Star-studded panel debate on sports ethics proved a hit with sports leaders


​The debate in action: (from left) Non Evans, Richard Harry, Anna Mayes, Richard Parks and Nigel Walker​

Cardiff Metropolitan University this week welcomed a panel of sporting stars to a debate surrounding the very timely topic of ethics in the professional sporting world.

A part of the 2015 annual meeting of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS), 'What Elite Sport Has Taught Me' saw a number of famous faces give their take on the ethical and moral dilemmas that elite sports stars face.

Guest panellists included former Wales rugby player and National Director of English Institute of Sport, Nigel Walker, Commonwealth rugby star Non Evans, former Wales rugby international Richard Parks, former head coach of England netball Anna Mayes and Richard Harry, Head of Secretariat of the National Anti-Doping Panel and former Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Players' Association.

The debate, held at the University’s Cycoed campus involved forthright views from the experienced multi-sport internationals on the challenges and obstacles that high performance athletes face in reaching the top of their sports.

Extreme environment athlete and former rugby international Richard Parks said: “Application, perseverance and dedication are without a doubt three of the most important factors in deciding the success of athletes.” He also spoke of many sports people’s need for ‘instant gratification’ and the increase in celebrity culture and the negative effects these are having on the sporting world.

Former head coach of the England Netball team Anna Mayes discussed the need for a more holistic approach to sports leadership, commenting “it’s all about creating the right environment for young sports people. We must remember that they are a person first and an athlete second.”

From rule breaking and cheating, using performance enhancing substances, contract disputes, and the demands of being a role model and pushing one’s limits, the panellists undertook an in-depth reflective discussion rarely possible in a public forum.

Dr Alun Hardman, Senior Lecturer in Sports Ethics at Cardiff Met said; “The panel discussion was a really unique opportunity for members of the public interested in this area of sport to engage with multi-sport internationals and to join the debate on the very topical subject of ethics in sport.

“The high calibre of the sports men and women involved made for a captivating debate, and I think the audience really got an insight in to just how mentally challenging the world of elite sport can be.

“A number of the panellists shared their own personal struggles with mental health after leaving the sporting world, a topic which is still widely undiscussed in today’s society.”

Hosted by Cardiff School of Sport between 2nd and 5th of September, the annual IAPS conference aimed to stimulate, encourage and promote research, scholarship and teaching in the philosophy of sport and related practices.