Sports are a cornerstone to our culture, providing a way for Americans to transcend their individual problems and take part in something larger. The way we view sports and the athletes that play them speaks to our society, facilitating a need for an ethical view. For instance, what ethical responsibility do athletes owe society? How we treat athletes may be different than how we treat average people. Is that ethical?
Leading by Example
Professional athletes have a moral responsibility to their fans and to the integrity of the sport if they are considered role models and not simply entertainers. How players carry themselves during the season and in their time off sets an example for other players and for society in general. If we were to treat an athlete differently than a non-athlete for the same transgression -- simply because the athlete had a remarkable season -- it would show an unfair level of standards favoring athletes.
Gambling at Work
Laws are derided from ethics. Some laws may prove unethical over time as cultural views change. Many people, for instance, may feel gambling on sports at work builds camaraderie and helps morale, leading to improved productivity and better products for society. Gambling, however, can ripple across professional sports in a major way, as seen in 1919 when the mobster Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series.
Ethics and Sportsmanship
Sports are games defined by their rules. There's a tendency, however, for coaches and athletes to exploit rules to their benefit, bringing into question the ethics of such behavior. Faking an offensive foul by exaggerating a fall, for example. Brandi Chastain, professional soccer player, defines her own focus as, "I began playing sports purely for what the philosophy of Olympics stated, which was, balancing all the qualities of mind, body and spirit, competition, raising our own standard, finding new and creative ways to reach that next level, but all the while keeping sportsmanship as the primary focus."
Women can be treated differently by sports commentators, compared to their male counterparts. Take Anna Kournikova, a professional tennis player who never won a major championship. Kournikova was showered with endorsements and praise not for her skill but for her looks. The focus on appearance tends to leave players with actual ability left on the cutting-room floor while more traditionally attractive players are given spotlight in magazines and TV.
- Santa Clara University: Ethics in Professional Sports
- NPR: Sports Fixing -- When Gambling and the Game Collide
- Business Week: The Ethics of Office Gambling
- Santa Clara University: Ethical Challenges Today for Female Athletes
- Media Ethics: The Sexualized Female Athlete -- Ethics Issues in Mediated Communication
- Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images
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