Developing the Moral Integrity of College Sport through Commercialism
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Despite criticisms that commercialism corrupts college sports (Duderstadt, 2003, Roberts 2008, Zimbalist 2006), commercialism, if executed appropriately can strengthen and develop the moral integrity of sport. A utilitarian approach to the commercialization of sport can be used to strengthen its moral integrity. From a utilitarian standpoint, John Stuart Mill's greatest happiness principle and Jeremy Bentham's hedonic calculus can be used to help determine specific approaches to the commercialization of sport. The interests of the sporting community including sport participants, coaches, administrators, fans, and community members, must be considered when commercializing sport to a moral end. Thoroughly understanding a morally grounded mission in a sport organization is a prerequisite to the effective negotiation of terms of commercial agreements that mutually support the mission of the commercial entity and sport organization. The commercialization of sport includes but is not limited to television contracts, venue signage, licensing of merchandise, and corporate sponsorships. Identifying a professional "fit" between the sport organization and commercial entity is imperative. The use of common sense, and experience as outlined by Mill and Bentham (as cited in Beauchamp 1982) and understanding human nature as outlined by Hume (1739/1964) are useful when attempting to determine how particular commercialism efforts may consciously or subconsciously develop or reduce the moral integrity of sport. Beyond sport, the influences and risks of commercialism can be understood by observing its effect on non-sport organizations. Threats to the moral integrity of sport arise when entering into revenue generating commercial agreements. Sport's overreliance on revenue from a commercial entity is a factor that can potentially cause deviation from a sport organization's morally based mission. Excessive expansion and lavish funding of sport organizations can contribute to overreliance on revenue from commercial entities. Personal greed can also play a role in detracting from the moral integrity of the mission.
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