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Resolving an Ethical Dilemma

Winning is the sole objective that any team has in any program they participate in. The achievement of victory depends on the moral conducts governing that team (Hums & MacLean, 2009). How far a team is willing to go in attaining their goal is decided upon by the different groups making up the team, which is composed of the staff in the athletics department including the coach, team players, and supporters of the team working together to achieve an established goal. All participants have a role in the position that the team secures as either a win or defeat. Ethical issues arise when values and ethical principles are violated by any team member (Malloy, Ross, & Zakus, 2003). A team member, for example, might use performance-enhancing drugs to improve his/her performance on the field. Supporters of the team may also harass the coach if the team is defeated. Sports administrators must take these factors into consideration to find the best solutions to the problem without favoring any side (Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2012). In resolving moral dilemmas, several factors are considered with relation to the sports ethics. The details about the situation are first found, then various options and their consequences are determined (Solansky, 2008). The best option is chosen, and it is determined whether it corresponds to legal or ethical regulations. Options for the decision to be made are then evaluated, and the solution is implemented (Timmons, 2012). Critical skills act as a major drive in resolving ethical dilemmas with consideration of the utility (value that an organization holds), the rights (entitlement provided), and justice (equitable sharing of the problem) of the situation. This calls for an established framework for making ethical decisions which will enable efficiency, consistency, payback (emotional goodwill among all the persons involved), and self-respect. Thus, the concept of ethical dilemma is used when there is a need to choose between two similarly unsatisfactory options (Thornton, Champion, Rudell, & Rudell, 2011). This paper looks into a case study of an ethical dilemma and the framework used in resolving it. 

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Ethical Dilemma Case 

Last year during the football championship tournaments, a boy who was a student in another school was included in the team that I was working with as a coach. He was a good player but had drug and substance abuse problems. The school allowed him to play for the team as a way of securing the title championship. Most of the students knew about his drug problems, but neither I nor the athletics director were informed about it. Therefore, one day after practice, I stayed late to finish some arrangements, and when leaving the office, I found him taking drugs. I was to decide on whether I should allow him to play since he was not a student in the school or not since he was using drugs. The athletics director had given him a chance to play despite knowing that he was not one of the students. The fact that leadership of the athletics department allowed him on the team indicated that there was extreme corruption among them. The procured student athlete became violent towards fellow team players, and I realized he had to be removed from the team. The athletics department complained about the decision of removing him since there was no one to play in his position during the tournament.

In resolving the moral dilemma, I applied a formal structure developed by Malloy, Ross, and Zakus (2003) in their book Sport Ethics. The first stage of their framework is to identify the moral dilemma. Malloy, Ross & Zakus (2003) suggested three independent methods that can be applied to identify the moral position of the dilemma, which include “teleological, deontological, and existential recognition.” In teleological ethics, morality or rightness of a decision or action depends on its end to be achieved; this contrasts with deontological ethics, which maintains that moral rightness of an action does not depend on the evil or good generated but is reinforced by adhering to rules. Existential ethics places emphasis on the freedom to choose as well as being responsible for the consequences of one’s actions and decisions. In teleological recognition, the support of the student was meant to boost his skills in football while playing with experienced players. In his school, the football team had many participants resulting in him being a substitute. Thus, this was an opportunity for him to practice and take part in the tournaments. On the other hand, his participation was posing a danger of the team losing their reputation if he was identified as a student from a different school. In deontological recognition, the student did not break the rules by playing for the team, but the athletics director and other department heads acted against the rules by allowing him to play. By using drugs, he broke the rules of the team and the school. With regard to existential recognition, the student’s freedom to choose led to him taking no responsibility for his actions. By applying all these techniques, it was established that the student’s unethical behavior resulted from both the athletics director’s decision and the student’s use of performance-enhancing drugs. 

The second stage suggested by Malloy, Ross, and Zakus, (2003) is the generation of alternatives. From a teleological perspective, the student’s participation in the team would help him improve his performance and skills. From a deontological point of view, the rules and policies of the school were broken by allowing him to participate in the school team. Substance and drug abuse is also against the school regulations and the legal requirements of the government system. From the existential standpoint, the athletics director and the student both had the option of deciding whether the student should play or not. 

The third stage is evaluation of ideas (Malloy, Ross, & Zakus, 2003). In a teleological approach, the student’s participation in the team would act as a positive factor for his improvement as an athletic. However, from the deontological perspective, his participation in the team is against the policies of the latter, and drug abuse disqualifies his support. From an existentialist viewpoint, the student had the choice of either accepting or refusing to play for the team. The athletics director had a choice of accepting a student into the team, as he was not part of the institution. The advantage that the student would add to the team was not a solid reason for allowing him to play. 

Stage four is the selection of an ideal solution. Considering all sides, the perfect solution to the dilemma is not the final one. Trainings for the football team were in progress by the time the student joined it. However, since the director realized that the team was lacking better receivers, he opted for a different solution in adding an additional player. Malloy, Ross & Zakus (2003) asserted that the perfect solution to an ethical dilemma is to be “good, right, and authentic.” However, the choice the athletic director made was contrary to the three requirements. 

Stage five is the intention for choosing the perfect solution. I did recommend that the student should not be allowed to play in the team. If competitor teams realize that an additional player was added in order to secure a win, the school was to be disqualified from participating in the championships. Additionally, athletics regulations do not allow athletes to participate while under influence of any drugs or stimulants. 

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The sixth stage is overt ethical/unethical behavior. Inclusion of the student in the team without informing other department members is against the rules that guide the coaching practice. No action against drug and substance abuse was administered to the student even after it came to the knowledge of the department heads. The last stage is the evaluation of performance. The student was not to be allowed to play according to the rules that the school adheres to as a part of a sporting organization. However, under the deontological theory, the rules were not observed at all. 

In resolving the case, the student was the first priority. His intentions were to advance his skills as a football player. However, he pursued his goal using unacceptable methods. The position that the team had secured in their participation was another factor considered. If the team were to be disqualified for ignoring the rules of the sporting organizations, then many students’ hopes would be shattered. The school’s reputation would also be destroyed if the fact that they ignored such a mistake was revealed. 

As a result, the student’s participation in any other program that the institution had was denied. The school administration also reviewed the teams and participants to ensure that a similar situation does not occur. In the event of the same situation, all the steps followed would be the guidelines in resolving the case. The structure developed by Malloy, Ross, and Zakus (2003) allows comprehensive understanding of the situation and helps in finding an appropriate conclusive solution. 

Ethical issues arise when values and ethical principles are violated by any participant in a team. It requires a choice to be made between two similarly unsatisfactory alternatives. Resolving ethical problems consists in making choices dictated by our morals and beliefs that what we are doing is right and humane. Sports administrators must remain impartial when seeking the most appropriate solution to the problem. It measures the morals and critical skills of an individual with reference to people affected. Such problems occur in our everyday life, and with a guiding framework, they are peacefully solved.