who will permit themselves to be lured by some corrupt agents seeking to secure false advantage.
Lloyd Bloom and Norby Walters
Unlawful activities of agents have occasionally emerged, most usually involving such sports as basketball and football. Citing one widely exposed case is that of sports agents Lloyd Bloom and Norby Walters (Staudohar, 2006). The two were found guilty of fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy by a federal court.
General Talent International, the firm owned by Bloom and Walters, signed 43 college basketball and football student-athletes to certain personal services contracts even while the athletes still have remaining college eligibilities. Such act is a violation of the rules provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which the jury found to signify fraud against the universities where the student-athletes are enrolled at. Bloom was made to serve three years in prison.
Walters on the other hand is sentenced to five years of imprisonment. However, the two has been released on a bond awaiting the appeal. In 1990, the United States Court of Appeals overturned the guilty verdict on the technical basis that the jurors were prohibited to take into consideration certain testimony in relation to criminal intent (Staudohar, 2006).
Sports as a medium to impart positive lessons
Sports may serve as a medium for teaching positive lessons. Such lessons are learned from one’s involvement in certain activities where ethical and moral dilemmas come about frequently. How one responds whenever confronted with such dilemma is influenced by his or her ideals which are based upon his or her personal values.
One’s values are formed by his or her personal experiences and by significant persons in his or her life. These people who create a great impact on one’s life may be their parents, mentors, coaches, and friends. When one has been influenced in such a manner as he or she regards winning to be more important than individual excellence, sportsmanship, and reputation, such will be manifested on his or her approach in sports participation (Dodge and Robertson, 2004).
Recent study conducted by Robertson in 2002 examined major influences of sports and recreation on the youth (Dodge and Robertson, 2004). The findings suggested that coaches are the second most influential persons in a student’s life following friends who topped the list (Dodge and Robertson, 2004). From an athlete’s point of view, not so much is established on the subject of personal values that affect sports participation or the way those values are formed (Dodge and Robertson, 2004).
What are the lessons sports impart? The record of values as well as experiences several writers have attributed to sports to be the anticipated or preferred result of participation is extensive (Fullinwider, 2006). The participant supposedly learns or may be able to learn how to collaborate and stay faithful with his or her teammates, experience the team as moral community, subordinate self to group, engage in hegemonic resistance, apply critical thinking, display leadership, exhibit valor, play fair, become competitive, build and practice discipline, promote peace, abide by the rules, uphold integrity, be aggressive, display compassion, value the environment, show sportsmanship, be truthful and civil, persist, reason at a more mature level morally, value ethics, be confident (Fullinwider, 2006).
Being a good athlete requires one to be persistent, to discipline his or herself for the demands of the training, and inspire the team to carry on even though the chances of winning are slim. This applies to all kinds of sports be it soccer, track and field, tennis, football, basketball or any other.
Coach Vince Lombardi
The idea of sportsmanship is internal to any kind of sport (Fullinwider, 2006). In a spirited contest subjected to fair circumstances, it is expected from the loser to be gracious and the winner to be magnanimous. Participant must play by the rules and respect their rivals. Jus the same, victory short of qualification is not what is at issue. It is rather victory contained by the restrictions imposed by the given set of rules.
Vince Lombardi, the celebrated National Football League coach is famous for having asserted that “winning is not everything rather, winning is the only thing” (Fullinwider, 2006). Many commentators quoted Lombardi to present a premier example of the uncontrollable competitiveness which spoils American sports.
Coach Lombardi did not mean what he said, though. Lombardi’s legacy consists of two Super Bowl wins as well as five National Football League championships throughout the nine seasons he spent with the Green Bay Packers (Fullinwider, 2006). If those winning were obtained by means of bribing the opponent or contaminating their food prior to the start of the title games, he would not be honored today as a great of a coach and the wins he has helped his team to achieve would not have mattered.
Clearly, he suggested that there can be no alternative for victory contained by the rules recognized in a game. There can be no alternative for the victory positively grabbed from a worthy rival (Fullinwider, 2006). Fair play in opposition to equally matched rivals is the true essence of sports (Fullinwider, 2006).
Essential in to competition is the principle that has constantly pulled out the boastful winner, the rude loser, and the cheater as corrupt sports. A good sport is someone who learns ardently to aim for success at the same time accepting the probability of loss crowning his hard work. He is someone who learns how to maintain the realities of success and loss in proper perspective by controlling his frustration in loss and checking his exultation of success.
The concentration on physical abilities of athletes exhibiting exceptional performance in their plays, particularly in professional league has shaped an environment embodying selfish gains and interests (Dodge and Robertson, 2004). Due to the extensive exposure given by the media, such approach filters through other sports levels.
Also in the varsity levels where education as well as amateurism is held in premium, student-athletes are usually drawn to the bidder who can provide the maximum as far as material rewards are concerned (Dodge and Robertson, 2004). All through the whole sports system are patterns revealing that obedience to ethical and moral standards is unfortunately lacking.
Unethical behavior in sports is as much a systemic crisis as it is one that is filled by personal covetousness, and it is unfair for the athletes to bear all the responsibilities of ethical misconducts. The world of sports is not limited to a single plane not are its interactions linear (Brown, 2003). It is a world which is comprised with several layers, some appearing more prominent than the rest. Nevertheless, each participant’s display of proper conduct is crucial for the whole process.
Sports Leaders must encourage sportsmanship as well as promote good character by means of teaching, implementing, supporting as well as exhibiting honesty, deference, accountability, justice, caring, and citizenship by developing and enforcing a written code of conduct which highlights the value of good character and certain ethical responsibilities and sportsmanship visions.
Discuss at length the value of character, ethics and morality as well as sportsmanship during the process of recruitment and advertising and graphic materials. Use explicit language in writing down job descriptions and contracts for athletic administrators, coaches, and all the others who are taking part in the sports program identifying their responsibility to uphold sportsmanship as well as promote good character by means teaching, implementing, supporting as well as exhibiting honesty, deference, accountability, justice, caring, and citizenship.
It is a crazy world of sports out there. It draws together all of these people in a culture filled with extreme pressure to win at all costs, the temptation of acquiring huge sums of money and other material gains, high expectations combined with harsh criticism for defeat, ethical and moral dilemmas involving sports officials.
There exists a pressure to win at all cost. It would not anymore suffice to play well in a game. Players, together with their trainers, coaches, and staff all bet their futures on both individual and team performances (Brown, 2003). This kind of pressure provides an opportunity to negotiate ethical and moral principles.
There is the temptation of acquiring huge sums of money and other material gains. Amateur players, fresh out of high school or college start to negotiate contracts containing seven-digit signing bonuses, condo units, cars, incredible benefits and opportunities (Brown, 2003). However, most of them are unprepared to manage their new found fortunes and luxuries and these athletes may not have ready access to honest persons who are willing to assist them. Wealth deficient maturity or sensible advice may head to the negotiation of ethical and moral principles.
In the world of sports, there is also the existence of high expectations combined with harsh criticism for defeat (Brown, 2003). Owners, coaches, fans, and the others command the athletes’ full dedication. The same amount of dedication is demanded from the coaches (Brown, 2003). Unreasonable expectations devoid of recourse can lay the grounds for hopeless people to negotiate ethical and moral principles just so they may be considered successful.
Sports official are also faced with ethical and moral dilemmas (Brown, 2003). The negotiation of ethical and moral principles is not exclusive to the players and their teams. The scandal concerning the United States Olympic Committee shows that governing bodies may as well set aside their ethical standards with terrible consequences (Brown, 2003).
Ethical and moral negotiations will last so long as they generate consent form the fans. Scandals and faults are dismissed as part of the process sports supposedly “work” (Brown, 2003). Increasing awareness would indicate that fans initially must acknowledge the existence of a problem as well as its need to be solved.
The fans must give as much interest to their teams’ moral and ethical performance as they do to their wins and losses. They may be viewed as the bottom end of the sports food chain although they are truly on top of it. Once they express their disgust to ethical and moral failures, players, managers, team owners, and sports officials will star to identify the relationship between ethical performance as well as monetary gains (Brown, 2003). They have the key and are capable of imposing moral and ethical principles by casting their votes with their wallets.
Players must reassess the pressure on which they permit themselves to be subjected to. They must position their physical and emotional welfare beyond their aspiration to play. Once the choice falls to terrible injuries, drug addiction, early disabilities or fatality, the option must be clear. The athlete must not be condemned once he or she opts for the healthy lifestyle other than the substitute. Same thing goes for ethics, morality, and sportsmanship. Deciding to negotiate ethical and moral principles in the name the game is not called a game. It is rather disregarding character and honor in the name of wealth and recognition.
It must be the coaches’ commitment to respect the players as individuals as well as to assume the task of defending their players against the pressures to play with no consideration of their protection and welfare. In so far as a coach’s job is custodial work it is at the same time a developmental work (Brown, 2003). Molding players to possess a strong character able to create positive independent decisions is an integral element of being a good coach. They must build relationships with players founded on both mutual respect and trust. They must also aid their players in developing maturity to handle themselves and their careers in a wise, ethical, and moral manner (Brown, 2003).
Officials must assume the accountability for organizing games objectively and fairly devoid of personal bias. They should formulate and implement rules aimed to safeguard players form each other as well as themselves. In the light of the attack made by the fans on some officials, they should realize that their job do evoke intense emotions, which could be aggravated by drugs and/or alcohol abuse (Brown, 2003). For their protection and that of the players, officials must always keep a reputation for ethical as well as moral performance.
Team owners as well as managers must consider the motivation for some of the decisions they make. Each and every individual participating in sports must keep in mind that while winning is important, it can never take the place of honor at all times and in all given circumstances.
College and universities need to remind themselves of the mission of education rather than allow themselves be consumed by athletics with its potential financial returns as well as in the credit it can give them (Hildenbrand, 2005). The obsession for success and profitability that is saturating the moral and ethical standards of sports and education in the United States victimizes not only the athlete who find the promise of education as false, but the colleges and universities who contribute to the education farce as well. Such kind of obsession undervalues every degree as well as degrades the purpose of higher education.
Brown, J. Ethics Resource Center. (2003). Ethics in a Pressure Cooker: Why There Are So
Many Ethical Dilemmas in Professional Sports. Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://www.ethics.org/erc-publications/staff-articles.asp?aid=764.
Curtis, T.R. Encouraging Student-Athletes’ Academic Success Through Task Orientation
Goal-Setting. Journal of College & Character, 3, 1-4.
Dodge, A., & Robertson, B. Justification for Unethical Behavior in Sport: The Role of the
Coach. Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching, 4, 1-17.
Fullinwider, R.K. University of Maryland. (February 2006). Sports, Youth and Character: A
Critical Survey. Retrieved August 27, 2008, from www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/WorkingPapers/WP44Fullinwider.pdf.
Hildenbrand, K.J. Kansas State University. (2005). An Examination of College Student
Athletes’ Academic Achievement. Retrieved August 27, 2008, from krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/13.
Staudohar, P.D. So you want to be a sports agent. Labor Journal,
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