The Journal of Sport and Exercise Studies/Business, Politics and Sport 2011/Sport Ethics Still an Issue

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Nathan O'Connor, 2011
Original copy


Growing up in Australia means growing up in a sporting culture which is why its considered normal to be encouraged into playing sport. But when does sport become a game of hatred, abuse, violence and pushing for success?

Ethics in sport has always been a big issue to deal with as its one area, which can never fully be controlled. Every participant in sport, regardless of the role, has a right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness, and to participate in an environment that is enjoyable and safe. Harassment, abuse and other forms of inappropriate behavior in sport deny participants these rights.[1]

This article explores the concept of ethics in sport and how it is still evident in sport today. It will look at the relationship of business, sport and politics and how they are working as one to recognize that ethics still plays a role in today’s sporting environment and also on how they can combat these issues in the future.

Australia is working together from politics, business and sports areas to beat the issue of ethics however it is going to be an ongoing battle to overcome.

Introduction[edit]

Ethics in sport has always been a big issue to deal with as its one area, which can never fully be controlled. Every participant in sport, regardless of the role, has a right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness, and to participate in an environment that is enjoyable and safe. Harassment, abuse and other forms of inappropriate behavior in sport deny participants these rights. [2]

In the last decade alone we have seen incidents splashed all over the media where sporting stars have been the focus of indecent sexual behaviors such as the 2004 NRL Bulldogs rape scandal[3], and religious sledges when Bryce Gibbs of the NRL West tigers attacked Ben Hannant of the NRL Bulldogs over his beliefs as a Mormon[4]. With issues like this still very evident in sport it makes you wonder what is in fact put in place to protect us.

The purpose of this essay is to explore how business, sport and politics work together to try and eliminate these issues that are still present in the sporting world today and also highlight that ethics in sport is still very much a big issue to be dealt with.

This paper will firstly focus on a research project commissioned by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and conducted by Colmar Brunton Social Research in April 2010, that identifies ethical and integrity issues within Australian sport, providing a better understanding of the incidence, prevalence and impact of these issues in the Australian sports system.

Than follow on with how the ASC along with that Australian Government define certain ethical issues as discrimination and sexual harassment. Also with the use of two examples in NRL show that these ethical behaviours still exist in Australian sport today.

Lastly it will focus on how the ASC along with sporting businesses are trying to combat these issues in sport.

Research Report[edit]

The research project, commissioned by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and conducted by Colmar Brunton Social Research in April 2010, identifies ethical and integrity issues within Australian sport, providing a better understanding of the incidence, prevalence and impact of these issues in the Australian sports system.[5]

The priority issues around ethics and integrity within Australian sport were identified as going beyond the spirit of the game, verbal abuse and athletes being pushed too hard by coaches and parents.[6]

The survey outlines the findings of a web survey of over 3700 players, coaches, officials and administrators at local, state and national levels. Survey respondents were predominantly from grassroots community sport and were surveyed on issues including abuse and violence, inequity and harassment, and antisocial behaviors and attitudes.[7]

Key findings revealed that during the past 12 months:

  • 87 per cent of officials surveyed had experienced or seen athletes being pushed too hard by coaches or parents
  • 80 per cent of administration staff surveyed had experienced or seen sledging and negative coaching behaviors and practices
  • 76 per cent of players surveyed had experienced or seen the issue of ‘going beyond the spirit of the game’.[8]

This report shows that ethical issues are still evident even to the point of them occurring at grass roots level sports, when children should be out enjoying the game they are playing not being involved in negative behaviour and actions.

Fortunately as this research report was done to help identify issues in Australian sport, Minister for Sport Mark Arbib stated, “The findings of the Ethics in Sport report are a key part of developing a National Integrity in Sport Strategy”. The Australian Sports Commission will lead the development of this strategy in consultation with sporting organisations. It will seek to ensure athletes; coaches, officials, volunteers and spectators participate in a responsible and safe manner.[9]

Discrimination[edit]

Discrimination in this context means treating someone unfairly because they happen to belong to a particular group of people because of their race, colour, national and ethnic origin, descent and ethnic or ethno-religious background.[10]

The Racial Discriminations Act 1975 Cwlth (RDA) makes racial discrimination unlawful in Australia. The RDA aims to ensure freedom and equality of all human rights regardless of race, colour, national and ethnic origin, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background. It is also racial discrimination if you are treated unfairly because of the race of your relatives, friends or work colleagues.[11]

The Racial Hatred Act 1995 Cwlth extends the coverage of the Racial Discrimination Act to allow people to complain about racially offensive or abusive behaviour. The act aims to strike a balance between two valued rights: the right to communicate freely and the right to live free from vilification.[12]

There is also legislation in place in every state and territory making discrimination and harassment in relation to a person’s race, colour, national and ethnic origin, descent, ethnic or ethno-religious background unlawful.

Even with this stated as law it is still evident that discrimination occurs in sport. One major example is that in National Rugby League (NRL) with discrimination occurring due to a player’s religious belief. An article from the Sydney Morning Herald states that ‘NRL will investigate the matter of Bryce Gibbs of the West Tigers alleged religious slur towards Bulldogs Prop Ben Hannant. The Bulldogs prop was seething after the game and Canterbury trainer Fred Ciraldo had to separate Hannant and his opposing prop Gibbs after their verbal battle continued after the siren’.[13]

Its pathetic to think that our role models as sporting heroes still degrade themselves to the extent of sledging an opposing player in the hope that they can influence their performance. What message is that sending our younger athletes and makes you wonder how much of this is actually behaviour is happening behind the scenes and what are organizations doing to stop this?

Sexual Harassment[edit]

The law recognises and prohibits sexual harassment. According to the Sex Discrimination Act 1983 Cwlth,

“… A person sexually harasses another person (the “person harassed”) if:
  • The person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, to the person harassed; or
  • Engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed;
In circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.”[14]
The Act explains that “conduct of a sexual nature” includes making a statement of a sexual nature to a person, or in the presence of a person, whether the statement is made orally or in writing.”[15]

Harassment takes many forms: some are unlawful and some are not. However, all harassment is undesirable and will most certainly breach organizational polices and codes of conduct. - Consequently it must be prevented and managed.[16]

Behaviour such as unwanted sexual comments or abuse, unwanted sexual suggestions, offensive gestures and unwanted sexual contact can be interpreted as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a massive issue in sport and so in society, an example in sport that not only affected the players but the business regarding sexual harassment was that in 2004 when the Canterbury Bulldogs were said to have raped a young woman. An article in the age stated that 6 NRL players from the bulldogs are being investigated for gang raping a 20-year-old girl in Coffs harbor.[17]

This incident brought up many issues with what the sport in Australia was coming to. And the biggest question was what are the government and the sporting organization going to do to combat this issue from happening again?

Strategies[edit]

The ASC along with the entire sporting industry have developed, The Essence of Australian Sport code of conduct that provides four guiding principles that lead to appropriate behaviour: fairness, respect, responsibility and safety.

Our society expects high standards of behaviour from all people involved in sport and it is vital these expectations are met and the integrity of sport maintained.

The Essence of Australian Sport is a template that has been developed to reflect and uphold these principles and assist in retaining the integrity and enjoyable aspects of sport. It also outlines the standard of behaviour expected of those involved (athletes, coaches, officials, parents, spectators, officials, administrators) and to assist in providing a positive and enjoyable sporting experience for everyone.[18]

The Essence of Australian Sport code of behaviour may be adopted in its entirety or, preferably, adapted by sports to suit their own needs and circumstances. The Essence of Australian Sport code of behaviour will replace the various codes of behavior/conduct/ethics that the Australian Sports Commission previously developed, with the exception of the Junior Sport Codes of Behaviour, which is suitable for those organisations that principally deal with children and young people.[19] By consistently enforcing their codes of behaviour, organisations will assist in providing safe and appropriate environments and quality services to their members, stakeholders and customers.

Another initiative The Australian Sports Commission's has developed is the Harassment-Free Sport (HFS) strategy, which assists the sports industry address discrimination, abuse and other inappropriate behaviours by helping sports to create safe, respectful and harassment-free sport environments.[20] The Australian Sports Commission began developing the HFS strategy in 1996 in response to increased litigation in relation to discrimination, harassment and abuse in sport; increased media attention given to the issue; growing concerns that sport may not be aware of and/or meeting its legal and ethical obligations and Government legislation.[21] The strategy is constantly evolving in response to new or amended government legislation and requirements, insurance requirements, community expectations and issues raised by sporting organisations.

Conclusion[edit]

In conclusion every participant in sport, regardless of the role, has a right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness, and to participate in an environment that is enjoyable and safe. Harassment, abuse and other forms of inappropriate behavior in sport deny participants these rights.[22] Ethics in sport is still a massive issue to be dealt with, it will ever be an evolving issue as we can see from the examples above that is it still evident in today’s sporting environment.

However the ASC and sporting industry are doing everything they can to help prevent these issues from arising with the implementation of the Essence of Australian Sport code of conduct and the Harassment-Free Sport (HFS) strategy. Australia is working together from politics, business and sports areas to beat the issue of ethics however it is going to be an ongoing battle to overcome.

Presentation[edit]

http://www.archive.org/details/SportEthicsStillAnIssue To locate any reference used within this presentation go to the bottom of this page.

References[edit]

  1. Australian Sports Commission, Harassment and Discrimination, viewed 23rd October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination
  2. Australian Sports Commission, Harassment and Discrimination, viewed 23rd October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination
  3. The Age, Rugby rocked by fresh rape claims, 29 February 2004, viewed 26th October 2011, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/02/28/1077677017509.html
  4. Sydney Morning Herald, Hannant keen to let sleeping dogs lie but NRL will investigate, 18 April 2010,viewed 26th October 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/hannant-keen-to-let-sleeping-dogs-lie-but-nrl-will-investigate-20100417-slen.html
  5. Australian Sports Commission, Summary of the 2010 Ethical and Integrity Issues in Australian Sport survey, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/410425/SP_32486_Ethical_and_Integrity_Issues_summary.pdf
  6. Australian Sports Commission, Summary of the 2010 Ethical and Integrity Issues in Australian Sport survey, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/410425/SP_32486_Ethical_and_Integrity_Issues_summary.pdf
  7. Australian Sports Commission, ASC research to guide sports integrity strategy 31 January 2010, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/news/story_413392_findings_to_guide_sports_integrity_strategy
  8. Australian Sports Commission, ASC research to guide sports integrity strategy 31 January 2010, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/news/story_413392_findings_to_guide_sports_integrity_strategy
  9. Australian Sports Commission, ASC research to guide sports integrity strategy 31 January 2010, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/news/story_413392_findings_to_guide_sports_integrity_strategy
  10. Australian Sports Commission, Racial Discrimination, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/racial
  11. Australian Sports Commission, Racial Discrimination, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/racial
  12. Australian Sports Commission, Racial Discrimination, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/racial
  13. Sydney Morning Herald, Hannant keen to let sleeping dogs lie but NRL will investigate, 18 April 2010,viewed 26th October 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/hannant-keen-to-let-sleeping-dogs-lie-but-nrl-will-investigate-20100417-slen.html
  14. Australian Sports Commission, sexual harassment, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/sexual
  15. Australian Sports Commission, sexual harassment, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/sexual
  16. Australian Sports Commission, sexual harassment, viewed 24th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination/fact_sheets/harrassment_and_discrimination/sexual
  17. The Age, Rugby rocked by fresh rape claims, 29 February 2004, viewed 26th October 2011, http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/02/28/1077677017509.html
  18. Australian Sports Commission, Code of Conduct, viewed 25th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/strategies_and_initiatives/codes_of_behaviour
  19. Australian Sports Commission, Code of Conduct, viewed 25th October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/strategies_and_initiatives/codes_of_behaviour
  20. Australian Sports Commission, Harassment Free Sports Strategy, viewed 23rd October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination
  21. Australian Sports Commission, Harassment Free Sports Strategy, viewed 23rd October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination
  22. Australian Sports Commission, Harassment and Discrimination, viewed 23rd October 2011, http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/ethics/harassment_and_discrimination