Desktop version

Home arrow Management arrow Achieving ethical excellence


The literature and media commentary indicate some confusion or ambi- guity about the nature of the ethical demands which attach to sport, given the different contexts in which sport is played, its association with play and the different ways in which the concept of 'sport' is used and has been used in the past. As a consequence the claim that professional athletes have a special obligation to act as role models for their fans and the community more generally is a matter of debate and disagreement. This chapter argues that disagreement is to be expected because the meanings attached to sport overlap and interconnect, and in some cases conflict. Deciding whether or not professional athletes should accept and respond to the designation of role model, both within the sporting arena but beyond it, requires a recognition of the complex nature of sport and of the obligations that can be taken to attach to its different forms. Further research to examine claims in the literature that competing imperatives might have an impact on the nature of athletes' capacity for ethical reasoning would provide clarity. Effective ethical decision-making in this context must be founded on recognising the competing imperatives associated with sport in different contexts; but it must also recognise the rights of professional athletes, their preparedness to respond to ethical demands and the responsibilities of those who contract them to play in assisting them.


Allison, L. (2001). Amateurism in sport: An analysis and a defence. London: Frank Cass. Australian Rugby Union. (2013). Code of conduct by-laws. Retrieved from rugby.

Australian Sports Foundation. (2013). Definition of sport. Retrieved from who/definition_of_sport

Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. San Francisco, CA: Chandler Publishing Company.

Boxhill, J. (Ed.). (2003). Sports ethics: An anthology (pp. 217-220). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Bredemeier, B. J. L., & Shields, D. L. L. (1994). Applied ethics and moral reasoning in sport.

In J. R. Rest & D. Narva´ ez (Eds.), Moral development in the professions: Psychology and applied ethics. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bredemeier, B. J., & Shields, D. L. (1986a). Game reasoning and interactional morality. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 147, 257-275. doi:10.1080/00221325.1986.9914499

Bredemeier, B. J., & Shields, D. L. (1986b). Athletic aggression: An issue of contextual morality. Sociology of Sport Journal, 3, 15-28.

Bredemeier, B. J., Shields, D. L., & Horn, J. C. (2003). Values and violence in sports today: The moral reasoning athletes use in their games and in their lives. In J. Boxhill (Ed.), Sports ethics: An anthology (pp. 217-220). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Davis, J. (2002). A Marxist influence on Wittgenstein via Sraffa. In G. Kitching &

N. Pleasants (Eds.), Marx and Wittgenstein. New York, NY: Routledge.

Dunning, E. (1990). Sociological reflections on sport, violence and civilization. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 25(1), 65-81.

Elias, N., & Dunning, E. (1986). Quest for excitement: Sport and leisure in the civilizing process.

Oxford: Blackwell.

Fishman, R. (1985, October 24). Organised mayhem: It's all in the game. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from id=eDZWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KugDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3858,6192462

Fleming, S., Hardman, A., Jones, C., & Sheridan, H. (2005). 'Role models' among elite young male rugby league players in Britain. European Physical Education Review, 11(1), 51-70.

Gentile, M. (2010). Giving voice to values: How to speak your mind when you know what's right.

New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Gould, P. (2013). Gould: Rugby League likely to take a big hit. Retrieved from

Hahn, K. L. (2010). Are athletes good role models? Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.

Holt, R. (1989). Sport and the British: A modern history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Huizinga, J. (1950[1938]). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. London:

Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.

Keating, J. (2003). Sportsmanship as a moral category. In J. Boxhill (Ed.), Sports ethics: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Kidd, B. (2013). The myth of the ancient games. Sport in Society, 16(4), 416-424.

Lines, G. (2001). Villains, fools or heroes? Sports stars as role models for young people.

Leisure Studies, 20(4), 285-303.

Malone, K. (1993, June 14). One role model to another. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from Mangan, J. A. (1981). Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian public school: The emergence and consolidation of an educational ideology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Menenakos, E., Alexakis, N., Leandros, E., Laskaratos, G., Nikiteas, N., Bramis, J., & Fingerhut, A. (2005). Fatal chest injury with lung evisceration during athletic games in Ancient Greece. World Journal of Surgery, 29(10), 1348-1351.

Murphy, D. (2013, June 22-23). News review. Sydney Morning Herald.

OED online. (2013a). Sport n1. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

OED online. (2013b). Athletics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

OED online. (2013c). Athlete. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Reid, H. L. (2002). The philosophical athlete. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Strenk, A. (1979). What price victory? The world of international sports and politics. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 445(1), 128-140.

Suits, B. (1988). Tricky triad: Games, play, and sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, (1), 1-9.

Vamplew, W. (1988a). Sport and industrialisation: An economic interpretation of the changes in popular sport in nineteenth-century England. In J. A. Mangan (Ed.), Pleasure, profit, proselytism: British culture and sport at home and abroad, 1700-1914 (pp. 7-20). London: Routledge.

Vamplew, W. (1988b). Pay up and play the game: Professional sport in Britain, 1875-1914.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wellman, C. (2003). Do celebrated athletes have special responsibilities to be good role models?

An imagined dialog between Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. In J. Boxill (Ed.),

Sports ethics: An Anthology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Whannel, G. (1992). Fields in vision: Television sport and cultural transformation. London, UK: Routledge.

Wilson, B., Stavros, C., & Westberg, K. (2008). Player transgressions and the management of the sport sponsor relationship. Public Relations Review, 34, 99-107.

Young, D. (1984). The Olympic myth of Greek amateur athletics. Philadelphia, PA: Ares.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >