Ethical Issues in Sport Paper

Topics: Virtue, Ethics, Morality Pages: 11 (2653 words) Published: December 4, 2014

Morality in Sport; the Consequences and Perks of Following the Rules Aurora E. Gordon
Dr. Phil Parker
March 23rd 2014

In ancient Greece a person’s moral standard, their value of ethics was the most important thing about that person. Many philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle developed many works on what they thought moral standards should represent for everyone. The idea of morality, or virtue ethics was held very dear to the Greeks and citizens could be judged solely on their moral character. In modern day we see significantly less of this, the lines between morals and personal virtues are blurred and seem less important to everyday life. Lessons can be learned from the Greeks and their standards or moral character, these sets of values would be especially important in the world of modern sport where cheating and scandal is seen almost as much as the competitions themselves. This paper seeks to outline the traditions of what morality was in ancient Greece and to discuss how these virtues are seen or not seen in modern sport.

To fully understand what it meant to be a moral Greek one has to examine the works of the three main philosophers of the period. Though Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle the three all contributed to raising the bar of what moral standards were, and what they should mean for a person or a society.

Notably, Socrates was the first philosopher to really examine what morals and personal virtues were. He believed that if knowledge can be learned and taught, so could personal virtue which is why he sought out to teach his principles to the youth of Athens. Socrates believed that one must concentrate more on self-development than on material things. He encouraged people to develop friendships and love amongst themselves. Humans possess certain basic philosophical or intellectual virtues and those virtues were the most valuable of all possessions. To act Good and to be truly Good from within is different and virtue relates to the Goodness of the soul. ("People; socractes,") One can easily see how Socrates can be credited as the forefather of ethics. Socractes had the opportunity to escape his death sentence but his morals prevented him from doing so, making him a virtuous man until the very end. Plato came up with the idea of the “Cardinal Virtues”, his four cardinal virtues consisted of wisdom, justice, prudence and courage which he believed must be present in a person to live a virtuous life. “Following the lead of his teacher Socrates, he [Plato] seems to be convinced that moral progress, in his own words ‘the care for one’s soul’, has to being with liberation from error” (Newby, 2). Plato’s idea of a virtuous life was important because it set a standard for each person to follow or at least something to achieve. Later came Aristotle, who studied under Plato until Plato’s death. Aristotle is seen as the voice of ethics because he was the philosopher to finally give a name to the field of study which had been passed down to him through Plato and Socrates. His main focus was on developing a moral character based on the idea of the cardinal virtues. Aristotle's search for the good is a search for the highest good, and he assumes that the highest good, whatever it turns out to be, has three characteristics: it is desirable for itself, it is not desirable for the sake of some other good, and all other goods are desirable for its sake. (Kraut, 2001) Aristotle’s beliefs and search for ‘the good’ brought him to realize that everyone has the capacity to develop sound, ethical virtues but that not everyone would achieve the status of being a virtuous soul. Aristotle also thought to achieve ‘the good’ or ‘excellence’ that one must be living well for the sake of it, maintaining their health and wellness, enough money to live honorably but if a person is making that money or maintaining their health in a way that doesn’t promote well-being, it’s not morally...

Cited: Newby, Z. (2007). Greek athletics in the roman world: Victory and virtue. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved from
Kraut, R
Dimengo, N. (2013, May 16). 25 ways everybody in sports cheats. Retrieved from
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Carr, D. (1998). What moral educational significance has physical education? a question in need of disambiguation. In M. McNamee & S. Parry (Eds.),Ethics and Sport (pp. 119-133). Routledge.
Aitken, B. (2001). Ethical issues in sport. Sudbury: Huntington University Television Products Foundation Incorporated.
Holowchak, M. A. (2005). Virtue, craft and contest: An aristotelian approach to competitive sport. Sport in Society, 8(1), 65-75. doi: 10.1080/1743043052000316623
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