Sports and Character

Topics: Integrity, Dishonesty, Theft Pages: 7 (2442 words) Published: June 20, 2013
Jonathan Lee
Prof. Keel
English 100
01 August 2012

Character can mean moral or ethical strength; or more simply, who one is when no one watching. The word character implies an unavoidable scenario for every individual; should one do the right thing or the wrong thing? In the world of sports, we see respected athletes not only acquiring fame and wealth, but influencing things like racial and gender equality. Yet, we also see on television what happens when athletes are dishonest; they can be publicly stripped of their dignity and reputation. Furthermore we see on television examples of moral deviance in business, politics, and entertainment; as well as the dire consequences of being held responsible for such acts. Participating in sports exposes individuals to a fast-paced microcosm of the real world; where everyone encounters the moral conflict of choosing between duty and desire, and is asked to make a choice based on the consequences they know or experience. Therefore, participating in sports can influence character since the world of sports simulates the dynamics of a society full of individuals that want to follow the rules, not follow the rules, or do both; while showing everyone how the system weeds out deviants and praises obedience.

Currently in America, we live in a capitalistic society, but ultimately a society dominated by Social Darwinism; which means “Survival of the fittest”. Yet what makes survival in social Darwinism different from survival in the animal kingdom, is the fact that the criterion for fitness is not just limited to physical and reproductive qualities. Furthermore, we live in a democratic society where Social Darwinism is regulated by the people in order to promote fairness and equality. With this in mind, being considered fit in a capitalistic world can mean being wealthy, famous, sociable, skilled, etc; where physical and reproductive qualities can be a means to attaining the fitness described. Yet one can be wealthy by stealing, become famous by manipulating the media, trick people into believing that one is social, fake competence about skills that one claims to have, as well as other shortcuts. In a way, the world of sports behaves the same way as a capitalistic society; except in organized sports, an athlete does not compete for physical and reproductive fitness; rather it is a means to their goal of winning, which may at times mean fame and “enormous monetary compensation tied to performance and endorsement deals” (Petrocelli 756). Furthermore, individuals from subordinated backgrounds (race, gender, class) must maneuver through obstacles of historically regarded social, political, and economic constraints against their fitness. Although many athletes attain their success by following the rules; there are many athletes that bend or break the rules in order to attain their success. Athletes have avenues like performance enhancing drugs, rule breaking, and even physical assault with the intent of causing injury to act as shortcuts to assist their “success”; some avenues being highly enforced while others are being overlooked. Regardless, the pressure for a career athlete to succeed is often times immense. Even for organized sports like Women’s Tennis; athletes may be tempted to cheat in order to support their annual costs of $150,000 just to stay in the Grand Slam (Kimmelman 518-519) The reality is that many get away with using a dishonest means to gaining their fitness; yet those that do not are punished severely; furthermore, society continues to get better at finding out who is acquiring their fitness dishonestly. For example, Marion Jones was a five time gold medalist in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Jones admitted to a grand jury in 2007 that she had taken performance enhancing drugs as far back as the 2000 Summer Olympics, and admitted that she lied about it (Wiki). Jones was consequently stripped of all her medals; her steroid use was...

Cited: “Jones, Marion.” Wikipedia. 2012
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