Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Sportsmanship at the Olympic women’s soccer final: smiles and hugs all around

August 11, 2012

 

Hope Solo, Team USA’s goalkeeper, saved shot after shot on goal to preserve the miniscule USA lead in the Olympic women’s soccer gold medal match, won by the Americans, 2-1. As Abby Wambach, Team USA’s superstar, declared after the final whistle,Hope saved the day literally five times.”

In sports parlance we’d say that Solo broke the hearts of the Japanese team. But remarkably hearts weren’t broken. As far as the losing Japanese women were concerned, losing isn’t  like death, as the late great football coach, George Allen, famously said. And the Japanese are the defending World’s Champions, not losers. Both sides were joyful at having had the chance to play in the gold medal game.

The photo of three of the Japanese players smiling with their silver medals and embracing Hope Solo, with her gold, is the picture of sportsmanship, too rare in today’s big-money sports but refreshingly present in Olympic women’s soccer.

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Photo Copyright (c) 2012 Hope Solo

 

Penn State: do the sanctions punish the innocent?

July 24, 2012

 

The ESPN telecast showed student reaction (photo) on a split screen as NCAA President Mark Emmert ticked off one harsh penalty after another against Penn State’s football team. Clearly these horrified Penn State students were being punished for the sins of the formerly sainted coach, the university president, and other senior members of the administration. Their future autumn Saturdays, their social lives, and their pride in their university were being stripped from them.

Accountability for wrongdoing often brings down the innocent along with the guilty. Think about the workers at Enron, Arthur Anderson, or MCI-Worldcom, who lost their jobs when their bosses’ malfeasance destroyed their companies. Or think about innocent children of illegal immigrants who are wrenched away from their world when their parents are deported.

Is it all right to punish the innocent? First, there is no way of punishing the guilty without harming people close to, or dependent on them. Even a mass murderer–when he is sent away his mother suffers along with him. When Al Qaeda militants are killed, their family members often die with them.

Still we mustn’t be blasé about collateral damage to innocents. It was painful to watch the students as their innocent college years were stripped of top-quality football. But in a sense they’re not innocent. They share a nation-wide belief that football is more (more…)

The supreme significance of Jackie Robinson

April 16, 2012

 

Jackie Robinson played his first Major League baseball game 65 years ago today. We’ve long become inured to stories of “firsts,” since our society has come so far on the road to judging each person by the content of his character, but in a century of firsts, Jackie Robinson was extra special. Nobody has explained his significance as well as Jack Marshall in his Ethics Alarms blog. Read it here.

 

NFL pounds New Orleans Saints for paying bounties for maiming opponents. Will the NBA, NHL, NCAA, FIFA be inspired?

March 21, 2012

 

I used to be a boxing fan. Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta were boyhood heroes, and the highlight of my week was the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, telecasting fights every Friday night. The program was top-rated until more and more fans—eventually including me—gradually came to understand that the object of the game was to cause brain damage, hopefully temporary but occasionally permanent and cumulative, as happened to thousands, most famously Muhammad Ali.

I became an even bigger pro football fan, until being turned off by the violence—not the inherent violence of the game, but the intentional maiming of marquee players like Brett Favre, DeSean Jackson, and Tony Romo.

It was no surprise when earlier this month the NFL disclosed that the New Orleans Saints had paid bounties for injuring opposing players, with extra money for “cart-offs” –when the injured player had to be carried off the field in a motorized gurney.

But today there was a surprise—a welcome one: the league came down with crushing punishments for the practice: Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (who apparently initiated the practice) was banned indefinitely (more…)

Redskins new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is an ethical winner

January 30, 2012

 

Hollywood pioneer Samuel Goldwyn famously said of a colleague he admired, “His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it’s written on.” 

This ‘Goldwynism’ applies to new Washington Redskins defensive backs coach, Raheem Morris, who verbally accepted a Washington offer on January 11. The very next day Morris was offered the job of defensive coordinator by the Minnesota Vikings.

Morris turned down the bigger, and likely much more lucrative, Minnesota offer, explaining,

“I believe that in this game, all you have is your word and your tape, and I gave these guys my word, and I wanted to come here and help them this year, and I was going to do it.

Keeping your commitment, even when—or especially when—it costs you a lot of money—is a central tenet of ethics. The Redskins have a winner in Morris.

 

My ten favorite posts of 2011

December 31, 2011

 

There were 112 Ethics Bob  posts in 2011, and 14,000 page views. Here are my ten favorites:

  • Ex-Auburn Prof Jim Gundlach gets a mythical Sam Goldwyn award* for speaking truth to power—to Auburn football http://goo.gl/x3ro4
  • Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid http://goo.gl/4UBW6
  • Drew Brees: ethics hero and football hero. He lives by “If not me, who? http://goo.gl/RMzsV
  • Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award. http://goo.gl/yBdXS
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) defends Muslim judge Sohail Mohammed, calls opponents “crazies.” Hooray for an ethics hero http://goo.gl/KtCCQ
  • Three cheers for Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Byron York of Fox News, and for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC http://goo.gl/gsXAx
  • Ethics: I’m giving it away http://goo.gl/Rl1jB
  • LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn http://goo.gl/rjns5
  • Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street http://goo.gl/Sk5sV
  • Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl http://goo.gl/MxGYu
  • The lesson from Penn State http://goo.gl/Tnn03

 

Trojan coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley punctuate a new era of amateur football at USC

December 23, 2011

 

So who says big time college football is all about winning and money, and not about heart and sportsmanship? Check out the USC Trojans.

Yesterday Trojan junior quarterback Matt Barkley chose to play another year for the Trojans rather than grabbing a $20+ million payoff for entering the NFL draft, where he was a sure bet to be a top ten, or even a top five pick.

Explained Barkley,

“It is my dream to play quarterback in the NFL, and I intend to make that dream a reality. But I know in my heart that I have not finished my journey as a Trojan football player. The 2012 USC football team has some serious unfinished business to attend to, and I intend on being a part of that.”

Trojan coach Lane Kiffin was overjoyed at Barkley’s decision. And why not? It could well lead to a national championship for the loaded Trojans, and coach-of-the-year honors for Kiffin. But lest you think that Kiffin has only a selfish interest, look at what he said last week when Barkley’s blind-side protector, All American tackle Matt Kalil, announced his decision to forego his senior year for the NFL:

“We fully support his decision and we told him so. He is ready for the NFL. He will be a very high draft pick and will have a long, successful career. We will miss him next year, but will cheer him on (more…)

The lesson from Penn State

December 18, 2011

It’s easy to pontificate about the tragedy of child abuse and rape at Penn State: Sandusky is a monster. Assistant coach Mike McQueary should have stopped the rape and called the police. Head coach Joe Paterno should have called the police. Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary C. Schultz should have called the police, and all should have told the truth to law enforcement and to university officials.

Instead McQueary, upon seeing Sandusky—a bear of a man, big enough to have starred as a defensive end at Penn State—anally raping a 10-year old boy, went home and told his father what he had seen, and several days later told coaching legend Joe Paterno (he didn’t want to disturb Paterno on the weekend). Paterno passed something on to his athletic director. Nobody told the police, and Sandusky went on to brutalize young boys for several years. He’s now indicted on 40 counts of sexual abuse of children,

Everybody who knew about the incident was profoundly unethical, especially McQueary, whose responsibility was—at the very least—to stop the rape and to notify police. But after you condemn everybody involved in this horror, think about this: what would you have done in McQueary’s position?

You’re faced with a frightening and embarrassing sight. Your friend is committing (more…)

Cincinnati-Xavier free-for-all: criminal players, clueless coaches, token penalties

December 13, 2011

 

Sports rivalries are, well, competitive. The closer the rivals the more intense the competition. USC-UCLA, Duke-Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn. The winner is said to get “bragging rights.”

The basketball rivalry between two schools that are only four miles apart, the universities of Cincinnati and Xavier, is hot. Called “the Crosstown Shootout,” it has been played 79 times since it started in 1928 between the two city schools. But maybe no more.

Saturday’s game ended in an ugly brawl when Xavier point guard and All-America, Tu Holloway, taunted the Cincinnati bench with nine seconds left and Xavier blowing out Cincinnati, 76-53. Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates sucker-punched XU center Kenny Frease in the face, just below the left eye. Frease went down and Cincinnati center Cheikh Mbodj then kicked Frease in the head. Then everyone from both teams joined in.

Holloway revealed his thuggish character as he explained himself at a post-game press conference:

“That’s what you’re going to see from Xavier and Cincinnati. We got disrespected a little bit before the game, guys calling us out. We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here. We got a whole bunch of gangstas in the locker room, not thugs but tough guys on the court. We went out there and zipped ‘em up (more…)

Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl

December 8, 2011

The bowl season is shaping up well for fans of ethical football, as Les Miles’s LSU Tigers head for the BCS championship at the Sugar Bowl, and Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks go to the Rose Bowl. But my favorite is the Ethics Bowl, where the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs  defeated the Cal State Chico Wildcats Saturday in the West Regionals to go to the National Finals in Cincinnati  on March 1.

The Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl is a team competition that tests the skill of undergrads in analyzing and describing ethical dilemmas. I was privileged to serve as a judge, and see the enthusiasm and determination that students from eight California colleges showed for dealing with ethics.

The students were all volunteers, motivated not by course credit but by their interest in the ethical life. They put in a huge effort to research the fourteen cases used in the competition, and backed up their conclusions with facts and theory.

At a time when so many adults are behaving unethically and so many college competitions are marred by cheating and unsportsmanlike conduct, it’s a joy to see so many millennials working so hard to rise to the challenge of ethics.


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