Fairness and Sports



This page was written for the video "Fairness" in the "In Search of Character" video series. We think you will find it very useful even if you aren't using the videos.


Some thoughts from Dr. Mike on Athletics and Fairness before you begin:

Fairness means treating others the way you want to be treated. Fair-minded people play by the rules and don’t take advantage of others. As the leader of a sports program you should teach and model what fair play is. Make sure that your team plays honorably; be open to input and ideas from others; be evenhanded and reasonable in your decision-making; consider the feelings of all people who will be affected by your actions and decisions; treat all players with impartiality.


Questions for discussion with student athletes: (If you are using the video, ask these questions after viewing. If you are not using the video you may want to skip or reword questions 1-3.)

1. How did the Craig Kielburger story make you feel? What did you learn from it?

2. Do you agree with Craig that "once we realize a problem exists, it's a call for action"? What kinds of actions did Craig take? Is it realistic to think the average teenager can take meaningful action, or is Craig just a special case?

3. Dr. Mike gives a hypothetical situation involving a soccer coach and the players who violate the rules by missing practice. One student said, "If you stay by your word, then in the future people will know it. It might not be victory at first but in the future it will be." Do you agree or disagree? Explain your answer.

4. What kind of reputation do we want as a team with regard to fairness?

5. What kind of reputation do we want as a team with regard to:

- following rules on the playing surface?

- following rules off the playing surface?

- respecting authority on the playing surface?

- respecting authority at school?

6. What do we need to do to help each other behave more fairly:

- on the playing surface?

- off the playing surface?

- out of season?

7. Think of yourself as a coach. What would be the benefits of having athletes with a strong commitment to fair-play and fair treatment of others:

- for the team as a whole?

- for the team's reputation?

- for athlete-to-athlete relations?

- athlete-to-coach relations?

- for a winning season?

- for possible scholarships to universities?

- for team attitude?

- for locker room morale?

8. Name something you personally could relate to in this video program and tell why.

9. You have been hired as a consultant on good character. What three suggestions would you have for improving the level of fairness within the team?

10. Who is the most fair-minded person you can think of? How many people who know you would say you are fair? Is there anyone who would say you aren’t?

11. Imagine that someday you are the coach of a team. You need to give the team a brief talk on how fairness relates to your sport. What would you say?

12. When you know of people who lie or cheat in an athletic event, how does it make you feel? Is it fair?

13. Some athletes believe that it’s okay to break the rules as long as you don’t get caught. Do you agree or disagree with that philosophy? Explain your answer.

14. Sometimes players get away with deceiving the officials regarding calls such as: who touched the ball last, faked fouls, whether or not a ball hit a runner, whether a ball was caught or trapped, whether or not a player stepped out of bounds, intentional fouls in basketball, delay of game in football, use of injury time-outs for other purposes, etc. What do you think of these kinds of deceptions? How do they impact the game? Is it okay as long as you get away with it? How do you feel when your opponent gets away with it?

15. In order to be fair everyone on our team should have a chance to play. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

16. Is fairness a concept that is limited to sports? How does it apply to other aspects of life? What does it have to do with your character?



1. Suppose you have a rule that any player who ends up in disciplinary problems will sit out 30% of the next game. If your star player violated this rule just before the most important game of the season, what would you do?

2. Should you ever question an official’s call?

3. Is it ever okay to knowingly play an ineligible player in order to gain advantage over your opponent? Would you do it?

4. You are coaching in the state tournament for the first time. A player informs you that he/she is not really living within the district boundaries. You know that this would make the player ineligible as well as bring a ruling on the previous games played which would negate their participation in the state tournament. What would you do?

5. You are a biology teacher. One of your students is a team captain. This student approaches you and asks you to raise his/her grade in order to maintain academic eligibility. What would you do? Would your answer be any different if the coach came to you with the same request? What a member of the school board made the request?


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