Making Ethical Decisions
Ethical Decisions occur when there are several
possible courses of action and it is not obvious which
is the correct course of action
Decisions will have ramifications that will affect
those involved
Ethics often involves choosing the most morally
correct action over other choices
To Play or Not to Play
Read the Situation presented on
Page 12 of Ethical Decision Making in
the Workbook.
“Jamie has just been named the head
coach of her sport organization. She
has noticed that one of the athletes
seems to suffer from a knee ...”
Decision Making Process
For
Ethical Thinking
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Get all the facts and both sides of the issue
Ask yourself, is it a legal matter or ethical?
Identify the issues, what is at stake in this
decision
Identify possible actions to take and the
potential consequences of each
Assess the Pros and Cons of each of action
Select a course of action
Implement the decision
1. Getting The Facts
Take time to get information before
giving a response. Think before you
speak.
Be sure to act only after hearing all
sides of the story. Don’t decide
based on one person’s spin.
Write the facts in point form
Facts
The athlete is a minor
The athlete shows symptoms of injury
Everyone (coach, parents, athlete, doctor) agree on symptoms
Parents demand their child participate. Refer to opinion of the
Family MD to justify no risk
No written proof from a doctor on their opinion/diagnosis
Coach background leads her to believe situation serious and could
have long term health consequences
Athlete is talented with a shot at the provincial team
Policy of the organization gives coach final say on allowing an
athlete to participate
Another policy says written medical permission is needed to
return to the sport after an injury
Before the competion the athlete confirms the pain but is willing
to play
Provincial coach came a long way to scout the athlete today
2. Legal or Ethical
Any issue of abuse (mental or
physical) is a legal matter.
Any issue that breaks the law is a
legal matter.
If the issue is a legal matter notify
the authorities and they deal with it.
If the issue is not a legal matter
proceed with the decision process
This is not a legal issue. This
has ethical implication
Continue on with the decision
process to the next step and
determine what issues are at stake.
3. Issues At Stake
Your action or non action can affect your authority as coach and the
respect and discipline of the team as well as its supporters toward
you.
In this section you write down the issues at risk depending on your
action or non action as coach. List what is at risk.
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Issues at stake:
Long term health of the athlete is at risk
Respect for the policies of the organization
Responsibility of the coach to make the decision
Appropriate use of power (as a coach to an athlete and a parent’s
authority over their child)
Individual goals – the chance to compete provincially
4. Possible Actions and
Consequences
List the possible actions you could take. Do
this in clear words and in point form.
When thinking of actions a good start is to
think:
What would happen if I did nothing
What would happen if I took the most
extreme pro action
What would happen if I took the most
extreme con action
Is there a middle ground option?
What are your Options?
Coach makes no intervention and
allows the parents to proceed
Coach decides to allow the athlete to
compete
Coach decides not to let the athlete
compete
5. Pros and Cons
List the possible action. Underneath write out all
the pros you can think of for this action. Then
write out all the cons for the same action. Use
point form and clear language.
Do this for each possible action you have identified.
Coach makes no intervention and allows the
parents to proceed
The athlete competes and will have a
chance to be selected; he/she will
run the risk of doing more damage to
the injury; the parents not the coach
are making the decision;the coach
abdicates her responsibilities for the
athlete; a conflict with the parents is
avoided.
Coach allows the athlete to compete
The athlete will compete and will
have a chance to be selected; he/she
runs the risk of doing more injury to
to their body; the coach assumes his
or her decision-making authority; a
conflict with the parents is avoided.
The coach’s authority is enforced.
The coach decides to not allow the athlete to
compete
The athlete will not compete and
his/her chances of being selected
may be compromised; he/she will
not run a risk of further injury; the
coach assumes her decision-making
authority; a conflict with the parents
may erupt; the provincial coach
came a long way for nothing.
6. Before Selecting your Action
consider such things as:
Choosing the decision that best
reflects or preserves your values
Is the action consistent with team
rules, expectations and past actions
you have taken; does it set a
precedent?
Ask is my decision just and fair for all
concerned
Consider if you have any bias that
may affect your judgment
Your Decision and Defence
I would allow the athlete to compete.
I cannot be certain the athlete’s
participation will cause further injury
although I believe it is a risk. I have
conveyed my feelings to both athlete and
parents. Because the parents, athlete
and, by their word, the family MD believe
he can compete I concede to the parental
authority over mine as coach.
Implementing the Decision
Once you have your decision you need
to consider the best way to announce
it. Tact and sensitivity help people
to understand your actions.
Consider:
Who needs to be told
When and where to tell them
Who else should be involved
Be prepared to justify your reasons
Ethical Decisions
Your team has just lost a close game to a tough
opponent. It was a rough game and one of your
players is refusing to shake hands after the game
on the grounds he was mistreated by the other
team. Her parents are in agreement and
encouraging him to leave. It is a team rule that
you shake hands after every game.
What are the facts
Close game
Tough game
Athlete felt disrespected, mistreated
Athlete is upset and angry ??
Refuses to shake hands
Parents don’t want her to shake hands
Team rule broken
You are witnessing it
Is this a legal issue
No
Treat it as an Ethical Situation
Continue with decision process
What are the Issues
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Sportsmanship
Team rules being violated
Coaches authority with players
Leadership coach vs parents
Team image
Possible Actions
1.
Do nothing
2.
Suspend athlete for a game
3.
Confront athlete and parents and insist athlete shake
hands on the spot
4.
Have a meeting of team and parents before the next
game to review the team tradition of shaking hands and
its importance and to indicate it will not be tolerated in
future.
5.
Do nothing then, wait till later to talk to athlete and
parents. Review rule and as a condition to stay on the
team she must apologize to team for action and
understand another incident could lead to more serious
action
Weigh Pros and Cons
1.
No Action
By taking no action there is no ugly scene
Rule is disrespected and others may feel they don’t need to follow it either
Team image is hurt
Some parents and athletes lose respect for coach and her authority
2.
Suspend athlete for a game
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May upset the athlete and parents who feel they did nothing wrong
Reinforces the rules and the coach’s authority
Preserves team image
3.
Confront athlete and parents and insist on shaking hands on the spot
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Too immediate and could result in an ugly scene with the parents/athlete
May escalate the problem
Upholds coach’s authority, team rules, team image, respect from players and
parents
Weighing Pros and Cons
4
Have a meeting of team and parents before the
next game to review the team tradition of
shaking hands and its importance and to
indicate it will not be tolerated in future.
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Does not address the guilty party
Unfair to those who follow the rule
Team image suffers
Coach’s authority weakened
5.
Do nothing then, wait till later to talk to athlete
and parents. Review rule and ask athlete to
apologize to team and other coach for action
and understand another incident could lead to
more serious action
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Avoids ugly scene
Gives athlete a second chance
Reinforces rules
May show a lack of importance for the rule since there
was no immediate consequence for breaking the rule
Team image may suffer
Gives athlete the choice
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Select an Action
Suspend athlete for a game
Upon reflection this preserves most of my values and is
something as coach I feel I can defend if questioned
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Avoids ugly scene and escalation of problems
Upholds the team rule with consequences
Directed only at the offender
Upholds team image
Maintains authority and leadership of coach
Implementation
• Must take place before the next practice or game
• Have assistant coach present
• Be sensitive and understanding of the athlete and parents
feelings of upset but reinforce the importance of
sportsmanship and the team handshake as the priority
• Clearly state that on this team you don’t play unless you
follow the team rules
• Be polite but firm in your stance