“Winning isn’t everything.. . . it’s the only thing.”

This oft-quoted phrase, attributed to both Henry (Red) Sanders, coach of the UCLA Bruins and Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers, sums up the fervor with which fans, athletes, coaches, parents, and others approach sport.

Many individuals believe that the goal of sports is to win, no matter what that costs. Others believe that other aspects of sports should be the focus, such as effort and teamwork. While sports contests are designed to determine who wins, it is important to concentrate on the process by which the winning takes place. Yes, winning is important, but so is the process, particularly if participants wish to act ethically. Sport administrators are often caught in the middle when it comes to this debate over winning versus sportsmanship. This is a debate that can get quite heated when a drive to win a game or a season or a big event appears to be in jeopardy over less-tangible concerns such as fairness or safety. As a sport administrator, you will need to understand your responsibility for the actions of others, the rights of all you serve, as well as concepts such as sportsmanship, gamesmanship, and fair play.

"I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.“ —Sophocles

The phrase “foul ball” took on a different connotation at the 2015 Little League World Series when a girls’ softball team from Snohomish, Washington, was accused of cheating in a playoff game. Interestingly, the team allegedly cheated to lose, not win, but the intention was likely to set up a better situation for the next round of play by allowing an inferior team to be their next opponent. The Snohomish team was ordered to play an additional game with its rival, a team from Iowa, and lost, thus being eliminated from the series (Mather, 2015).

The United States is, of course, not the only nation to have scandals erupt over cheating. Research reveals scandals from other nations across the world, from a German man posing as a woman in the 1936 Berlin Olympics high jump to a Puerto Rican 400-meter relay racer substituting her identical twin sister to run in the 1984 Los Angeles games after she was injured (Klein, 2012).

Cheating, then, is a universal breach of ethics common in sports. Not only is the practice universal, but in all of these instances there were likely opportunities for a leader to prevent these occurrences had these individuals been able to analyze the dilemmas and apply values consistently. As a sport administrator, you will not be able to avoid ethical dilemmas completely. Decisions can be made in a more informed, reasoned way when you have a deep understanding of different models that you can rely on as a basis

1. Klein, C. (2012). Shortcuts to the Gold: 9 cheaters in Olympic history. Retrieved from history.com

2. Mather, V. (2015, August 18). Little League softball scandal ends in elimination for the accused. Retrieved from nytimes.com

> Use the Weekly Learning Materials to video to help you with this Discussion.


For this Discussion, conduct online research to select one article on an ethical dilemma involving cheating, and one article on winning in sport. Your example should not be related to the “Big 4” U.S. sports: football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. Rather, you should reach beyond to seek an article on an international sport and/or a lesser known sport in the United States or an international sport not always featured predominantly in the media.

By Tuesday, 11:59 p.m. ET:

Post a brief description of the article and provide the citation. In this situation, how did perspectives on the importance of winning influence the outcome of the situation and ethical decision making? Describe an ethical theory from your Learning Materials and explain how it applies to the situation in the article. Explain the ethical dilemma or dilemmas involved including the values in conflict. Finally, explain your own perspective on the importance of winning, the ramifications of cheating and how this perspective might influence your ethical decision making.