Abraham Madkour Delivers Heffern Lecture

October 10, 2014

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Abraham Madkour, executive editor of Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Daily Global, discussed ethical decision making in the professional sports arena during the University of Mount Union’s Gordon Heffern Business Ethics Lecture last Wednesday.

Madkour is responsible for determining the editorial content and shaping the editorial direction of the leading publications on the business of sports, while managing the entire editorial staff. In addition, he oversees all editorial content for the various conferences produced by Street & Smith’s Sports Business Group, including the prestigious World Congress of Sports and Forty Under 40 awards dinner. Madkour serves as the lead moderator and editorial spokesman for all of the company’s events.

During his lecture, Madkour discussed a number of recent ethical issues in professional sports, how they were handled by executives in various organizations and how those issues could affect the professional sports arena in the future. Issues discussed included the Washington Redskins name controversy and the Ray Rice case in which Rice, a Baltimore Ravens player, was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a video of him hitting his then-fiancée in an elevator was released publicly. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been widely criticized for the NFL’s response to the incident.

“I think this is going to start the process of bringing in new outside voices (to the NFL), particularly female voices,” Madkour said. “Sports has always been largely dominated by white male executives. We’re seeing changes and I think this is going to help accelerate change. I think domestic violence is going to be treated with far more seriousness in terms of moving forward with zero tolerance.”

Madkour went on to discuss several ethical issues related to the Olympics. He noted that very few countries have shown interest in bidding to host the 2022 Winter Games, as they are perceived as being costly and game standards aren’t viewed in the same context globally. For example, going into the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia became known for its anti-tolerance toward the gay/lesbian/transgender/bisexual community.

“There was a real threat for gay athletes regarding what type of reaction they might receive in Sochi,” Madkour said.

Madkour also discussed the ethical implications of former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments. He noted that politicians are fair game when it comes to media coverage, and professional team owners will likely face the same type of scrutiny from the media.

“I believe now that the private lives of owners and the private correspondence of owners could become more public and could become part of the media narrative on executives,” he said.

Following his discussion, Madkour gave those in attendance an opportunity to ask questions about other ethical situations in professional sports.

The Gordon Heffern Business Ethics Lecture was established by Mount Union Trustee Gordon Heffern to encourage dialogue about the practical ways in which spirituality can transform the workplace. Heffern, a graduate of the University of Virginia, served as chairman of the board of Society Corporation before retiring in 1987.

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