In America, where every season is a sports season, a week without athletic events is a rarity. Indeed, sports impact society with win streaks, rivalries and dedicated fans. But is there more to sports than just touchdowns and almost-missed goals? Arthur Miller, a professor at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, is attempting to prove so. Upon noticing a lack of sports-related dialogue beyond game outcomes and statistics, Miller launched a think tank called the NYU Sports and Society Program.
“No one thinks about the ethics of sports. Everyone thinks about runs, hits and errors,” Miller said. “We all love sports, but our program is to get thoughtful people together to worry about the possible negative consequences.”
The program hopes to look at many of the ethical dilemmas that present themselves in the athletic community on the field, off the field and from the business side. NYU Sports and Society will also look at the impact that sports have on all levels of society with the goal of increasing public awareness in regard to how much sports affect our lives.
“Sports is often dismissed as fun and games, but it’s a major central activity. It’s a major business and it’s a major teacher in ethics,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center and member of NYU Sports and Society’s board of directors. “I hope we can form a program that takes sports seriously as a major social force.”
Sports broadcaster Bob Costas, former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and the first female Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lesley Visser are just a few inclusions of the wide range of the society’s board members.
“[The board members] come at the subject with different perspectives and different interests,” Miller said. “We’re hoping by putting them together we’ll get a variety of viewpoints.”
“I’m glad someone is deciding to talk about this side of sports. Where I’m from, sports have always been and will always be a giant force,” Steinhardt freshman Jonathan Boyd said. “I don’t think most people realize how much sports impact other areas of our lives.”
Students interested in taking part in NYU Sports and Society can contact the board of directors. The program’s first panel discussion, “Integrity of the Game: Ethics and Today’s Athlete,” will take place Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Kimmel Center for University Life. The topic will focus on ethical dilemmas athletes face today and how those choices are presented to the public.
“I’m particularly interested the ethical dilemmas that arise from sports. I’m interested in the ethical challenges across the board on the business side,” Caplan said. “Sports are more revealing of us than other areas of life. Sometimes people cover up in law, architecture, medicine and sports just lays it all out there.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Nov. 7 print edition. Bailey Evans is a staff writer. Email her at [email protected]