Sports organisations must focus on encouraging value-led behaviour in their athletes following the Australian cricketers’ damaging ball-tampering episode in South Africa, according to UWA sport psychologist Dr Sandy Gordon.
Dr Gordon has served as a sport psychologist for the Australian, Indian and Sri Lankan cricket teams and has worked with AFL and WAFL teams as well as the Australian Professional Golfers Association, Perth Wildcats and Perth Lynx basketball teams.
In a feature article published today in InPsych The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society Dr Gordon, from UWA’s School of Human Sciences, said professional sport had become a distorted form of physical activity controlled by the power elite and shaped by the needs of corporate logic.
“As part of the entertainment industry, sport has become commodified, commercialised and spectacularised (sic). In this heady ideological mix athletes are encouraged and even expected to use any means to obtain a win at all costs,” he said.
“Our athletes have become pawns in a sport landscape that is so pervasive we seldom take time to consider it, or its alternatives.”
Dr Gordon said as a nation of gamblers there was every likelihood that risk taking was embedded in all sport codes, and for the cricketers may have contributed to less than optimal values-based decision making.
“So how can sport organisations, steeped in powerful cultural forces, keep ethical issues fresh and contemporary despite challenges to ignore them?”
Dr Gordon listed several suggestions to help organisations such as Cricket Australia support value-led behaviours, including clarifying value behaviours across all levels of hierarchy and reinforcing the importance of managing values for those who manage staff.
He said it was important to assess the behaviours required to achieve performance and outcome goals and make certain that a win-at-all-costs mentality didn’t trump ethical and value-based practices.
“Enable discussions on values and ethics so that they thrive in our organisations. Encourage staff to ask questions with others when a values dilemma presents itself. Individuals facing a critical incident who investigate solutions will benefit from sharing their challenge with others.”
Dr Gordon will talk about ethical behaviour in sport during a public panel discussion at UWA next month: “Just Not Cricket. Aspects of the ball tampering saga”. Fellow speakers are Professor Andrew Cresswell, Head of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences and Professor of Biomechanics and Neurophysiology at The University of Queensland and Dr Tony Buti, MLA for Armadale and Honorary Fellow at UWA’s Law School.
The free event will be held on Thursday 9 August from 6pm to 7.30pm at John Bloomfield Lecture Theatre, UWA School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science).
RSVP online at: http://www.ias.uwa.edu.au/lectures/just-not-cricket
Dr Sandy Gordon (UWA School of Human Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 2375 / (+61 4) 39 912 366
David Stacey (UWA Media and Public Relations Manager) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716