Category Archives: Sports

Ethics Clean-Up: Carson’s Negligence, Cruz’s Creepiness, And One Last Super Bowl Complaint

3 thingsBefore I run off to see a movie that will occupy my time while so many of my friends and colleagues disgrace themselves supporting brain damage for profit (here is Sally Jenkins on the NFL’s disgusting imitation of tobacco executives), there are three topics related to recent posts that bear mentioning.

  1. Ted Cruz’s Creepiness

Many Ted Cruz supporters were dismayed that even while flagging the biased and unfair tactics being used by the news media to discredit the most reviled of the seven GOP presidential contenders, I sympathized with those who find the Texas senator creepy. They don’t seem to understand that defense from a non-Cruz supporting ethicist is infinitely more credible and useful to their cause than support from a mouth-foaming conservative pundit, but never mind: nobody understands me, and it’s comforting to be attacked from the right for a change. However, I am thoroughly sick of people who don’t know what an ad hominem attack is accusing me of engaging in it.I ahve never used Ted Cruz’s creepiness or any of his other personality flaws to attack Cruz’s positions or political views. Doing that is an ad hominem attack. In the context of viability as a Presidential candidate, Cruz’s appearance, manner, and vibes, including what many see as creepiness, are relevant to their fitness to run for President, because fitness includes electability.

Thus it is relevant that Jeb Bush comes off as a bumbling weenie; that Chris Christie is fat, that Ben Carson looks and sounds like he is on barbiturates, that Marco Rubio is short, and that Kasich is dorky. Do you think it’s a coincidence that most Presidents are taller than average, and almost never bald? Charisma is rare, even in Presidents, but having it is a huge advantage (See: Trump, Donald) and having the opposite of charisma—Nixon, Dole, Gore, Ted Cruz—is a serious handicap. I’m really sorry that your hero seems creepy, Cruz fans, but it’s a fact, and it matters. Don’t shoot the messenger.

By the way, you will notice that Chris Christie is working at losing weight. Ted???? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports

Hey, Spike? Mizzou? ESPN? Explain This Diversity Thing Again; I’m Confused…

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

Head of The Undefeated, Kevin Merida, whose race had nothing to do with his hiring, and how dare you even ask such a question?

“The Undefeated” website finally debuted this in January, ESPN’s foray into issues of sports and race.

John Skipper, the president of ESPN, gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal that contained this fascinating quote:

At the Undefeated, the play is about content. If you do a time-lapse of the last two or three years in sports, you’d see more stories pop to the top about race and sports than anything. It is an important area to explore. There is a business reason: among our most important consumers are African-Americans. There is not right now a go-to site for black fans, other than just ESPN sites. [The Undefeated] will be a black-run and black-staffed site.”

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Race, Sports

The Chris Davis Saga: How Much Money Is “Enough”?

Chris Davis is under there somewhere...

Chris Davis is under there somewhere…

I have too many political issues on the runway, and I’m about to be buried in snow. This seems a perfect time to reflect on Chris Davis, the slugging Baltimore Orioles first baseman who just re-signed with the team in a seven-year, $161 million deal. Yes, he’s a baseball player, but the ethics issue here is not confined to baseball, or even professional sports.

Two weeks ago, it looked as if Davis and the Orioles were at an impasse. The team had, we were told, offered a take-it-or-leave-it 150 million dollar package, and Davis and his agent had turned it down. Davis’s manager, Buck Showalter, told the press that he had asked Davis, who by all accounts loves playing in Baltimore,”How much is enough?”:  “I asked Chris during the season, ‘Chris, when you walk into a Target store, can you buy anything you want. So, how much is enough?'”

Sportswriters, not being reflective sorts,  even the smarter ones, who are always taking the players union’s position that the more money a player can squeeze out of fat cat owners the better, jumped on Showalter. Said CBS writer David Brown, “Showalter trying to shame him into taking less — so that ownership can keep more — is shameful in itself. Why isn’t Showalter asking Angelos ‘ How much is enough?'”*

Showalter, who is one of the most intelligent and perceptive people in the game, was not trying to shame Davis. He was trying to get him to think; he was trying to impart some wisdom…and some ethics. Continue reading

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Just in Time For The NFL Championship Games, Football Fans…

NFL brains

In his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former NFL star wide receiver Antwaan Randle El revealed that at the age of  36, he can barely walk down stairs, and his mind is failing:

“I ask my wife things over and over again, and she’s like, ‘I just told you that. I’ll ask her three times the night before and get up in the morning and forget. Stuff like that. I try to chalk it up as I’m busy, I’m doing a lot, but I have to be on my knees praying about it, asking God to allow me to not have these issues and live a long life. I want to see my kids raised up. I want to see my grandkids.”

The odds are against him. Resaerchers believe that a majority of NFL players suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a form of brain damage caused by repeated head trauma.  CTE was at the center of the film “Concussion,” as well as the documentary that inspired it, “League of Denial,} about the NFL’s efforts to deny and obscure that fact it was slowly killing its players….for entertainment. And money.

Randle El says of the game he now wishes he had never played:

“There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.”

Immediately after this story aired on CNN this morning, the network cut to an upbeat, exited preview of this weekend’s AFC NFL  championship. It was chilling.

Has there ever been a greater irrational, irresponsible, ethics disconnect in our society?

Enjoy the games…

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How Censorship Takes Root: The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Bans Fun

high school fans

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has commanded students at high school basketball games to stop taunting, mocking or teasing the opposition, which as I recall was the only reason one attends high school basketball games. The WIAA  has published a guide to sportsmanlike activities, and much of it is reasonable and wise. Not its specific prohibitions for fans, however. The content-specific bans are redolent of campus hate speech bans, but even sillier.They do teach future adult citizens the uses of censorship by authorities, however.

Maybe that’s the idea.

Here are the prohibitions on fan speech and conduct (1-23) and also athlete conduct (24-29) that are identified in the guide (I’ve rearranged them a bit), which means that schools not controlling such conduct sufficiently to satisfy their fun-hating overlords risk official sanctions. The inexcusably censorious prohibitions are in red. The overly strict or general prohibitions are in pink. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Sports, U.S. Society

Now THIS Is Sportsmanship! Bravo, Tennis Pro Jack Sock, Ethics Hero

Even for tennis, this was exemplary sportsmanship.

Kansas City’s Jack Sock was playing hard-serving Lleyton Hewitt in the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Hewitt, trailing 4-5 in the first set, smashed a serve past Sock that the linesman  called out.  Sock shocked Hewett and everyone else when he said to his opponent, “That was in, if you want to challenge.”  The crowd laughed; the umpire looked bemused, and Hewitt paused for a few seconds, then indeed challenged the call. Sure enough, the computer and camera showed that the serve was good, giving Hewett the point. He went on  from there to win that set and eventually the match.

I’m sure that Sock will consider his Ethics Alarms honor more than sufficient compensation. He seems like that kind of guy.

_________________________

Pointer: tgt

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Sports

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part I

Sweet Briar montage

Welcome to the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, our blog’s retrospective of the best and worst in ethics over the past year, 2015.

It was a rotten year in ethics again, it’s fair to say, and Ethics Alarms, which by its nature and mission must concentrate on episodes that have lessons to convey and cautionary tales to consider probably made it seem even more rotten that it was. Even with that admission, I didn’t come close to covering the field. My scouts, who I will honor anon, sent me many more wonderfully disturbing news stories than I could post on, and there were many more beyond them. I did not write about the drug company CEO, for example, who suddenly raised the price of an anti-AIDS drug to obscene levels, in part, it seems, to keep an investment fraud scheme afloat. (He’ll get his prize anyway.)

What was really best about 2o15 on Ethics Alarms was the commentary. I always envisioned the site as a cyber-symposium where interested, articulate and analytical readers could discuss current events and issues in an ethics context. Every year since the blog was launched has brought us closer to that goal. Commenters come and go, unfortunately (I take it personally when they go, which is silly), but the quality of commentary continues to be outstanding. It is also gratifying to check posts from 2010 and see such stalwarts who check in still, like Tim Levier, Neil Dorr, Julian Hung, Michael R, and King Kool.  There are a few blogs that have as consistently substantive, passionate and informative commenters as Ethics Alarms, but not many. Very frequently the comments materially enhance and expand on the original post. That was my hope and objective. Thank you.

The Best of Ethics 2015 is going to be a bit more self-congratulatory this year, beginning with the very first category. Among other virtues, this approach has the advantage of closing the gap in volume between the Best and the Worst, which last year was depressing. I’m also going to post the awards in more installments, to help me get them out faster. With that said….

Here are the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards

For the Best in Ethics:

Most Encouraging Sign That Enough People Pay Attention For Ethics Alarms To Occasionally Have Some Impact…

The Sweet Briar College Rescue. In March, I read the shocking story of how Sweet Briar College, a remarkable and storied all-women’s college in Virginia, had been closed by a craven and duplicitous board that never informed alums or students that such action was imminent. I responded with a tough post titled “The Sweet Briar Betrayal,” and some passionate alumnae determined to fight for the school’s survival used it to inform others about the issues involved and to build support. Through the ensuing months before the school’s ultimate reversal of the closing and the triumph of its supporters, I was honored to exchange many e-mails with Sweet Briar grads, and gratified by their insistence that Ethics Alarms played a significant role in turning the tide. You can follow the saga in my posts, here.

Ethics Heroes Of The Year

Dog Train

Eugene and Corky Bostick, Dog Train Proprietors. OK, maybe this is just my favorite Ethics Hero story of the year, about two retired seniors who decided to adopt old  dogs abandoned on their property to die, and came up with the wacky idea of giving them regular rides on a ‘dog train” of their own design.

Ethical Mayor Of The Year

Thomas F. Williams. When the Ferguson-driven attacks on police as racist killers was at its peak (though it’s not far from that peak now) the mayor of Norwood, Ohio, Thomas F. Williams, did exactly the opposite of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to activist attacks on the integrity of his police department. He released a letter supporting his police department without qualification. At the time, I criticized him for his simultaneously attacking activists as “race-baiters.” In the perspective of the year past, I hereby withdraw that criticism.

Most Ethical Celebrity

Actor Tom Selleck. In a terrible year for this category, Selleck wins for bravely pushing his TV show “Blue Bloods” into politically incorrect territory, examining issues like racial profiling and police shootings with surprising even-handedness. The show also has maintained its openly Catholic, pro-religion perspective. Yes, this is a redundant award, as “Blue Bloods” is also a winner, but the alternative in this horrific year when an unethical celebrity is threatening to be a major party’s nominee for the presidency is not to give the award at all.

Most Ethical Talk Show Host

Stephen Colbert, who, while maintaining most of his progressive bias from his previous Comedy Central show as the successor to David Letterman, set a high standard of fairness and civility, notably when he admonished his knee-jerk liberal audience for booing  Senator Ted Cruz

Sportsman of the Year

CC Sabathia

New York Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who courageously checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse just as baseball’s play-offs were beginning, saying in part,

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Runner-up: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dismissed the ethically-addled arguments of Pete Rose fans to reject his appeal to be have his lifetime ban for gambling lifted.  For those who wonder why football never seems to figure in this category: You’ve got to be kidding.

Ethics Movie of the Year

SpotlightTIFF2015

“Spotlight”

Runner-up: “Concussion”

Most Ethical Corporation

Tesla Motors, the anti-GM, which recalled all of its models with a particular seatbelt because one belt had failed and they couldn’t determine why. Continue reading

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