Examining Moral and Ethical Issues in Various Sports Settings

Our world is a competitive one indeed. Be it employment or academic examination, each of us is required to pass a set of hurdles to qualify for a position. In every competitive ground, there are several rules. The violation of which results in disqualification. Likewise, the world of sports is no less of an exception. 

In competitive sport, athletes train year on year, stay on strict diets, and abstain from many aspects of social pleasures just to win and represent their teams. The pressure to win is an immense one, so much so that it can drastically affect the psyche of the participants and cause them to use illicit means to win a game. With time organizers have come up with ways to combat these practices. This article seeks to discuss these factors, elaborate on the moral/ethical aspects of sports, and present a picture of the sports industry today.

What is Sports Integrity?

By formal definition, sports integrity refers to the manifestations of ethics and values which promote community confidence in sports. The term is an umbrella term and has several connotations. To begin with, sports integrity states that all forms of sport participants, including coaches, administrators, and athletes, must abide by morals and engage in fair and honest practices, both on and off the ground. Moreover, it demands that participants maintain good behavior amongst each other—that is, avoid trash-talking other teammates, always shake hands after the game and refrain from criticizing the sport or its set methods.

Poor Ethical Practices in Sports 

A sports event isn’t just limited to the athletes themselves; many other organizations contribute to the event. Along with the players, there is a healthcare team involved, a marketing company, some business counterparts, and the administrative team. Each of these firms has expertise in their specialties, with team members having degrees in or relevant to sports management. 

To learn more about these roles, check out the sport administration online master’s program offered by the University of Arkansas. You can even register for the course if you have a passion for sports and would like to work in the sports industry. 

The degree can help any sports official learn about and navigate the world of ethical concerns. Let’s take a look at some of these concerns below.

Health is a fundamental aspect of sports; it directly dictates the performance of an athlete. It goes without saying that players with compromised health or those who easily sustain injuries will obviously underperform compared to healthier athletes. When playing a sport, injuries are a sure given. If a player gets injured, the health management team is under sheer pressure to treat the issue before the player gets back on track.

A widespread practice that health professionals in sports use is prescribing excessive analgesics—in simple words, using too many pain killers for pain management without complete healing. While a moderate amount of analgesics is okay and can be metabolized by the body safely, an overdose can lead to detrimental effects on an athlete’s health. The injury can worsen over a period of time, leading to a long-term illness or disability for the athlete involved. 

When playing in front of millions of people, an athlete is obliged to care about the image presented to the public. Regardless of whether they are winning or losing, players aspire to present a picture of “being a good athlete” or demonstrating good sportsmanship. For this reason, athletes tend to play despite inconveniences just so they can protect their name and gain the title of respect.

Likewise, it is not uncommon for players to undergo injury and then come back to the ground without proper recovery. This has to do with the psychological aspect of ego, as members who choose to rest and recover may be benched during future games due to ineligibility. The pressure of getting back on the ground and performing while also winning can impact athletes’ physical and mental wellbeing. 

Ergogenic aid refers to any kind of technique, nutritional intake, artifact, technique, or drug whose intake can improve athletic performance. These substances can either increase the players’ stamina, make them more resilient to pain or increase their pain threshold so that they can train and play for longer periods of time.

Obviously, this optimizes a player’s performance—even if only in the short term; hence, these substances are banned in sports. Common performance enhancers include synthetic hormones like testosterone which help increase muscle strength and vigor. Another commonly used hormone is the human growth hormone—small supplements can drastically boost energy, break down fat and build muscle. Other popular instances include hallucinogenic mushrooms or “magic mushrooms” as a stimulant.

Maintaining Ethical Conduct in Sports

While it is not possible to completely put a stop to ethical misconduct, several measures can be taken to decrease it. First and foremost, health management teams must be informed of the moral code and be made aware of the necessary rules to comply with them and model professional behavior upon requirement. Furthermore, they must be directed to document and report all forms of medical decisions—including drug dosages or restorative procedures—to the administrative team.

There are also rules for athletes so that they carry out exemplary conduct. There should be meetings held amongst all directors and players to address the ethical code. Moreover, players must be encouraged to practice good sportsmanship and be condemned for misconduct like trash-talking or using foul language. All in all, each player is to be made aware of prioritizing their health over wins. While this may be a complicated goal to achieve, it is possible nonetheless. Finally, if illegal practices are observed, there should be harsh penalties to prevent the recurrence of the same act.

Final Thoughts 

Human nature is a complex one. It always demands winning and desires the pleasure associated with victory. While this can serve as a great motivation on competitive grounds, it can also lay down a pathway to unethical behavior and misconduct. Some prevalent factors contributing to sports misconduct are illegal substances, unfair practices via health management teams, and just human psychology in general. To combat these, sports officials need to devise smart strategies to maintain fairness in all regards.

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