Situational Analysis of an Ethical Issue in Sport

Situational Analysis of an Ethical Issue in Sport

Ethical issue – Corruption


Ethics refers to the rules that define what is wrong and what is right and what people should be doing and how they should conduct themselves concerning their rights, values, responsibilities, and societal benefits. It defines the different ways in which individuals should interact with one another and their environment to ensure that they live in peace by doing the right thing and maintaining mutual respect. In general, ethics promotes and systematizes the community’s governing concepts of right and wrong. Thus, ethical behavior refers to behavior and actions considered to be just, proper, and usually beneficial to society (Forrest, 2017). An optimal community is established by adhering to ethical rules and values, ensuring that varied viewpoints are accommodated alongside equitable treatment for all individuals without impinging on their freedom or rights.

 This essay will examine corruption as an ethical concern in the sports industry. Corruption is defined as fraudulent activities committed by those in power with the primary objective of obtaining personal gain. Despite the presence of laws and regulations within the industry, corruption has persisted in sports. Sport is a worldwide activity in which many people participate, resulting in a high annual revenue of around $145 billion. Corruption is pervasive throughout the world, and the sports industry is no different. Corruption can occasionally go undetected, unregulated, and overlooked within the sports sector, owing to the sector’s multibillion-dollar valuation (Andreff, 2018). Several cases have occurred in which regulations have been violated to achieve competitive advantages inside various sporting entities.

An excellent example is a fraction of athletes and umpires accepting bribes, engaging in doping practices, and receiving kickbacks from coaches in addition to receiving insider knowledge. As a result, sports have ceased to be, having evolved into breeding grounds for corruption and other controversies (Andreff, 2018). Generally, individuals have placed a higher premium on sports events, becoming fascinated with winning.

Literature Review

Summary of the Scholarly Sources

According to Forrest et al. (2017), the arena of agent athletes is riddled with corruption. Nearly half of the brokers are willing and prepared to go to any length to sign any athlete. There is a strong incentive to violate the regulations to sign the cream of the crop, as sports agents earn a percentage of the contractual payment they can negotiate for the athletes. College athletics feature a high amount of corruption; as a result, universities are attempting to curtail this conduct (Forrest, 2017).  Loland et al. (2018) argue that sports and corruption are inextricably linked since several scandals, unethical behavior, and bribery within the sports industry over a lengthy period. However, by enforcing the rule of conduct more broadly, the misconduct will be minimized. The games industry always will face the difficulty of focusing only on the athletes’ bad stories.

Lastra et al. (2018) note that news reporters have traditionally exposed sports scandals. In 1989, one of the most publicized sports scandals occurred. The affair resulted in Pete Rose’s suspension from baseball for gambling. Pete Rose was betting on every game even though he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, a big-league baseball team. As a result of his gambling activities, he received a Dowd report, a document detailing all of his misconducts, which resulted in his permanent suspension from major league baseball in the United States. Similarly, Ann Arbor, Michigan, is another early 1990s example of sports gambling having negative implications.

Yeun et al. (2017) suggest that the incident involved Ed Martin being found guilty of giving money to four University of Michigan basketball players (Holden, Rodenberg & Kaburakis, 2017). James King, Juwan Richardson, Jalen Rosen, and Chris Wagner were the four players. He was convicted of lending the players $616000 from gaming proceeds and other sources. After leading the club to national championships in 1993 and 1992, the move resulted in the club’s suspension.

Apart from gambling and extortion, Holden et al. (2017) argue that doping is another critical worry in the sports industry. A good example is discovering that the urine of Russian athletes who were doping had been changed with a clean urine sample to pass the Olympic drug testing in Sochi during the 2014 winter Olympics. This resulted in Russia’s athletes being barred from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Kruessmann et al. (2019) note that the Tour de France has seen multiple examples of chemical booster use that resulted in sanctions; nonetheless, several riders continue to dope. In 2007, the Tour de France was again embroiled in a doping scandal after two cyclists failed a doping test.

According to Palgrave Macmillan et al. (2017), two teams were forced to withdraw from the race following the discovery of at least one member guilty of doping before the event’s conclusion. As a result, Lance Armstrong was found to have used a chemical enhancer to win the Tour de France from 1999 through 2009. He took the medicine EPO, which promotes the creation of blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout the body. Armstrong was permanently banned from the Tour de France and stripped of all his victories as a result. Insider trading is defined as using available information by insiders only to profit from financial trade illegally. For instance, in October 2015, the sports sector was rocked by an insider trading scandal surrounding fantasy sports.

Matheson et al. (2018) point out that there have been instances where employees of FanDuel and DraftKings online fantasy sports betting services exploited insider information to boost their winnings on competing sites. The case featured a DraftKings employee earning around $350000 on fanDuel less than a week after accidentally releasing confidential data before national football league games (Matheson, Schwab & Koval, 2018). Such coincidences startled the observers.

Lam et al. (2019) note that the internet has facilitated sports betting; as a result, online sports can anticipate an increase in corruption cases in the future as technology advances. The incident prompted a review of the individuals with access to essential and sensitive data at these fantasy sports organizations, the safeguarding of such data, and the industry’s response to such activities. Since organizations have been involved in the sporting industry’s corruption operations, no single individual is responsible for corruption. This is demonstrated by the regular activities of institutions recruiting athletes recklessly. Numerous colleges have been revealed to have engaged in recurrent instances of misconduct.

Andreff et al. (2018) post that, in 2014, the University of Louisville Knights, one of the finest institutions renowned for their superior basketball performance, was a victim of wrongdoing. Andrew McGee, a former associate coach, was charged with misconduct. He was found guilty of paying women to have sex with recruits and hiring strippers to perform for recruiters, as at least five recruits verified. This occurred between 2010 and 2014 when the former coach paid strippers to visit prospects’ dorm parties. Additionally, Adidas collaborated with the University of Louisville’s men’s basketball team to bribe elite prospects to join their squads. By joining the team, candidates would earn numerous benefits in addition to a substantial sum of money (Andreff et al., 2018). Rick Pitino, as head coach, was unaware of such occurrences and hence always pleaded guilty; yet, the university opted to fire him. After a few years, faithful players began testifying what the interim coach used to do for them.

Two Examples – Cases of Corruption

First Example

The most recent instance of corruption occurred in September 2017. The NCAA Division I college basketball team was charged with fraud and corruption offenses, including wire fraud, financial fraud, and extortion. Numerous unlawful acts have been found due to an FBI investigation, resulting in the arrest of college coaches, athletic directors, and certain Adidas brand managers. Auburn, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Carolina, and Tulsa are the programs implicated in the controversies. The University of Louisville fired Rick Pitino, the head coach, and Tom Jurich, the basketball coach, due to the controversy (Philippou, 2019).

Similarly, four NCAA coaches were barred from competing after being charged with wrongdoing. I witnessed Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals square off against Michael Beilein and the Michigan Lions in the NCAA national final. I was seated behind the Michigan sideline with family and friends, cheering on the Wolverines. There was much suspense in the game, as we trailed by 3 points with 5:10 remaining.

Example Two

Peyton Siva, a member of the Louisville team, went up for short, which Trey Burke blocked. However, the referee called a penalty even though it was a clean block, sending the fans into a frenzy. As a result, the ball’s entire atmosphere was altered (Forrest, 2017). Our team was demoralized in response, resulting in a ten-point loss. We ultimately lost the game because the referee did not examine the call. I’ve been contemplating the game for several months since I couldn’t understand the referees’ failure to review the play. I distinctly recall how social networks were flooded with images and videos of the block and how spotless it was. It sparked heated debates on social media, and some persons continue to discuss it to this day.

I’ve always believed that we would have won the game if the referee had not called that foul. However, I had the distinct impression that something was incorrect during the game. I’ve always questioned if the judge was compensated in any way, even though I never had actual proof at the time. Rick Pitino, the head basketball coach at Louisville, was suspended from the NCAA four years later. He was charged with forfeiting several victories, including the 2013 championship game against the Michigan Lions. Pitino, however, rejected all claims leveled against him during his tenure as head coach of the University of Kentucky basketball team.

Critical Analysis

Despite the establishment of numerous laws and regulations to prevent the issue, there have been ongoing debates about paying NCAA athletes. Several alternatives include allowing the athlete to get funding from sources other than the athletic department. This means paying athletes a piece of the money earned due to their hard work in a particular game in the form of endorsement money, which is a straightforward solution. By compensating athletes for endorsements, they will avoid or decrease their desire to accept bribes and other monetary offerings, as the money will assist offset their pocket expenses (Matheson, Schwab & Koval, 2018). Additionally, players can be reimbursed by receiving a portion of the revenue generated by selling their jerseys and other items. There is much work to be done to reduce corruption in the sector. It is prudent to maintain transparency in laws and rules and the sports industry’s decisions aimed at eliminating the link between corruption and sports.

Additionally, there should be a tight collaboration between the governments and multilateral gaming industries and antifraud firms, with the joint goal of reducing corruption in the sports industry. Close cooperation will be critical in enabling the government to track money in gambling in conjunction with other groups. Additionally, sporting institutions can implement anti-corruption policies and practices inside their organizations and an acceptable code of conduct to aid in the fight against corruption in the sports industry. The labor market will be preserved by ensuring that clear rules and regulations governing player transfers are developed. This is also facilitated by the participants’ honesty and the establishment of clear guidelines. It is critical to guarantee that rules and regulations are actively enforced within the sports business (Holden et al., 2017). Additionally, despite its competitive nature, the bidding process should be transparent to reduce corruption levels whenever host towns are chosen for athletic events.

Bidding for larger projects, such as stadium building, should be conducted with a high degree of candor and transparency. There should be ken monitoring of the bidding process to ensure that it is fair. Additionally, sponsors are critical in the fight to eradicate corruption from the sporting business. As part of their corporate duties, sponsors are essential in promoting integrity and ethics in the sports sector. The media should not be excluded from efforts to raise awareness about corruption in the athletic industry. It is critical to raise awareness about any corruption in the sector.

Similarly, social media should not be ignored (Loland, 2018, p. 15). Several instances of corruption and inappropriate conduct, as well as scandals, have recurred over the years. However, the issue will be resolved by expanding the scope of the code of conduct, thereby reducing incidents and exploitation at all levels of the sport. By implementing such improvements inside the sector, the sports sector will reclaim its image for fair play. Match-fixing is another form of sports corruption in which an individual uses dishonest techniques to influence the outcome of a match. It occurs when a contest is totally or partially performed to predetermined outcomes, breaching the rules and regulations of the sports area.

Additionally, there is a scenario in which a team or a person purposefully underperforms to lose the game (Kruessmann, 2019, p. 140). There are times when rival B bribes competitor A to help the latter win the contest—as in the Tour de France, winning a stage requires bargaining between two riders about who should win, which often results in one of them bribing the other.


Domestic legislation addressing sports corruption should be adopted to minimize ethical difficulties within the business. Communication and coordination between key stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies, sport governing organizations, and the commercial sector, should be significantly enhanced to minimize industry corruption (Yeun, 2017). Adequate resources should be given to the industry to raise awareness about industry corruption and conduct investigations and prosecute those responsible for the offenses. All parties in the fight against corruption include the sports industry, the betting industry, the government, and law enforcement officials. There should be outstanding educational programs in place to teach individuals about the rules and regulations and the consequences of ethical behavior. Similarly, the betting industry should develop an effective system for detecting insider trading. Along with the legislation, this is a government-created rule to prevent fraud and match manipulation in the sporting and betting industries (Philippou, 2019).

Independent anti-corruption authorities such as the World Anti-Doping Agency strongly support prohibiting behaviors that assist corruption, such as betting. India, Cuba, Indonesia, and Brazil all prohibit gambling at sporting events. Sanctions, increased detection, surveillance, and corruption prevention should all be standard anticorruption methods. Sanctions drive up the cost of corruption, hence aiding in its elimination. Criminalizing anyone involved in sports corruption is a vital component of the anti-corruption strategy.

Additionally, a rule, such as specific punishments for engagement in corruption-related activities in addition to match-fixing, should be in place. By establishing a maximum price for sports bets, the government can help deflate betting activity, thereby reducing instances of mathematical manipulation. This should be emphasized by enforcing various penalties for violators of such regulations. Sports organizations must forego all property rights sales to the betting sector (Lam, 2019). Apart from the ideas contained in this paper, broader global anticorruption activities should be launched to tackle corruption in the sports business. This conflict should involve a wide variety of stakeholders, including athletes, coaches, sports individuals, sport managers, and sport governing bodies. Sports, in general, require enhanced governance to tackle a global problem of corruption and match-fixing properly. This may be accomplished by increasing their transparency, hiring more qualified workers, and conducting environmentally responsible mega-events (Lastra et al., 2018). The government’s engagement is essential in the fight against sports business corruption.


This essay explored corruption as an ethical problem in the sports sector by highlighting many instances of corruption, critically assessing the issue, and recommending effective tactics for addressing it. Extreme measures should eradicate corruption and restore sports to their true glory as champion-led endeavors rather than as a business plagued by controversies. Transparency and education of all parties involved are the best defenses against corruption. By functioning transparently and converting their ideas into actions, organizations may communicate their values and policies to the public and the people they represent. Similarly, educating all parties involved, including athletes, sports managers, and administrators, about ethical behavior will aid in preventing corruption before it occurs.

Reference list

Andreff, W. (2018). Different types of manipulation in sport. In The Palgrave Handbook on the Economics of Manipulation in Sport (pp. 13-35).

Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Forrest, D. (2017). Sports corruption and developments in betting markets. In The Economics of Sports Betting. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Holden, J. T., Rodenberg, R. M., & Kaburakis, A. (2017). Esports corruption: Gambling, doping, and global governance. Md. J. Int’l L., 32, 236.

Kruessmann, T. (2019). Extending integrity to third parties: in search of a new model for anticorruption in sports. The International Sports Law Journal, 18(3-4), 136-149.

Lam, E. T. (2019). Corruption in Sport: Causes, Consequences, and Reform. International Journal of Sport Communication, 12(1), 135-139.

Lastra, R., Bell, P., & Bond, C. (2018). Sports betting and Australian sports integrity: Athletes’ and non-athletes perceptions of betting-motivated corruption in sport. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 52, 185-198.

Loland, S. (2018). Performance-enhancing drugs, sport, and the ideal of natural athletic performance. The American journal of bioethics, 18(6), 8-15.

 Matheson, V. A., Schwab, D., & Koval, P. (2018). Corruption in the bidding, construction, and organization of mega-events: An analysis of the Olympics and World Cup. In The Palgrave Handbook on the Economics of Manipulation in Sport (pp. 257-278).

Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. Philippou, C. (2019). Towards a unified framework for anti-bribery in sport governance. International Journal of Disclosure and Governance, 16(2-3), 83-99.

Yeun, K. Y. (2017). Legal and administrative frameworks for combating match-fixing in Korea. In Match-Fixing in Sport (pp. 75-93). Routledge.