Category Archives: Sports

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Yankees Pitcher C.C. Sabathia

CC Sabathia

“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.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia, in a statement announcing that he would not be helping his team prevail in the upcoming playoffs and World Series because he was checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center to treat his alcoholism.

Nobody outside of the Yankees organization and Sabathia’s family was aware that he was suffering from this malady until the announcement. Here is his whole statement, which speaks for itself: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Quotes, Health and Medicine, Sports, Workplace

Observations on the Great Baseball Game Sorority Selfie-Shaming Affair

Screen-Shot-selfie girls

I was going to skip this one as too stupid even for my intrigue, but the combination of baseball, selfies, privacy, the generation gap, The Golden Rule, cultural rot…and those pictures above… is too much to resist.

In a now viral video clip, about a dozen comely members of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority attending the Arizona Diamondbacks-Colorado Rockies game this week were put on camera to serve as fodder for TV broadcasters Steve Berthiaume’s and Bob Brenly’s ridicule. The reason they were on camera is that it was an unusually attractive bevy of maidens, and that they were engaged in something that could best be called a selfie orgy. It went on and on as the announcers snickered, saying things like…

“Do you have to make faces when you take selfies?”

“Wait, one more now. Better angle. Oh, check it. Did that come out OK?”

“Here’s my first bite of the churro. Here’s my second bite of the churro.”

“That’s the best one of the 365 pictures I’ve taken of myself today!”

“Welcome to parenting in 2015!”

“Every girl in the picture is locked into her phone. Every single one is dialed in. They’re all just completely transfixed by the technology.

“‘Help us, please! Somebody help us!'”

As the internet weighed in, the girls found themselves being defended by most commentators, at least by most commentators under 40.

Observations: Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, U.S. Society, Sports, Journalism & Media, Gender and Sex, Character, Childhood and children, Social Media

The Aftermath: Final Observations On The Papelbon-Harper Incident

Jonathan Papelbon in another career highlight...

Jonathan Papelbon in another career highlight…

More on the aftermath of the incident that has the baseball world talking and the sports ethics world cogitating…

1) The Nationals punished the right player, suspending reliever Papelbon for four games, which combined with the three games the league suspended him for intentionally throwing at a player in an earlier game, ends his season in embarrassing fashion. The four lost games will cost the closer about $280,000 in salary, and his total loss, with the additional three games, will be close to a half-million dollars.

2) The word out of the Nationals clubhouse is that many players agree that Harper was dogging it to first base (the impetus for the criticism that started the fight) and that Papelbon was within his rights to call Harper on his lack of hustle. This indicates that Papelbon was reacting to a perceived lack of leadership on the team. In fact, the team does lack leadership, as manager Matt Williams is neither respected nor listened to, and this was one of the reasons the heavily favored Nats collapsed down the pennant stretch. Thus it seems that Papelbon, a recent acquisition who was new to the Nats culture, may have been trying to fill a leadership vacuum and botched it. Still, he engaged in his unethical conduct for an ethical reason; that only places him in “the ends justify the means” territory, however.

Moreover, any team whose leader is Jonathan Papelbon is in big, big trouble.

3) Incredibly, manager Matt Williams, who left Papelbon in the game after the fight to pitch the ninth and get clobbered, claimed that he wouldn’t have done so if he was aware of what happened. Williams said that he was at the other end of the dugout, and didn’t understand the import of the commotion that had players shouting and separating two combatants, including his best player and his current pitcher. Wow.  The Nats dugout isn’t that long. He wasn’t curious? Didn’t he feel, as the man in charge, a need to investigate? Worse still, none of his coaches felt that he needed to be informed, even considering that this was happening in full view of the fans and TV cameras.  Continue reading


Filed under Character, Leadership, Sports

An Unethical Photo And Caption, And The Ethics Fog Of A Baseball Fight

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals is grabbed by Jonathan Papelbon #58 in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on September 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 538595765 ORIG FILE ID: 490330798

According to USA Today and many other reputable news sources, Washington Nationals pitcher Jonathan Papelbon “choked” team mate Bryce Harper in a dugout altercation in full view of fans and TV cameras during yesterday’s loss to the Phillidelphia Phillies. The photo above, freezing the moment in which Papelbon’s hand touched Harper’s neck, was presented full page width in the Nats’ home town paper, the Washington Post.

Now here’s the video:

Papelbon’s hand was on Harper’s throat for less than a second, as opposed to the impression given by the still, in which you can almost hear Harper gagging ACK! GAH! LLLLGGGGHHH!  The USA Today headline “Bryce Harper was choked by Jonathan Papelbon in Nationals’ dugout fight” is pure sensationalism and an intentional misrepresentation. I’m not even certain Papelbon was trying to choke Harper, but if he was, he failed immediately because Harper backed away.

This incident transcends its context for ethical interest, because it demonstrates how much context and biases influence public and media assessments of right and wrong.

First, some context: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Sports, Workplace

Ethics Quiz: The Syracuse Kiss Cam Ban

Kiss cam

The Syracuse University Carrier Dome kiss cam was taken out of service over the weekend and was not in operation during  the Syracuse-Central Michigan University football game, apparently because a letter to the editor  on expressed the opinion that it encouraged sexual assault. So-called kiss cams are a tradition in some stadiums in which the scoreboard camera pans the crowd and picks out a couple who find themselves being displayed over or under a banner that encourages/demands that they kiss as the crowd roars. Typically, they do, laugh, and life goes on.

Yes, it’s stupid.

Letter writer Steve Port described watching two kiss cam scenes in which women didn’t seem to want to be kissed, but nearby men kissed them anyway as the crowd cheered.  He said such a practice condones and encourages “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst…No one has the right to forcefully touch someone be it a hug, a kiss or a violent rape.”

Well, I certainly agree that rape cam is a bad idea.

Port argued that “the Syracuse University student government, the chancellor, the athletic director, etc. review what happened last weekend and seriously consider the ramifications of what they are encouraging.” Spooked by the letter and the online response to it, the Syracuse administration discontinued the gimmick. One letter is all it took. “We are taking the time to assess the concerns expressed in the letter to the editor. We discussed this with POMCO, the sponsor, and they supported that approach,” Sue Edson, executive senior associate athletics director for communications, said in an email.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the kiss cam a provocation to sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement and therefore unethical?

Continue reading


Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Quotes, Romance and Relationships, Sports

Did You Enjoy Your Pro Football Today? Here’s What You Were Cheering For…


From “Frontline”:

Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.

In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.

Any other non-essential industry that carried this much risk of crippling injury and death for its employees would be immediately the object of public protests, activist action, new government regulation and major fines and sanctions. Because of all the money involved and because of an ongoing effort by the NFL to deflect attention from its unconscionable business (there was more uproar over Tom Brady’s suspension than there has been over the concussion scandal), players are still getting brain-injured every Sunday, Monday and Thursday while the crowds cheer, the beer flows and the networks cash in. Parents still steer their kids into playing tackle football, and the carnage continues.

Yes, pro football is an exciting game. Too bad that keeping it exciting kills people, but it does. The game isn’t worth it.

No game is.

I wonder how long it will take for that to sink in?


Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Sports, Workplace

Fan Ethics Guidance From A Red Sox Fan To Washington Nationals Fans (And Others): Booing Your Manager Is Unethical

Matt WilliamsOn September 9, following his press conference in the aftermath of a horrible and devastating loss to the New York Mets, the Washington Nationals manager (the reigning Manager of the Year from 2014!), was vigorously booed by a group of fans (the rich ones) in the next-door Presidents Club dining room, who banged on the press conference room’s glass walls. The team was pronounced a shoo-in to the World Series, you see, before the season started, and that loss made it clear, if it wasn’t already, that the Nats probably weren’t even going to make the play-offs.

No doubt about it: Matt Williams, the team’s calm, amiable, incompetent manager, is part of the problem, but he was just as bad last year, just much luckier. (See: moral luck; consequentialism) He was hired with no managerial experience at all, just the experience of being a (pretty good) major league player for quite a while, and the truth is that managing a baseball team requires judgment, tactical expertise, courage, flexibility, facility with statistics and leadership, as well as experience. Williams isn’t bereft in all of these areas, but enough of them to make consistent success as a manager unlikely. Because the boo-attack occurred in front of the press corps and came from the season ticket types rather than the bleachers and beer crowd (“You’re a BUM!!!”), it immediately became a big story in Washington. Today, one of those angry fans wrote an explanation and alleged justification of his actions in the Washington Post.

He wrote in part:

“So, after staying till the bitter end of the latest heartbreaking loss, and after watching Williams wrap up another tedious Q&A filled with a series of cliched answers, a group of mid-30s fans who have been cheering this team from Day 1 had seen enough. A defiant Williams exited the podium, and we booed … we booed hard. It felt good. It felt like Williams needed to hear it — and it felt like the Nats brass needed to, as well…We’ll always support this team, but on a night like that night, sometimes enough is enough. When it takes 54 excruciating pitches to get three outs in a season-killing seventh-inning meltdown, and when the manager has pushed all the wrong buttons since last October, there’s not much else a fan can do…but boo.”

This fatuous non-wisdom comes from Rudy Gersten, an executive director at a public policy organization, and presumably he speaks for his similarly jeering friends, “an ethics and compliance lawyer, an IT project manager, [and ]a construction senior project manager.” Continue reading


Filed under Sports