Current Ethical Issues in Sports

May 2, 2018 Sports

Although many people look at hazing incidents as a tradition or big joke, it is dangerous and unacceptable behavior. There is a lot that can be done to prevent hazing. Raising awareness that it is wrong is crucial in preventing such incidents as the one in the Seamons v. Snow case. Coaches who consider potential issues before they occur will be better prepared to meet their legal duties (Gaskin, L. , 1993). Background On October 11, 1993 Brian Seamons, a high school football player for Sky View High School in Utah, was grabbed by his teammates as he exited the locker room shower and bound to a towel rack.

Seamons was naked and his teammates taped him and invited his ex-girlfriend into the locker room to look at him. Brian and his parents reported the assault/hazing incident to both school officials and the football coach Doug Snow. They met with Snow two days after the assault occurred to discuss whether Seamons would press criminal charges and whether Snow would take disciplinary action against the teammates involved in the assault/hazing.

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Snow told them that he did not have intentions of removing any of the assailants from the team and asked Seamons to meet with the team captains, who had participated in the assault, to clear up any bad feelings. Seamons was told by his teammates that he had betrayed the team by reporting the incident. Coach Snow then told Seamons that he needed to to “forgive and forget. ” He advised Seamons to apologize to the team for making the report before he played again. When Seamons told Coach Snow that he would not apologize, Snow said that his attitude was unacceptable and that he was no longer a member of the football team.

School officials cancelled the last playoff game due to the incident. Seamons was forced to move to a different school due to the hostile environment created by the cancellation of the game. He filed a lawsuit against Coach Snow and the Cache School District. He alleged that several of his constitutional rights were violated, including freedom of speech. He said that he was suspended and later dismissed from the football team because he refused to apologize for reporting the assault to the authorities. Seamons also alleged a violation of his rights under Title IX.

He believed he was given such treatment because of his gender and was told to take the locker room incident “like a man” (Seamons v. Snow, 2000). Summary The court found that the team loyalty which Coach Snow wanted Seamons to accept was not a quality unique to male athletes. They also stated that Seamons had insufficient evidence to prove that the conduct of his assailants was sexual in nature, as defined in hostile environment context. The court ruled that “the actions of inaction of school officials in response to the conduct” were not based on Seamons’ sex, and therefore, he does not have a claim under Title IX (Seamons v.

Snow, 2000). Seamons appealed this judgment and later the Tenth Circuit of Appeals reversed the lower court rulings and stated that Seamons did have factual evidence to support his claim. To win his case, Seamons and his legal team need to prove that Snow required Seamons to apologize or be kicked off the team and that he was kicked off the team for speaking out about the assault/hazing incident. If Seamons proves his case against Snow, he also has a cause of action against the Cache School District because they gave Snow full authority to make final determinations about team membership.

Neither Snow nor the district will qualify for immunity because the law was clear that school officials could not penalize a student for speech that is non-disruptive, non-obscene, and not school-sponsored (Seamons v. Snow, 2000). Reflection I feel like there is lot that needs to be done in terms of prevention. Kids should participate in an anti-bullying curriculum starting in elementary school and continuing through high school. It is important that we take action in terms of establishing safe environments and implementing consequences when incidents do occur.

Before a season begins I would make sure that all of the student-athletes received direct instruction on what constitutes hazing and would have them sign a behavioral contract . Coaches all are expected to reinforce hazing and bullying policies as well as provide appropriate supervision. In this case, my impression is that boys were in a locker/shower area with coaches nearby (but not with direct “eyes on” supervision) … a situation that happens in virtually every high school athletic program in the country.

It is vital that athletic programs adopt policies that require a coach to be present and visible in these areas at all times (which I feel is excessive, but when something like this happens it’s probably a reasonable expectation). In conclusion, it is clear that hazing is detrimental. If we commit to understanding the effects that hazing has on student-athletes, teams, schools and the sport as a whole, then we will eventually be able to transform those who think that such initiation rituals are acceptable.


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