Coaches can help athletes become more ethical

Friday, February 4, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new study from Concordia University has found that coaches can help athletes become more ethical by providing moral guidance.

The study garnered data from 17 elite coaches who had once been athletes themselves.

“Coaches have a unique relationship with their athletes. Coaches are mentors, parent figures, career enablers, and judges - all at the same time,” said Sandra Pelaez.

“Every coach, however, doesn’t influence every athlete he or she works with. The coach-athlete relationship is what enables a coach’s influence and therefore determines how much influence a coach has. We found athletes would evaluate the relationship with their coaches and then decide whether to accept moral guidance or not,” she added.

Although parents provide early moral guidance, as sportspersons become more engaged with their coaches, they look up to them for guidance, probably out of admiration and trust.

In the course of the study, four core moral values emerged - elite sports involvement (e.g. discipline), interaction with others (e.g. respect), self-related (e.g. enjoying the sport) and game (e.g. striving to win).

Culture was an important factor too.

“Things that are accepted in one culture are not accepted in others. For example, in some Eastern European countries, you are either training or you are in the hospital. If you skip practice, you will be punished because it’s your moral obligation to be there. It’s part of your commitment to your country, your teammates and your coach,” Palaez said.

Additionally, results also suggested that coaches inherit their moral values from their own coaches.

“Many children participate in organised sport and spend considerable time with coaches. Understanding how coaches influence moral development and ultimately build character is important to society, as it offers another way to teach moral values,” Simon Bacon, Sandra Pelaez’s thesis supervisor, concluded. (ANI)

Filed under: Sports

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