Buying Integrity

Michael at the Ven a Gozar blog has weighed in on the cricket argument, not to mention athletics and baseball.  He explores integrity throughout the post but this paragraph was worth its weight in gold.

In the current state of sports, people are willing to give up everything for the money. How much money do these people need to accumulate before they can like who they see in the mirror? How much money is needed before a family member, or friend can look at someone who is a liar, and a cheat decide it is okay because they made enough money that they are beyond it all now.

Not only can you not buy integrity, you can’t buy it back later.  This helped me formulate an argument for those who debate whether there’s room for integrity in professional sport.

Heroes are made by accepting risk.  If you might lose your spot on the team and the dollars associated with it, that is the risk the hero must take.  Refusing the call is refusing to act heroically.  People risk their jobs around the world every day by standing up to corrupt leaders and choosing the high road instead of the company line.  It is a shame that these cricketers on the world stage are choosing not to do the same.

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2 Responses to Buying Integrity

  1. Sonu January 10, 2008 at 8:32 am #

    Well, money is so important to people, that “integrity” takes a back-seat.
    It takes all sorts of people to make the world. All cannot be the same. All cannot be Heros….

  2. Chrales D. leibrand January 11, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    “Is a Test Match Worth Twenty Bucks?”

    Integrity can be defined as an adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. The question is why have integrity? What does this adherence to moral and ethical principles get us? Why have sound moral characters? Why be honest?

    Ask yourself this; if your standing in line at the grocery store and the person in front you drops a twenty dollar bill, do you pick it up and keep it or do you return it to them? No one sees you or will ever find out, what then do you do. I believe most people will say you give it back and if asked why will say because it’s the right thing to do. The real question here, why is giving the money back the right thing to do? I have often stated that I believe people are self motivated in all things. We do things in order to get something of value. In the current example if you keep the twenty dollars then you gain the monetary value represented by the bill. So what happens if you give it back? Have lost something of value and gained. What is the “thing” of value that you gain by returning the money? You get “Honor”. There then is the rub; what is honor worth to you? Hopefully it’s more than twenty bucks.

    Western society doesn’t seem to value honor more than money or more than wining. This is clearly evidenced in the sporting world. Pick a sport and I can show an example of a person or group of people who value money, winning and fame purchased with both those things more than honor. American football I give the New England Patriots, undefeated after caught cheating in the first game of the season. Baseball, I give you the Mitchell Report. Here you have an entire organization turning a blind eye to the use of steroids which the rules clearly prohibit. How about Soccer, I give the Italy’s win over Australia in the last world cup. Should not a player who valued winning have said, “hey ref, that’s my second yellow card”? How about the Olympics? Nope no honor there, now give me back those five gold metals years and hundreds of denials after the fact.

    Now we see it in Cricket, a sport I have started to learn and take sometime to follow purely because I believed it to be one of the last places in sports to value honor over material things. A recent test match between Australia and India could have been regarded as one of the greatest test matches played. Instead the behaviors of the players and officials have turned it into a deplorable debacle. One of the debates that have a risen form this match is one of gentlemanly conduct, but was does that mean? Gentlemanly conduct seem to refer to a set of ethics and morals that place greater value on things like honesty, refusal to cheat and sportsmanship as opposed to winning, or winning at any cost. The idea is that if you have to treat the opposition poorly, or have to cheat, or lie about the results of a play, then you have removed any value from the win because you tarnished your reputation as a Gentleman.

    One the issue in the game of professional Cricket that illustrates this perfectly is the practice of not “walking” when you edge the ball. This is very difficult thing for an umpire to detect, obviously the person who is in the best position to determine if the ball struck an edge is the batsman. How is it unwritten law in Cricket that if you edge the ball back to the wicket keeper you just stand there, you don’t walk because the umpire may not call you out, he may get it wrong. This was one of the numerous incidents that occurred in the Australia vs. India test at Sydney recently. One of the Australian plays edged the ball back to the wicket keeper. That player did not walk; the umpire did not get it right. So instead of being out as he should have been he went on to score an additional 132 runs. Australia would eventually win this test by 122 runs. To make maters worse he publicly stated to the media the next day that he knew he had edged the ball. Can we hold this play accountable for valuing winning more then honesty, more than the integrity that comes from adhering to a “Gentleman’s Code?”
    Now this player is being vigorously defended by the Australian and vilified by the Indians, this was not the only incident in this test to be sure but it was a big one. Let’s also remember that professional Cricket players are basically trained not to walk. What would have happened had he walked, would he be vilified by the Australians? The problem her I think is less the players and more the fans, or society even. Think about it and you’ll probably agree that western society has adopted the ideal that you should win at any cost. The end justifies the means. We see this in our sports figures who we will forgive anything as long as they put numbers into the “W” column. Do we in the west have no code? Where then is our Gentleman’s conduct, our chivalry, our bushido?

    I submit to that the players in this test match were not lacking in integrity. They adhered precisely to moral and ethical principle we expect from them. Their moral character was just as sound as we want it, they we as honest as they needed to be. The integrity shown in Sydney was little more then than a reflection of the integrity of western society. This was no isolated incident, we see these behaviors in all sports on all teams, we see it in our political leadership, in our corporate leadership, our schools, and our churches, if we don’t like what we see then its time to change ourselves and ask the hard questions about our own personal values. You can start with; “Is a test match worth twenty bucks?”

    Charles D. Leibrand
    January 10, 2008