In the contemporary world, sport has become the source and the target for a variety of social issues of different characters. The popularity of sports in contemporary society, their financial and political aspects triggered a number of conflicts and scandals in different fields of sports. The scholars today explore sports ethics from several perspectives.
Some of them are fair play, the use of drugs, and human rights. College sports, as well as professional sports, undergo a series of pressures and tensions related to scandals based on different perspectives on the rights, functions, and roles of the athletes.
It is a well-known fact that college athletes are not professional sports players. Theoretically, they are students of different educational institutions, which frequently engage in sports competitions to represent their affiliations.
College athletes are talented and gifted at sports. This is the source of the main confusion of the public perception of a college athlete. For example, one of the most frequently discussed issues is whether or not college athletes are supposed to be paid for their performance, because being a part of a college sports team is not the main function of a student.
College sports have gained enormous popularity over the last couple of decades. As a result, a number of institutions started to play clever recruitment strategies when it comes to the acquisition of different athletic students. Some of the universities and colleges were even accused of deliberate lowering of their academic requirements and standards to maintain the eligibility of their most popular athletes (Hanson & Savage, 2012).
Among all the ethical discussions and problems inhabiting the world of college sports today the scandal that shook the United States the most was the child abuse case of Jerry Sandusky, Penn State assistant coach, who used the college’s charity program for the recruitment of athletes as his own system to find victims to molest. This horrific example of 2011 is, without a doubt, a modern demonstration of the ethical issues existing in the world of college sports today.
The case of Sandusky is an example of human right violation based on the abuse of power and authority from the side of the college towards its students. Sandusky was not the only perpetrator of this scandal. In fact, a number of Penn State executives were accused of ignoring and even covering the signs of right violations and conflicts inflicted by Sandusky (Layden, 2014).
While the role of authorities and power holders in sports is often surrounded by numerous discussions, there is another very important ethical issue in this field. College sports are growing more and more competitive. This creates tensions and pressures on the athletes and causes cases of cheating and performance-enhancing drug-taking.
It goes without saying that intoxications of all kinds clash with the general understanding of sports as the promotion of a healthy lifestyle (Wider Effects, 2014). This issue is exacerbated by the discussion about the payment and reward for the college students participating in sports.
The problem is, if college authorities and leaders start financially rewarding the best athletes and teams, this will most likely increase the pressure and the desire to perform better from the side of the athletes, which, logically, may serve as the cause of even more drug-taking.
In ethics, gamesmanship is often contrasted with sportsmanship. The former is focused on winning at any cost, and the latter represents healthy competition and cultivates such virtues as a strong character, will-power, determination, endurance, and honor.
Gamesmanship approach occurs as a result of vicious desires and qualities such as greed, anger, vanity, revenge, and pride. Since college athletes are very young people, they are likely to slip and start following the wrong path driven by their passion, ambitions, and desire to be popular, appreciated, and respected.
In my opinion, college sports are very important, as they carry a variety of functions among which there is the unification of the students, the necessary feeling of togetherness enhanced by healthy competition, and promotion of the colleges and universities in the state arena. At the same time, college sports today are becoming dangerously popular.
Rivalry and competition between the colleges stop being healthy and obtain many features of gamesmanship that promote unethical behaviors such as bending the rules, cheating, drug-taking, faking injuries and fouls, intrigues, and gossiping.
These behaviors not only distract the students from their main function, which is learning but also clash with the main role of educational affiliations that are supposed to teach virtues, moral and ethical values and standards. This is why the leaders of the contemporary American colleges and universities should come back to the basics and remember the true purpose of their affiliations instead of getting lost in unhealthy competition and the employment of sports as the means of advertising of the institutions.
In conclusion, ethics plays an important role in college sports. Ethics is what stands between sportsmanship and gamesmanship and prevents the leaders, educators, and athletes from getting physically and emotionally hurt by vicious behaviors and practices.
Hanson, K. O. & Savage, M. (2012). Ethics in College Sports. Web.
Layden, T. (2014). Forever changed: Where is Penn State three years after Sandusky scandal?
Wider Effects. (2014). BBC. Web.