A question of ethics: right or wrong?
A question of ethics: right or wrong?

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

A question of ethics: right or wrong?

6 Developing character and resilience

The previous section shows cases whereby the relationship between the individual and the practitioner can sometimes lead to unethical practices. This section focuses on the relationship between coach and athlete in a different way, considering the extent to which it is the coach’s job to include moral and ethical education within the coaching/instructing environment.

The first question is whether the coach has a responsibility to foster ethical and moral behaviour within participants. The next activity will discuss the role of the coach in developing character and developing athletes holistically.

Activity 7 Moral development

Allow about 1 hour

Now read ‘Sports coaching, virtue ethics and emulation [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’ by Hardman et al. (2010) and then answer the following questions:

  1. What are the authors trying to do in writing this article? Do you feel it is the coach’s role to influence participants’ moral values?
  2. What implications does this article have for coaching/instructing?


  1. The authors are making a point that sport provides a context for individuals to explore the moral dimension of their character, and so sports coaches have a responsibility to positively influence the development of morals within the individuals they coach.
  2. The article identifies some of the ways that coaching practice needs to change to utilise the moral influence of the coach. According to Hardman et al. (2010) ‘the coach controls and largely directs the ethical agenda and sets the moral outlook.’ Therefore the values, integrity and character of the coach are vital and to be upheld at all times. The coach must treat the athlete as an individual person and learn to understand their character to help understand and develop technical and tactical aspects. The coach will need to develop skills and specific practices to be able to achieve this. The implications of this for coach training are also evident.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus