Saturday, December 1, 2012

Not quite the trolley problem . . .

but still a good dilemma.

Popovich angers Stern by resting Spurs' stars, but it's the right call

I love a good ethical dilemma, and Gregg Popovich gave us a great one Thursday night. He benched four of his top players -- Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green -- for a national TV game against the Miami Heat.

Popovich has benched Duncan numerous times before, because while they may build a statue of Duncan one day, they don't want him to play like one in May. But Parker is 30. Green is 25. What kind of a world is this when a 25-year-old professional basketball player needs rest? Go tell the guys on the 5 a.m. shift at the nearest assembly line that Green needed to rest.

Before the opening tip, this looked like an unofficial forfeit -- giving up one game to improve your chances of winning the next.

It seemed to go against the one fundamental principle we hold for all our sports: Everybody must try.

But did it?

Or was Popovich not only within his rights, but simply right?
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1 comment:

Emily Ryall said...

I know little about basketball but hey, don't you already get a rest every 20 minutes during the game, plus several time-outs. These players should try playing three games of 80 minute rugby over ten days against the world champions, New Zealand, whilst not being paid professionals; which is what many of the England women's rugby team have just done.

These professional basketball stars don't know they've been born. And they certainly don't know what hard work is.

However, on a more serious note, I think most ethical issues in professional sport centre around the competing interests of that sport in being a commercially viable enterprise as well as being a sport for its own sake. So decisions made often in the short or long term (depending on the context) are for commercial reasons (i.e. ensuring relegation is avoided as well as financial implications following from, contracts are renewed, etc.). This therefore means that the 'purer' values of traditional / amateur sport are not going to be the same.

So yes, Popovich, if it turns out that resting his best players means longer term succes, made the right choice.