Basically, the gentlemen’s agreement pertains to the informal accord between two or among several parties (Hobson). It can be made either through oral or written means. It is also a fact that a gentlemen’s agreement is not really an accord that is bounded by laws or other legal means. It is fundamentally rests and relies on the honor of the contracting parties for the accomplishment or fulfillment of a particular agreement. In essence, a gentlemen’s agreement cannot really be enforced by appealing to courts or the likes.
It is basically a sort of promise made by the contracting parties and it is up to them if they would fulfill their agreed contract or not (but of course honor, pride and dignity is at stake upon breaking it just like how a person is expected to keep his promise) (Owen). Historically and traditionally speaking, the concept of gentlemen’s agreement was strictly being upheld by early civilizations for they valued their honor and reputation more than anything else in this world.
Declaring an oath or an utterance of a promise was enough to assure one party that the other party would really perform and actualize their made agreement otherwise, the party which would go against the agreement would be demoralized or in a way condemned by the community when it failed to keep the gentlemen’s word. The term “gentlemen’s agreement” is somewhat an equivalence of “gentlemen’s word” in a sense that traditionally man was seen as the embodiment of pride, courage, and astounding honor (Owen). No man would really want to be branded as a man without honor or dignity.
Thus, he ought to keep his word at all costs. But as the time passed by, the meaning and connotation of the term “gentlemen’s agreement” was started to have negative interpretations. Since there was no such thing as concrete binding force that necessitated contracting parties, who made a gentlemen’s agreement, to really do what they had agreed upon. By the very fact that such agreement was really informal, there was no such thing as physical punishment that was available for whoever attempted to break or violate their agreement.
The end point was that, it was very easy for one party to go against the contract or even ignore what the contract expressed. Hence, a contract or accord made through “gentlemen’s agreement” was said to be easily broken and in effect it was futile to enter in such agreement (Hobson). In this post-modern and contemporary period, the most important thing in dealing with other people is the assurance that one will really benefit from what he or she does regardless if it would do good or harm to others.
Such seems to be the trend which can be traced since the interwar politics of the European countries and the intensified trading systems among regions before and after the Cold War era. In politics, the breaking and the ineffectiveness of the use of gentlemen’s agreement is preponderant. It is enough to say that “I have lied” or “I rushed things” to justify the breaking of the gentlemen’s agreement (Hobson). So long as a person or a party would get the highest and surest benefit, he/they is/are prepared to go against the contract made through the gentlemen’s agreement.
For example, a senator or a congressman would probably defend his or her breaking of a promise to his party members of being loyal to them when he or she realizes that winning is more possible if he or she joins the opposing party. That can really be cited as one of the most infamous attitude before and during the electoral period in almost every country. Another example is when trading partners agreed to mutually pursue their common interests by merging on a particular project but as soon as the project failed to benefit either both of them or one of them, the disbanding of the contract is the nest main attraction.
However, there are still fields which still value the gentlemen’s agreement particularly in sports and other athletic events. Though it cannot really be generalized that all athletes strictly adhere to what they have accorded through a gentlemen’s agreement yet they still value it for the sake of sportsmanship (Hobson). For example, in football games, it is an unwritten rule that when a player got injured, the opposing team which has the possession of the ball would give the ball to the team of the injured player (by bringing the ball out of the play) so that the injured player could be immediately treated.
Clearly, there is no official rule that states that such should be enforced but by the virtue of gentlemen’s agreement, such attitude is being followed by almost all football teams. To conclude, the use and meaning of the expression “gentlemen’s agreement” had really gone to extreme change making the concept to possess a diminished value as how different aspects of life are concerned. Nonetheless, it cannot really be contend that the former concept of the term is already lost and non-existent nowadays. It is just that, it is only applicable to other fields that greatly uphold moral uprightness than any other prizes.