Ethical dilemmas confront athletes, coaches, fans and others around the games every year, forcing people involved in sports to examine their behavior and conditions and reevaluate the morals and ethics that are most important to them. Sports topics related to ethics begin in youth sports and carry well into professional sports.
Equal Opportunity for Boys and Girls
After the 1972 federal legislation known as Title IX passed and helped guarantee equal access for girls and women in college and school athletic programs, America has seen a surge in female athletic participation. While that has been praised as a positive step for may women, it also has been used a reason that some colleges cut certain athletic programs, with is a justification open to debate.
Kids looking to make the transition from high school to the college level can face a gauntlet of family demands, enticements from coaches and boosters, and other temptations. The ethical issue of paying college athletes or holding up their free educations as payment enough for their exploits on the court or the field remains a hot button issue for many families and colleges.
Violence in Sports
Violence plays a crucial role in many sports, such as football and hockey, but both of those sports have struggled with how to protect players without watering down the essence of the game. Blows to the head that cause concussions, as well as prolonged exposure to brain-jarring hits, can leave football players with difficulties with short-term memory loss and executive function. The NFL and other organizations are looking for ways to help the sport reduce concussions by helping players learn the fundamentals and by educating them on the risks of head injuries. But is addressing the risks of violent collisions going to take away the excitement of football and hockey?
Betting on sports is a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S. and around the world, and where there are large amounts of money at stake, there also is the opportunity to influence the outcome of games. Tales of game-fixing in the college and professional ranks are well-documented. A provocative ethical topic in sports is whether gambling has exerted too great a negative influence on sports or whether gambling actually helps boost public interest in certain sports. You could look at stories such as Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, who is banned from baseball for betting on games while he was a manager, or former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who did jail time after admitting to betting on NBA games.