Ethics in sports

Ram Rattan Sharma
George Orwell once commented that serious sport had nothing to do with fair play, it was bound up with hatered, jealousy, boast fullness disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasures in witnessing violence. The comment is apt in summing up the attitude that governs sports in modern times.
Professional sports is nothing less than a battle and winning is a matter of life and death. This kind of an attitude has seeped through to sports at the amateur level as well. As a result, sports have been increasingly witnessing a complete disregard for sports ethics. Today, the influence of the money factor in sports in so great that not only are contestants ready to go to any lengths to win a match but also. They are ready to cheat, lie or commit other crimes, if they have to thus cheating, lying and bribery, violence, doping have become almost essential sports.
Cases of extreme injuries and even deaths as a result of intentional violence have been on the rise. Some sports disciplines such as boxing and soccer have been in particular prone to such violence French man Battiston was seriously injured in the 1986 soccer world cup by a tackle of the West German goal keeper Sehumacher in the 1994 World Cup. Brazil’s Leonardo knocked out American tab Romos with his elbow in an act of aggression. May be the worst instance of violence in recent times has been the killing of Columbian football star. Monica Seles the most successful woman tennis player in 1993, was felled by a knife on the back while on a tennis court by a fan of her main rival. Another incident that drew a lot of international criticism was the attack on the American skater Nancy Karrigan inspired by professional jealousy. Sports violence is not restricted to a hand ful of nations. It has become a universal phenomenon. It is not only the contestants who are involved in such acts, the spectators and fans as well commit violence to help their teams or players win or simply out of anger and frustration in ancient Greece and Rome. Now violent games, such as pank ration were invented to delight the people. The violent nature of games such as boxing and motor racing results in great physical damage and even death.
Another serious problem in modern sports is doping or use of drugs to improve one’s performance. Today it is major issue of controversy in Olympic Games the Asiad and other major games. Chines sports men and sports women in particular are increasingly being held up on charges of doping. The punishment for use of drugs in sports is severe. However, these have failed to discourage the players from using this. What has also failed to check doping is the harmful effects of use of drugs for increasing performance. It is shocking to observe that mostly it is the managers of the teams as well as the coaches who are responsible for encouraging the players for  taking  drugs.
Bribes to players are increasingly on the rise. This practice has been most widely seen in what was once gentleman’s game – cricket. Bribes are offered to teams/players so that the other contesting team/players can win a match. A reason for the offering of bribes is the huge amount of money that is spent by fans and groups on betting upon the winner. Another unethical practice is that of cheating by players on the ground or the field itself. There is need to understand why ethical standards in sports have so drastically fallen in modern times. Professional sports to day is not just a game, it is taken very seriously and given all the attention that excelling in a profession demands of a person. It involves a great deal of physical and mental strain. Thus to achieve his aim is nothing less than an obsession for him. The wish to be seen as a legend in the sport concerned is very strong in professional players. Thus when they are not able to achieve their dream, they some times take to cheating, lying, doping or outright violence out of psychological stress and frustration. They sometimes though sincerely, try so hard to win that they end up hurting themselves psychologically or even physically. Often matches between teams representing two nations are taken so seriously that a defeat may be considered nothing less than a loss of prestige and honour of a country and it may inspire a violent expression of patriotism such unethical practices are antithetical to the very principle of sports. So a part from strict penalties and punishments, what can be done to ensure “Clean” Sports? There is need to sincerely understand that sports ought to be played and not fought. Winning and losing must be viewed as part of the game. Thus, what is required is developing a sportsman spirit with in the players, the coaches, the managers as well as sports fans. Resorting to scheming and cheap practices to simply win is not fair towards the players and teams who play the game with honesty. The wrong doors must remember that even these players train hard to physically and mentally equip themselves for a match. Sports must involve real competition that calls into play the talent, stamina. Perserverance and determination that the players naturally possess or have acquired from hard training.
Use of wrong means to achieve victory is degrading  the very spirit of sports and humanity. Use of drugs in particular ought to be effectively tackled as it shows the way to physical, mental and moral degeneration of man.
(The author is former Deputy Librarian, University of Jammu)


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