Ethical Theory and Bullying in Sports

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BULLYING IN SPORTS AND ETHICAL THEORY Introduction In contemporary American sports, coaches can, at times, be extremely temperamental and my resort to bullying tactics to try to motivate their players to get them to perform at their highest possible level. This may take the form of face-to-face confrontation in which coaches challenge individual players in private, or it may take the form of publicly humiliating individual players or groups of players in front of the rest of the team to motivate certain players by exploiting their fear of criticism or the loss of respect from their teammates. In some circumstances, coaches may bully the entire team to push them to reach their limits. There are also well-known accounts of coaches using bullying tactics as a strategic method of promoting team unity among the players by establishing the coach as the internal "enemy" of the entire team. Perhaps the best known example of this type of bullying tactic was the famous example of the late Herb Brooks, who coached the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team to reach its ultimate goal of defeating the Soviet Union. From an ethical perspective, bullying may be either justified or unjustified according to what ethical system is applied to the analysis. John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism might support bullying tactics in some situation but not in others. Emanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative might also support bullying tactics in some situation but not in others. Meanwhile, the
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