Sports activities play an important role in the formation of any society. Sports and games have been part of human civilization since the very beginning. Different types of sports and games have been developed over the centuries for different purposes. Apart from the obvious motive of fun and enjoyment, sports and games have been used for developing physical strength, mental sharpness, and agility.

In the modern industrialized societies of today, sports are not only a means of physical exercise or leisure time rather they have turned into multibillion dollar industries. With the involvement of money, fame, and prestige, the stakes for athletes and sportsmen have become ever so high. Amidst the cutthroat competition in sports arenas, athletes are under pressure to be at their best at all times to stay relevant. Because of this, many young athletes have developed the mindset that winning is the most important objective of sports and that ethics should take the backseat. As a consequence of this thinking, sportsmen are often caught redhanded using illegal and unethical methods in and out of the sports fields. The purpose of this report is to provide guidance to the young athletes regarding ethical, social, and political issues in sports (English, 2016).

Ethical Issues in Sports

Sportsmanship, integrity, and high morals have always been an integral part of all types of sports. However with the commercialization of sports, various ethical issues are arising in sports. The list of ethical issues in sports is quite long however two of the most pressing issues are discussed as following (STU, 2019):

Gambling and Betting

 Monetary gain is one of the strongest motivator of unethical and illegal behavior. The world of sports has seen many such instances when players, coaches, or administration got involved in illegal conduct to make money.

One such instance is the 2009 European football betting scandal where the fraudsters had paid coaches, players, and officials to influence the outcome of game play. This scandal is regarded as one of the biggest scandals of corruption in European sports. Until now multiple people have been charged with fraud in this case.

Another instance of match fixing was witnessed during Indian Premier League in 2013 where multiple cricketers were charged for match fixing. Players of Rajisthan Royals, team owners, and bookies were investigated for illegal betting and attempt to influence the outcome of game.

Substance Abuse and Illegal Drugs

With the advancement in pharmaceutical technology, the field of sports medicine has emerged. There are many legal supplements and drugs which are used by the athletes to improve performance, strength, endurance, and stamina. However, there are many drugs which are banned and illegal to use. Almost all of the sports requiring endurance and stamina have been plagued by illegal drug use however cycling remains the most affected sports in this regard. Many cyclists have been found guilty of using blood doping method for increasing oxygen in blood in order to enhance endurance. The most famous example in this case is that of Lance Armstrong who admitted of using blood doping methods (Loland, 2008).

Political Issues in Sports

Competitive sports play a very important role in the society and often are a matter of pride for nations. Due the widespread appeal and notoriety of sports and athletes, sports is often been influenced by politics. While hardcore politics does influence sports in many ways, sports organizations also have their own political structures and power hierarchies. Therefore, professional sports are not just all about fun and leisure rather it has a very serious political implications as well.


In countries like United States and South Africa, the history of racial divide is quite prominent. Hence, the residual effects of that history also get reflected in the sports of these nations. One instance of racial discrimination in sports was when Marylebone Cricket Club refused to include Basil Oliveira in its cricket team against South Africa fearing protest from the Apartheid management. In the USA, the black sportsmen also face many difficulties and are underrepresented in sports administration despite dominating in sports like rugby and basketball (Davis, 2008).


 Sports Diplomacy

While the political influence in sports is often deemed as something negative, it has also proved beneficial at some instances. One example of successful sports diplomacy is often witnessed in the form of cricket matches between India and Pakistan who have been archenemies since their creation. Nonetheless, at many instances sports matches have successfully been used to dissolve tensions and improve related between the two nations. This shows the circle of influence of sports out of its usual domain.

Social Issues in Sports

Sport not only has ethical, economic, political significance but it also has a social dimension due to the widespread popularity and following among the masses. This is the reason that many big brands and companies hire sportsmen and athletes for the promotion of their products and their advertising campaigns. Moreover, messages of public interest delivered by athletes also carry high persuasive value. Many athletes also regularly take part in charity events and substantial donations are collected only due to the fame of these athletes. However, there is a flip side to this as well. At many occasions famed athletes have been found guilty of crimes and antisocial behavior. This has a bad impact on youngsters and fans who follow and idealize these athletes. Many athletes have been found guilty of violence, drunk driving, and even murder. All of these things cause a bad impression on young minds. Therefore, athletes must act in a socially responsible manner and use their influence for the good of society (Coakley, 2010).


Coakley, J. (2010). The Social Significance of Sports. University of Colorado Colorado Springs .

Davis, T. (2008). Race and Sports in America: An Historical Overview. Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal .

English, C. (2016). Philosophy of sport: critical concepts in sports studies. Sports, Ethics, and Philosophy .

Loland, S. (2008). Ethics of technologically constructed hypoxic environments in sport. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports .

STU. (2019, July). Ethical Issues in Sports Administration. Retrieved April 2021, from

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