Latest "Sports Ethics" Posts
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.
Though I travel the country quite a bit, as I live in South Carolina, I generally cheer for the Carolina Panthers. A good friend of mine likes the Buffalo Bills and another likes the Green Bay Packers.
As I begin this blog, I need to stress that in my reading and internet surfing I have not uncovered one letter of protest from a panther, anyone named “Bill,” or any butchers or meatpackers in regard to having football teams take on their names or professions.
However, many people who claim indigenous Native American roots are downright angry that in 2014 a football team still refers to itself as the “Redskins.”
Stop the Moaning
An interesting item crossed my computer screen and at first I didn’t pay it much mind, but then I rushed back to it because it really bothered me from an ethical perspective.
The story comes out of the Associated Press and was first reported by The San Antonio Express-News on February 23, 2014. It concerns a 14 year old quarterback, Zadock Dinkelmann who is reportedly the third adolescent from South Texas to commit to play football for a specific university. In this case, the school was LSU.
I understand the young man is related is related to Koy and Ty Detmer, both quality people and quality ex-NFL players and I am fairly certain that Zadock is a quality person as well. He is in the eighth grade and he is already 6’4.” He can apparently throw the football better than just about anyone his age.
Michael Sam wants to be a professional football player in the National football League. And he should be. Ethically, morally, legally, he should be permitted to put on a uniform and play. He has earned the right. This is a story of the ethics of the heart.
This former standout player from Missouri who was an All-American and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year should probably be a high round draft pick. Indeed, he would pretty much be a lock to be a high-rounder, had he not expressed the following to Chris Connelly of ESPN’s Show, Outside The Lines on February 9, 2014:
“I came to tell the world that I’m an openly, proud gay man.”
Unless you just returned from a trip to the most remote part of the Amazon Basin, you have probably heard about the recent incident where an Oklahoma State basketball player, Marcus Smart, who dove out of bounds during a basketball game. It was there (in out of bounds territory) that a Texas Tech fan, and major Texas Tech “Homer” by the name of Jeff Orr, called Marcus a “Piece of Crap.” This prompted Marcus to give Orr a decent shove and his reward for shoving the fan was a three game suspension. I might add (and there’s a reason) that Marcus is a phenomenal player; while I’m at it, I might add as well that Texas Tech has banned Orr from attending another game this season. About Orr, I could care less.
Amid the cheering, hype and clever commercials of the recent Super Bowl, is a slow developing and highly inconvenient situation that provides sober counter-balance to the celebration.
Judge Anita Brody, a U.S. District Court Judge, has just disapproved the $765 million concussion settlement between the NFL and 4,500 former players.
The case is quite complex, and I will be over-simplistic here, but the Judge rejected the settlement on the basis that the award would prove to be woefully inadequate to handle the claims. She also commented on the lack of proof the NFL had given out that there was enough money to properly diagnose and to satisfy the medical needs of the patients.
In an article by Doug Farrar for Sports Illustrated (January 14, 2014), it was stated:
I was not at all surprised when I recently read in USA Today (January 17, 2014) that Lance Armstrong pushed his golf handicap down to a 9 and that he recently shot a 74 on some course, somewhere.
I will take him at his word, which may or may not be a good thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a miniature golf course complete with windmills and a hole with a big clown who had a gaping mouth. The image forces me to loop back around to Lance Armstrong.
Lance is on (what public relations experts call) the rehabilitation trail. The “trail” is intended to clean up an image. When we heard that Lance shot a 74, we were supposed to nudge each other in the ribs and say:
As you know, every so often I like to award what I call my “Ethical Good Guy” Award; this blog wants to recognize Tracy Barnes and by extension, her sister Lanny.
Haven’t heard of them? It is understandable. The Biathlon, the grueling Olympic event that combines cross country skiing and shooting, probably gets 1 percent of the notice of, let’s say, figure skating or ski jumping. This year, my hope is that the sport is covered by the networks.
In an Associated Press article dated January 14, 2014, “Biathlete gives up Sochi spot for twin,” we see the stories of two sisters intersecting in a magical way.
There is probably no more incendiary ethical mixture than religion and Division I sports. The mixture is doubly inflammable when the Division I team is team plays for a state funded university. The issue is defined in an article for Fox News by Todd Starnes (January 16, 2014) entitled: “UConn rebukes coach, says Jesus doesn’t belong in football.” Hence the discussion about the ethics of religion in sports.
The issue began when, Ernest Jones, the team’s new coach and director of player engagement was quoted in The Hartford Courant newspaper as saying:
As I sit at my table and start to write this post, I am not thinking about Dennis Rodman, basketball diplomacy or Kenneth Bae at all, but of a man I shall call “Mike,” who had an upper, mid-level marketing management position with an international consumer product company based in New York City.
As I am blessed to speak to many groups around the country, I am often privileged to hear many stories of outstanding, unselfish acts and of unethical miscues and failures. I heard the following story second-hand, so please forgive me if it is not repeated with absolute accuracy but it is illustrative for the purposes of this discussion.