Top athletes have a moral obligation to prevent other people’s immoral deeds

A master’s thesis defended in the University of Tartu’s Department of Philosophy claims that top athletes, who more and more often attract media interest even outside the sports sphere, should also behave more morally than the so-called average person outside the training and competition period.

Mariann Järvela claims in her recent master’s thesis that compared to the so-called ordinary people, top athletes have two reasons for day-to-day moral behaviour – social responsibility and personal integrity.

Järvela finds that due to social responsibility, top athletes have the moral obligation to be a good role model primarily for children and young people. “Modern-day top-class sport is a global phenomenon and top athletes have an outstanding and prominent position in our society, which means that people willingly accept and embrace their behavioural models and the values they promote. When a top athlete behaves in an immoral manner, it is also a model behaviour to be followed. Therefore, athletes have a moral obligation to prevent other people’s immoral acts, which are caused by their own negative example,” Järvela argued.

In her thesis Järvela analysed and developed the argument by the reputable sports philosopher Robert L. Simon who said that sports at its best should also presume the acceptance of certain values. The author of the thesis said that as the continuity and integrity of values are of utmost importance for maintaining our identity, top athletes should remain loyal to sports values also outside the sports sphere.

Additional information: Mariann Järvela, author of the master’s thesis,

Viivika Eljand-Kärp@ University of Tartu Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5683
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