Ethical Decision Making in Sport

You may not realise but all of us make ethical decisions every day. We make decisions based on trust, honesty, morals, ethics, respect and for all sorts of good reasons. If anything, sport is a place that encourages ethical decisions as it is governed by rules and expectations. If people break the rules or don’t follow expectations about certain ways of behaving then it can impact on the integrity of sport.

But what is it to be ethical and to have integrity? 

Being ethical and having integrity means more than simply identifying issues you don’t agree with. We can only claim to be ethical and have integrity when we identify actions and behaviours which are those we deem to be the right course of action in a situation and are based on a considered framework that is a reflection of our personal beliefs. 

This is why it is not a good idea to try to define ethics and integrity for you. It is up to you – only you can determine what your personal beliefs and ethics are – only your club can determine what its values are and how it enacts them. 
It is also why it is critical for people in sport to not only become literate about ethics in terms of understanding the logic, reasoning and psychology behind the choices we make on various matters, but also understand how to arrive at ethical decisions, and then practice voicing and enacting those choices. 

The good news is that we have a tool and a process, that is easy to follow, which will help you address issues and make ethical decisions at your club.

The Ethical Decision Making Framework

The Ethical Decision Making Framework is a simple, practical framework, you can use as a guide when making decisions about ethical dilemmas. It was developed by former Play by the Rules manager Dr Paul Oliver (Oliver and Thompson Consultancy) and has been used by a number of agencies, including the National Integrity of Sport Unit, and sporting bodies across the country to help guide them in ethical decision making. It also was the framework used for the Safeguarding the Integrity of Sport Forums coordinated by Play by the Rules in 2015. So it is tried and tested! 

First step is to download the Ethical Decision Making Framework. 

Ethical Decision Making Framework 

Ethical Decision Making Framework

Take a look at the Framework. You will see there are four parts to it. When you go through the four parts it’s a good idea is to think of an dilemma you have faced where it was difficult to come to a decision based on your, or your clubs, ethics and values.

  1. Ask yourself what the dilemma is and GET THE FACTS
  2. Consider the most important things you need to ROCOGNISE IN YOURSELF
  3. It is time to judge your options and MAKE A DECISION

You will see how the framework helps guide you through these four steps with the aim of making a decision and committing to action. That is the key to the framework – to help guide you to action. 

Ethical Decision Making Workshop

If you want to help your club or association address ethical decision making how about running your own Ethical Decision Making workshop? We have developed training and presentation material to help guide you through this process. While the manual is quite comprehensive and gives you a lot of background material to go with, the actual workshop is quite straightforward to run and will really help you identify your own dilemmas and make decisions based on the framework. 

You can adapt the manual and presentation material to your own needs.

Download the Ethical Decision Making Workshop manual here.

Download the Ethical Decision Making presentation template here. 

You can also view the presentation of Paul Oliver from the Safeguarding the Integrity of Sport Forum held in May 2015 where Paul talks about ethical decision making in sport and the ethical decision making framework. 

Finally, if you do run an Ethical Decision Making workshop at your club or association we’d love to hear from you and how it went. Just send us a quick message through our contact form