- Practical Ethics in Sport Management by Angela Lumpkin et al.
Angela Lumpkin, Sharon Kay Stoll, and Jennifer M. Beller present a text that offers an interesting attempt to meet sport management students on their own level. The authors found a format that will resonate well with students by keeping academic topics in short sections then interspersing engaging asides with conversations by fictional students of a variety of dispositions. To the degree that it sticks to this format, chapters are appealing to undergraduate students with short attention spans who prefer multiple formats simultaneously. When the authors break up chapters, they address students’ needs to engage with the information and come away with the ability to apply information about ethics gleaned from those chapters to real world situations in sport management.
The primary focus of the book comes back repeatedly to “the tension between non-moral values—success, fame, fortune, winning—and moral values (honesty, justice, and beneficence) that causes ethical dilemmas to occur” (p. 24). Chapters deal with this tension in topics to which students of ethics and lovers of sport can both relate. Topics relating to ethics and sports, which provide interesting reading on practical issues, include moral reasoning, leadership, sportsmanship vs. gamesmanship, youth sport, and college issues.
Some of the most provocative chapters include issues related to college sports that come up in the later chapters of the book. The authors advocate, sometimes strongly, for a specific point of view and remedies that may or may not quickly go out of vogue. For example, several research studies relating to college athletics and academics are cited and outlined. Based in part on the findings of these studies, the authors then offer alternatives to existing problems such as eliminating preferred admissions or emphasizing academic achievement over athletic achievement for college athletes (p. 192). Background is provided and details for implementation are given for these suggestions throughout the remainder of chapter.
These ideas are no doubt offered to stimulate debate, making this text a useful tool for teaching ethics to sport management students. This tactic risks these chapters becoming [End Page 551] obsolete should actions take place to change the status quo in college athletics. Whatever the shortcomings of the approach, it is a risk that is aimed at grabbing the readers’ attention and engaging them in the content. This type of writing, particularly for undergraduate students, is to be applauded. The greatest issue with this book is that the perspective of the benevolent observer leads to some narrow arguments and does not go far enough in considering various constituencies in some sections. It would add significantly to the text were the authors to suggest how one might utilize those treatments not included, such as the perspectives of students of marginal academic backgrounds who do currently benefit from preferred admissions or Olympic sport athletes, as an opportunity to encourage critical dialogue.
The central chapters lose some of the appealing format and voice of the other parts of the book. Equity issues are focused primarily on history at the expense of contemporary issues, making the information less effective in being “practical.” The historical issues also show some bias of the authors’ perspective when they miss the ethical dramas that no doubt accompanied the issues by failing to show what moral dilemmas were faced by the antagonists during those moments in history. Because these chapters eschew current arguments in favor of a historical recounting of issues such as Title IX implementation and racial discrimination from a modern perspective, they miss an opportunity to engage the reader in a way likely to encourage thoughtfulness about those subjects. Even in these chapters, the authors do offer a variety of questions that students would no doubt find interesting and could lead to a substantive discussion of practical ethical issues in sport and sport management. Unfortunately, these questions are asked in passing and not seriously considered in these chapters as they are examined in other sections of the book.
In the final debate about the...