Brad Allenby - Associate Director Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union have spoken. Lance Armstrong has had his seven Tour de France titles stripped and vacated. His commercial sponsors have fled. He has resigned as chairman of the anti-cancer charity he founded, Livestrong. The allegation, denied by Armstrong: he doped. He enhanced his performance in ways not approved by his sport.
Some say he’s a cheater, and he deserves what he gets. Others say he’s a slandered hero. Like most bumper stickers, neither captures anything near the truth. Whether he doped or not, he happened to be the canary in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he paid the price. As everyone knew back when canaries were used in mines to signal the presence of poisonous gas before humans were affected, the real issue is not the canary. No, the real question is what the demise of the canary tells you. And as any miner would have told you, it’s all about the environment, stupid.
Peter French, Director, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics
Recently when I was on a panel discussion on ethics and sports, an audience member asked, “What has changed about the way children are engaged in team sports that is less conducive to moral development than in the past?”
That set me to thinking about how today adults predominantly control most aspects of a child’s engagement with team sports. Rules are taught and enforced by adults. Perhaps such regimentation instills virtues of teamwork and cooperation and an ethics of obedience to authority, though I’m far from convinced that it takes full advantage of the moral value of team sports.