Ethics to gain from Sports Participation

Ethics to gain from Sports Participation

Knowing all the health benefits associated with sports participation, it is very easy to overlook the Social Ethics in Sports that come with it. In the context of this article, these are labeled Sports Ethics. The benefits of participating in sports extend beyond just the well studied improved health and well-being.

Please share this article to increase awareness about the benefits of sports beyond the playing field.

This article focuses on the social ethics, extending beyond the playing field, that can be gained from participating in sport and recreation regardless of whether it is an individual sport, team sport, competitive sport, professional sport or amateur sports you decide to take part in. it is a fact, however, that those benefits vary depending on the level of participation one decides to take part in, even though the process is usually progressional, from one phase to the next. The Sports Ethics gained from participating in community sports, for example, differ from those of professional sports. With that said, most Sports Ethics apply across the board and are therefore more or less the same. Those are tenets outlined in this article.

Below is a list of ten Sports Ethics anyone can gain from participating in Sport and Recreation. This list is not exhausted. You may use the comment section provided to add any important sports ethics that you think can be added to this list. Without any further ado, below are ten sports ethics anyone can gain from participating in Sport and Recreation that build good character and potentially apply in other aspects of one’s life.

Striving for Excellence/ Encouraged Effort

Often wrongly interpreted as winning at all cost in the sports context. Striving for excellence does not incorporate perfection or having an advantage over the other like winning at all cost. Silverman (Silverman, 28) explains that focusing on achieving personal excellence puts success in the hands of everyone participating in sport, rather than those who are gifted at a particular talent.

When I am on the blocks, I don’t care who you are – I will always try and beat you.

Chad le Clos

Sports participation encourages dedication and determination. The approach of delivering your best effort to accomplish a task is one that is emphasized especially in sports and recreation. This is a skill necessary for academic achievements and the corporate industry.

Adherence to Rules

We all know what rules are, they are everywhere. These are explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct or procedure within a particular area of activity. Every organization and society is guided by rules. They are necessary for harmonious living and maintaining order. They are what prevents an employer from punching their boss in the face every time there is a disagreement between the two.

In sport, rules serve a similar purpose as in life. For this reason, a sport is an ideal environment to practice following and being guided by rules. You have to be aware of them and adhere to them or face the consequences in the form of sanctions.

Rules can also serve as a form of guidance that shows one the best-suggested way of doing something.

Time Management

A very useful and important skill we all need. The ability to plan the amount of time you spend on specific activities. When to practice, when do you study, when to work and when to party. Which of these will you spend most of your time on?

Time management is a skill pertinent to sports participation, but also other sectors of life such as education and work. Time management enables one to prioritize, organize and set clear goals (Walinga, 2012). This is one skill that you will find very useful whatever you do.

Fair play

Fair play is how life should be. It is respect for the rules and equal treatment of all concerned (WADA, 2009). Everyone is guided by the same rules, no one has an advantage over the other. It prevents people from cheating by encouraging behavior that is fair and honest. This assures that whatever people achieve, they achieve it because they are capable. In that sense fair play levels the playing field.


I’m sure you’d agree that working together to achieve common goals is by far one of the most time-saving means of achieving those goals. Teamwork can be learned from playing team sports. Learning to cooperate with others towards a common goal in sports is what builds character, friendship, and important life skills for players and coaches (Radziszewski, 2012). Working in teams encourages communication among players and teammates. When you consider that most projects, assignments and daily work responsibilities are accomplished by teams and not individuals, you’ll realize the significance of having this skill. Two minds are always better than one, as long as they can learn to work together. This practice is instilled in sports.

Self-discipline, patience, and persistence

If you are a coach, like myself. You must be able to encourage players to never give up on their quest despite whatever challenges they face. Athletes should be taught to except that things will not always go their way and that it’s ok to lose sometimes (WADA, 2009), as long as you learn from the experience. In fact, the idea of sport is about testing one’s own abilities against challenges. The idea is that you have to keep trying until you are pleased with your effort.

It’s all about the hard work, knowing your strengths and weaknesses. You work on what you know you can do best. I have speed.

Caster Semenya

Self-discipline, patience, and persistence are qualities that everyone should have. These qualities build inner strength, character, and stability.


through sports participation, one can also learn respect. Respect is when you admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements (COUBERTIN, 1863). People who play sport are taught to respect their teammates and opponents. You can also earn respect through sports participation as you develop your character. Sport therefore not only teaches one to give respect, but it also teaches them to earn it.

Goal Attainment

Excuse the pun. By goal attainment, I am referring to the action or fact of achieving a goal which one has worked towards, even if that is scoring on the opposing teams’ goal post.

I have always had a dream to take part in an Olympic Games, and losing my leg didn’t change anything.

Natalie du Toit

Achieving goals shows capability and achievement. In sports, as in school or business and even general life, one has objectives they want/have to achieve. By participating in sport one can learn to set those objectives, pursue them and ultimately achieve them. Sports participation further trains one to better prepare if they fail to meet a specific goal.


Nobody likes a liar. Yes, that includes your employer and teacher. Lies hinder progress and are plain out just annoying. Through participating in sports you are taught the values of honesty and the benefits that come with it. Not only that, but you are also exposed to the consequences of telling lies. Think Lance Armstrong.


Perhaps a summary of everything I’ve discussed above, but still worth mentioning. I included this one for those of you already participating in sport. Keep it up!

Generally, I am against quotas. When I captained the Under-19 side we had, I think, 3 Indians, 1 black, 2 coloured guys and 6 white guys. It was a fantastic team and everyone gelled perfectly but future teams must be picked on merit

Hashim Amla

Sportsmanship is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one’s competitors (UN inter-agency task force).

Suggested Reading for you Historical Social change Motivated by Sports

Although these ethics are examined within the sports context in this article, they are applicable to life outside the playing field and can be very useful in school, work, and relationships. Hopefully, this inspires more adults to encourage more young people to participate in sport. Until next time, keep moving.


COUBERTIN, B. P. (1863). HOPE – EDUCATIONAL KIT. Paris: The Olympic Museum.
Radziszewski, N. (2012, November). Game of Life: Lessons We Can Learn From Sports. Retrieved from The NoGimmicks, NoHype Health & Fitness Magazine.
Silverman, S. (28, January 2015). The Values That Can Be Learned by Playing Sports. Retrieved from LIVESTRONG: LIVESTRONG.COM
UN inter-agency task force. (n.d.). Sport as a tool for Development and Peace: Towards achieving the United nation millennium development goals.
WADA. (2009). Introduction to the Spirit of Sports Values. Montreal: World Anti-Doping Agency.
Walinga, J. (2012). Teaching Values through Sport: A Systems Perspective from Women Coaches. Coaching Association of Canada.

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Thando W. Dlamini, BA

Sport Development and Exercise Science Practitioner

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