The Penalty of Leadership
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In my opinion, this quote reflects the author’s point of view in the document “The Penalty of Leadership.” The author points out in the beginning of the article that being a leader in whatever you choose to be can have its benefits, but there is also bound to be abuse and rejection coming from the opposition. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the author of this document were stating that when everything is right in the world, it is simple to stand at the front and take responsibility. However, the tricky part to being a leader is seeing how you will respond when the whole world seems to be against your cause. There are several examples over the past few years that suggests the “penalty” of leadership not only exists in political, entertainment, and business situations, but also in the sport and recreation professions in both the present and for the future.
The “Penalty of Leadership” is a document that centers itself on the belief that someone leading a large group of people will always be under fire for the decisions and things they say throughout their years of service. In my opinion, the “penalty” the author is referring to is that people who are in a position of leadership will never be out of the spotlight. All of the actions that a leader takes or the words spoken to the public will always be critiqued by the leader’s followers. The penalty of being a leader is the fact that one moment you could feel accepted and respected, but one misstep or mistake that you make in the public’s eye could change the way you are perceived for the rest of your life. It is important to understand that scrutiny will not end, even when the leadership role does. In addition, the penalty of being a leader over masses of people comes with pressure of making the correct decisions for not only yourself, but for the people you are leading. As the author briefly states in the document, if the correct decisions are not made, then the followers will deny you and turn you away. This is something we see every day in the sports industry. While this is necessarily not a moral issue, I saw a couple of years ago how many St. Louis Cardinal fans decided to jump ship after the team refused to give slugger Albert Pujols a contract for over ten years when he was already thirty years of age. Several fans said they lost all respect for the Cardinals because they showed a lack of respect to one of the greatest hitters to ever play in the Major Leagues. However, a few months before the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in the World Series, everyone in Northwest Arkansas seemed to be a Cardinal fan. It just goes to show you that one decision can change the way your fans and followers perceive you. I would bet a lot of money that some of those "fans” are feeling somewhat different after seeing Pujols’ declining numbers the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.
History has shown that the penalty of leadership discussed in the document not only exists in the sport and recreation professions, but perhaps the level of penalty continues to increase due to the growing popularity in the sport and recreation fields. As we have discussed in class lectures throughout the semester, ethics should play a major role in the decisions a leader makes. Those decisions should be guided by a moral compass that is telling the leader what is right and wrong and how they can make choices to reflect the needs and desires of others. Since I watch a lot of college and professional sports on television and work for the Arkansas Women’s Basketball team, I know that there are several young people that look up to these athletes and coaches and want to become like them when they get older. Regardless of whether a famous athlete or coach wants to be in the spotlight,...
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