What exactly are we watching when we watch sports?

In baseball we have the umps checking the hats, gloves, belts, and fingers of the players. The umps are looking for sticky stuff! They have made players change their hats and take off their belts. One player dropped his drawers mid-field in protest to these checks for “sticky stuff.”

The only “sticky stuff” permitted under MLB rules is rosin. So, the players have been mixing pine tar or rosin with sunscreen. That concoction gives pitchers an extra grip on the ball. With that grip, pitchers get that spin on the ball, something that makes life tough for batters. So, MLB is cracking down, as it were, and checking for “sticky stuff.” So, you have the spectacle of umps examining discolored hats, running their fingers through pitchers’ sweaty hair, and checking gloves, goggles, and anything else baseball players wear. The human mind has no limitations when it comes to getting around rules in order to win.

Now moving along to basketball. The Barometer had spent the day cleaning and sat down with husband and sons for some quality time as they enjoyed the final two minutes of a Suns-Clippers game. Thirty-five minutes later, we were still watching. The Barometer sounded her barbaric yawp, “This is not basketball. This is watching 10 grown men try to win by getting around the rules. They had a simple formula: ball in play, foul, free-throw, deliberately missed free-throw, ball in play, repeat.

There was no basketball. No skills on display. Indeed, the trick was to at least hit the rim on your free throw but don’t let it go in– the goal was to get the ball following the free throw. Then get fouled.

The NBA players were no different from the companies in business trying to maintain or improve their earnings. They aren’t doing business. They are gaming the system — finding ways around the rules. It’s not real. No skills. No benefits. Waste of time for the sake of the win.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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