GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
Standing alone, the phrase
“sports integrity” is an ab-
straction that begs content.
There is as yet no generally
accepted definition of the
term, which tends to be de-
fined loosely in ways that
do not promote action in its
Without a tangible
understanding of its meaning, however, “sports integrity” is impossible to
monitor and manage.
Monitor Quest, accordingly, provides a practical definition: “sports integrity”
consists of two broad commitments on the part of competitors, teams, govern-
ing authorities, and associated parties in sport to the broader public. These
are: 1)
to preserve the fundamental character of sporting competition as an honest test
of skill and ability
; 2)
to act on and off the field in ways consistent with preserving the
social and economic value of sport
. When either of these commitments goes un-
met, sports integrity is liable to be breached.
To elaborate on the first commitment, the quality of the event is the root source
of sports’ distinctive appeal. Competitors want to participate because by win-
ning and feats of athletic prowess they earn fame or fortune or both. Those
possibilities ultimately depend on the willingness of the fans to reward the
competitors by spending their money on tickets and merchandise, devoting
time and effort to following the sport and their favourites, and merging into
the collective identity of “supporter”, who derives meaning from–and imparts
meaning to– the association. Fans must therefore believe in the competition’s
authenticity. Without the excitement inherent in the unpredictability of play
popular appeal shrinks with the willingness of fans to pay premium ticket
prices. Nor will the other actors in the ecosystem–broadcasters, advertisers,
sponsors, equipment and clothing manufacturers, and bookmakers, for exam-
ple –be as willing to enter the picture.
The second commitment reflects the social and economic significance of
sport. When prominent sportsmen’s behaviour discredits their sport their ac-
tions risk compromising its role in imparting positive values or reinforcing
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