by Roger Pynn
Lord knows the world of sports is having a rough time right now. From the NFL to the NCAA, questions abound about the ability of athletes, coaches and executives to make good decisions. Just check out the hashtag #goodellmustgo.
There seems to be an inability by many players to understand that violence is no answer to domestic problems. And the brass (both professional and collegiate) seem to have a hard time making tough disciplinary decisions.
But I was pleased to see my alma mater’s Head Football Coach George O’Leary make such a solid statement when asked whether suspending the nation’s top quarterback for just the first half of a key football game constitutes tough love. If coaches, athletic directors and university presidents don’t send the message that there is a consequence to acting badly, who will?
Public pressure like the #goodellmustgo campaign by the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet has obviously caused him to react, but will he be forgiven? “Roger Goodell may have taken a crisis communications 101 class over the weekend, but his actions are simply too little too late,” the group’s founder had said prior to his public mea culpa and a sweeping commitment to change.
I’m often asked to speak to public relations and other associations on the issue of ethics. This is Ethics Awareness Month for the Public Relations Society of America, and practitioners across the country are engaged in talking, tweeting, blogging and debating on relevant issues. I’m preparing talks on ethics for two upcoming presentations, so what we see going on in athletics provides new examples of why ethical behavior is so important, and how easy it really is.
If you don’t know that slugging your fiancé or spouse is bad behavior then you’re not only not a sports role model, but a bad person. In our business, if you don’t know that misrepresenting facts is unethical then you’re not only not a credible public relations person, but the professional equivalent of a wife beater.
When I give my talks on ethics, I hand out little blue rubberized bracelets (a la WWJD and LIVESTRONG). In white letters they say WSID/DTRT. I wear one every day to remind me to ask “What Should I Do?”
The answer is simple: Do The Right Thing.