Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ethics in Sports - When Being the Best Isn't Enough


Sports, whether it be baseball, football, soccer or tidily winks, the type sport in actually means nothing, it's the competition, the us against them or me against you which drives us. Perhaps this basic instinct derives from our ancestors, where if you didn't win the competition for food... you didn't survive.

We all have this basic instinct inside us, although some exemplify it more readily than others, if placed in the right situation of "fight or flight" even the most timid of individuals become raging bulls. It's just being human, a God given survival instinct, which we, as civilized people, have adapted to our sports in lieu of hunting parties.

It's when this drive to compete, to be the best at what we do, collides head on with another basic human instinct, a conflict of integrity arises. This other basic instinct? Ethics, which is more commonly referred to as Fair Play. You may ask "how in the world could two driving forces of being the "Best" and doing it "Fairly" possibly create a conflict?"

I'll use the game of baseball as an example, but only as an example, because All sports are played by humans, and circumstances created by humans create the conflict, not the sport itself.

Whether it be little league baseball, played in small rural towns, or professional ball, played in the limelight of New York city, there are inherent benefits to being the champions, the best of the best.
Obviously, personal pride of achievement and praise of your peers is the first undeniable benefit resulting from being the best. Championship Little league teams will suddenly be inundated with sponsors offering to buy uniforms and equipment, some being the same which flatly refused to consider financial help when approached at the beginning of the season.

Every human being on earth relishes being honored or complimented, positive strokes the mental health people classify it, but few would do something bad or wrong in order to obtain the praise, because deep inside they know it's not genuine, not in terms of actually accomplishing something of value through hard work. However, when the perks begin to become monstrous in terms of money, travel, fame and whatever else one considers dear to their heart, hair line cracks in integrity may begin to appear in otherwise honest people's character.

Somewhere in the recent past, society as a whole, as become derailed by greed, the never ending quest to be the best, not for the sake of being the best, but for the greed of obtaining more than our neighbors, whether it be money, a bigger house, a yacht or a country club membership. This moral decay has not ignored sports.

Cherished and honored records are shattered by athletes using performance enhancing drugs or other methods, which has left sports in shambles. Do you deny the new record because there is strong evidence of cheating, acknowledge the new record but place an X by it?

In any event the record and the 1st player to reach it, has been tarnished.

The game of who dies with the most toys - wins has inflicted our society like a cancer which shows no signs of receding, destroying financial empires, governments and leaving us without a moral compass.

Isn't this getting a little too involved, too deep for sports? I mean, what could sports possibly change in a world gone ethically awry? Possibly everything.

Our youth, hopefully our way out of this chaos, are exposed to the seriousness of sports before anything else in their life. Think about it. Kids play, or at least play at, baseball, football, soccer, marbles, kickball and etc. long before they take educational school serious. They emulate the players they see on television, not their teachers, and that's not to belittle a teacher's importance, it's just fact.
Fortunately, Kids are too young to comprehend the evils committed on Wall Street, ponzi schemes, foreclosures, corrupt politicians, performance enhancing drugs, or spying on a team's practice, but they are old enough and smart enough to learn how to play a game "Fair."

This is where we begin anew. Coaches and parents must put being the champions, through whatever means deemed necessary, in it's proper place...unacceptable. We must teach striving to become the best in everything we do, at least giving our very best, must be done through hard work and dedication. No shortcuts, no drugs, no cheating.

We must reinstitute the moral fiber of it's better to have lost honestly, than to have won by cheating. To fight the good fight, with integrity and high standards, which will re-instill a character of high moral values.

With religions vying for followers, higher education becoming more and more out of reach of the normal person, while public schools continue to get hammered by budget cuts, sports my be the last hope for changing the futures of our youth.

It may be unfair to heave this responsibility on our current and future coaches, but life tends to be unfair. Ethics, high morals and honesty must be taught in our sports programs. After all, our sports are a microcosm of society as a whole and perhaps the best place to begin changing it.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on fielding baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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yuniformsport said...
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Lucas Godin said...

Great post about ethics in sport and it's specifically important for baseball i think since like cycling the sports reputation has been tarnished in later years!
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