ethical issues & coaching

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Ethical Issues & Coaching. OBJECTIVES. To define morals & ethics To examine some ethical issues & to consider that they are often complex & context specific To investigate areas where problems with ethics commonly exist - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Ethical Issues & Coaching

  • OBJECTIVES To define morals & ethicsTo examine some ethical issues & to consider that they are often complex & context specificTo investigate areas where problems with ethics commonly exist To investigate how coach behaviours influence athlete attitudes towards ethicsTo examine some potential solutions to dealing with ethical dilemmas

  • Morals & EthicsMoral to be concerned with thegoodness or badness of humanbehaviour or with the distinctionbetween right or wrong.Moralist A person who follows asystem of ethics.Ethics relate to moral principles.A principle or rule of right conduct.

    Concise Oxford Dictionary (1991)

  • Ethics

    Key Concept:

    Ethics are a more or less coherent set of principles formulated around behaviour in a particular activity.

    Lyle (2002)

  • Scenario 1A gymnastics coach makes sexual advances & suggestions to his 15 year old athlete.

    Ethical or unethical behaviour?

  • Scenario 2An athletics coach notices his sprint athlete seems to be struggling under the training load that he has been set. On further investigation it transpires the athlete has shin splints, acting under medical advice the coach alters the training regime to take his injury into account.

    Ethical or unethical behaviour?

  • Scenario 3A 26 year old male athletics coach had been coaching a 22 year old female 800 runner for 2 years. During this time athlete & coach had developed romantic feelings for each other. 2 years later the coach & athlete got married. The athlete continues to compete at international level.

    Ethical or unethical behaviour?

  • Conclusions from Case StudiesWhilst some ethical concern cases may be judged on a black & white basis many others are highly complex & shrouded by contextual issues that need to be considered on a case by case basis where material facts are open to interpretation.Hence a shades of grey approach is often most appropriate!

  • Where & Why are Ethical Concerns Likely to Arise?Coach Athlete power relationshipYouth sport level playing field conceptCompetition reward conflictEnd justifies means approachRecreational sport coach misconceptionsProfessional sport & sub-culture behaviourHero-worship & infatuation

  • Ethics & the Coach -Athlete Power RelationshipHigh potential for problems because of differences in:Age & maturityKnowledge & experienceIntensity & duration of engagement

    GenderClose physical contactPsychological dependencyEmotional intensity

  • Particular Ethical Problem AreasPower differentials are abusedAttempts to influence results or performanceInappropriate assumptions applied

  • Coach Behaviour & EthicsThis has an important influence on athletes & can fall into 4 categories:Coach demeanour & behaviour when in the coaching roleDetermining or condoning performer behaviourInterpersonal behaviour with performersThe coach's professional role

  • Potential Solutions to Ethical Challenges Codes of conductMovement towards virtues-based conduct by coachesCoach education influencesEncouraging coaches to reflect on ethical issues

  • Codes of ConductAdvantages:Set guidelines & boundaries of acceptable for unacceptable practice & behaviourGives professional credibility to coaching as minimum standards are stated Limitations:Issues led often negatively termedOften state the obvious!Rules dominatedDo not emphasise or provide examples of good practice

  • Virtues - Based ConductApproach that relies on a sincere belief by coaches living by good values What will I do here in the light of what I consider myself to be?(McNamee, 1998)

    The development of a deeper moral code to live by based on personal virtue.

  • Virtues - Based ConductApproach allows flexibility as defining moral actions in the sporting context is elusive. This approach allows certain principles to be unassailable, e.g. Respect, integrity, equity, fairness. Whilst other areas are less rigid, usually the weaker held ones.

  • Virtues - Based ConductBelief TreeRoots core valuesBranches intermediate beliefsLeaves peripheral beliefs

    This approach ensures contextual decision making takes placed as opposed to rigid rule-adherence.

  • Coach Education IssuesMinimal attention given to ethical considerations in coach education programmes. Illustrated by:

    Spending a lot of time on ethics does not really apply to me. You see I am a coach, my role is to teach physical skills to help athletes improve. I will help many people this way, & that is a good thing isn't it? Besides, I think I am a pretty good person. I get on well with people & some of my friends are from different ethnic backgrounds

  • Coach Education IssuesIt is not sufficient to simply list ethical issues & make assumptions that aspiring coaches can deal with them effectively

    A better approach is to encourage coaches to critically engage with such issues at a personal level, so that we can deal with them as they appear in practice

  • Self Reflection & EthicsCoaches are challenged by Johnson (1996) to see what potential they have to act unethically by answering the following:Admitting we may have prejudicesMaking honest attempts to identify what they areIdentify actions that reflect these prejudicesSeek support from others who can help us overcome them

  • Self Reflection & EthicsThis process allows us to realise the limitations of our thinking & that our view of truth may be one of many!Examples of questions to ask yourself:Do the athletes I work with fear me? Why?How much power do I have over the athletes I work with?Do I include athletes in the decision making process? If so, how? If not, should I?

  • Concluding Thoughts..The fight against unethical behaviour is unlikely to be ever considered over. But if coaches continue to aspire to a virtues based attitude towards their coaching, to show critical vigilance & a questioning attitude, this should lead to better ethical coaching practice.