Sports Ethics

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Vince Lombardi, most likely the best coach to ever lead a team to victory or multiple ones on a football field. His ethics sometimes questionable, but never misunderstood, were always meant to lead and encourage his team to be nothing but the best, and the best was achieved in 1967. After nine incredible winning seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi decided to retire as head coach. The Packers had dominated professional football under his direction, collecting six division titles, five NFL championships, two Super Bowls and acquiring a record of 98-30-4. After less than a year, however, he realized that he still wanted to coach. He accepted the head coaching position for the Washington Redskins in 1969. During that season, he kept what had become the Lombardi tradition and led the Redskins to their first winning record in 14 years. In January of 1970, his professional coaching record stood at a remarkable 105-35-6, and the NFL named him their acclaimed "1960s Man of the Decade."

His statement that "winning is the only thing that matters in sport", is one of the truths that is still inherent in today's world of sports. Athletes are willing to cheat to guarantee success, either through the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or through the act of injuring others. These days, drugs, blood doping, corruption, injuring others and the consequences of winning and more importantly losing is all evident. Lombardi's statement is not only applicable to athletes, but it also applies to the countries that the athletes are representing. Events such as the Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey, are a source of national pride and some countries are willing, and fully wanting to try and do anything to bring prestige back, many of them resorting to unethical tactics. Lombardi's statement does not only affect players, or athletes, it also affects coaches, owners, and managers. They too place winning as their number one concern. In many cases, fair play generally takes a back seat to the desire for winning. The truth of the matter is that, some will bend rules, while others will outright cheat. The corruptness of sports today has lead to the endless methods and desires of unethical behaviour.

In the history of ethics there are three principal standards of conduct, each of which has been proposed as the highest good: happiness or pleasure; duty, virtue, or obligation; and perfection, the fullest harmonious development of human potential. When applied to sports, and especially with Vince Lombardi, the third principle standard of conduct, is the most evident, and it will be evident throughout the essay. Other ethical issues that come into the picture is Kant's. No matter how intelligently one acts, the results of human actions are subject to accident and circumstance; therefore, the morality of an act must not be judged by its consequence, but only by its motivation. If sports were motivated by Kant's theory, then winning would not be as important, but the success of participating, and being part of a team, would be the successful outcome. Another ethical theory that comes to play is Bentham's. He explained the principle of utility as a means of augmenting the happiness of the community. He believed that all human actions are motivated by a desire to obtain pleasure and avoid pain. Utilitarianism is the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. When analysing this, there are two aspects you can use to analyse this when looking at it from a sports point of view. If we use the greatest amount of people, we can use it as society, where Lombardi's speech does not benefit the whole, but if we look at it in the context of the greatest good for the team, then his speech definitely is appropriate.

Getting back to the methods used by people to win, and get an advantage, we will see what people and organizations, and even countries are willing to do to accomplish a victory. Winning is a very important thing...
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