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Athletes are among the nation’s heroes and many societies’ financially endowed individuals. The decision to join the highly paying industry is guided by the ethical values adopted within our societies as well as personal perception of the same. Many youths are faced with the ethical problem of choosing between their college education and joining prestigious national leagues, especially the NBA. In solving the ethical problem involved by making the right decision, there exist a number of influences including the learned culture and social values prevalent within their immediate society. Is it right to pursue success at the cost of one’s intellectual ability? Is it right that young men opt to join the National Basketball association at the expense of their own education? In solving challenging ethical problems, a number of ethical approaches would serve to provide the best solution.

The Ethical Issue: College Education or the NBA

The desire to be successful in life drives many to their different places of work, business, and other sectors where they find give meaningful contribution (Pojman & Fieser, 2011). From the contribution to the business organizations people work for, they obtain recompense in monetary terms as salaries and wages. Success drives people in all professions and athletes are no exception. Their desire to perform at peak levels and produce outstanding results is reflected in many ways. This includes the amount of time spent in training, intensity of practice and the final performance they give during the game. NBA, being among the country’s largest sports events has attracted many young men in search to achieve success in their life through sports. However, it is noted that success, in these case, is relative their own perception of the abstract term as well as their social background.

However, in the pursuit of their career in the NBA, these youths have to make a sacrifice. They have to make a choice between spending time in school and sharpening their mind s or using the fastest route possible of joining the major league. Spending time in school and studying in their chosen area help them establish foundational knowledge and gather information for future professional career. This may be in any other field or even in the area of sports. A learned sports man can work in several roles as a player in the league and part of the management staff of the team. Time spent in college is time spent sharpening intellectual ability. Together with building vital academic skills, young men opting to stay in college build their intellectual ability. Deciding to forego college education for the opportunity to play the NBA, denies one the privilege of having a solid bolstering of their intellectual capabilities. Even with the love they may have for the sport, the benefits of learning are immense. The ability to earn great income from the league is undeniable as are other benefits that come with such an opportunity. Young athletes need to make the decision on whether to choose continuing with their college education or opting for the NBA. However, these decisions are guided by their family and friends who form their immediate society (Hinman, 2007). Based on what they believe to be the best decision, the advices they give persuade the young men to decide to join the NBA and sever their college education (Mosser, 2010). Is this right decision based on objective values? In the pursuit for success the pro player easily loses his sight on the value of education. The power of money and the lure of all that the NBA has to offer inform the decision they make, together with assistance of their social perceptions learned from their culture about success.

The ethical issue in this case regards the decision made to join NBA at the expense of their college education. The question on the issue concerns whether it is the right decision to forego studies and join the NBA. In spite of the monetary benefits to be obtained by joining the NBA, the question remains on whether it would be good to forego college in pursuit of success (Schneewind, 1991).

Making ethical decisions has to be founded on the prevailing ethical values (Josephson & Ethics, 2002). These ethical values may be based on what the society perceives as good and right, and acceptable in the given situations (Mosser, 2010). In this case, the pro players find themselves in ethical dilemmas, not knowing the best decision to be made. As much as it may seem good to join the NBA, they do have a mind to persist with their education in college. At the same time, they do know that such opportunities do not come all the time. Bearing how hard it is to play in the NBA, it will be an opportunity to be grabbed at the first instance. However, there remains the issue of foregoing all the benefits of college education. Education, as many have said, is a key to a successful life. Making the best decision in this case would require a careful analysis of all at stake for the young man and consider different angles to the situation before making the choice. Ethical problems can be solved using a variety of approaches advanced by different ethical theories.

Using Utilitarianism to Solve the Problem

The ethical theory of utilitarianism considers the action in view of the consequences it will produce. With this regard, analysis of the implication of the different choices that can be made will focus on the outcome of each choice. Consider the life of a young man named Jack. He has the opportunity to join college after high school but has been offered the chance to play for one of the major basketball teams. Playing in the NBA will earn Jack a good income; one beyond bounds at such a young age. Financial problems that the family members have been facing will be virtually dealt with. Jack will be able to buy his parents most of what he has wanted to buy for then in the past but could not. Upkeep for his siblings would be taken care of and the parents would no longer need to worry about expenses and bills. Having a good salary would take care of much of their troubles. On the other hand, jack would also grow to be a prominent man in their area. He would earn respect and admiration from friends and foes alike. Learning what his immediate society thinks about success, Jack knows that playing in the NBA will bring him all these and much more.

This would be the fairest of decision between the two. Taking into consideration, all the benefits that would be gained by this decision, opting to play in the NBA would be the better of the two choices. Consequently, making this decision would aid jack attain in the shortest time possible. Instead of going to college for a number of years, and have to look for a job after that, jack has the chance to begin earning in the shortest of durations. Making this choice will minimize the problems that Jack and his family face on a daily basis. Subsequently, it would take full advantage of the opportunity to better their lives and maximize the utility for all the family members.

The better decision to make is the one that provides benefits to the individual according to principles of utilitarianism. These young men have the dream to acquire successful lives for themselves and their families. With this in mind, comes the question of how to attain this goal. For Jack, the opportunity would be a dream come true. He has the chance to achieve personal success as a pro player, and provide for the needs of his family. This will however come at a cost to his education (Schneewind, 1991).

It is not easy to solve such ethical problems, and Jack’s case is not different. The utilitarianism principle points out that a decision needs to be made on the basis of its outcome. Benefits achieved at the end ought to be the determinant for the decision that jack has to make. In this case, his utility will be maximized by choosing to play in the NBA. It would be decision that not only impacts his life and builds a foundation for his future success, but will also positively affect the lives of his beloved parents and siblings. Unfortunately, jack would have to forego college education; a valuable and priceless asset that he knows should not be sacrificed for any other thing at his age. Education is a priority and children learn from their parents how essential it is in life. It is the gate way to stability and meaningful success and a lasting impact on the society. In spite of the power of money to make the decision in favor of the NBA, jack would have learnt from parental advice, cultural and social values that education and the knowledge it provides cannot be neglected for anything else. Utilitarianism can solve this problem by illustrating the many benefits that would accrue by joining the basketball league, but also fail to recognize the opportunity cost of neglecting college education. It would be morally wrong for jack to go against his parents’ advice and values, as well as social expectations by deciding to neglect his college education and choosing instead to join the NBA.

Perspectives of Relativism, Emotivism, Ethical Egoism


Relativism argues that ethical judgments cannot be objective. It points out that moral absolutes do not exist and that different perspectives exist on the same ethical issue. This theory points out that ethical judgments are based on ethical values that are relative depending on the socio-cultural context of different individuals (Mosser, 2010). Taking into consideration Jack’s life and upbringing, together with the conditions of his family and society, his decision would be different from another youth facing a similar ethical issue. In his case, he may have to consider the fact that being able to earn would enable him help his family through their financial challenges. His immediate social relationships may also point this out him and guide his decision (Mosser, 2010). Furthermore, definition for success advanced in different societies would be of great influence to the different youths facing this ethical problem (Trianosky, 1990). In a social set up where education is given priority,   Jack would have opted to join college. This is contrary to a society that projects success in life as being measured by the amount of money one earns and their popularity within their area. Relativism would point to an ethical decision that is subject to social and personal values.


Emotivism in ethics illustrates moral statements in light of the emotions of the moral agents and the society. This theory argues that moral statements and ethical decisions made by people by far delineate feelings they attach to the subject ion question. Moral statements are made with emotive force behind the feelings with which the statements are made (Pojman & Fieser, 2011). The ethical decision that would be made by Jack would involve his own feelings towards both decisions; and the emotional attachment he has to both college education and playing basketball in the NBA.

Ethical egoism

This approach points out that the NBA player has the moral authority to do what serves their self interest. Rather than act on the basis of what concerns others may have, they are the moral agents that ought to make the decisions. This theory delineates that moral agents are supposed to make ethical judgments in line with their self interest (Hinman, 2007). Jack would need to ask himself and answer this question; what really suits me? As the one bestowed with the authority to make the ethical decision, jack needs to consider his own interests as the point of reference in solving the ethical problem.

Best Way Forward

As much as it seems difficult to solve these ethical decisions, they have to be made at the end. Decisions are made between competing alternatives and choices based on ethical values assumed by the moral agents (Trianosky, 1990). In this case, jack is the one to make the decision. Using the utilitarianism approach he knows that joining the NBA would benefit him and his family. However, this would cost him his college education. Adopting an ethical approach that will consider more than one factor would help outline the better of the two (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2010). As outlined by ethical egoism, his decision should reflect his own desires for his life and what he wants to achieve. It’s his life and future that will be most impacted by this decision. How he feels about both decisions would be integral. In spite of relative perceptions adopted within the social background, these youths would require to solve these ethical problems by considering their own aspiration.

 Nevertheless, these decisions have to be grounded in ethical values (Trianosky, 1990). There will be the need to know the right things in their life, in the present and future (Schneewind, 1990). Utilitarianism approach will denote what they believe would give them a successful future in the long term. In conjunction with ethical egoism, Jack would regard the decision that best suits his aspirations and future achievements. Considering both choices, college education has the potential to not only expand his intellectual capacity, but also create numerous opportunities for him in future.


Making ethical decisions is a relatively difficult task. It is a challenge to decide between competing values. In the case of these youths, it becomes even more difficult to make an ethical judgment considering the variety of moral views and values prevalent within any given society. What the society perceives as the right decision may not always be favorable to the individual whose life will be most impacted by the ethical decision in question. Adopting a variety of ethical approaches would provide a better outlook on the ethical issue and provide solutions to the problem. In this case, utilitarianism and ethical egoism would provide a solution to Jack’s ethical problem. When solving challenging ethical problems, using different ethical approaches serves to point towards the solution.

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