Embedded Ethics

Healing Sport's Ethical Core

For all stakeholders in the field of modern sports, ESPRIT offers ‘embedded ethics’ to improve integrity from within. Modern sport suffers from a growing number of excesses: (sexual) harassment, match-fixing, violence, racism, sexism, doping and criminal interference / undermining. The painful process of facing up to this reality, and acknowledging the share sport unwillingly has in each of these excesses, is in full swing. This will require the utmost from sport’s governing bodies and all other relevant stakeholders. ESPRIT is available to support this transition.

Sport’s Ethical Core

In sport ethics, the concept of sport’s 'ethical core' is crucial; it refers to the primal ethical character of sport, considered to be an absolute, unassailable fact, distinguishing sport from other social practices. Unfortunately, today we need to admit that sport also provokes excesses. All those involved in sport suffer as a result from this situation. To put it differently: sport’s ethical core is injured. Transition and healing will come if this ambiguity is recognized.


The road towards healing and transition starts with compassion. All stakeholders in modern sport are available to show and address compassion. This process requires first of all self-compassion: whoever dares to acknowledge his own role in sport’s suffering ethical core, will guide others to do so, thus accelerating systemic transition.


Activating compassion will open up to a new kind of inclusion: (re)including so-called 'offenders' and giving them the chance to recover. Compassion starts at the individual level: all relevant stakeholders first should contain their own excessive temptations, such as stretching one’s limits to keep belonging, to get recognition, or to do everything necessary to serve one’s club / discipline / federation. At any cost, if necessary, even by sacrificing one’s own limits, one’s individual integrity.

Moral resilience

A third distinctive element ESPRIT offers, is to increase moral resilience in sport’s ethical core. Threats like doping, match-fixing or undermining only get a grip on sport, if athletes, players, coaches and executives are open to these temptations. But also transgressive behavior, (sexual) harassment, violence, racism and sexism all derive from the excessive demand to satisfy what could not be achieved elsewhere (earlier in life, in work or at home). Increasing resilience to desires that raise the pressure on sport’s ethical core; this is a great task for the sporting community. After all, sport offers a rich parallel learning environment to address personal themes.

By offering embedded ethics, ESPRIT guides all those involved in sport, towards (self)compassion, inclusion of the downside, and improving sport’s moral resilience from within.

Please contact us for more information or an intake into our ‘embedded ethics’ services: meeuwsen@esphil.eur.nl

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes