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TBone

Professional sport and morality

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Is professional sport so focussed on winning that morality is overlooked? We’ve had famous examples in other sports of players teams getting one over on the opposition in questionable situations. Think the likes of: ball tampering in cricket, in football Maradona and the ‘hand of god’ goal,  drugs in atheletics/cycling, and some paralympians simulating higher levels of disability. Do we now add another ‘hand of god’  incident - the hand of god  that actually grounded the ball for Mason Cayton Brown?

Does it really feel like winning if one relies on such dubious practices or economy with the the truth? Why aren’t these practises more reviled? Is it because sport is merely a mirror reflecting the general level of morality in society? That cheating is ok as long as you don’t get caught doing it.

 

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I suppose that in any sport, amateur as well as professional, when the opportunity to get one over on the opposition arises then it will often be taken, be that trying to con the referee into giving the wrong decision or in the example you quote failing to point out a mistake.

While I am not a fan of the apparent current trend of faking or exaggerating injuries I think there is a difference between taking advantage of a situation of a situation as it arises, such as failing to tell the referee of a mistake and systematic, planned cheating such as doping in cycling which requires whole teams to carry out and cover up. I suppose with the former it can be a case of you win some and you lose some with decisions going for and against you, in the latter case there is no excuse

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Which way to the TRL.com philosophy deparment?

Is not the law just morality codified? 

Maybe morality as the OP described it merely an attempt to justify personal opinions and biases.

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I thought you were in charge of the sheep-dip, Bruce?

(An old one for any Monty Python fans), sorry.

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In rugby league you win some, you lose some.

The overlooked stuff ups appear in almost every game. It’s just unfortunate that it occurred during the act of scoring a try. It could just as easily occurred with a dodgy penalty that results in a try 30 seconds later.

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It’s a big reason I rarely watch football now tbh . Constant cheating , accentuating things , deceiving of all kinds . Even throwing your arm up when you know you’ve kicked the ball out . It’s anything to win . I do laugh when I see players coming on doing all these religious devotions ... then starting to cheat immediately . Winning is all and it’s totally ingrained , sadly often even barely mentioned , and it’s very annoying looking in . We need to beware going that way even further as in  aspects there’s a direction of travel that way and it needs to be scrutinised 

Edited by DavidM
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I think morality belongs to the age of the horse and cart ,coal mines, going to church on Sunday and starch collars. Those days are gone, something Rugby League should bear in mind, the days of playing a game and expecting thousands of locals just to turn up because they always have before are also long gone. Before cameras were at every game, be it clubs or TV, how many tries or wrong decisions occurred? People argued about it but generally just got on with it, I don't recall many refusing tries back then either.

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I would say that the introduction of VAR into sports shows that people do want things to be fair. The cheats and rule breakers are going to be increasingly found out, due to this technology. I think that's a good thing.

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I think you have to treat opportunistic cheating and premeditated cheating differently.

A footballer taking a dive to win a free kick or a Rugby League player locking a player into a tackle to win a penalty may be pretty prevalent in these sports and are probably encouraged by coaches and managers (implicitly if not explicitly).  But I would classify them as opportunistic cheating as the opportunity has to present itself on the field.  These actions are almost always derided by fans and yet seem to be tolerated by most.  I would suggest that you forgive a lot if it is your team doing it and your team is winning... it is rare to hear a fan admit that their chosen team is a bad offender, it is so often 'the other lot'.

But premeditated cheating is different and is treated differently.  Drugs cheats across many sports, the Spanish intellectual disability basketball team fielding players who were not disabled, the Harlequins 'bloodgate' scandal when fake blood was used to facilitate a blood substation (and the club doctor actually cutting a player to cover it up).  These, and more like them, are really frowned upon by pretty much everyone in the sport and the general public.  Those found cheating have to struggle to be accepted back into the fold.

I guess with all of these things it is the desire to win.  I am amazed to see anybody knowingly put a harmful substance into their body and yet it happens so much.  I guess they would rather be a gold medallist who dies at 45 than a 90 year old also ran (I for one would rather be the latter!)

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17 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

I think you have to treat opportunistic cheating and premeditated cheating differently.

I disagree, because I think if you take to the field with the mindset that you're going to cheat whenever you can, and all you're waiting for is the opportunity to do so, then I don't really see much difference between the two things. When a players is told in football that the moment they feel some contact in the penalty area, that they're to go down - to me that is premeditated. Sure, nobody could be completely certain that the player would find themselves in that position during a match, but you can be certain that if they did, that they're going to cheat. To me that's not opportunism. Opportunism is when you find yourself in a completely unexpected situation, and you react to take advantage of it in a way that benefits you, even if on reflection it's the wrong thing to do. That's not what is happening most of the time. Players know that they're very likely to find themselves in certain situations, and they've got their plan to cheat ready. It's that mindset that needs stamping out, and thankfully due to things like VAR - and those players more likely now to be caught and punished - it is being gradually eradicated.

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6 hours ago, TBone said:

Is professional sport so focussed on winning that morality is overlooked? We’ve had famous examples in other sports of players teams getting one over on the opposition in questionable situations. Think the likes of: ball tampering in cricket, in football Maradona and the ‘hand of god’ goal,  drugs in atheletics/cycling, and some paralympians simulating higher levels of disability. Do we now add another ‘hand of god’  incident - the hand of god  that actually grounded the ball for Mason Cayton Brown?

Does it really feel like winning if one relies on such dubious practices or economy with the the truth? Why aren’t these practises more reviled? Is it because sport is merely a mirror reflecting the general level of morality in society? That cheating is ok as long as you don’t get caught doing it.

 

 

I think morality is large created by the environment we construct for it to exist in.

So the short answer is yes. 

Longer answer if you whole life is focused on 1 moment and the existence and your well being of everything  then hinges on success then the reality is survival instinct will force you take choices that are selfish.

What goes on at a professional level will filter down to all levels of the sport.

When playing was more about the status of being a player and less about your own survival I would say you were likely to find a higher level of corinthian spirit.   

 

 

Edited by TheLegendOfTexEvans
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3 hours ago, Clogiron said:

I think morality belongs to the age of the horse and cart ,coal mines, going to church on Sunday and starch collars.

Morality exists whether you want it to or not. Whilst there are groups of human beings there will be morality, it shouldn't be confused with a religion, which have some coded moral set. I'm an atheist and I'd still like to think that I have some moral compass to guide me.There are still accepted standards of right or wrong (however warped they be in some societies).

A question similar to this one was put to me when I was a student looking for a job. I got an interview with Ford and there was a high profile incident at the time, I think in cricket. The interviewer asked me what I'd do in the situation of knowing I'd cheated to win. Hmmm, do you say that cheating an ok thing because it gets a win for your side (the ends justify the means), or do you say you should always tell the truth? I can't have answered very well because I didn't get the job!

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47 minutes ago, TheLegendOfTexEvans said:

 

I think morality is large created by the environment we construct for it to exist in.

So the short answer is yes. 

Longer answer if you whole life is focused on 1 moment and the existence and your well being of everything  then hinges on success then the reality is survival instinct will force you take choices that are selfish.

What goes on at a professional level will filter down to all levels of the sport.

When playing was more about the status of being a player and less about your own survival I would say you were likely to find a higher level of corinthian spirit.   

 

 

Agreed. But, as someone earlier pointed out VR is being introduced to many sports for just the purpose of attempting to support the officials and relieve the players of the moral conundrum (not that I think many even think about it, if they ever did it was probably coached out of them) of such situations in the game.

Strange how, although RL was early with its use of VR we've never managed to get it every SL game (presumably the cost, the technology seems to have been sorted). The football world cup showed that you don't need a VR at every ground, as long as there's a decent broadband available you can cosset the VR just about anywhere. If it'd have been available who knows how the result would have turned to.

I think the society that we live in today has many moral ambiguities, the best example of which is probably in the US where many of the foundations of their republic are currently under assault. Strangely enough this is being challenged by sportspeople and their sponsors. So maybe sportsmen aren't so single minded as they at first seem. There's hope yet :)

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8 minutes ago, TBone said:

Agreed. But, as someone earlier pointed out VR is being introduced to many sports for just the purpose of attempting to support the officials and relieve the players of the moral conundrum (not that I think many even think about it, if they ever did it was probably coached out of them) of such situations in the game.

Strange how, although RL was early with its use of VR we've never managed to get it every SL game (presumably the cost, the technology seems to have been sorted). The football world cup showed that you don't need a VR at every ground, as long as there's a decent broadband available you can cosset the VR just about anywhere. If it'd have been available who knows how the result would have turned to.

I think the society that we live in today has many moral ambiguities, the best example of which is probably in the US where many of the foundations of their republic are currently under assault. Strangely enough this is being challenged by sportspeople and their sponsors. So maybe sportsmen aren't so single minded as they at first seem. There's hope yet :)

Not sure I am saying player need to relieved of making moral choices.

Just that if you see your motivation to be seen as a honourable sportsman or desire to keep paid employment is going to be affected by the introduction of a full time professional game.

 

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Do you think that there's any morality in politics, it's them who oversee and create the laws of the land. In sport what about the morality shown in Cricket and RU in condoning tours to and from South Africa during apartheid or the latters attitude to RL over many years. During the Thatcher year's we embraced Pinochet and SA and tried to stop athletes attending the Moscow Olympic's, yet it didn't seem to stop her retaining power unfortunately so what happened to morality then??

 

 

 

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I think we should count ourselves relatively lucky that Rugby League doesn’t see much on the field cheating.  Of course, where you draw the line between gamesmanship and cheating will be different for different people.  Anyone faking an injury or taking a dive is just as likely to be given stick from their own side as the other, but a tackled player holding a tackler on them to milk a penalty?  Not as easy to see for officials let alone from the stands.  What about sneakily untying the boots of an opponent in the scrum?  Deliberate cheating or just amusingly opportunistic?

We don’t see that many players taking performance enhancing drugs any more thankfully, cocaine seems to be the most recent culprit; if anything, the worst cheating in recent times is the creative accounting required to avoid salary cap by owners and administrators.

In Caton-Brown’s case he may have had an idea he might have dropped the ball, but you play to the whistle and the call of the ref and it happened that fast he may have felt he had control all the way through too.  It’s only easy to say with certainty with reverse frame by frame hindsight.

In my opinion there is less respect for the refs nowadays, but then there is far more knocking them than supporting them these days as mistakes are simply not accepted any more, not grudgingly tolerated like they have been in the past.  I’m sure that feeds into players gobbing off more, but whether that would be considered a moral failing I don’t know.

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51 minutes ago, CanaBull said:

I think we should count ourselves relatively lucky that Rugby League doesn’t see much on the field cheating.  Of course, where you draw the line between gamesmanship and cheating will be different for different people.  Anyone faking an injury or taking a dive is just as likely to be given stick from their own side as the other, but a tackled player holding a tackler on them to milk a penalty?  Not as easy to see for officials let alone from the stands.  What about sneakily untying the boots of an opponent in the scrum?  Deliberate cheating or just amusingly opportunistic?

We don’t see that many players taking performance enhancing drugs any more thankfully, cocaine seems to be the most recent culprit; if anything, the worst cheating in recent times is the creative accounting required to avoid salary cap by owners and administrators.

In Caton-Brown’s case he may have had an idea he might have dropped the ball, but you play to the whistle and the call of the ref and it happened that fast he may have felt he had control all the way through too.  It’s only easy to say with certainty with reverse frame by frame hindsight.

In my opinion there is less respect for the refs nowadays, but then there is far more knocking them than supporting them these days as mistakes are simply not accepted any more, not grudgingly tolerated like they have been in the past.  I’m sure that feeds into players gobbing off more, but whether that would be considered a moral failing I don’t know.

Isn't it  always the case that a referee may only make one or two mistakes in a game and be roundly crucified by coaches and commentators yet how many mistakes do players make, and how often do commentators criticize them , especially on Sky where everyone's a ' brilliant' player. It's the old boy's network all over. In Australia it's much the same scenario with one notable exception: surprisingly Michael Ennis, as a player I couldn't stand him but as a commentator  apart from learning that less is more (Hello Terry and Barry) he's not afraid to go for the jugular and good for him, long may it continue.

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Oh for the halcyon days of the golden past when fair play ruled and good honest players like Alex Murphy... oh, my theory just exploded. :tongue:

Edited by Futtocks
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6 hours ago, thepimp007 said:

The thing is what did Caton Brown feel in the act of scoring, it wasn't clear he had dropped it at full spee

 "Oh I'm sorry Mr Referee, sir, you've made a mistake awarding me that try and you should strike it off forthwith: I cannot tell a lie ; I inadvertently lost control of the ball as I was diving over to score" 👀

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14 hours ago, Clogiron said:

Do you think that there's any morality in politics, it's them who oversee and create the laws of the land. In sport what about the morality shown in Cricket and RU in condoning tours to and from South Africa during apartheid or the latters attitude to RL over many years. During the Thatcher year's we embraced Pinochet and SA and tried to stop athletes attending the Moscow Olympic's, yet it didn't seem to stop her retaining power unfortunately so what happened to morality then??

 

 

 

Well that escalated quickly.

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18 hours ago, 17 stone giant said:

I would say that the introduction of VAR into sports shows that people do want things to be fair. The cheats and rule breakers are going to be increasingly found out, due to this technology. I think that's a good thing.

VAR to my mind  does completely the opposite of that ...for things to be fair you have trained match officials on the field ...end of 

Might be a tad old fashioned but the decision making should begin and end with officials on the field , now whether those officials are competent is another matter :-) but that is down to a Sports Governing Body 

As for cheats and rule breakers , All we had in the world cup were teams jostling the officials for VAR for every small indiscretion, hardly progress 

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9 hours ago, Dave W said:

 "Oh I'm sorry Mr Referee, sir, you've made a mistake awarding me that try and you should strike it off forthwith: I cannot tell a lie ; I inadvertently lost control of the ball as I was diving over to score" 👀

I get your point, sounds kind of dumb does’t it. But now tell me how you explain to your children why they were doing wrong when the nice policeman brought them home after they ‘forgot’ to tell the shopkeeper they had some sweets in their pockets. Or do you just tell them, hard luck you got caught?

In the MCB case we all saw him take ‘them’. And, yes, there isn’t a sanction for MCB. And some people will be OK with it (Toronto). But others (Toulouse) will definitely think something was stolen from them, just as pretty much the whole of England was outraged when the Maradona ‘goal’ was replayed on TV.

However, in support of your position the rules of the game state that:

Quote

The Referee judges on matters of fact and shall not subsequently alter those judgments. He may cancel any decision made if prior foul play of which he had no knowledge is reported to him by a Touch Judge.

BUT they also include that a player is guilty of misconduct

Quote

behaves in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game.

If the true spirit of the game includes the player celebrating to influence the referee towards their desired outcome then that’s fine. Or is it?

Edited by TBone

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One thing that might stop players milking pens is that refs stop falling for the same old tricks game after game . Players flapping around on the ground like a beached seal when "trying to play the ball" , players deliberately throwing the ball against a player when they are "in the way" at the ruck ,etc ,Too many pens being given for marginal incidents only encourages players to try and gain pens rather than actually playing Rugby .

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14 hours ago, Clogiron said:

Isn't it  always the case that a referee may only make one or two mistakes in a game and be roundly crucified by coaches and commentators yet how many mistakes do players make, and how often do commentators criticize them , especially on Sky where everyone's a ' brilliant' player. It's the old boy's network all over. In Australia it's much the same scenario with one notable exception: surprisingly Michael Ennis, as a player I couldn't stand him but as a commentator  apart from learning that less is more (Hello Terry and Barry) he's not afraid to go for the jugular and good for him, long may it continue.

Sadly at the school I attended (that was a long time ago, and I’m sure it is true of many other schools) the kids in the football team were encouraged to ‘compete’ every incident so that the refereee was constantly under pressure to make decisions.

We see this in most sports these days, the officials - who are usually have the lowest pay of anyone on the field - are also, generally, the least respected.

Maybe it is just part of being ‘professional’ player that you use any trick/device to get your side a win? It certainly seems that is accepted.

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