Australian Nick Kyrgios is often vilified for his on court tantrums. But the talented was about the first Australian sportsman to respond to plight of the people affected by the rampant bushfires in Australia.
Kyrgios not only proposed for a tennis exhibition to be held to raise funds but also pledged to donate $200 for every ace he served during the Australian Open. In response to Kyrgios’ callout, Tennis Australia confirmed that it would hold a “Rally for Relief” exhibition match at the Rod Laver Arena, to raise funds, while proceeds from Jessica Mauboy’s concert the day before the start of the Australian Open will also be donated to the Red Cross appeal.
With the likes of John McEnroe criticizing Kyrgios’ commitment to the game, the 24-year-old seems to be an oxymoron when it comes to what constitutes the ideal character in sports.
Many feel that there should be nobility and character in athletes and sports. This goes beyond just what an athlete does in the arena, with personal lives also thoroughly scrutinized.
From what they wear, who they date, how they react to fans, everything is seen to define what an athlete is.
But often, all these are overlooked when players or teams continue to rake in the wins. If winning is all that matters, sports no longer matters. Ethics in sports is the basis of all sports. Without rules, sport is only a group of people going at each other on an ego trip.
Whether is the use of performance enhancing drugs to gain advantage or fixing matches for financial gains or bending the rules to gain a competitive edge, it is all a matter of ethics.
The four year ban on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Malaysian footballers banned for match-fixing, the deflategate scandal in the National Football League (NFL) are just some of the examples.
When Australian cricketer Steve Smith was suspended for a ball tampering scandal in a Test match against South Africa, the decision was hailed by many. Yet, with Smith making a glorious return at the Ashes against England, all was forgiven.
Maria Sharapova, who was banned for a doping suspension, was extended a wild card to the US Open immediately upon her return to competitive tennis. She has been struggling with injuries last year and has been given another wild card to play in Brisbane this week and has not discounted that she would look to look to secure a wild card for the Australian Open. Despite her doping transgression, tennis events are more than happy to cash in on her popularity.
Sports is now a chosen career for many, hence the notion of winning is everything is getting further entrenched. With financial stability at stake, the ends justify the means for a growing number of athletes.
Many now believe it’s only cheating if you get caught. And if they are like the US president Donald Trump, even if you are caught, it was a perfect decision to do it. Some athletes also believe that it is the referee’s or umpire’s job to catch those who break the rules, and the athletes and coaches have no responsibility to follow the rules.
That is why even some of the elite football players have no qualms of faking a foul or injury if it benefits them. So the next time you see Neymar taking a dive or Sergio Ramos making a hard tackle on his opponent, it has to do with their believe that winning is everything.
So much is talked about sportsmanship, but it is a dying trait in modern sports. The goal in sportsmanship is not simply to win, but to pursue victory with honor by giving one’s best effort.
Ethics in sport requires fairness, integrity, responsibility and respect. It is not about how many Instagram followers you have, how many titles you have won or how talented you are.
Seeking unfair advantage over an opponent creates an uneven playing field which violates the integrity of the sport. Herein lies the dilemma for modern sports, with more transgender athletes making their mark.
While one of the basic tenets of Olympism is that athletes and coaches are not discriminated against based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation, transgender athletes like Caster Semenya are also caught in a quandary.
While some say transgender athletes gain unfair advantage due to their higher testosterone, others believe they are being discriminated unfairly.
Fairness in sports is also about the rules being applied equally to both teams without bias or personal interest in the outcome. In this the referees play a vital role in ensuring sports is credible.
Equadorian Byron Moreno still remains a hated figure in Italy for sending off Francesco Totti and disallowing in what looked like a legitimate Azzurri equaliser during their 2-1 defeat to South Korea in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup.
In 2010 when he was given a 26-month prison sentence for attempting to smuggle 13kg of heroin into the US, football fans in Italy as well as other parts of the world rejoiced in what they called karma working its wonders.
A simple act of serving underhand in tennis, or a defender stopping a goal bound ball with his hands, or faking a foul where one never existed may seem trivial but could change the results of the game. It damages the credibility of officiating and ultimately also undermines the integrity of sports.
Ethics and sportsmanship does not stop at actions on the field alone, but also that that players and coaches conduct themselves in an honorable way off the field. Respecting your opponents, whether it is on court or off it is equally important. How one competes will have an effect on the personal moral and ethical behavior outside of the competition.
But that is not always the case, as what Kyrgios has demonstrated. He may seem to brat on court but has shown that his personal moral and ethical behavior outside the court could also define his game on court.
Nevertheless, nobility and character in athletes and sports is important for the continued enjoyment of sports.