Ethics in Sports Industry and Engineering

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 11
Words: 2751
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: Bachelor

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest may arise when the primary interest is influence by the secondary interest that can have an adverse influence on one’s professional judgment and objectives. A potential conflict of interest can occur in this topic because of my work in the field of engineering that can provide benefit to the sports industry and attain a financial incentive through this contribution. As an engineer, I acknowledge and disclose this conflict of interest willingly in order to remain as objective as possible in current analysis.


The ultimate goal of sportsmanship is not simply winning but rather pursuing victory with honor through giving one’s best effort. In the sports industry, ethics require such important aspects as fairness, respect, integrity, and responsibility. As the industry evolves, new technologies and equipment get introduced and thus influence the way in which certain games are being played. This means that the tools that are being introduced should be developed in a manner that would enhance the activities of individuals who participate in sports. Because innovation and new technologies facilitate the changes in different sports, it is recommended to analyze the concepts that can influence their application ins ports engineering.

As with any other product, the introduction of engineering solutions in the sports industry is expected to be sound both in terms of ethics and technologies. According to the study conducted by Dyer, the lack of attention to interventions related to “ethical issues associated with the use of sports equipment and technologies can contribute to the absence of consensus” in the general public (1). Therefore, the current analysis aims to describe how innovatively engineered technologies and equipment can be used ethically in sports, causing no harm to athletes. Because there is a large number of available techniques and tools, there are serious risks of injuries and harm, as well as the creation of settings in which some athletes have the advantage over others in terms of performance.

The ethical dilemma linked the use of equipment and technologies in sports refers to the need to ensure the greater performance of athletes without facilitating inequality or causing physical harm. Furthermore, as found by James, despite the fact that effective sports engineering enhances the performance of athletes, makes sports safer, more enjoyable, and more accessible, significant concerns are raised regarding the passiveness of athletes and the fairness of competitions (3406). During the extensive discussion associated with the integration of technologies and equipment into sports, issues raised were found to be highly similar to those connected with the techniques of human enhancement, such as chemical and biological ‘doping’ (James 3406). This represents the significant ground for consideration because sports engineering is substantially different from prohibited technologies of enhancement, with new advancements being banned only in instances when they facilitate unfairness by giving some individuals an advantage over others.

It is important to note that the ethics of using equipment and technologies in sports is a matter of public opinion. This makes the issue at hand even more challenging because the general opinion is rather fickle and can change rapidly as a response to external events. Therefore, the open dialog should be included in the ethical considerations of integrating technologies into sports activity since their engagement would encourage an all-encompassing look on the topic. Specific arguments made against the use of sports engineering include the violation of the spirit of sports, unfairness due to enhanced capabilities, deskilling, and the influence of money. Arguments in support of integrating new technologies and equipment into sports include the enabling of progress and avoidance of stagnation, banning performance advantage, as well as the look into the future of sports development. Therefore, the ethics of sports engineering present multiple challenges in research due to varying perspectives on the subject as well as different ways of solving the problem


In the current study, the fairness and effectiveness of integrating equipment and technologies into sports were aligned with seven crucial concepts pertaining to ethics. These concepts include professional identity, virtue ethics, responsibility, organizational culture, trustworthiness, risk, and life cycle analysis. All of these concepts are necessary to discuss in the project because they would have a direct influence on how technologies are integrated into the sports industry. Through exploring each concept one-by-one, it is possible to reveal important information on how engineers can benefit the sports industry without having an adverse influence on fairness.

Professional Identity

Professional identity is a concept that comprises of a set of specific motivations, attitudes, values, and experiences associated with a certain professional sphere (Slay and Smith 86). Professional identity influences the ethical aspect of any work, including engineering, because it enables individuals to understand the meanings and values that they hold when doing their job, what that work means for them, as well as who they are within the profession. These identities are based on the idea of belonging to a group of individuals working in the same field and the specific roles that people pursue in their work. As mentioned by Slay and Smith, people categorize themselves into groups by deriving their own identity from a particular group and forming boundaries (87). The alignment of professionals with specific characters promotes higher self-esteem in practice as well as more significant commitment. Therefore, professional identity is essential for the discussion of sports engineering ethics because the practitioners in the field are expected to share the same values.

Professional identity is the concept that applies to the current exploration of sports engineering ethics because it would allow the researcher to understand the objectives that sports engineers pursue. When professionals work on advanced technologies to be integrated into sports, they use their identity in order to abandon traditional values and focus on their duty and integrity, thus narrowing the sphere of responsibility to the process of developing technologies and tools to enhance sports activities. Moreover, professional identity ensures that sports engineers have an interest in what they do and can be active participants in the process of enhancing the industry and its capabilities (Tsakissiris 5). Thus, those sports engineers who understand their professional identity are more likely to benefit their profession and develop practical solutions.

Virtue Ethics

The concept of virtue ethics is applied to the current context as it refers to the right action that a virtuous person would do in the same or similar circumstances. Virtue ethics is person-based and looks at the moral character of persons carrying out specific activities associated with the profession, rather than general ethical rules and duties that have their particular consequences. The concept deals with not only the rightness and wrongness of individual actions and provides guidance as to the type of characteristics and behaviors that a virtuous person will seek to reach. The theory is essential to apply to the topic at hand because of the need to understand the influence of character on professional action. Thus, in order for the actions of sports engineers to be virtuous, the professionals are expected to be good people overall and work toward the improvement of their expertise.

The principle of virtue is important to apply to the current discussion because it teaches professionals to carry out specific actions virtuously in certain situations. A person who acts virtuously is someone who possesses and lives the virtues, which are moral characteristics that are necessary to ensure that people act in the interests of others and not only themselves. The aspect of rational thought is applicable to the considerations of virtue ethics because it encourages individuals to think about their roles in the profession, their goals, and the ways of reaching those goals. Virtues are multi-dimensional and range from justice to self-care; however, all of them are necessary to improve the overall practice and avoid actions that would be harmful to others.


Responsibility plays an immense role in the present discussion of ethics in sports engineering. In the given context, responsibility is imperative to consider because it enables the exploration of not only sports engineers’ good judgment but also such problems as inappropriate action and negligence. Sports engineering applies the concept of responsibility in the sense of performing activities that are associated with the roles of professionals working in the sphere. More specifically, responsibility is associated with multiple aspects of engineers; function and includes both outcomes and processes. A responsible professional is the one who understands the predetermined set of obligations for one’s job and meets the set expectations when accomplishing it.

Ethical responsibility associated with sports engineering is the operation of the business through improving and maintaining the bottom line while setting high standards for making positive contributions. Those engineers who understand the challenge of developing solutions enhancing the sports industry are expected to address the issues that arise along the way and can motivate themselves to be effective in doing their work. The responsibilities of sports engineers are vast and can change from one task to another. However, being dedicated to one’s profession is the main responsibility that should be enforced in the practice of sports engineers.

Organizational Culture

The concept of organizational culture is relevant to the current analysis because it implies the consideration of behaviors that employees are expected to show in their professional life. Organizational culture usually dictates the way in which employees act and engage in the organization, share the values of a company, set personal goals, and understand how they fit within an organization, as well as the way in which they engage with other individuals. Applying the concept of culture within organizations is important because it will shed light on a variety of procedures and aspects of work required to facilitate ethical choices and foster effective communication between employees.

When sports engineers work in organizational environments that do not consider the needs of their employees, the likelihood of ineffective performance as well as unethical actions on their part increases. Because of this, it is essential to ensure that when sports engineers work on technologies and tools, their environment benefits performance and effectiveness. To facilitate the integration of advanced tools into the sports industry ethically, organizations providing such services should be in tune with the needs of their workers and ensure that they have the resources that would facilitate their effective performance. When everyone knows what is expected from them, uncertainty and ambiguity are eliminated, thus contributing to the ethical integration of technologies.


Trustworthiness is important to discuss in the context of the present research. In an ideal world, engineers are expected to have the ability to be effective problem-solvers and have no influence on ethics. Professional work and the decisions that engineers make require a high degree of expertise that is usually not found in the general public. This means that individuals who work in the sphere of sports engineering should have sufficient background to understand both the objectives of their work and the possible limitations brought by public opinion. For this reason, trustworthiness becomes an essential aspect of relationships between the public and professionals. The assessment of engineers’ trustworthiness is based on such factors as the perceptions of their purpose as well as motivation to work on a specific field. Therefore, the motivation of professionals to work in a particular sphere should be seen as making improvements both for particular clients and the public in general.

Research on sports engineering has shown that the opposition toward the integration of technologies and equipment into games is associated with decreasing fairness. As mentioned by James, “even the most biased of fans still want a fair competition” (3407). When sports engineers develop technologies that limit the fairness of competition, their contribution is not considered trustworthy. Most people would agree that fair competition is the one in which the best athlete is seen to win, which represents one of the most common grievances associated with the role of technologies in sports. The issue of money also comes into play when it comes to trustworthiness. The relationship between the use of new equipment and its suitability in sports encourages the discussion on whether the ones who can afford to use technologies are more likely to win (James 3407). Therefore, trustworthiness is an essential aspect of sports engineering because its absence can enable bias and unfair advantage of some athletes over others.


Because the international market for innovative sports equipment is vast, competent engineers should work on developing tools that are safe for use. The equipment should prevent injury and enable the performance of athletes without causing any disruption (McIntosh 194). Therefore, the concept of risk should be explored in the current study because of the need to identify the potential limitations of using sports equipment, their economic implications, bodily trauma and injury, as well as mortality. The improper design and functionality of technologies could potentially have negative consequences for individuals engaging in sports. According to McIntosh, elements associated with the discussion of risks in sports engineering include the methods of risk management to set objectives, injury mechanisms, the range of standard and abnormal sports loads, efficacy and effectiveness of present and past equipment, as well as user expectations (McIntosh 193). The safety of using sports equipment is essential in the discussion of ethics because of the need for not only preventing the severity of the injury but also eliminating the occurrence of injuries completely.

Sports engineers are expected to work beyond the development of new solutions but also improving the existing equipment, as mentioned by McIntosh (193). For example, such simple tools as helmets or footwear can benefit from additional engineering solutions. Using stronger materials as well as considering the biomechanics of protective equipment can represent a valuable contribution of sports engineers whose ethical responsibility is to avoid the occurrence of injuries among athletes.

Life-Cycle Analysis

The final concept to consider is life-cycle analysis (LCA) as a sustainably-focused engineering methodology that considers a set of decisions within the product life cycle. This aspect is important to the discussion of ethics because it ensures that engineering procedures do not have an adverse influence on the environment. Sports engineers should consider the sustainability of their work when developing new equipment and tools. Life-cycle Engineering (LCE) is expected to use a cycle pattern of production, which starts with the raw material extraction and ends with it through disposal recycling. Therefore, every stage of the cycle, including transportation, utilization reuse, recycling, material sourcing, and manufacturing production, is completed in such a way that it would benefit the environment and facilitate the engineering efficiency and its contribution to sports.


The exploration of sports engineering ethics has shown to be associated with a broad range of issues. When developing solutions to enhance the performance of athletes, engineers should consider the public opinion regarding the ethics of using enhancing technologies. Some see such technologies as offering unfair advantages to individuals participating in sports. Therefore, sports engineers are responsible for developing solutions that will improve performance without increasing bias in the competition, and the exploration of ethics concepts has allowed looking at the multi-dimensional nature of the topic.

The analysis of seven concepts that include professional identity, virtue ethics, responsibility, organizational culture, trustworthiness, risk, and life cycle analysis allowed to look at the most concerning areas associated with the ethics of sports engineering. All of the concepts that were analyzed lead to the conclusion that engineers should consider two key issues: safety and fairness. When working on their equipment to be used in sports, engineers are expected to work on solutions that would not be harmful to athletes or the overall environment. Here, the concepts of risk and life-cycle analysis come into play. While the former is associated with the creation of safe tools, the latter is concerned with the production that does not have an adverse effect on the environment.

Fairness is reached when sports equipment does not offer an advantage to some athletes and puts others at a disadvantage. Trustworthiness, professional identity, responsibility, virtue ethics, and organizational culture are concepts that are integrated into the expectation of fairness. Sports engineers should show their trustworthiness by benefitting the athletes as well as being responsible for their developments. To facilitate both fairness and trustworthiness, organizational cultures play essential roles because they promote the improvement of environments to benefit the performance of engineers. Overall, the subject of ethics in sports engineering requires further exploration in the research literature. While the analysis drew from several studies in the field, there is a significant gap in research in terms of reaching a high degree of ethics within the industry.

Works Cited

Dyer, Bryce. “The controversy of Sports Technology: A Systematic Review.” SpringerPlus, vol. 4, 2015, pp. 524-525.

James, David. “The Ethics of Using Engineering to Enhance Athletic Performance.” Procedia Engineering, vol. 2, 2010, pp. 3405-3410.

McIntosh, Andrew. “Biomechanical Considerations in the Design of Equipment to Prevent Sports Injury. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, vol. 226, no. 3-4, 2012, pp. 193-199.

Slay, Holly, and Delmonize Smith. “Professional Identity Construction: Using Narrative to Understand the Negotiation of Professional and Stigmatized Cultural Identities.” Human Relations, vol. 64, no. 1, 2011, pp. 85-107.

Tsakissiris, Jane. “The Role of Professional Identity & Self-Interest in Career Choices in the Emerging ICT Workforce.” Queensland University of Technology. 2015, Web.