Personal Values in Sports
As with most dimensions of life, personal values and beliefs have a demonstrable effect on what is rendered in the form of behavior on the sports field of play and with the activities that surround the same. Beyond that, this paradigm is clear and visible irrespective of whether one is talking about the athletes, the coaches or even the parents of child (or sometimes college) athletes in some instances. This research report shall focus on the factors that most significantly engage and affect people when they are operating within the sports realm. The work of Donghun Lee (2011) will be a major focal point of this report but other sources will be looped in as well. While there are many factors and things that can influence somebody when it comes to sports, it is the free will and moral fortitude of an individual and the resolve that they have to keep it strong that will best inform what the person does when faced with sports-related challenges of any kind.
Some people may think this subject is overblown and being portrayed in a way that is excessive and beyond the pale. However, anyone that is remotely aware of the sports-related scandals that have occurred over the years knows how much of a lie this is. Whether it be Malice in the Palace, the sexual molestation suppression scandal at Penn State, the much more recent sexual assault reporting suppression at Baylor or any number of other situations, the major moral failings of many coaches and athletes are not hard to find. When it comes to players in particular, the struggles and travails of the athletes in particular are no different. Indeed, Lawrence Philips of Nebraska fame and Maurice Clarett of Ohio State fame are just two examples. The latter has faltered greatly during and after college and has made some modest, if not uneven, attempts to remedy his standing (ESPN, 2016). On the other end of the spectrum is Lawrence Phillips who ended up engaging in a life of crime, falling away from the NFL in short order and recently committed suicide in his cell (Peter, 2016). However, most athletes are much more moral and upstanding in terms of what they do. Indeed, noted basketball star Tim Duncan went to Wake Forest for his full four years even though he would have almost certainly been the number one pick in the NBA draft after his junior year and would have done very well before that as well (Biography, 2016). Others still, both in college and in the professional sports realm, advocate for passions and causes that are not always lacking in controversy. One example is the advocacy for medical cannabis and having cannabis removed from the banned list of drugs given that marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug. Indeed, it is just illegal in most (but not all) jurisdictions or applications (Thiersch, 2016).
Coming to the focal point article of the story, Donghun Lee offers his own perspective when it comes to the subject. He starts off his treatise by noting that he took a much more analytical and statistical approach to his analysis. Indeed, he notes that there were multiple regression analyses conducted as part of the study. The impetus and basis of the study was to look at the personal values, life goals and individuals cognitive and behavioral levels of involvement in their respective sport. The results of the study revealed that the personal values and goals of an athlete explained either a moderate or major part of the variance when it came to general sport fan-ship, team identification, televised sports viewership, attendance at games, internet use specific to the sport, listening to sports broadcasts, purchasing of sports memorabilia and reading about sports. The items just listed are ranked in the order of the significance and the percentages of the same ranked in size from 28% (the first two tied) all the way down to eight percent (Lee & Trail, 2011).
Lee then gets into the idea that many marketing schemes that involved or surround sports are heavily reliant on the idea and principle that many sports fans in general are benevolent and/or that they are willing to donate to a good cause. The former is a value and the latter is a goal. Lee uses the example of the Portland Sea Dogs. They are a minor league baseball team in the state of Portland. The Rotary District in that area markets to fans of the team so as to raise money to support efforts for the homeless. From 2000 to 2004 alone, these efforts reaped a great benefit as there was $50,000 raised in total, or about $12,500 a year. The money was used for things like food pantries, shelters for the homeless, soup kitchens and shelters for battered women and their dependent children (Lee & Trail, 2011).
Lee then details the theoretical framework on which he relies. He hearkens first back to the work of Gordon in 1975. Gordon asserted that values are frameworks and constructs that represent general behaviors or states of affairs that the people consider to be vital and important. He also cites the work of Kahle in 1983 when it was said that the decisions and paths of individuals are guided in a way so as to point them to the proper situations and also tell them how to act when they enter those scenarios. Sports and the players or coaches that operate within that realm are by no means the only example that can be pointed to and no less than Lee himself says as such. He speaks about similar analysis and results that were found when looking at things like shopping behavior. The primary work that Lee completed focused on a number of general realms of values or beliefs including aesthetics, ambition, benevolence, commitment, conservatism, freedom, hedonism, moderation and openness, among a few others. To state the obvious, both positive and negative dimensions and the scores for each in terms of how high or low they posted were among what was assessed. The results and the associated variances are noted above (Lee & Trail, 2011).
To state an obvious conclusion from the sports study, there is the general premise that people that are within or around the sports realm are generally good and positive in nature. They have big hearts and the presumably expect their team and their personnel to behave in a sportsmanlike, mature and composed manner. However, that does not always occur in sports and this is true at the professional and college levels, as noted at the onset of this section. One factor that Lee touches upon should be fleshed out and explored in its own light. As an example, corrupt coaches can have a huge effect on the team. It is fairly apparent that the two coaches mentioned when it came to college scandals that involved illegal acts, those being Art Briles (Baylor) and Joe Paterno (Penn State), were so focused and enthralled with winning and the glory that comes with it, that they actively ignored or suppressed the reporting of and the investigation of very illegal and immoral acts by their assistant coaches and/or players. In the case of Penn State, Jerry Sandusky was molesting and sexually assaulting children and Joe Paterno (among others) was less than vigilant in making sure that justice was discovered (CBS, 2016). In the case of Art Briles, multiple players of his were accused of sexually assaulting female students or other women and there is the appearance that Briles and others were actively involved in trying to keep those incidents and accusations, true or not, as hush-hush and quiet as possible so as to not disrupt the program or have people being removed from the team Baby, 2016). Other scandals are not nearly as morally devoid but are no less significant when it comes to bad values being just as permeable and transferable as good ones. Indeed, Southern Methodist University (SMU) had a very good football program in the 1980’s. However, that prominence came to be for much the same general reason that Penn State and Baylor faltered … winning at all costs and to hell with the rules or the morality involved. In the case of SMU, they got the so-called NCAA “death penalty” for improper benefits and disallowed recruiting tactics on a massive scale. The school lost its entire following season, a lot of victories and was put in a very bad place for quite a while due to these penalties and most of the people most responsible did not face any real punishment on a level that should have occurred (Dodds, 2015).
The point is that people consider and internalized sports and competition in different ways. Even fans manifest this when it comes to the passion or lack thereof that they manifest depending on how things go. For example, if one person’s team loses the big game, their reaction might just be “oh well, there’s always next year” or something along those lines. Other people can get outright nasty or violent and this can be true even if alcohol is not involved. Even parents of kid athletes playing soccer or basketball can manifest this. Some people keep things positive. Some people do not even keep score or have mercy rules in terms of one team dominating another so as to avoid a huge blowout. On the other hand, there are parents or other people that are so unhinged or depraved that they turn to violence against other adults on the scene or sometimes even the children themselves. Beyond that, the children do it to each other (Rutgers, 2016).
Other times still, there is a blurring of lines between the players/coaches and the fans. The aforementioned Malice in the Palace makes reference to precisely such a situation. Of course, the term “malice” makes sense to anyone who knows the word. “Palace” refers to the Palace of Auburn Hills, the name of the Detroit Pistons basketball stadium at the time of the incident. There was an NBA game between the aforementioned Pistons and the Indiana Pacers in 2004 that devolved into one of the nastiest and shocking situations that has ever occurred in a professional ballgame. There was a fight on the court with about a minute left in the game. Fights and scrums between players is not new, but what happened in this situation was absolutely new. One of the players for the Pacers, a man named Ron Artest, apparently decided to relax rather than get involved in the fight and he laid down on a table on the edge of the court. A fan in the stands apparently saw him do this and chucked a plastic cupped with water or beer at him. Artest became incensed and instantly bolted into the crowd to attack the fan, and he picked the wrong one. He was followed into the crowd by Stephen Jackson. The ensuing brawl consumed both part of the floor and the adjacent stands due to what Artest started in reaction to the cup being thrown. Nine different players were suspended a total of nearly one hundred and fifty games. Beyond that, criminal charges were pressed against five different players and they were convicted and sentenced to probation and community service. Much the same thing happened to five fans and they were banned from attending Pistons games ever again (ESPN, 2016).
The author of this report is not trying to assert that sports teams and players are often insidious because that is really not the case. What has been happening at places like Baylor, Penn State and in Detroit on that faithful day in 2004 is by far the exception. Sure, there are impassioned fans and sometimes they get a little rowdy. However, most people are decent and just want their team to win. Beyond that, teams of all levels actively participate with charities and community groups and/or allow them to solicit funds and volunteers during the games and through advertising and marketing. Of course, the marketing people focus on the good values and such but there are obviously bad apples. Beyond that, there are some players (mostly professionals) that are very ambivalent about being role models or sportsmanlike in their actions and behaviors. However, most teams, players and so forth put on a good face and sign autographs. They do this even if they are tired and even if they are worried about their next game or a nagging injury. This is obviously a good thing because children tend to emulate athletes (Ziemer, 2016).
The research shows that there is clearly a generally good link between values/beliefs and sports. However, there are also some insidious attitudes and people. They are not always visible and they do not usually have a major effect on the game and such. However, there are situations like those mentioned in this report that happen. There are also minor events like players flipping off fans or other players, pushing/shoving and so forth. Regardless, most players know that the other team is just trying to win and they are more than willing to shake hands at the end of the game. Lee made use of positive and negative dimensions in his study and he also made reference to other paradigms and scenarios that bear out much the same results. What this means, if extended to its logical conclusion, is that sports are a manifestation of society and the people in it. If people were mostly bad, sports would be mostly bad as well. Business in general (of which sports is, even at the college level according to some) is much the same way. There are many people that want to succeed but will not compromise their core beliefs. There are others that are more Machiavellian in nature and will take some “shortcuts” or otherwise trample on some of the written or unwritten rules if no one gets hurt and the means to the end used was successful. Other people still will do anything to get what they want and who gets hurt matters little, if at all (Delaney, 2016).
While some aspects of society and living are more prone to negative things, sports are generally more prone to good, it would seem. However, there are always outliers and people that set the wrong example. There are examples where a player with borderline bad morals can be whipped into shape by the right coach or mentor and there are other situations, albeit less common, where opposite occurs. There are situations where a player messes up and the coach punishes him or even dismissed him. There are other situations, (again) less common, where the coach will let it slide and/or keep in mind how much “value” that person has to the team when making a disciplinary decision, which of course should not be a factor (Delaney, 2016).
Another factor that has emerged when it comes to sports and the value or beliefs that are in play with the same are sociological in nature. Indeed, what was allegedly happening at Baylor is nothing new. Current NFL quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault while a player in college. He was eventually cleared but the way the school handled the investigation was a mess. Even with the rules about Title IX and protecting women on campus (and women athletes), Florida State greatly bungled the situation and truly did not do their job. There are some that look at fraternities and sports teams (the former much more than the latter) and see a “rape culture” or at least a situation where young men are not raised up and schooled in the right way to be a player and a man. This is a charge not levied against women but they face their own struggles. There are also other things like political footballs (in the proverbial sense) that get kicked around and so forth (Dick, 2016).
To give a full list of factors to consider when it comes to sports and the associated values and beliefs, there are a number of them. These are manifested by the players, the coaches, the parents of the players (college), the spouses or family members (college and professional) and the fans. The factors involved are the morality/values of the coaching staff or executives, the morality/values of the players, the stated and underlying values with everyone involved, the political implications surrounding the situation (if any), the demographics of the college/team involved, the financial situation and stakeholders and beyond. These factors usually all coalesce into a good result even if the team does not win all that much. However, there are bad people all over the place and some of them are in places of leadership and are not easy to identify and weed out properly. Lastly, entirely too much bad behavior (by everyone) is ignored or enabled.
As with most things, there are two extremes when it comes to sports. There is the “it’s just a game” mindset and the other extreme is “winning is the only option regardless of the cost.” Beyond that, people are moldable and shapeable when it comes to morals and values. However, people at either extreme are hard to change and they must be handled the right way and the first time when their malevolence rears its ugly head.
Baby, B. (2016). Art Briles, Baylor officially part ways in wake of sexual assault scandal —
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2016, from http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/14503009/former-ohio-state-buckeyes-star-maurice-clarett-arrested-ovi
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June 2016, from http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11901288
Lee, D. & Trail, G. (2011). The Influence of Personal Values and Goals on Cognitive and Behavioral Involvement in Sport. Journal of Sports Management, 25(1), 593-605.
Peter, J. (2016). Lawrence Phillips found dead in prison at age 40. USA TODAY. Retrieved 25
June 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2016/01/13/lawrence-phillips-death-prison/78742058/
Rutgers. (2016). Parental Violence in Youth Sports: Facts, Myths, and Videotape.
Youthsports.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 25 June 2016, from http://youthsports.rutgers.edu/program-areas/2-uncategorised/45-parental-violence-in-youth-sports-facts-myths-and-videotape
Theirsch, A. (2016). The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 June 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-thiersch/professional-athletes-call_b_9567716.html
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