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The Morality of Athletic Administrators

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Competitive sports have a tremendous impact on our culture, influencing the values of millions of participants and spectators. It has been said that “Sport is too much a game to be a business and too much a business to be a game” (Hums, Barr, & Gullion, 1999)

The sport industry is growing at an incredible rate of speed. Estimates by Financial World magazine of individual professional team sport franchises list an average National Football League’s team’s value as $174 million dollars. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games saw licensed products sales in the billions (Brecke, 1997). In April 2010, The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced a new 14-year television, internet, and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting. The agreement will cover Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship beginning 2011 through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion. The games will be shown on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV all four national networks (NCAA, 2010).

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Some argue for a "bracketed morality" within sports. This approach holds that sport and competition are set apart from real life, and occupy a realm where ethics and moral codes do not apply. Instead, some argue, sports serves as an outlet for our primal aggression and a selfish need for recognition and respect gained through the conquering of an opponent. In this view, aggression and victory are the only virtues

For example, a football player may be described as mean and nasty on the field, but kind and gentle in everyday life. His violent disposition on the field is not wrong because when he is playing the game he is part of an amoral reality that is dictated only by the principle of winning.

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Adherence to a core ideology — which Collins and Porras (1994) describe as core values embraced, nurtured, and perpetuated by individuals throughout an organization — forms the bedrock for success for any organization. Core values, they argue, are essential and enduring tenets or guiding principles that should never to be compromised. For example, integrity is often chosen by organizations and individuals as a core value. Integrity explicates what a person most deeply believes in and values (Trevino, Hartman, & Brown, 2000). When a leader’s beliefs and values are positively connected to what is true and good, integrity is readily evident (Morris, 1997)

A person with integrity, suggests Morris, will not deviate from his or her values for immediate gain or instant gratification with truth and goodness governing decisions made regarding right and wrong. As Sanaghan (2009) concludes, values are non-negotiable, with core beliefs and guiding principles governing daily behaviors, communication, and decision making of organizational leaders

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Sports are playing a more prominent role in our society and athletes are constantly faced with decisions relative to the adherence to policies and rules. This paper will review the literature on the many different factors and outcomes that come from cheating as opposed to keeping the rules that can assist coaches, administrators and parents in teaching rules adherence to athletes who may be faced with the moral dilemma to win at all costs. In addition, this paper will set the stage for research to fully understand the symptoms of a much greater issue, cheating.

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Arnold, P. J. (2001). Sport, Moral Development, and the Role of the Teacher: Implications for
Research and Moral Education. Quest,53(2), 135-150. doi:10.1080/00336297.2001.10491734

Beller, J. (2002). Positive Character Development in School Sport Programs. ERIC Digest
Cleaninghouse on teaching and Teacher education Washington DC.

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