Ethics in Sport and Athletics

New Orleans Saints. Penn State. Lance Armstrong.  What kind of images do these names bring to your mind?  What do you think about upon hearing or reading these names?

The law will take its course, each case will proceed through the legal system, and some conclusion will result, at least in the legal sense.  But what about society as a whole?  I feel that human kind is always looking for some sort of answer, closure if you will, and this is no different with the circumstances of the aforementioned names. Indeed there have been individuals and organizations in the past that have been convicted of various violations and either punished or released and we move on, or do we? With the growth and prevalence of technology, we have become acutely aware of our interconnectedness as human beings. How are we getting any better? How are we learning from our mistakes and helping others to not make the same mistakes we’ve seen in the past?

Every organization ought to take some time to reflect on the state of their own existence, what they stand for, and how each individual is contributing to the greater whole.  In the case of an ethics violation, it’s usually the result of the actions of more than one person. As a team or collection of people oriented toward one goal or set of goals, you owe it to yourself and to your colleagues to keep one another on track. In my own experience, I am constantly reminded of the needs people have to feel love and acceptance by other human beings. Even in a world of technology where connections are endless and real-time, there is nothing that replaces true physical and emotional connection.

So, how do you view ethics as applied to sport and athletics? How do you view the connection of human existence to athletic endeavors? At least in terms of television, live sporting events continue to rate higher than most other programming. To me, this is an indication that this connection to real people has real value – people want to see, feel, and be a part of other people’s existence. J. Patrick Dobel is a professor at the University of Washington and former Faculty Athletics Representative to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.  If you’re interested in further reading on ethics in sport and athletics, he has quite a bit to offer. Check out his blog HERE.

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