I found it extremely shocking to hear various American commentators speaking, during the world cup, in support of diving (Balboa), professional fouls (Lalas and Wynalda), time-wasting (Balboa again), deliberate handball and various other offenses that I had always considered to be “outside the rules”.
The prevaling opinion of the commentators seemed to be that the yellow card was an opportunity for one-free-foul-to-be-used-wisely rather than a punishment for breaking the rules. The very presence of a punishment for an unethical act makes the act itself no longer unethical. The commit/don’t commit decision becomes a cost/benefit analysis rather than an ethical dilemma.
Puts me in mind of the early debate about whether the Bill of Rights might prove harmful because it could not possibly enumerate all of the rights which citizens should enjoy. As the rules for what we may or may not do become ever more well-defined, we lose the opportunities for making ethical decision-making. Eventually we will lose the capacity altogether. I fear that some of us already have.