Survey: Ethics, Fairness among High School Jocks a Critical Problem

A study of student athletes reveals high school sports are filled with cheating and poor sportsmanship. The same study finds that student athletes cheat at higher rates than non-athletes.

Whether it is using a stolen playbook, watering down a field, throwing a baseball at a batter, or altering equipment, a substantial number of young people think such gamesmanship is perfectly acceptable. That finding is according to a survey of more than 4,000 high school athletes conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Institute president Michael Josephson says coaches and parent are not doing enough to encourage good character and ethical behavior.

“I think it's bad coaching; I think it's bad parenting; I think it's bad teaching,” Josephson says bluntly. “I think kids will be as good as we expect them and demand them to be — and if we're willing to let them be less so, they will. They will lower themselves to our lowest expectations or rise to our highest.”

In a somewhat cynical discovery, the study found that 56 percent of male and 45 percent of female athletes believe that “in the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win even if others consider it cheating.” It also revealed that 42 percent of males and 22 percent of females thought it was OK to use a stolen playbook of another team.

In Josephson's mind, the study indicates that many coaches have not been using their influence on student athletes in a positive way.

“I don't think there's any doubt that if a coach truly wanted to, a coach could definitely influence a young person's attitude about cheating and bullying and all those behaviors — and they're not,” he says. “So it's an indication of the fact that this just isn't high enough on the scale of either the coaches or the parents who send their kids to sports.”

In the past year, nearly 70 percent of both male and female athletes admitted cheating on a test in school. Forty-three percent of males and 31 percent of females said they cheated or bent the rules to win.

Josephson admits he is fearful that today's playing fields have become “breeding grounds for the next generation of corporate pirates and political scoundrels.”

See also:

The Institute's Sportsmanship Survey 2004

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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