Professional Misconduct: The Boorish Behavior of Pro Athletes

Professional athletes are paid millions to play games. Why are they such beacons of boorish behavior?

Disrespect, insubordination and misogyny are the norm, with the sports pages filled with tales of drugs, gun fights, rapes, dog fighting, and all manner of crime.

I extolled the virtues of Stephan Marbury and his $14.95 basketball shoe to my youth basketball team, only to have Mr. Marbury brag of his limousine “sexcapades” (during Isiah Thomas’ sexual harassment trial) and walk out on his team before a game this week.

Sharon Stoll, a professor at the University of Idaho, has spent her career studying the values and morals of elite athletes, and concluded that a great many jocks are deficient in moral reasoning, which governs honesty, fairness and responsibility.

“In sport we have moved away from honorable behavior,” Stoll contends, with more emphasis on winning at all costs and material rewards.

Stoll operates the Center for Ethical Theory and Honor in Competitive Sports, and adds that, “The environment of athletics has not been supportive of teaching and modeling moral knowing, moral valuing, and moral action,”

The main goal, in her work with college and professional teams, is to get athletes to consider two questions: Is it honorable? Is it responsible? “If you can’t answer yes to both questions, you better turn and go in another direction,” Stoll says.

Isn’t that, or shouldn’t that be, normal, human behavior? I know I am not the only parent who repeated that mantra, or some variation, to their children.

I notice a large number of athlete’s pointing to the sky after a great play or thanking God for a good win. While an acknowledgement of the Father in their words is welcome, it would also be nice to see more of a Christian walk in their deeds.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
~~ Luke 12:48 (The Message)


O Adorable Lord of Mercy and Love!
Thou art Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient.
Thou art the Indweller of all beings.

Be with, and in, the athletes we so admire.


Grant them an understanding heart,
Equal vision, balanced mind,
Faith, devotion and wisdom.
Grant them inner spiritual strength
To resist temptations and to control the mind.
Free them from egoism, lust, greed, hatred, anger and jealousy.
Fill their hearts with divine virtues.


Let them behold Thee.
Let them serve Thee.
Let them ever remember Thee.
Let Thy Name be ever on their lips.
Let them abide in Thee for ever and ever.


I ask these things in the Holy Name of Jesus,



~ Adapted from the Universal Prayer (Sri Swami Sivananda)