High School Sports: Integrity In Sports - What Does It Really Mean?

Integrity as defined by the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary is:

“1:  firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility”

A very interesting high school sports piece in Arizona’s Payson Roundup takes up the question posed in my title through their recent article, An outstanding example of integrity. In it author Max Foster poses several intriguing sports reality scenarios to ponder; common situations that, depending on one’s ethical/moral stance, present themselves as possible choices for the competitive athlete.

Foster’s examples include:

"…is it acceptable for a player to feign an injury late in the game because his or her team desperately needs to stop the clock and no time outs remain?"

"What if a wrestler knows before a match that his opponent is recovering from an injury? Is it a lack of integrity on the wrestler’s part to attack the injury and take advantage of it? Or should he compete as if he didn’t know the injury exits?"

"Should a basketball player fake charging, or “flop” in order to draw a foul or stop an opponent from advancing to the basket? Or is that a lack of integrity because it is a fake charge rather than an actual foul?"

"Is it a lack of integrity for a basketball player to fall onto the floor faking he has been fouled on a shot attempt when he actually was barely touched by the defender?"

In 2010, Derek Jeter brought a real world scenario from the ranks of professional baseball to further this discussion. In a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Jeter faked being hit by a pitch convincing the referee to award him first base.

Many have questioned the integrity of Jeter’s “performance” with some referring to the act as cheating, while others pose the scenario as just part of playing the game, a responsibility of the batter (to get to first base).

Bringing this back to Mr. Foster’s story, at the center of his piece is a high school volleyball player named Emmee Ashby who admitted to the referee that a solidly hit ball by her opponents, that was called out of bounds, actually touched her as she attempted to block the ball. This prompted a reversal of the referee’s call, in a very close game, making the score 23-22 in favor of Ashby’s opponents.

So what do you think? Does Emmee Ashby’s admittance of the truth speak loudly about her character, the ethical foundations for which she plays, and thus, her integrity? Or was it a foolish choice that put her and her team at a distinct disadvantage in a crucial part of a close game, something that many would say (as they did with Jeter) is just part of the game, happens on both ends of the court, and feel it is much better to have left the original call as it stood?

Emmee’s coach, he praised “her commendable act of integrity and honesty in such a crucial junction of the match.” Me, I know exactly where I stand regarding Emmee’s choice, how about you?

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