When’s the last time you thought about whether or not you run an ethical field care operation? When’s the last time you considered if you’re an ethical field manager?

Maybe I should ask the question another way: Have you ever thought about whether or not you run an ethical field care operation? Have you ever considered if you’re an ethical field manager?

Ethics — defined as “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior” – are a part of everyday life, both personal and professional.

I feel comfortable saying that most of us live by some sort of a code of ethics. Most of us have moral, ethical principles we stand on when it comes to being a generally good human being that contributes to society in some fashion.

But what about professional ethics? Every profession has some kind of ethics that the people within that profession abide by. There are established ethical codes that we strive to follow in each of our jobs.

I recently sat in on a presentation about ethics (for a different industry) by Lindsey Purcell, an urban forestry specialist with Purdue University. I found it fascinating to look around the room and see how the attendees responded to some of the ethical questions and conversations Purcell posed in this presentation.

This got me to thinking about ethics in athletic field management. Consider these points:

  • I’d say a large part of being an ethical field manager is providing the safest playing surface possible for all athletes, at all levels. Ethically, this would mean absolutely never taking any shortcuts when it comes to safety.
  • How about ethical treatment of your fields? As SFM’s Ross Kurcab, CSFM, said in his August column: “It’s up to you make sure that this community asset is managed with integrity and in an environmentally sound manner.” This sounds like a strong ethical position to me. Keep in mind that natural surfaces are in fact living surfaces. You’re caring for a living plant, and this care must be done in an ethical manner. For example, being responsible with chemical use and respecting the natural sciences involved with the profession.
  • For those of you in charge of operations and who manage a staff, there are plenty of ethics involved. Read any book or article on ethics, and you’ll likely read that ethics starts at the top. Ethics as a team leader involve practices like proper time card management for employees, fair scheduling practices and setting good examples as far as coming to work on time, proper equipment use and safety on the job.
  • In the ethics presentation I attended that was previously referenced, one of the more widely commented-on points was about how as professionals, it’s unethical to misinform to protect your ego. For example, if you’re asked a question about your field by your superior, or an athlete who uses your field, don’t give an answer that you’re not sure is correct on account of not wanting to sound foolish. If you don’t know, make a point to find the right answer. It’s ethically incumbent on you to know the resources you have available at your operation.
  • Related to the point above — if you aren’t sure how to do something, it’s unethical to take action without utilizing the expertise of your co-workers, peers and superiors. If you don’t know, ask somebody.
  • Consider the ethical obligation you have every day when you walk out onto your field to do your job. You’re not just representing yourself — you’re representing your family, your employer, the institution where you received your education and the profession of turfgrass management as a whole.
  • Please let me know of additional ethical topics you’ve come across in your profession. Email me, tweet at @SFM_Magazine, or post on SFM’s Facebook page.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.