Integrity in athletics goes beyond playing by the rules of the game or respecting a referee’s ruling. True athletic integrity requires athletes to remain competitive without seeking methods of advancement that lack morals and ethics. While the concept seems simple, it’s surprising how quickly athletes can find themselves trying to justify gray areas.
No Fake Outs
Let’s say your son’s football team is out of timeouts but in need of a quick moment to regroup. We all know how valuable a couple of minutes invested in getting a team back on the same page can be. So, how about encouraging a player to fake an injury to give his team just long enough to cover the new plan of attack? This is a gray area you will find parents, coaches and players on both sides of. However, it is clearly lacking in athletic integrity.
Bending the Rules
I recall watching a winter Olympics several years back where a gold medal speed skater became a hot topic of debate. Speed skaters are disqualified for outright pushing, shoving or bumping opponents. Critics claimed that the skater in question had mastered the art of “accidentally” clipping competitors while passing. In every competition he was in, his competitors consistently challenged these “accidents,” which often lost them the race. Maybe these were indeed accidents. The question that arose with fans and athletes on both sides of the fence was whether it was a competitive strategy if you make it look like an accident or a lack of athletic integrity.
Professional Athletes Set Poor Examples, Too
There is a long list of examples of collegiate and professional athletes showing a lack of athletic integrity. From inflate-gate to Derek Jeter pretending to be hit by a pitch and even professional basketball players who fake a foul when they know they aren’t going to make the shot. Children look up to these athletes, so you can see how easy it is for young and impressionable athletes to adopt an unhealthy mindset.
The Flipside of Athletic Integrity
On the flipside, there are shining examples of coaches and athletes whose integrity is to be modeled after. For example, when a high school volleyball player named Emmee Ashby admitted that she had touched a ball hit out of bounds, she did this even though it took the score from 23-22, in favor of her opponents. To further this shining example of athletic integrity, her coach praised her by recognizing “her commendable act of integrity and honesty in such a crucial junction of the match.”
A Slippery Slope
As you can see, athletic integrity can be a slippery slope we must not allow athletes to slide down. It is something we must instill in athletes at a young age and hold them accountable to, no matter how valuable an athlete they may be. Praise all acts of integrity from student athletes, and address the importance of sticking to a strong code of ethics should issues arise.
Integrity is winning a game or a match fair and square, winning a student election by running an ethical campaign or getting the promotion at work because you genuinely earned it. At Competitive Edge we work diligently to ensure integrity remains at the forefront of all of our programs.
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge, VA and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.