According to my reading, I found that the positive characteristics of personality should be developed through sport training (Parker & Stiehl, 2004).The physical activities such as sports wholly enable the athletes to develop skills, commitment, sports-spirit, strategies, discipline, punctuality and respect in to their personality features. Hence, sports through appropriate strategies comply with the six fundamental aspects of character, which are: respect, trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, good citizenship and caring (Arizona Sports Summit accord, 1999). Nevertheless, sports cannot necessarily have positive implications on these personality traits, particularly if ‘winning’ is being stressed upon (Barez, 2008). In fact, the ‘emphasis over winning’ in sports by the management on the athletes and the coaches will turn them vulnerable to the misconduct like cheating, use of drug to improve performance or overly aggressive behavior, attitude problems, etc. (Doty, 2006). This monetary influence has subsidized the sports-spirit with in the sports-person. Their main goal has now become only success and winning for themselves, no matter how it comes to them. The bitter truth is ‘the more they win, the more they earn’ since more companies will be willing to sponsor them at high rates for the advertisement or endorsement of their products. Nevertheless, on the positive note, it is important to acknowledge that for becoming a world class athlete, emphasis should be applied on discipline, tough mental and physical training and commitment in the competition and training. This diligence and determination attribute towards positive character building. No athlete can become a world class athlete in any sport without these positive values.
The research question for this study is given below:
Q. Do sports build characters?
- Argument 1:
So, the first argument according to ‘the Well Crafted Argument’ becomes:
1. Athlete is disciplined and works hard on his/her metal and physical training.
2. So, he/she is a world class sports-professional with positive personality traits (White and Billings, 2009).
According to White and Billings (2009), the structure of the rhetoric can be divided in to two parts, as given above, to incorporate a complete pedagogical mechanism that further includes the analysis of critical reading, researching, writing and documenting a subject under discussion and a compendium of readings or literature classified in to nine clusters on the basis of the theme.
This paper will also include visual aid to supplement the argument of discussion by following the approach given in the ‘Well Crafted Argument’, according to which the visual emphasis of the textual content helps the readers to get involved and identify their own voices (White and Billings, 2009).
- Argument 2:
Another argument to be discussed in this paper is presented below in accordance to the practical approach of White and Billings (2009) outlined in their book ‘The Well Crafted Argument’:
1. The scientific data has been observed or acquired for the Athlete being involved in drug use and misconduct.
2. The observational scientific data can be proved false.
3. So, the athlete bears a positive character if the observation scientific data affirming his/her misconduct is falsifiable.
As a consequence to this contradiction in the arguments, this paper aims to investigate the two perspectives and endeavors to determine how sports imply a positive influence towards character development.
1. The Positive Perspective of Sports and Character Correlation
The first argument suggests that if an athlete focuses over his/her mental and physical regime and executes the work assigned to him/her with discipline then this affirms that he/she bears a good character, which in-turn leads to the conclusion that ‘sports build character’. This inference of the argument has been justified through many studies. As for instance, it has been reported that students participating in sporting activities have lower rates of drop out, lesser or not discipline issues, better performance and attendance and less or no substance-use (Josephi ne Institute Center of sport ethics, 2006). Another study confirmed that sports participation results in the decline of delinquent behavior and school dropout (Shields & Bredemeier, 1995). This illustrates that sports lead to the prevention of all sorts of negative behaviors. Furthermore, studies have observed that the individuals involved in sports have successfully acquired and portrayed positive characteristics such like respect for rules, positive peer correlations, courage, leadership qualities, competitiveness and citizenship (Wright & Cote, 2003). Although the percentages of the positive development of character of athletes do not attain the optimum value of 100 %, however studies have shown that above fifty percent of the do portray their moral reasoning character athletes in their corresponding fields of games. The Center of Sport Ethics of Josephine Institute states that:
- More than fifty percent of the athletes reported that they would not use a stolen playbook received from an unknown supporter prior to a big sports-event.
- Almost all of the athletes consider that a soft-ball pitcher should not deliberately throw at the player who just reached the home at the very last moment.
- Most of the players in all kinds of sports condemn trash talk.
This infers that the percentage of moral reasoning among the athletes was reasonably high nevertheless it was not totally positive.
The visual aid given above is a movie clip that is accessible from http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/sportsmanship.html. It reveals that the baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr handled pressure by transferring his energy towards the betterment of his game instead of thinking of winning all the time. He said that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose so accept your defeat in the same way as you cherish the defeat of others when you win.
2. The Negative Perspective of Sports and Character Correlation
Many studies have reported that there exists negative correlation between character-building and sports-participation (Dunn & Dunn, 1999). Hellison (2003), in his work, also affirmed that positive character development is not directly associated with participation in sports. In another study, it was revealed that students participating sports-activities score lower on moral reasoning and judgments in comparison to other students (Hahm, 1989). Moreover, from the psychosocial point of view, sports-persons usually experience pressure from the society to win that leads to the development of poor sportsmanship, act of violence, poor ability and aggressiveness among them (Roberts, & Ommundsen, 2002). Furthermore, studies have revealed that sports-persons violate the rules of the games on purpose and behave aggressively with their opponents indicating lack of moral character (Dunn & Dunn, 1999).
The visual aid given below is an image accessible from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1123469-the-biggest-brawls-in-sports-history. It illustrates the bad behavior demonstrated by the players in a basket ball match. This sets a very bad example in the history of sports that should be condemned and prohibited in future.
This research paper investigated the relationship between sports and character development by discussing the arguments that have been developed in accordance to the book ‘Well Crafted Argument’ by ‘White and Billings (2009). The study also incorporated the aid of visuals to further discuss the arguments in detail and support the inference drawn through it. The study evaluated both the positive and the negative impacts of sports-participation over the character development of the athletes in view of the previous researches carried out by numerous scholars. These researched provided enough evidence for both the perspectives of sports-participation and character building relationship. Visual aids have also been presented as evidence in this paper to support both the positive and negative arguments regarding the character traits demonstrated in sports-events. The evidences reveal that sports-participation builds good character and moral values among the athletes, however the negative issues related to character were found among the sports-persons due to the pressure applied on them from the society and the management for winning the game.
Arizona Sports Summit Accord (24 May 1999). Arizona sports summit accord: Implementation strategies, Scottsdale, Arizona. CA: JICSE. Josephine Institute Center for Sports Ethics.
Barez, A. (2008). Sport as a school of life: The mental and physical characteristics, developmental objectives and coaching methods of youth sports. International Labour Organization Report. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO
Dunn, J. G., & Dunn, J. C. (1999). Goal orientations, perceptions of aggression, and sportsperson ship in elite male youth ice hockey players. The Sport Psychologist, 13, 183-200.
Doty, J. (2006). Sports build character?! Journal of College & Character. VII, 1-8.
Hahm, C. (1989). Moral reasoning and development among general students, physical education majors, and student athletes. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Idaho.
Josephine Institute Center for Sports Ethics (2006). Survey of high school athletes 2006: Are coaches teaching our young athletes the right way to play? CA: JICSE.
Parker, M., & Stiehl, J. (2004). Personal and social responsibility. In D. Tannenhill, & J. Lund (Eds.). Standards based curriculum. Boston, M.A: Jones and Bartlett.
Shields, D.L.L., & Bredemeier, B.J. L. (1995). Character development and physical activity. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
White, D.F. and Billings, J.S. (2009). The Well-Crafted Argument. USA: Wadsworth Pub Co.
Wright, A.D., & Côté, J. (2003). A retrospective analysis of leadership development through sport. The Sport Psychologist, 17, 268-291.