Latest "Sports Ethics" Posts
The setting for today’s blog is the Paris Metro and the event that seemingly precipitated the following incident was the aftermath of a football match between a French team, Saint Germain vs the English club, Chelsea. However, this isn’t a sports story. It is a story about ugliness and intolerance.
In the train station, a black man was physically stopped from getting on the Paris Metro. It was not gentle kidding; he was physically pushed not once, but at least three times. As the man was shoved off the train, the crowd shouted racist chants.
If this were not offensive enough, a strange fact has just surfaced. In an online article for CNN (February 23, 2015) entitled: “Human rights official identified as one of fans involved in Chelsea race storm,” we are made aware of the possible involvement of a man by the name of Richard Barklie.
The Lance Armstrong saga ceased to become a “sports story” more than 10 years ago, when in 2005 the allegations of blood doping came fully into light. It became much larger.
I could put Lance Armstrong’s career into a 50:50 mixture of cycling to “spin.” By spin, I am not referring to the exercise we do in our gyms on stationary bikes. I am referring to the public relations dance that the guilty often do when they try to cover their tracks with denial, contrition, obfuscation and innuendo. The spin part includes songs such as “Well, everyone does it!” or “It was legal to do it back then.”
In Lance’s case, everyone wasn’t doing it and despite what Lance believed, activities such as blood doping were never legal; the rules were quite clear.
“The actions of the adults have led to this outcome.”
–Little League Baseball announcing decision to strip the Jackie Robinson West team of their national title.
It was a feel good, “Field of Dreams” story. The inner-city Jackie Robinson West team won the Little League national title over richer, more organized suburban teams from all over America. When they won, it was indeed a reiteration of the American Dream. You would have had to have a heart made of stone to not cheer for them.
Most of these kids are from humble means. Their victory took them all the way to the White House to meet the president. It doesn’t get any more special than that. However the victory was short-lived. Complaints were filed and “whistles were blown.”
A few months back, there was turmoil in a Bills vs. Broncos game because two seasoned referees gave each other a knuckle bump immediately after a touchdown.
Were they biased? Did they sway the game? Is it possible that they are actually Peyton Manning fans?
Question after question needed to be answered for the fans and the announcers that were outraged.
The truth……the refs were just proud of each other for the good job they had done on making a good call.
There was nothing at all dishonest. No unethical behavior. Just a microscope on every move in every game.
Now, press forward to the last two weeks, the Superbowl, and Deflategate.
This could be a story about football, I suppose, or about politics and privilege in America. It shouldn’t necessarily be about Chris Christie though he is a central figure. It is a story about how all of us can become wrapped up in poor choices and the consequences those choices yield.
About two weeks ago, while I was watching the Detroit Lions in their playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, the camera scanned up to Jerry Jones, Cowboy’s owner, in his owner’s box seated next to a guy who looked remarkably like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. At first I thought it was probably an assistant or an ex-football player; lo and behold, the man was identified as the governor and that is when a few bells and whistles went off in my head.
The amount of academic fraud in colleges and universities across America in regard to student athletes is apparently more widespread than even the NCAA had realized. In an article by Brad Wolverton for The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 22, 2015) entitled: “NCAA Says It’s Investigating Academic Fraud at 20 Colleges,” we learn that:
“The National Collegiate Athletic Association is investigating allegations of academic misconduct on 20 campuses, the association’s head of enforcement told The Chronicle on Tuesday. The cases are at various stages, from preliminary inquiry to awaiting a hearing with the Division I Committee on Infractions, and they involve a variety of missteps, including allegations that players received impermissible assistance from professors, academic advisers, or people outside of an athletic department. Eighteen of the cases are in Division I, one is in Division II, and one is in Division III. The official declined to name any of the colleges.”
I am a sucker for anything dog related. Whenever someone posts a cute picture of a kid cuddling a puppy dog, I am bound to “Favor” it on Twitter or post it to Facebook. I completely understand that there are those of you who don’t feel as I do, but I would hope you wouldn’t dislike dogs so much, you would repeatedly kick a puppy and then try to choke it. They call people like that “abusers,” and as we shall see, abusers come in all different varieties and are found in many social circles.
In an article by John Marshall for the San Francisco Bay Area Examiner (September 2, 2014) entitled: “Centerplate CEO Desmond Hague resigns over dog abuse scandal,” we get a glimpse into the hidden ethical life of the CEO.
Since this is a post about sports, basketball in particular, I am happy to throw out a few statistics (no, there are no batting averages in basketball!).
There are 30 NBA teams, such as the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets or the Charlotte Hornets. Each team has only 12 men on their active roster and they can carry at least one or more inactive players. NBA players may be easy to spot in a crowd, but they are hard to find. In fact, in your particular state, there are only one or two active NBA players per 1 million people!
I went online and found writer Andrew Powell-Morse’s “The Unofficial 2013 NBA Player Census.” He showed that 38 percent of NBA players range in age from 22 to 25. The average pay range for these players in 2013 was between $3.7 million and $5.5 million.
As someone who writes, speaks and consults on the topic of sports ethics, I am often “amused” by the ethical training spoon-fed to athletes by the league offices. The training sessions usually take one of two forms; they trot out a human resources re-tread, who has read a lot of books on making choices, or they grant permission for an ex-athlete to speak at a rookie seminar; usually the ex-athlete has done some jail time for something stupid. In the case of the ex-athlete, he or she marches out on the stage with this message: “Don’t throw away your career.” Then after the speech, everyone “High-Fives” and it’s back to business as usual.
I’m afraid that neither approach works very well.
The great Greek tragedies we had to trudge through in “World Literature 101,” have not gone away, they have simply taken on new forms in different places. Men and women still self-destruct, and in the process, bring down their hopes and dreams.
Enter Will Mahone, stage left.
Mr. Mahone was a receiver for the University Of Notre Dame. I use the past tense with intention, because he didn’t exactly do the school proud last week and he messed up so badly that his coach has indefinitely suspended him from all football activities.