How the Houston Astros Cheating Scandal Affected Public Trust in Major League Baseball: A Historical Research Approach
Authors: Ben Donahue
8665 N. Farmdale Street
Spokane, WA 99208
Ben Donahue has worked for over 25 years in sports at the k-12, college, and professional levels. His experience includes athletic director, game-day operations and guest relations, football operations, coach, and baseball scout. Currently, he is a private-school teacher and contributing writer for brownsnation.com and profootballhistory.com
This study used historical research methods to assess how Major League Baseball (MLB) disciplined the Houston Astros in response to the cheating scandal that surfaced in 2019. Furthermore, this study examined how the public reacted to MLB’s sanctions imposed on the Astros and how those sanctions affected public trust (including media and fans). The author researched several responses from the national media and baseball fans that were made during the MLB investigation and following the league’s publicity of the selected disciplinary actions. After interpreting the public statements from various media reports, the author coded the responses into specific themes and then analyzed and interpreted the themes. This analysis was used to better understand how and why the scandal happened in the first place and the public’s visceral reaction to it.
The results of the study show that, while cheating in baseball has long been recognized with a wink by MLB insiders; media and fans have a harsh and negative reaction to cheating. Key to these reactions is how cheating ruins the integrity of the game, how the guilty player or team benefited from their deceptive practices, how guilty parties were disciplined, and if the event was likely to happen again based on how the action was disciplined. The conclusions of this study suggest that MLB administrators should invoke harsher penalties on their players, coaches, and teams who engage in willful deceit. The consequences of lighter penalties run the risk of public alienation and loss of revenue. The applications of this study can be used by other sports organizations as a guide on how to resolve sensitive matters while upholding the integrity of the sport and appeasing their fan base.(more…)