Monday, October 19, 2020

Philosophy & Ethics MoNo 10/19/20

Philosophy & ethics
 Monday Notes - 10/19/20

Sensitive content warning - domestic violence (graphic video). 

In today's article, the authors evaluate Roger Goodwell's (NFL commissioner) strategy to the media criticism of his response to Ray Rice's domestic violence video on February 19th, 2014 (below). They focus on this event because it is the 1) first crisis with leaked evidence highly publicized in social media, 2) they want to examine the separation strategy used, and 3) Goodwell's notoriety before the scandal, which afforded him a certain advantage to use this strategy. 

 Results show the strategy worked with some stakeholders, but not others. Mainly the media continued to criticize the decision. The owners applauded Goodwell and supported him. The fans were upset at Rice's actions and the initial reaction from the NFL, but it seems the separation strategy worked as this had no bearing on their continued watching intentions. The authors suggest future studies explore the notoriety and the public perception of them prior to crisis as an influence on the type of image repair strategies they may successfully employ. 

Here are a couple of questions for your consideration: 
  • Would these types of decisions (penalties for off the field behavior) be better handled proactively (i.e. by pre-written policies), and if so, should they be clear-cut on the types of penalties or leave it up to interpretation? 
    • Whose interpretation. More specifically who gets to be the judge-jury-and executioner as the author puts it?
  • Would this have been handled better if the decision had been made by an appointed or convened committee, or should the commissioner continue to be the sole decision-maker on off-field behavior player discipline? 
  • Are the players the only ones being disciplined for their off-field behavior? Should the NFL penalize the Patriots organization or Robert Kraft personally for his off-field behavior? Why or why not? 
  • What are other lessons we can extrapolate from this incident? 
To-do list for Wednesday class: 
  • See you in person if you are scheduled to come in person on Wednesdays! There is a bonus points opportunity for those of you scheduled to come in on that day. 
  • See you via zoom if that's your class method on Wednesday. If you missed your bonus points opportunity because you were not in class today come see me during office hours. 
  • We have an SIT assignment due
  • Hanna, you present on Taylor et al., 2020. 
Upcoming activities: 
  • Deandre presents on Taylor & Paule-Koba, 2020 on Friday
  • There is a Quiz Monday that includes the second part of the sexual violence literature. 


  1. Unfortunately I don't really think that having proactive measures for these professional athletes would help this sort of instance from occurring. There are plenty of rules and laws in the NFL or other sports organizations that these athletes break all the time because I think they just don't really care. They have so much money and power in a sense that they think they can just do whatever they want and somehow get away with it.

    Bailey Williamson - Arkansas state masters student in current readings

  2. At the time of this incident I thought a two-game ban was light for Ray Rice. The NFL had no history or prior guidelines to work from for a case like this. Even though he did not have all the information to make a strong decision, Commissioner Roger Goodell needed to make a quick decision due to the publicity from social media and the pressures from the press. Thus, from this incident and others, guidelines and rules have been established for future cases. Also, awareness has been created for the NFL and its public image of players, focusing its efforts on the imaging and branding of on field play and off field community building projects, not instances like Ray Rice.
    The NFL has since strengthened its rules and policies on such cases and more, such as for DUI’s, and now regulate more than just on field play. They regulate their players, coaches, and other key members’ actions outside of the organization, as well, and act on their own to reprimand those in their organization who are at fault. I believe the Ray Rice incident has changed the NFL for the better. Sometimes it takes a downfall to understand the importance of duty. Players and leaders are role models whether they choose to be or not and should be aware of their actions just as much off the field as on the field. I commend the NFL for taking a stand against violence and learning from these incidents to make decisions to promote good moral character and condemn bad within its organization.
    Going forward, I believe the NFL should have a review committee for situations like the Ray Rice case. The NFL already has a committee for rules of the game, and a committee for on field player fines. Why not have a committee for off field situations like Ray Rice’s? This would ensure commissioner Roger Goodell has a board he can trust to make good moral recommendations to assist him in making a final verdict, bringing a court system process to the NFL for fair, proper, and justified treatment.

    Jared Ames - ASTATE Masters Current Readings

  3. The NFL is a money machine and sadly this often takes precedent over just about anything. At times the NFL lacks oversight and quite honestly is out of date with their ability to handle controversy and scandal.
    No doubt about it, the NFL should be proactively handling off the field incidents with pre-written policies. The NFL is a billion dollar business and there needs to be structure set in place, and that goes for all employees not just the players. With that being said, I do believe the NFL has come a long way since the Ray Rice incident, with much more focus on off the field incidents from their employees. I think the biggest hinderance to their policies is the structure of the organization.
    The NFL is to top heavy with its power structure. Commissioner Roger Goodell holds to much of the power and committees should be set up to create a sort of checks and balances system for the organization. At times it feels like there is very little consistency regarding policy for off the field incidents.

    Blake Fuschak- Arkansas State Masters Current Readings

  4. The first positive from the Rice incident occurred in Aug 2014 when Goodell announced a revision of player conduct discipline: first time offenses for assault, battery, domestic violence and sexual assault would result in a 6-game ban and a lifetime ban for 2nd offenses (Elliot 2014). Controversy was reignited in September when a video from inside the elevator leaked that showed Rice punch his girlfriend, which resulted in the Baltimore Ravens cutting Rice from the team (Slover 2014). The next day Goodell denied the NFL had seen the leaked tape when he issued his original 2-game ban and would now suspend Rice indefinitely (Slover 2014). The next positive step the NFL took was in December 2014 when it updated the personal conduct policy and released a clear procedural flowchart on how violations would be handled ( 2014). What had changed from prior policy was the creation of the Commissioner Exempt List whereas, “An individual may be put on paid leave if formally charged with a violent crime or sexual assault, or if the NFL investigation finds sufficient credible evidence that it appears a violation of the policy has occurred. Paid leave will last until the completion of the NFL investigation or disposition of a criminal charge ( 2014).”

    Additional steps in the new flowchart include sections on disciplinary decisions, individual response, panel hearings and final decisions ( 2014). The panel hearing appeals was to consist of three outside experts to review the case and discipline and make recommendations to the commissioner or alternate ( 2014). The entire policy covers “owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials and league office employees ( 2014).”

    I have regularly observed news stories of various players being placed on the Commissioners Exempt List since its inception and either removed from the list when cleared or suspended when necessary.

    Whether right or wrong, adequate or not, steps have been taken and some progress has been made. I disagree that the commissioner should hold absolute power to decide discipline and ultimately decide appeals. While the grass may seem greener by having an independent person or panel implement discipline, what if its not and discipline is too light? While Goodell is clearly biased towards the NFL’s interests (he has to be as he’s its elected protector), it’s him and the owners that have everything to lose if they don’t button things up and their golden egg gets damaged. The financial incentives to reign in bad behavior are too great.

    Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s prostitution solicitation charges were an interesting test to the conduct policy. Robert Kraft was not placed on the Commissioners Exempt List during the criminal investigation that has lasted a year and a half because his charges did not involve violence or assault (Florio 2019). While charges have been dropped against Kraft, it remains to be seen what the results of the prosecutor’s appeal may lead to and whether Goodell will be forced to administer an appropriate punishment.


    Elliot, R. (2014, September 11). Everything you need to know about the Ray Rice case. Time.

    Florio, M. (2019, March 31). Exoneration would be the beginning not the end for Robert Kraft. NBC Sports. (2014, December 10). NFL owners endorse new personal conduct policy.

    Slover, R. (2014, November 29). Fallout from Ray Rice decision: What happens to discipline? Sporting News.

    Dan Gardner A-State Masters student

  5. Would these types of decisions (penalties for off the field behavior) be better handled proactively (i.e. by pre-written policies), and if so, should they be clear-cut on the types of penalties or leave it up to interpretation?

    I believe the NFL should have disciplinary board that regulates and monitors the rules and infractions of players throughout the league. There should be penalties as there are now for players that have rule infractions, and what happens if they continue to do so. This may come as a surprise to some when I say this, but it is not question that Ray Rice made a terrible mistake. I do in no way, shape, or form condone violence against anyone especially women. However after serving his suspension I do feel that he should have been considered for reinstatement after completing his sentence. That in my opinion is where a disciplinary board would be beneficial. They can make it mandatory that Ray Rice pay a fine for what he did, as well as take anger management courses in order to get to the route of the issue. There are certain issues I feel should be seen as light and could result in indefinte suspension but that would be a great start.

    Gilbert Talbot- ASTATE Masters Student in Current Readings.

  6. Are the players the only ones being disciplined for their off-field behavior? Should the NFL penalize the Patriots organization or Robert Kraft personally for his off-field behavior? Why or why not?
    I feel the NFL should have disciplinary actions for all involved with the NFL. I would think they have an owners and worker code of conduct as well. Most jobs i have worked at has one. I dont think it is fair to only hold players to a standard and not the owners. With the use of social media their moves and actions can be followed just as the players. Kraft should be given a penality for his actions as well. There are plenty of players who have been charged with sexual misconduct. These players have been given fines and had to miss a few games. Why are these so call bosses held to lower standards than players?

  7. I think that measures can be taken by means of written policies, but they will only be effective if they will actually be implemented. It is common for policies to be overlooked or for the offender to only receive a slap on the wrist rather than actually being held accountable. Organizations are represented on and off the field. In a spotlight like that, it is important for off the field behavior to be taken seriously as well. I think that there should be clear-cut types of penalties. The majority of the issues are clear-cut so the punishment should be that way too. Leaving things up to interpretation creates situations where a slap on the wrist mindset will begin to come into play more often. Having someone directly involved with an interpretation mindset will allow for a lesser punishment to take precedent over what the actual punishment should be. A third party that does not directly deal with the offender would be ideal since they will not have a dog in the fight so to speak.
    Overall, it probably would have been handled better if the decision had been made by an appointed or convened committee. The commissioner should not be the sold-decision maker because his organization is involved, even if it isn’t necessarily his player or team directly.
    If players are being disciplined then so should everyone else. The coaches and other members on staff are not above being held to higher standards just like the athletes. If the athletes are being held to standards then it is only right to hold the others to it too. They are all a part of the organization, just in different roles.
    I think the main lesson is that every action has a consequence. No one is above the law or from doing what is right. If anything, those in positions of power and seen regularly by the public eye are even more obligated to do what they are supposed to because they are looked at as role models.

    Lauren Martin - ASTATE Masters Student in Current Readings

  8. I think matters such as this incident should have pre-written policies and rules and also penalties to handle the situation proactively and also not have make a decision off quick thinking. I also think that all people of a sport organization should be handle to the same caliber or standard as players when it comes to issues like this because they are just as big of a representation of the organization as the players, not matter how big or small their roles are.

    Mattison Davis - Philosophy and Ethics in Sport

  9. I believe that there is not any measure that could be taken to avoid this behavior, but there should be rules in place to handle it when it does happen. Regardless of any rule placed proactively, I believe that penalties for off-field player behavior should be handled by more of a committee rather than a single person. I feel that all people in sports programs, from players to executives, should be held to the same standard. I especially agree with the statement above that from players to executives, everyone is part of the representation of the organization no matter the responsibility.

  10. I think the punishment that they gave rice was fair but I also think that it should have been in pre-written policies, and not just make it up as you go. I don't think that the owners and the commissioner should get to play judge and jury in something that serious. What makes them get to decide what kind of punishment he should get?

  11. The punishment was fair as Ray Rice still never returned to the NFL because of this domestic violence incident. However other players like Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill are still playing today as they had similar off the field issues like Ray Rice. I think teams not giving him a second chance is not fair but the punishment was suffice in my eyes. The NFL made it clear that domestic violence is not accepted within the league. Especially since this incident happened on video that gave the league clear evidence. I think if there was not clear evidence to be proven guilty, I can see the punishment not fair given just off allegations. I’m not sure if they have pre-written policies now but they should have definitely had pre-written policies at the time keep fair punishment for all players in the league.
    I don’t think that the NFL should penalized an organization as a whole but if they wanted to punish Robert Kraft personally, I would not have a problem with that. Given that he is apart of the NFL as an owner he should not have the privilege to get away with off the field issues. Again, I am a full supporter of not guilty until proven so. If the NFL has clear evidence, then yeah Robert Kraft should have received punishment personally for his off the field actions.
    I think a good lesson from the Ray Rice incident would be to have team meetings and discuss character development. Talk about the standard and role model actions that are expected of all the players. Also, talk about the consequences for what could happen if domestic violence or sexual abuse etc… off the field issues occur. Teams can possibly prevent bad judgment cases by raising awareness in these team meetings. I think with all the money these teams have they should hire psychologist and mentors to meet with players who are struggling with off the field problems. I think one more lesson we learned from this is that the NFL is putting their foot down for these issues with suspensions and fines and making it clear that that type of behavior is not accepted.

    Tyler Smith – Arkansas State Masters Current Readings

  12. I honestly think that there should've been pre-written laws and things like this could possibly slow down. Laws are put into place to keep people in order and prevent everything from going haywire. Of course that doesn't mean things will stop completely because there's people breaking laws still but it keeps the number down. In the video it looks like there was some sort of an argument and it resulted in Ray Rice punching the girl. I was always taught a man should never hit a female unless it's a life or death situation which this was not . I feel like he has learned his lesson because you haven't heard of him being in any other trouble since then.

  13. I enjoyed reading this post and taking it as a mental exercise for thought. I was not in the class that corresponded to this post, however as I read through your blog this one really drew my attention. I have always thought that going out of one's way to learn and think in ways they don't normally do is crucial to self development and this is one way to do that. Your blog provided me the opportunity to consider these questions, without any need for submission or grade, at my own rate and truly go deep into the issues at hand. I look forward to more blogs like this in the future to continually challenge myself to think in different ways about topics that I may not typically address on my own.

    Tyler McCarthy
    ESPE 6643

  14. The Ray Rice situation is so complex for me, because I do have some personal knowledge of his background, and by no means do I seek to condone the horrific act he committed. It was reprehensible, and he deserved to be held accountable for it. I never want my life to be defined by the worst five minutes of it. But, let me get on topic, the separation strategy used by the NFL with this incident and others like it served to protect the brand or the shield as it is often referred to. Roger Goodell's action was focused on what is in the best interests of the National Football League long term. As a leader, you know when take stand like he did, ultimately all the blow back will be on you. I think in the future he is probably best served having a committee in place to handle high profile incidents of this sort. The discipline will be received in a completely different way by the public. This is because we are a society that believes in due process, having a committee to decide and to review incidents of this kind provides that optic. Goodell dishing out the punishment and being judge, jury, executioner does not provide the same optic. The best thing is to have a committee in place to examine these type of incidents and pass out the discipline, it also decreases the chance for one person who is bias to unfairly punish someone.

    Oji Fagan
    ESPE 6643

  15. I think Robert Kraft and other NFL owners should be held accountable just as much if not more than the players they employee. The simple fact is that these owners employee these players that make the league go and you should show them that there is a certain way to handle yourself off the field. If the boss can't carry that standard then how can you expect a player to? Just because they are the ones who write the checks does not mean they can't be subject to penalties. We seen former NBA owner Donald Sterling forced to sell his team after racial remarks, so if the NFL can't fine or suspend these owners for their actions as they do the players, then the league has a serious issue.

    Isiah Olave
    ESPE 6643

  16. I don't agree with the post. I believe the punishment they gave Rice was unfair. I think they were just trying to make an example out of him to make a statement for the rest of the league. but, he was in the wrong for putting his hands on a woman, that should never be acceptable. the situation could've been handled differently as well as the punishment he received.

  17. Would these types of decisions (penalties for off the field behavior) be better handled proactively (i.e. by pre-written policies), and if so, should they be clear-cut on the types of penalties or leave it up to interpretation?

    I believe that any sport organization should have pre-written policies and rules for all types of behaviors off the field. Having pre-written policies and rules would allow for the players to understand the consequences and make it easier on the Commissioner to enforce the penalty. It would eliminate some of the questioning on whether or not the punishment was right or wrong, long enough or too short. This would help lessen any backlash that the Commissioners, Roger Goodell, would receive from outside of the NFL. However, I strongly believe that any actions outside of the playing field should be handled by a committee rather than an individual such as the Commissioner. Committee’s would be able to collect all the evidence, examine the incident, rule out any information that is not related and decide what the punishment will be.

    Hunter Porter – Arkansas State Master Student: Current Readings