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Is That Ethical? Can You Blame a Single Player for a Team's Loss?

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It is every player's nightmare to make the mistake that ultimately costs their team the game.  That nightmare became a reality for Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff and San Francisco 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams whose mistakes in yesterday's National Football League Conference Championship games ultimately cost their teams the opportunity to advance to the Super Bowl.  Since these mistakes happened on a very big stage, they raise the interesting question of is it ethical to blame one person (or in this case one player) for a loss or business failure? 

While teammates on both the Ravens and 49ers were quick to defend these mistakes (Cundiff missed a game-tying field goal and Williams fumbled the ball away in overtime), many fans may not share the same sentiment. However, according to W. Michael Hoffman, executive director of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University, placing blame on players or employees who make a mistake is ethical, but it is also very misguided.   

"I don’t think there is anything unethical about somebody blaming a particular person or play for a loss or failure," Hoffman said. "I do think it is inappropriate or even mean-spirited to do so because nobody is going to make every single field goal they kick or every basket they shoot. Mistakes happen. It is not something you should blame people for, you may say that was a key to victory, but as long as a person is trying as hard as they can, I don’t think you should use blame."

"Blame is more appropriately used if somebody made that mistake because they were irresponsible in preparing or getting their work done, then they are blame-worthy," Hoffman said. "It is then up to the boss, supervisor or coach to determine if that sort of performance would continue in the future and to see if they could get someone who would be able to do a better job in getting the project done. If that is the case, that person has every right to look for another person because that weak link in the chain does not warrant them continuing in that position."   

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.

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