Latest "Sports Ethics" Posts
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.
“I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media.” – Don Jones Suspended Defensive Back, Miami Dolphins.
At the time of writing this post, Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into professional football, has just been picked up by the St. Louis Rams. Whether Michael Sam will succeed as a football player in the NFL is a separate issue. He was an outstanding college athlete and he has the chance to make the team. Football is a tough game and many outstanding college athletes never make it.
Times they are a changing and the problem with times like these are that the concept of privacy is eroding so quickly that the rules have become blurred. The challenge today is knowing when and where one’s private thoughts and feelings have a safe place to be contained and expressed. This has never been more evident than the NBA controversy over Donald Sterling’s private comments – now public.
Focusing on his twisted life view, it seems that we are missing a much bigger and broader issue. Are we in the midst of a time when the ability to express private thought (regardless of how misguided) is gone?
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is slapped with a lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine over racist remarks.
Adam Silver said the National Basketball Association “will begin immediately” to force Sterling to sell the team. Sterling admitted it was his voice on the recording.
“Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league,” Silver said. Regardless of whether Sterling’s views were expressed in private, “They are now public and they reflect his views.”
The fine is the maximum that can be imposed under NBA rules. Under the ban, Sterling can’t go to games, attend practices, make decisions regarding the team or attend NBA meetings, and Silver said NBA owners are expected to provide the three-quarters vote needed to force Sterling to sell the team.
It was quite interesting for me to scan the sports news yesterday, for there, and in just a few hours we saw two different athletes make decisions and reap the ethical consequences of those decisions. They are both very gifted athletes and play in the NFL. And they both share ethical tales with very different endings.
The first player, 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, was going on a trip and at the San Francisco Airport, he was selected for secondary screening before boarding a flight. I have gone through that inconvenience myself, and so too several associates. It’s not that I enjoy the process, but it takes a few seconds, TSA is courteous about it and you go on your way. When they asked Smith, age 24, if he wouldn’t mind having his carry-on searched he instead got belligerent. In fact, after being searched he told the agents he had a bomb and then he walked away. Naturally, TSA didn’t like that and he was descended upon by several agents who led him away in handcuffs while he continued his verbal confrontation.