Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > has Gary Neville got it right? more musings on ethics and standards

has Gary Neville got it right? more musings on ethics and standards

Continuing my recent theme on morals and ethics I read Gary Neville’s column in the Mail on Sunday sports section yesterday. My loss of interest in the professional game of soccer must have about coincided with his rise to prominence in the game (having checked, he did play in the last professional game that I watched; England v Georgia, 30/4/97, but that was the first game I had watched for about 8 years), and so I can’t comment on his abilities as a player, but his piece for the MoS got me thinking.

He talked of his youth and the standards that he was brought up with and how those were changed by exposure to the modern game of football, especially the overseas game. The focus of his article was on diving and the apparent talk of trying to eliminate it, and I thought that is was a well-argued piece of writing.

My problem with it is that, for as much as I can understand his point about the game having changed and people having to play it the way it is, I think that he perfectly illustrates something that is wrong with the modern world, let alone the game of soccer. The premise that everyone else is cheating so I have to play that way to keep up surely cannot be right?

From the soccer viewpoint it is easy to point the finger at the continentals for falling over shadows and the like, but I can well remember a certain chap who played for the pale blue end of Manchester in the early 70s who was fairly notorious for tripping over the line marking the penalty box, so, much as we might like to blame Johnny foreigner for most ills, we are just ducking the issue because we don’t have to accept it, put up with it or do it ourselves; it is just that we have, as GN portrayed, decided to do it.

Peer pressure is a tremendous force, and I advocate it in coaching leadership as a way that leaders can help drive negative energy from teams, but used the wrong way, or allowed to run out of control, it is as much a destructive force. At school being different was to risk attracting bullying, so the easy way out was to fall in line; in my early days at work I lost count of the number of times I would be told to slow down so as not to make the rest look bad and so on. What would you do in these circumstances?

It is a personal choice, and to stand up and be counted takes courage, especially when your livelihood is at stake. For the professional soccer player, do you ride the tackle and risk not scoring or go down and try to win the free kick? If you do the former will your team mates and the boss applaud you or call you a fool? If you ride the tackles too often will you lose your place and, eventually, your job?

I’ve said before that life is not supposed to be easy and this is a classic example. The choice is with the individual for as long as it takes before the authorities try and legislate, and the latter course is never a good one in the long run for me; I much prefer the free market environment to the rule bound one.

Sports, life and  business; morals and ethics run through them all. We each choose to raise standards or, as Mr Neville argues, to lower them. I know where I stand.

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  1. May 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm

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