Consequentialism Alert At Redskins Park!

Washington, D.C. has a grand tradition of nepotism. Sometimes it works; it's wrong all the time.

Washington, D.C. has a grand tradition of nepotism. Sometimes it works; it’s wrong all the time.

A year ago, I wrote about the dilemma faced by Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who was mired in another terrible season with a failing offense engineered by his son Kyle, the team’s offensive coordinator.  Here we have the ethical problem with nepotism, I wrote…

“There is no way to tell what is happening or what the effect of the nepotism is, which is why all appearance of impropriety situations are toxic to trust; there is no way to tell whether the apparent conflict is causing real harm or not. When everything goes well, the doubts will be muted and there won’t be a crisis in public trust, but that is luck, and nothing more…Not only are the Skins losing, but the leaks have sprung in Nepotsim Central, where Kyle Shanahan is responsible. It was fully predictable, not that this would happen, but that it could very well happen, way back in 2010 when Mike Shanahan had the bright idea of hiring sonny boy. Not foreseeing this is a miserable failure to play ethics chess: when a choice is a good bet to create an ethics problem a few moves from now, don’t make it. Owner Snyder should have forbidden it; Kyle should have turned the job down.”

Ah, but that was then, and this is now. The vicissitudes of moral luck have struck again.  Now Kyle’s offense is working like a charm, thanks to the magic arm, legs and mind of rookie quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III. Now the ‘Skins are the NFL East Champions! Now Kyle is an offensive wizard, not a putz, and Coach Dad a visionary for hiring him. What’s the matter with a little nepotism? Never mind!

This is rank consequentialism in its worst form. Nepotism is an unethical way to run any staff, company, team, business or government, unfair, inherently conflicted, irresponsible, dangerous and corrupting. It should be recognized as such from the beginning, and rejected, not retroactively justified if it “works.”

I’m sure there were and are non-relatives of the Redskins coach who could have devised a successful offense with RG3 taking the hikes. The ethical thing to do was to find them and give one of them the job.

The Redskins coach’s nepotism is just as unethical in 2013 as it was in 2012, 2011, and 2010.

8 thoughts on “Consequentialism Alert At Redskins Park!

  1. I don’t have a problem with the nepotism as much as the fact that RG3 should never have been playing in today’s game. Sure, I know, if they’d won….yada yada yada. But they didn’t win. He was playing injured and doped up, and every play was a game of roulette, the rest of his career in the balance. Talk about ethics. This is so wrong from both management and the player’s perspective. Management should not have allowed him to play, instead, protecting their investment by allowing him time to recuperate and return for another day.

    I’m thinking also of MLB’s Nats that took a great rookie pitcher and pitched the hell out of him so much that he threw his arm out after only a few months and ended up on the DL for the entire next year due to Tommy Johns surgery. The powers-that-be then decided they would only let the young pitcher throw so many pitches the following year, which they did. Unfortunately the team ended up in the playoffs, and per their agreement, the young pitcher was forbidden to play, pitch count too high, and he missed the entire playoff season.

    But, management did the right thing in my opinion by holding to their agreement and not letting their prized pitcher participate in the playoffs, even though it would have given the team a great advantage to do so.

    I wonder what’s going to happy to RG3 now? I hope he’s going to be okay and bounces back from his injuries. Nepotism? I don’t see a problem with it. I think the best man should be hired for the job, no matter who he’s related to. And the “best man” then becomes the dilemma.

  2. Total bullshit. Kyle was a successful and respected offensive coordinator at Houston before he came here. He was by all accounts the most qualified for the job. And if you cant help you family and friends when you have power and money whats the use of getting them.

    • I don’t know whether you’re tongue is cheeking or not. You can’t, is the answer. “Oh, he’s the best qualified!” is always the defense. Baloney. It creates an untenable situation. Do you remember what they were saying about Kyle last year?

      • Im not being tongue in cheek, He was a highly respected offensive coordinator in Houston before he came here who is being considered for head coaching jobs as we speak.

        So you cant high your child to work for you no matter what? So if I had a theater company and my child wants to work there I shouldn’t hire him or her to work there? Like maybe work the crew or run the light board?

        Sorry not hiring a relative who is qualified to do the job just because they are your relative is the dumbest damn thing I have ever seen you write. Just idiotic.

        • We’re not talking odd jobs or family businesses, Bill. We’re talking management positions of responsibility where the supervisor and person responsible for evaluating one’s performance is a relative, and working in direct line with the son, daughter or spouse. Unavoidable and impermissible conflict of interest. Other employees have reason to question fairness and objectivity. It CAN work, just like all conflicts aren’t necessarily fatal. It’s just bad management ethics, per se.

          Last year, when the offense stunk, many were questioning if Shanahan would have fired Kyle if he wasn’t his son. That’s what often happens. The cases where a small family business brings in a son or a daughter is still nepotism, and still often backfires, but its a family business, and nepotism is the mission as much as anything else. The Redskins isn’t the Shanahan’s private family concern. It’s wrong to turn it into one (the same with the Shulas in Miami.) Another exception: my sister’s legal department is out of budget, and desperately needs a researcher for a major case. She got permission to hire her recent law grad son for a temp job, because he’s available, brilliant, a hard worker, and its temporary, she needed someone fast and all she can afford. That’s a little dicey, but its an emergency.

          I don’t know whether Coach Shanahan hired his son because he was the best one for the job, or not. Neither do you. Neither does HE. And that’s the problem with nepotism.

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