Flagrant foul: Reacting to special treatment

The Dilemma

Unlike some of his teammates on the Van Buren High School basketball team, point guard Nick doesn’t stand a chance at earning a hoops scholarship, even at a Division II school. He’s an inch too short, a step too slow and way too inconsistent with his jump shot. What’s more: He’s not a star student, meaning academic scholarships are as out of reach as slam dunks.

Making Nick’s situation worse, his friends who are destined for full-ride scholarships at Division I schools seem to be getting a little extra help from teachers this semester. He’s sure this “help” will continue when they get to college, even beyond what the NCAA allows. Everybody wants to back a winner, Nick thinks, but nobody seems to want to help him get ahead.

Frustrated with his situation, Nick decides to take matters into his own hands. He meets the team’s equipment manager, Brad, after practice one day. Nick asks Brad to write his upcoming term paper, which is due the week of the state tournament.

For Discussion

Explore Nick’s situation by discussing these questions:

  • What reasons does Nick use to justify cheating?
  • Is he right that star athletes get special treatment in high school? In college? In the professional leagues?
  • Does that make any difference in how he should act? Why or why not?
  • If he thinks teachers at Van Buren High are giving inappropriate help to star athletes, should he report them? Should he report the athletes? Why or why not?
  • What actions could he take that would be more ethical than asking Brad to write his paper for him?

Now consider Brad’s situation. Discuss these questions:

  • What’s the worst thing that might happen if he goes along with Nick’s request?
  • What’s the worst thing that might happen if he doesn’t go along with Nick’s request?
  • Is there an ethical way he could help Nick?
  • What should he do if Nick insists on doing something he views as unethical?

Next, invite your youth to share times when they’ve found themselves in similar situations. How did they act? What was the result?

Finally, invite them to role-play different outcomes for this scenario. Discuss which option is the fairest to everyone involved.

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