Ethics Quote of the Week: Sportswriter William Rhoden

“What is character? In the N.F.L., character is need.”

New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden, explaining how teams seek to draft players “with character,” a.k.a. “who don’t commit felonies off the field,” unless, of course, the player is especially talented and they need what he has to offer on the field in order to win.

This intellectually dishonest standard is not restricted to pro football. Voters want ethical and honest elected representatives, unless they keep taxes low and deliver goodies to their neighborhoods. Corporations want executives with character too, unless a manipulative, deceitful, scheming whiz makes the company’s profits soar. The student with great promise will be excused or merely admonished for offenses that a school will suspend lesser students for.

The well-documented human tendency to endure unethical conduct from high-level performers while holding less gifted and accomplished individuals to higher standards of character serves to undermine ethics generally, confirming as it does the principle that the prettier, smarter, richer, more powerful, more famous you are, the less obligated you are to care about others, do the right things, or obey the rules.

For this is the Star Syndrome. In the coming months and years, Ethics Alarms and its readers will encounter it often. Continue reading

Tiger Woods’ Mother in the Ethics Rough

“You know what? I’m so proud to be his mother. Period. This thing, it teaches him, just like golf. When he changes a swing… he wants to get better… He will start getting better… it’s just like that. Golf is just like life, when you make a mistake, you learn from your mistake and move on stronger. That’s the way he is. As a human being everyone has faults, makes mistakes and sins. We all do. But, we move on when we make a mistake and learn from it. I am upset the way media treated him like he’s a criminal…he didn’t kill anybody, he didn’t do anything illegal… They’ve being carrying on from thanksgiving until now, that’s not right! People don’t understand that Tiger has a very good heart and soul. Sometimes I think there is a complete double standard… He tried to improve himself. The tabloids and newspapers just killed him, held him back.. To me it looked like a double standard…When you make a mistake you learn from it and move on, that’s the way life is, that’s a human being. We’re not God, and he never claimed he was God. If anyone tells me to condemn him, I say look at yourself first.. .. I would … look in their eyes and tell them you’re not God!  This thing is a family matter… It’s not easy to be him. … (People) go to work 8 to 5 and go home to have a life with the family. Tiger can’t do that.”

—————Katilda Woods, Tiger’s mother, in remarks to the press following Woods’ statement and apology today, his first public appearance since a series of revelations about his multiple affairs.

Where to begin? I’m glad Mrs. Woods is proud of her son. That’s what mothers are for, in times like these. If only she had stopped there, before she plunged deep into the ethics rough. For example, I think Tiger’s been swinging enough, don’t you?

But Mrs. Woods decided to promote three of my least favorite rationalizations for terrible conduct, and then added one I had neglected.  Now that she mentions it, however, I hate that one too. Continue reading