Ethics, Values, and Sportsmanship Survey 2009

A survey of members of the American Baseball Coaches Association
By Michael Josephson

In December 2008, we asked members of the American Baseball Coaches Association to fill out an online survey on Ethics, Values, and Sportsmanship prepared by Michael Josephson of Josephson Institute. More than 1,250 members responded, including college, high school, club, and youth organization coaches.

See a summary of responses here. Detailed item-by-item reports are also available, sorted by age of coach, sport level of coach, and years in coaching.

Online survey for student-athletes
Please encourage your athletes to take this survey, then discuss it with them.


Consensus opinions and values. Although there was significant disagreement on most questions and marked differences in responses of baseball coaches in college, high school, club, and youth organizations from various age categories, a clear and overwhelming agreement on certain statements establish a few consensus ethical principles:

Attitude and conduct patterns based on the age of the coach can dramatically impact values and conduct regarding what is cheating and what is acceptable gamesmanship (i.e., part of the game). Age is a more consistent or crucial factor in determining values and conduct than any other factor (including years in coaching, level of coaching, or religious convictions).  

Coaches who believe cheating is necessary to success are substantially more likely to lie, cheat, or engage in dubious gamesmanship strategies than those who don’t.

Cynical coaches are:

    • More than three times more likely to believe it’s proper to fight fire with fire in terms of illegal recruiting
    • More than two times more likely to instruct their pitcher to throw at or dangerously close to an opposing batter who hit a home run the last time up
    •  Two times more likely to instruct their pitcher to hit an opposing batter because one of their batters was hit in a previous inning
    • Two times more likely to intentionally violate a league or sport rule

Percentage who said the following conduct is a proper part of the game (sorted by coach’s age):
(These numbers were computed just before the ABCA meeting and may vary slightly from the final numbers reported in the files linked at the top of this page.)

General ethics and conduct

Percentage who said they engaged in the following conduct at least once in the past year: