Tag Archives: football

Ethics Dunce: Liberty University

That's McCaw on the left, Starr on the right, with the Baylor women's basketball team.

That’s McCaw on the left, Starr on the right, with the Baylor women’s basketball team.

Football is a sport, but in American culture its primary impact is as an ethics corrupter. The latest revolting example of this is occurring at Lynchburg, Virginia’s Liberty University, a prominent Christian fundamentalist institution founded by Jerry Falwell, the late TV evangelist and Religious Right icon. The school  is supposedly dedicated to imbuing its students with moral values, but if it comes to choosing between the Ten Commandments and pigskin glory, guess what comes out on top?

Last week, with great fanfare, Liberty hired Ian McCaw as its new athletic director. “My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference.

This is his first paying assignment since May, when he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, also a Christian university. His departure was made essential after a thorough investigation that found that those overseeing Baylor’s  football team as well as the management of  the athletic department—that is, McCaw— had been informed of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by team members and had ignored it, as any good football-loving Christian would….especially when a star was involved.

Baylor’s summary of its confidential investigation, overseen by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton, found that athletic program administrators and football coaches learned of accusations of gang and date rape over many years and did not report them or take appropriate action. This, the report found, “reinforces the perception that rules applicable to other students are not applicable to football players.”

Ethics Alarms calls this “The King’s Pass,” or “The Star Syndrome.” It is antithetical to moral and ethical principles, and, in theory, religion.

The report concluded that the “the choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.” Continue reading

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Ethics And Sports: Maybe It’s Confirmation Bias, But The TV Ratings Give Me Hope

And these days, when the goal is a more ethical society, I’ll take hope anywhere I can find it.

The big story in the NFL right now is that for the first time ever, its TV ratings are dropping. Through the first seven weeks of the season, ratings were down for every prime-time NFL show: “Sunday Night Football” by 19 percent, “Monday Night Football” by 24 percent and the Thursday night game by 18 percent. For the season as whole, ratings are off in regional games too. The NFL is doing what it always does with bad news: obfuscating and lying. It has blamed the drop on the Presidential race, as if anyone wouldn’t do anything to escape that, and the generational abandonment of network TV and even cable for the internet. Various polling results, however, show that a big factor is the league’s increasingly obvious lack of values.

The concussion issue-–finally—is hurting interest in football, especially as parents try to steer their children toward less risky sports. A recent study that researchers took pains to insist was only troubling, not conclusive, found brain chemistry changes in children who had played one season of junior football. I don’t know about anyone else, but if there is any evidence that a sport might reduce my kid to a brain-damaged invalid by the time he’s 60, that’s plenty for me to limit his recreation choices. The public is also finally reacting to the NFL’s evident cover-up of its responsibility for ex-players who have perished as a consequence of CTE, a brain disease caused by repeated head trauma. I wish this was the main reason that fans are turning off pro-football games, but at least it’s a factor. Continue reading

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The Warped Values Of NFL Fans

nfl-poll

Yahoo Sports posted an infographic on polling results regardingthe ongoing national anthem protests following the example of  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Part of it shows that 44 percent of NFL fans would likely stop watching NFL games if more players protest the movement.

This suggests that 44% of NFL fans have more  ethical objections to a sport that panders to hypocritical, Black Lives Matter-supporting dim bulbs like Kaepernick than to the fact that the same sport pays young men to cripple themselves while raking in billions and denying that there is a “causal link” between the concussions it routinely inflicts on players and the debilitating brain disease that is being found in autopsies of more former NFL players than not.

This month a class-action lawsuit was filed against Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football league. It alleges that the organization knowingly put its young players in danger by ignoring the risks of head trauma. The complaint also accuses USA Football, the youth football arm of the N.F.L. that  creates football helmet safety standards, of failing to protect football-playing kids from the long-term consequences of repeated head hits, while ignoring medical research (as described in the documentary “League of Denial” and the film “Concussion”) that has raised serious concern about whether football is a safe sport, especially for children.

The suit was filed in federal court in California by Kimberly Archie and Jo Cornell, whose sons played football as youngsters and were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a neurological condition linked to repeated blows to the heads. In March, Pop Warner settled a lawsuit with a family whose son played Pop Warner football and later committed suicide. He was found to have CTE. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: ESPN

protest-mizzou

ESPN has announced it will give the University of Missouri (MU), a.k.a Mizzou, football team a special humanitarian award in July to honor the team for its strike  in 2015. You know the one, right?  If you did, then you are probably retching.

This was the Black Lives Matter-esque fuse that caused over a hundred universities to explode in racial unrest and cave in to pressure from black student groups to yield to demands supposedly addressing various imagined, concocted or politically exploited race-related problems on campuses, ranging from microagressions, to inadequate race-consciousness, to unidentified people saying mean things.

That last, in fact, was what caused the Mizzou foolishness. There, three unrelated episodes caused the “crisis”:

  • Payton Head, MU senior and president of MSA,  published a Facebook saying that he was walking around campus when the passenger of a pickup repeatedly shouted the “nigger at him.

No one confirmed his claim.

  • The Legion of Black Collegians posted on social media that the group was rehearsing for a performance at the University’s Traditions Plaza when a “young man” talking on his cellphone walked up to the group, was politely asked to leave, and hurled “racial slurs” at LBC members.

Was he a student? Nobody knows.

  • Someone draw a swastika using human feces inside Mizzou’s Gateway Hall.

Funny, I think of the swastika as an anti-Semitic symbol, not anti-black one, but hey, whatever it takes, right?

None of these involved perpetrators who were identified, or who were shown to be students. None of them  were remotely within the control of the University; nor were they coordinated in any way.  Black groups on campus, however, harassed the school’s president, Tim Wolfe,  and demanded that he resign. A black graduate student began a hunger strike, promising to forgo all food and nutrition until Wolfe was ousted. Finally, black University of Missouri football players announced that they would not participate in team activities or games until the university yielded to various demands, including Wolfe’s dismissal. The coach and the rest of the team backed the black players, and the university caved.

In addition to sparking many other conflicts on other campuses, disrupting students’ education, making U.S. ccolleges look like the inmates were running the asylums (because they were) and increasing racial tensions, the episode had the effect of  causing a huge drop in enrollment that has cost Mizzou about $32 million.

Isn’t that great?

Good job, everybody!

Apparently ESPN think so, anyway. Continue reading

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How Conservatives Make Themselves Untrustworthy: A Case Study Starring Brent Bozell

Brent-Bozell-SC

Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, is one of the heroes of the hard right. Joined by  reporter Tim Graham on Bozell’s media watchdog website ( it only bites liberal media, but that’s still a mouthful) Newsbusters,  he provides a depressing example of how conservatives sabotage their credibility and end up crippling their ability to persuade even when they are right, which is frequently.

In a column called “America’s Wrong To Love Football?,” Bozell and Graham complain about an NPR segment that makes the exact same point Ethics Alarms has made many times.[ You want one? Here’s one.]  After citing just some of the waves of evidence that professional football (and probably college football too) is maiming and, in slow motion, killing a large percentage of its players, they write one dishonest, irrelevant, fallacious and rationalized argument after another:

“Count on flower children at NPR to go over the edge with this issue..”

Conservatives used to use the ad hominem tactic of denigrating all liberals as hippies–drugged out, long hair, unwashed, funny clothes, pacifists, Communist sympathizers–in the Nixon era. It was a cheap shot even then—Counter their positions, don’t make fun of their haircuts!—but 50 years later it’s pathetic, and screams “I’m estranged from reality!” How many people under the age of 60 even know what “flower children” were?

Bozell and Graham continue..

“The problem isn’t the size and strength, and therefore power of professional football players. No, it’s — ready? — the evil game of football itself…”

This is devoid of logic. If the huge athletes and the way the game of football is played maim human beings, then the sport—game, sport, sport, game– of professional football maims human beings. No, Brent, it’s true, the rule book never hurt anyone. Nevertheless, the sport of pro football, as it is played, results in a large number of young men losing their minds before they are sixty. That doesn’t make the game of football “evil,” it makes the sport unacceptably dangerous. No, that doesn’t make the game “evil”—Deford never says it was “evil.” It makes people–like you, in fact—who pretend the game isn’t unreasonably dangerous and misrepresent the arguments that it is—complicit. It corrupts them. It corrupts society to have the culture spend so much money, passion and time on a sport once we know it kills people and ruins lives.

“Commentator Frank Deford used to love football, but now he just drops bombs on it. On Wednesday’s Morning Edition on National Public Radio, Deford’s weekly commentary was titled “What Is Football Doing to Us as a People?” He asked on air “So what is football doing to us as a people? How do we explain an America that, alone in the world, so loves this savage sport?…”

It is a legitimate and revealing question. Bozell and Graham just don’t like the answer. Yes, Deford loved football, until he learned that it was turning healthy young men into sad, tortured, middle-aged dementia victims while the NFL’s  leadership tried to cover up that fact. Like any decent, ethical person, he changed his mind according to new information, something conservatives like Brent Bozell often regard as heresy. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Childhood and children, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, Sports, U.S. Society

The Redskins Native American Poll: Integrity Check For Progressives And Race-Baiters

Washington-Redskins

My Washington Post is filled with articles and columns reacting to the “surprising” poll results released yesterday—a poll taken by the Post itself— that appears to settle a manufactured controversy of long-standing. If it doesn’t, that will tell us more about those who resist than it does about the merits of the controversy itself.

The Washington Post-commissioned poll shows that 9 in 10 Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, despite a steady tom-tom beat of complaints and insults from activists, pandering politicians, cultural bullies and politically correct journalists insisting otherwise. The poll, which was analyzed by age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservation, shows that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the same result. (Actually,  Native Americans are somewhat less offended by the name than twelve years ago.)

The immediate question that the poll raises is one that Ethics Alarms has raised repeatedly as a rhetorical one. As the Post wrote today, speaking specifically of the segment of the sports media that had been so doctrinaire in attacking the name, even to the point of censoring it:

“Can they be offended on behalf of a group that they’re not part of, especially a group that appears, overwhelmingly, not to be offended by the word media figures object to?”

To ask the question is to answer it.  If the name in fact isn’t offensive to the group it is claimed to offend, then it is ridiculous for non-Native American to continue to be offended on their behalf.

Thus the poll results pose an excellent test of integrity and honesty for all of the liberals, politicians, political correctness junkies, pundits, social justice warriors and fringe Native American activists who have been so insulting and shrill to supporters of the name. Do they have the courage and fairness to admit they were wrong? Can the ideologically programmed ever do this: do facts matter, or is it essential for them to interpret the world according to cant rather than bend, adapt and compromise to inconvenient, messy reality?

Well, we shall see. The Post’s early results do not speak well for the anti-Redskins zealots. Continue reading

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The Cheater’s Rationalizations

cheatingI was in Boston recently, and naturally the topic of Tom Brady and Deflategate came up often. I kept hearing the same defenses of Brady with a growing sense of déjà vu. Yes, many of the rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List raised their ethically-muddled heads in Beantown, all-purpose classics like “Everybody does it,” “It’s a bad law/ stupid rule,” and “No harm, no foul,” but there were others that clearly came out of some secretly published “Cheater’s Handbook.”

These are going to enter the list as a group, like #6,The Biblical Rationalizations. They will be trotted out for other purposes, no doubt, but no set of excuses better defines the unethical mindset of a cheater’s defenders than these three.

59. The Cheater’s Rationalizations Continue reading

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