Sporting Independence Even From Mom and Dad?

4 07 2007

In honor of both the Fourth and Wimbledon — combined with education of course — two blogposts from Tennis Planet:

“Players who owe it to their parents- BIGTIME”

“Why don’t the sons and daughters of sports legends become legends?”




3 responses

4 07 2007

And along the lines of COD et al’s earlier discussion of how we teach kids sportsmanship itself (which is what I consider “good citizenship”) there is this research review abstract from Columbia Teachers College Record:

Character Development or Winning at all Costs?
by Andy Rudd — February 20, 2007

It has long been held that participation in sport can build moral
character. This is based on the belief that moral values (e.g., honesty,
fairness, and respect) are the bedrock of competitive sport and as a
result, participation in sport provides a unique medium for instilling
moral character among its participants.

However, paradoxically, there is
an abundance of anecdotal and empirical evidence to suggest many
athletes and coaches favor “winning at all costs” rather than competing
with moral character. It is hypothesized that athletes and coaches have
been socialized into believing that winning is paramount and competing
with moral character is insignificant to getting the win.

Because moral
character involves critical judgment and reason it is suggested that
typical interventions such as sportsmanship campaigns or stiffer
penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct are ineffective for developing
moral character. Athletes, coaches, athletic administrators, and even
parents must be morally educated to appreciate the moral side of sport.

We face the same issues in dance coaching and competitions btw. (Character and ethics have been neglected in political competition too, to the detriment of our entire nation and all our institutions and principles imo.)
So here are extended excerpts for anyone in need of further research to make this case in your own local situations–

Sport participants are continually in situations in which they
must choose to uphold or violate moral values. For example, each sport
is defined by its rules which establish how one is to compete
legitimately. When athletes deliberately break the constitutive rules of
a particular sport they have violated what it means to compete on a fair
and level playing field (Arnold, 1994).

As another example, Clifford and
Feezel (1997) have stressed the importance of respect for one’s
opponent. They proposed that all competitive athletes need good and
challenging opponents to excel. This necessitates that players respect
their opponents rather than treat them as a means to an end. Athletes
may also uphold the moral value of honesty by not attempting to use
performance enhancing drugs deceptively, or they may demonstrate
compassion by not intentionally attempting to injure their opponent to
gain an advantage.

In sum, these types of examples suggest competitive
sport is a ripe environment for developing moral values and moral character.

However, morally idealistic notions of sport as a medium for developing
moral character have been glaringly contradicted. Many athletes and
coaches appear to believe winning is all that matters even if it means
cheating or seriously harming one’s opponent. Trash talking, diving in
soccer (pretending to be tripped), steroid use, intentional injury,
running up the score, and intimidation tactics (e.g., the “brush back”
pitch in baseball) are illustrative of the problem (“A Purpose,” 1999;
Dixon, 1993; “Fake or Foul?,” 2006; Fraleigh, 1982; Lumpkin et al., 2003).

Unethical behavior by coaches has been particularly alarming considering
the influence they may have on their players (Guivernau & Duda, 2002;
Kavussanu, Roberts, & Ntoumansis, 2002; Stephens & Bredemeier, 1996).
There have been a number of cases at the college level. In 1999, former
Wichita State Pitcher, Ben Christensen, purposely threw at Anthony
Molina who was 30 feet away from the plate (waiting on deck) because he
felt Molina was trying to time his pitches. Christensen hit Molina and
severely injured his eye. As part of Christensen’s response to the
injury, he told reporters the pitching coach taught him the tactic (“A
Purpose,” 1999).

More recently (2005), former Temple basketball coach,
John Chaney purposely sent in one of his players to brutally foul an
opposing player. The opposing player ended-up with a broken arm
(Wickham, 2005). As well, the National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA) has recently placed Savannah State University on probation (three
years) after discovering that one of the university’s former football
coaches had encouraged team members to purchase steroids and provided
free meals and lodging to eight prospective players (“NCAA Penalizes,”

Win-at-all-cost coaching has not been isolated to the college ranks.
Egregious coaching methods at the interscholastic and youth sport levels
have also been observed. A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his
players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally handicapped teammate so that
he would not have to put the boy in the game (“Coach Accused,” 2005).

Also, in a Little League championship game the head coach for one of the
two teams intentionally walked the team’s “power hitter” in order to
face one of the team’s weakest players (Cabrero, 2006). Lastly, at the
high school level, an assistant football coach was caught on video
moving the first down marker during a pivotal play (“No. 8 San Pedro
High,” 2005).

Research has been supportive of the reported cases of cheating and
violence in sport. For example, studies using an instrument to measure
moral character called the Hahm-Beller Values Choice Inventory have
shown athletes do not support the application of moral values in
competition (Beller & Stoll, 1992; Beller, Stoll, & Rudd, 1997; Stoll,
Beller, Cole, & Burwell, 1995).

Additionally, a large survey conducted
by the Character Counts! Coalition with over 4,200 high school athletes
revealed many do not care about morality in sport. Among some of the
salient results: 58% of males and 24% of females support inflicting pain
in football to intimidate, 47% of males and 19% of females support trash
talking, and 30% of males and 16% females support throwing at a batter
who homered their previous at bat (Character Counts!, 2004).

Clearly, for many, how one plays the game is of little concern. Winning
is the only thing that seems to truly count and it does not matter if
one wins fairly or honorably. As seen in the above examples, coaches and
players employ a variety of dubious strategies to win. The current state
of affairs in sport, thus raises the question, does anybody care about
character and sportsmanship? Or, is sport simply about feeding egos and
the obtainment of extrinsic rewards?

Not everyone in the sport milieu believes winning is more important than
fair play. Some have initiated efforts to foster and promote
sportsmanship and character. . .
While there are good intentions behind some of these sportsmanship and
character development initiatives, there may be some pedagogical
shortcomings. This is because the majority of these efforts tend to rely
on superficial policies, penalties, and campaigns. Methods as such would
be considered by Arnold (1994) as a form of “moral drilling” that is
used to cause individuals to mindlessly conform to a set of principles
or rules.

However, to the contrary, moral judgment and reasoning are the
sine qua non of moral character. Therefore, it is argued, character and
sportsmanship development must target individuals’ moral thinking
abilities rather than using some form of behavior modification.

Character development scholars have referred to the notion of changing a
person’s moral thinking as moral or ethical education (Arnold, 1994;
Lickona, 1991; Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989; Stoll & Beller, 2006).
In brief, moral education is a purposeful process that teaches people
how to make moral judgments and apply moral principles to ethical
problems. Individuals are taught how to reflect and critically examine
their decisions and value system—hence, moral reasoning. Research has
shown moral education can increase moral development or moral reasoning
(Beller & Stoll, 1992; Power et al.).

Additionally, researchers have noted that the moral environment plays a
critical role in positively or negatively affecting character (Lickona,
1991; Power et al., 1989; Stoll & Beller, 2006). Therefore, moral
education must be a comprehensive approach that aims to educate not just
the athletes, but also coaches, administrators, and parents.


One such
example of moral education in sport is a program called Winning with
Character. The program uses a specially designed curriculum that
formally teaches many of those involved in high school and college
athletic programs how to make good ethical choices based on the core
values of respect, honor, and responsibility (Winning with Character,
Inc. n.d; see also, Shields & Bredemeier, 1995, 2005 for additional
examples of moral education programs in sport).

. . .Too many athletes, coaches, administrators, and
parents have been socialized into believing that winning is more
important than fair and honorable play. Kretchmar (2005) theorized that
this process may lead to the development of “moral calluses” which
prevent people from recognizing moral wrong doing. . .

4 07 2007

The above paper comes from our local university:

Rudd, Andy
Florida State University

ANDY RUDD holds a Ph.D. in sport ethics. He also has extensive experience with research methodology. His research has been primarily in the areas of character development and sportsmanship.

(Did you even know there was a doctorate degree available in sport ethics? )

6 07 2008
Marathon Wimbledon Final! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] another rain delay! To pass the wait time, see JJ’s classic tennis and Wimbledon blogging here and […]

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