Sunday, February 3, 2013

Colliding Ethical Frameworks: A Quick Superbowl-Related Follow-Up

As you may be aware, the biggest American media event is set to happen in a matter of minutes. Super Bowl XLVII is the biggest representation of the way that sports operate as important displays of cultural mythos. In America, this is particularly true of football. We frequently use sports as a representation for our values, rooting for teams based on concepts of loyalty and righteousness and getting caught up in narratives about particular players' rises and falls to glory. 

I wrote a post earlier this week about what happens when ethical frameworks collide. In that post, I pointed to some examples that are perhaps obscure: whether or not we should euthanize feral cats, whether eating deer or soy is a more ethical decision. 

Today, I saw a much more prevalent example of competing frameworks and wanted to point it out. 


Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl. That means that--for many of these people--their particular team (chosen for whatever reason: geographical representation, a favorite player) won't be represented. They have to choose who to root for based on some other criteria. 

For some, Ray Lewis' plea deal in a 2000 homicide case make it impossible for them to root for the Ravens

For others, Brendon Ayenbadejo's admirable involvement in the It Gets Better campaign to raise awareness of homophobia in sports makes them do just the opposite. This is especially true when you find out that the 49ers pulled their video for the project and denied ever supporting it.

Surely someone could think that Lewis' past makes his team unworthy of a win while simultaneously thinking that Ayenbadejo's activism makes his team the one to support. If that's the case, that person is going to have to make a decision about which ethical framework is more important and choose their team loyalties accordingly. 

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