Research Paper on Ethics in Sports Coaching

Coaches play a vital role in the lives of youth athletes. Not only are they supposed to teach young athletes skills but also life lessons such as tolerance, morals, ethics, and respect. Deflagate is one of the most renowned sporting scandals in the United States. Notably, the term is used to describe the national football league investigations of the New England Patriots. The supervisors began investigation in 2015. However, the case ended in July 2016 after several press conferences, court rulings, and twists and turns in the case (Mandel, 2018). The New England patriots were accused of under-inflating the balls used in the previous match with the Indianapolis colts. The New England’s patriots coach was not ethical in addressing the deflategate incident because he acted contrary to the coaches’ code of ethics that offers guidelines for professional behavior. The aim of the code of ethics is to set coaching standards and protect the welfare of individuals working with the coaches. Moreover, it offers reference points on how they should react in unwelcoming situations.

Ethics of Coaching
Responsibility is one of the main principles of ethics among coaches. New England’s coach was not a good example in coaching since he was irresponsible. According to the code of ethics, coaches help athletes to develop their confidence, skills, and self-esteem. They ensure that the training program is created with considerations to the needs of each athlete. The code of conducts states that coaches facilitate values of fair play and team spirit. Moreover, it states that wining matches is part of athleticism. As a result, it should not be the main priority of sports. However, the New England’s coach defied the coaches’ code of conduct by deliberately deflating balls so that his team could be at an advantage (Jordan et al, 2004). The code of conduct notes that coaches have to act as role models to the players. Notably, he should be an example that can be copied and followed by the athletes.

Fairness is an important aspect not only in sports but also in our daily lives. The New England’s head coach was not a good example in coaching ethics since he discouraged fairness of the game by advising players to deflate their balls ahead of the match. The code of ethics notes that coaches should offer same opportunities to the players. In addition, he should not favor one player over the other. An effective coach should promote fair play to the opponents. The code of ethics notes that coaches should refrain from utilizing unfair training techniques such as performance enhancing drugs. Contrary to this requirement, the coach encouraged an unfair practice of deflating the ball.

Integrity is an important principle in the code of ethics. They are required to keep to their word and personal values all the times. The code of ethics notes that coaches should not display non-sportsmanship behavior such as taking bribes or foul play to the opposing team. In this case, the coach of New England patriots failed to observe integrity. He deflated the balls in order to manipulate the game to his team’s favor. He failed to observe high moral standard and acting as a role model to the players.

Coaches should also show respect towards themselves, others, and the sport at all times. Respect towards others implies that they should demonstrate tolerance and treat other individuals equally despite their social economic status, age, religion, ethnic origin, race, and sex. An effective coach mainly respects decisions made by other stakeholders such as opponents and sports officials. A good coach also respects written and verbal commitments and keeps to them at all time. The New England’s coach failed to respect the opponents and the match organizers by deflating the ball. According to national football league experts, deflating balls below the required pressure could give result in team advantage. Notably, deflating the ball makes it soft and easy to catch.

Coaches as Moral Exemplar
Media reports have focused on the corruption, violence, and commercialization in National Collegiate Athletic Association. Notably, participation in sports may help youths in both moral education and development. Nonetheless, sports participation may also negatively affect moral behavior and judgment of the athletes. Coaches may significantly contribute in moral development of athletes since they act as both mentors and educators. However, media reports have criticized intercollegiate athletics for commercial business models (Chapter 1). This has placed pressure on coaches to concentrate on wining rather than the development of athletes. The pressure from intercollegiate athletics has caused some coaches to engage in unethical practices.

According to a report by the United States Ant—Doping Agency, about 60 percent of the citizens claimed to engage in sports at some point in their lives (Simon, 2013). As a result, it is important for coaches to observe ethics and instill ethical principles to the athletes. Nonetheless, this may only occur in cases where coaches possess character and integrity and teach these values to their athletes. Sports play a major moral role in the United States society, and thus coaches have a significant responsibility in fulfilling the role. Other individuals that are supposed to act as role models for students are high-profile athletes. Nonetheless, coaches have extensive power and control over young athletes since they have freely chosen the role. The role of coaches usually comes with increased responsibility to teach and model the behavior of students. United States has several coaches that have the potential of influencing the lives of the youths in college sports teams across the country (McNamee, 1998).

Coaching and teaching have several similarities since they both require knowledge, skill, and art. The skills passed from the coach to the athletes enables them not only become better athletes but also better individuals. The main purpose is to ensure that the athletes they coach excel in their academic and social lives.

Emphasis of Winning in competitions
Although there are several examples of sports excellence, there are cases where coaches have worked against moral development of their players by emphasizing more on wining in competitions than anything else. Some coaches have been professing one case of action while doing another. According to survey by the United States Anti-doping agency, coaches noted that the most important aspects included building self-esteem of athletes, self-discipline, respecting others, and having fun (Wiersma & Sherman, 2005). The coaches noted that wining was the least important aspect in their careers. Nonetheless, the survey noted that wining was the most important aspect among coaches, and it was more important than other sporting values. In the New England Patriot case, the football head coach failed to act as a moral exemplar to the athletes by encouraging members to deflate the ball and thus influence match outcomes.

Moral Courage
Moral courage enables individuals to act ethically. There are several opportunities to act with moral courage. New England’s coach did not did not have the moral courage since he focused on wining in sports competition rather than promoting social and moral development of the athletes. The head coach placed winning the match above everything else. In addition, the head coach was willing to use unsportsmanlike techniques to gain advantage in the game. Notably, winning desire is important in any competition. However, coaches should not strive to win competitions at all costs (Chapter 2). Individuals desire to win for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, winning in sports competitions requires the skills of the participants to be challenged and tested. The tests results are displayed in rankings and winnings.

A good coach should build his own ethical and emotional capacities as well as that of his or her players in addition to the development of knowledge to enhance their practical and theoretical skills. Coaches should also strive to enhance their ethical and emotional intelligence. Coaches in the United States’ national collegiate association may build their emotional capacity by considering the elements of inspiration, sustained presence, rapport, and depth of engagement. Notably, enhancing ethical capability entails enhancing the ability to create the most effective sources of actions, ensuring ethical sensitivity, and holding ethical conversations with the athletes and devising ethical decisions.

Sports coaches play an important role in the lives of youth athletes. Coaches participate in the development of athletes by building their skills, analyzing their sports performance, and offering encouragement and motivation. Apart from building skills and motivating athletes, coaches also teach their players’ important life lessons such as morals, respect, and tolerance. The head coach of the New England Patriot football team did not act as a good moral exemplar by allowing team players to deflate the balls in order to gain team advantage.

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Simon, R. (2013). The Ethics of Coaching Sports: Moral, Social and Legal Issues. Avalon Publishing, New York.
Wiersma, L. D., & Sherman, C. P. (2005). Volunteer youth sport coaches’ perspectives of coaching education/certification and parental codes of conduct. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 76(3), 324-338.