Do College Sports Really Strengthen Character?

That was the title of an article in the August 31 Wall Street Journal (p. D-8). The piece suggested otherwise: “It is a truism to say that it would be easy to run a daily rap sheet on college players.”

To that end, many colleges utilize something called The Hahm-Beller Values Choice Inventory, which is “designed to evaluate moral reasoning in the sport milieu. Participants read twenty-one short common sport scenarios and evaluate each situation based on a five point Likert Scale from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. The HBVCI is the only inventory specifically focused on sport and developed using moral theory as a guide.”

The following questions describe incidents that have occurred in sport settings. Each question addresses moral issues. Because there are no right or wrong answers, please circle the answer that best describes your feelings. SA = Strongly agree; A = Agree; N=Neutral; D=Disagree; SD = Strongly Disagree.

1. Two rival basketball teams in a well-known conference played a basketball game on Team A’s court. During the game, Team B’s star player was consistently heckled whenever she missed a basket, pass, or rebound. In the return game on Team B’s home court, the home crowd took revenge by heckling Team A’s players. such action is fair because both crowds have equal opportunity to heckle players.

2. During a volleyball game, player A hit the ball over the net. The ball barely grazed off player B’s fingers and landed out of bounds. However the referee did not see player B touch the ball. because the referee is responsible for calling rule violations, player b is not obligated to report the violation.

3. Certain basketball teams are coached to run plays that cause the opponents to foul. Players and coaches believe this is clever strategy because the opponents may foul out of the game, giving their team an advantage. Because the coach orders this type of play, the players should follow his directions.

4. During a youth sport football game, an ineligible pass receiver catches a long touchdown pass and scores. The officials fail to determine that the player was ineligible. Because it is the referee’s job to detect the ineligible receiver, the player or the coach does not have to declare an ineligible receiver.

So, the questions are these:

Do college (high school, professional) sports strengthen character? If so, how? (Building camaraderie, e.g.) If not, why not? (Pressure to compete, leads to violence, e.g.)

Something that wasn’t part of the vocabulary when I was growing up: non-competitive sports, where “everybody is a winner”. Is this a good idea? Or do you believe, “it’s a competitive world out there”, and kids might as well learn early?

Oh, and what are your answers to the four sample questions above?
Near-twin Gordon is doing a mixed CD exchange on the topic of law and order. Go and participate. But if you’re not so inclined, but have some suggestions for me of “songs that describe law, order, and righteousness, or… that deal with criminals, crime, lowlifes, or even cheater pants,” please e-mail me ASAP. You’ll see Gordon’s caveats of choices, and I can’t use the Clash’s Police On My Back, a song I LOVE, because Lefty just used in his most recent mix, which I received this month.
Billy Preston would have been 60 today. RIP, Billy.

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