Ethics and football deflation: A free offer

Note: The following was written by BLI instructor Karl Ahlrichs.

Blaming is easy. Solving problems is tougher. What the NFL needs right now is a double dose of ethics, and we at the Business Learning Institute know exactly how to solve the problem – and we’re willing to do it for free.

Please understand this is a very big thing. This is more than an issue of unfair football inflation or unfair competitive advantage. As measured by revenue, the NFL is the largest sports league in the world. In our culture, we demand that our leaders and sports role models be held to a high standard. This is a case of getting integrity wrong, and it must be addressed.

Some have said this is a minor event and that it will blow over. I say it is an erosion of one of the most crucial parts of our society, and is clearly a pattern of behavior by the New England Patriots' leadership.

How did we get in this mess? How do we get out of it? For the NFL to be sustainable, it must be perceived as fair and with a level playing field. Integrity and ethics are fundamental, in society in general and business in particular.

I can prove it. Here is a quick test: Think about your goals and objectives. What is your highest aspiration? Wealth, fame, knowledge, popularity or integrity? If you choose anything but integrity, your ethics will be subject to sacrifice in situations where a choice must be made, and such situations will inevitably occur.

Ethics becomes part of any brand, for better or worse. Golf is famous for high ethics, with players self-policing their game play. Formula 1 racing has questions about the ethics and integrity of the sport, and there has been a significant drop in viewership. I think there is a connection.

This can all be fixed with some adult education. As children, we learned ethics from authority figures in our lives – parents, grandparents, and trusted advisors. For NFL owners, who better than the experts who train accountants and CPAs? The Business Learning Institute, an affiliate of the Maryland Association of CPAs, is exactly that, and we feel strongly enough on this subject to offer the NFL a free offer.

For any NFL team or group of teams that respond to this, we will provide a day of high-quality ethics training here in our learning center. For the Patriots, we will even come to you.

The result will be an organizational culture based on always doing the right thing, even if nobody is looking. The NFL is currently engaged in an intense training and PR effort on domestic violence, and they need to do the same with ethics.

After all, the New England Patriots will leave a legacy of accomplishments and asterisks. This could help fix the asterisks.

Karl Ahlrichs is an instructor for the Business Learning Institute.


William D. Sheridan