A New Chapter

This blog began as a simply school assignment, very quickly I realized that my soul was searching for a channel of expression. I needed to put myself out of my comfort zone, expand the capacity of my being… I signed up for philosophy of sport by default when the one of my classes was cancelled last minute and that was the only class available. I  remember worrying for 1/10th of a second, then instantly a sense of calm rushed over my entire body, it was then I knew I was being lead on a different path. This particular class was at the exact time and day that I needed and one of the options was to write a blog each week. I was excited to see progress in my writing.new chapter

I chose the particular theme of this blog so that I could eventually use it when I felt so inspired. Well, that time is now. It has been almost a year since I began the blog and took me till now to open my heart, mind, and creative flow to put into words the knowledge that I have been given..

I will leave the posts from class as a reminder of how this all began..

Love and Light <3<3


Uniting Sport, Democracy, and Education

In the article “Democracy, Education, and Sport” by Peter Arnold states that democracy is “ based on the belief that each human being is of value, and that each citizen is guaranteed certain rights that operate in practice and are not just formal…” In our society we try to separate sport from education and politics, when  sport can clearly play a role in both. In this article I want to discuss some of the ways that sport is intertwined in democracy and how it may be a useful tool in putting into action the rationality a democratic society and its education expect their citizens to uphold.

The Parallel of Sport and Democracy

            In a democratic society we are suppose to uphold a certain moral value.  It is said that democracy is “by the people, for the people and of the people”. Our parents and society teach us what is right and wrong, moral and unmoral. Arnold states that “at the heart of democratic ideal is the belief that all people regardless of their color, race, or creed should be respected, not only because this is desirable in itself but because they are the centers of consciousness…” We are fortunate to live in a society where we are able to speak our mind, under a government that supports our free will as people and accepts us no matter what our color, race, or creed. At least this is the ideal. I believe that sport can also play a role in teaching society the same values. In professional sports we come together, united by our common interests to support an activity and passion that brings together those of all different backgrounds. What would we be without the large sporting events? The Olympics? During such events, as stated before in a few other blog posts, it is a reflection of our societies ideals, and brings people of different views and backgrounds together. If we did not have sport what kind of society would we become? Sport provides a physical release of stress and improves overall well being. The act of participation and adherence to a sport just reinforces the beliefs of a democratic society. So the question remains, how can we further develop sport as part of our society in order to fully receive not just the extrinsic, but also intrinsic values of sport?

Sport and Education

            In education we have a tendency to focus on qualities of the mind, and discredit the benefits of our physical well being and its benefits to the mind. In Arnolds article he suggests the idea that liberal education, is “concerned with the liberation of the person who receives it,” this liberation should be mental and physical. He believes that this type of education compliments the beliefs of a democratic society. To make a deeper distinction of mental and physical aspects of education, Arnold uses the terms theoretical and practical rationality along with morality as being the two central strands in what it means to be liberally educated. If we want to change the way our education system teaches young children what is right and wrong, further intertwining sport into our education is the key. As I see it, the current education system does include sport as an extracurricular activity, it does help unite schools, faculty and students for a common goal. Yet physical education is the first program to be cut. This may be due to the view of sport as only holding physical benefits. It is now time to include the intrinsic benefits of incorporating sport and physical activity into the lives of our children. We must show the youth not only how things work but allow them to experience physically what it means to uphold taught values of morality, respect, fairness, that are provided when you participate in sports or physical activity. If we teach kids why they play sports and how all the values we teach them should be applied I think that sport would be an amazing tool for social change. The benefits of sport in which I speak of are learned respect for others, fairness and cooperation, to accept others and work as a team, along with the physical benefits of improved circulation, a decreased risk for injury and heart disease, and an higher chance of living an active lifestyle as an adult. If we are able to show the next generation that physical activity can help them manage the stresses of life, keep them from illness and disease so they can enjoy the life they life more fully, then we will be on the right track.


            I would love to see the day when people uphold sport and physically activity as highly as they do mathematics and science. We are taught to use our mind, but I believe that the act of MOVING helps sharpen our mind. Our bodies are made to move and by participating in a sport we are learning to use the best piece of technology we will ever own, ourselves. Along with learning to take care of the one body we have in this lifetime, we are intrinsically adhering to the rules and learning to work with each other in harmony, despite any differences. We must use our democratic advantage to liberate our minds and bodies.

Education vs Athletics

Change, it is the only constant. As the world of collegiate sports grows, so will the skepticism, greed, the need to win at all costs. But what exactly is the cost? The high-profile schools expect their athletes to perform to their highest capacity. Schools give athletes incentives and scholarships, bringing in superb athletes to help them win and make them money. While giving them little time to spend on their academic studies. Is this fair for the athlete? Is it fair for the non-athletes? We are one of the only countries who have combined sports and academics. Is there a way we can better integrate sports and academics?

Of all the athletes that participate in collegiate sports only a very small percentage actually make it to play professionally. In a chapter from “Defenses of College Athletics”, Simon noted that in the late 1950’s athletes were the majority and were also highly ranked academically. This is no longer the case; as greed increased the drop out rate followed. “Furthermore, They suggest that if athletes are given too great an admissions advantage, and perform much worse academically than their classmates, and they drag down the academic atmosphere of the whole institution” (Simon 158). Major collegiate sports have seemed to lose grasp on what sport is really about at the amateur level, causing negative feelings towards sports in college.  Although I do not believe that sports “drag down the academic atmosphere”, I do think that there is a huge imbalance in collegiate sports. You have your hard working athletes who have small scholarships and no incentive, but still work hard in their quest for excellence in their sport. Then you have the high-profile athletes, who are giving every advantage possible in order for them to be able to perform well enough, to win, to make money, so they can pay the coach an absurd salary and buy all the newest gear. Brand states “less that one half 1% of Division I scholarship players each year have an opportunity to play in the professional NBA, and the large majority of those have short careers.” Should we pay our athletes at the college level? No, I do not think that is a good idea. It will just perpetuate attitude that athletes must do all that it takes to win. If athletes are going to receive academic scholarships they should also be given ample time to focus on their academic classes, along with receiving some credit for their participation in athletics. I believe that the athlete who must work hard to pay for their education or keep their scholarship will then receive the positive that athletic participation may provide. We a need to consider the ultimate purpose of sport and if sport can have a similar purpose as education? How can we merge the two fields to make sports more acceptable?football college

The best type of knowledge is self- knowledge. In the best cases participating in a sport will definitely tell you a lot about yourself. In Simons article he mentions that participating in a sport has the ability to teach you how to work as a team, analyze and over come weakness, gain confidence, stay cool under pressure, and improve your determination and perseverance. These traits are most definitely transferable to a business setting. Improving their chances of succeeding after graduation. Overall, sport has the ability to be a great tool in fine-tuning the connection between the mind and body. Some of these traits may also be taught in other ways, but sport is truly the only activity that brings the widest variety of people together to achieve a common goal. I believe there is a way to re-think the paradigm of sport in colleges.

In the articles by Simon and Brand, they both mentioned a common parallel between the performing arts and sports. They both provide a form of entertainment to students and all else who will join; both must learn factual knowledge about their activity, have long grueling practices, and while some athletes go straight to playing professionally, there are musical prodigies who bypass college to perform in orchestras. If performing arts and sports are so comparable why is it that the performing arts are more accepted as part of an academic program? In a performing arts school the students will take, for example, dance classes but also take academic classes that pertain to dance. Why cant athletes take classes such as injury prevention, anatomy, weightlifting? These classes will not only teach them about themselves, but will stay with them through their life.

Society is shifting. Changing, and we must change with it. Collegiate athletics have drafted into a black hole of greed, fraud, and a “win at all costs” attitude; this must change. Athletics are a major part of our school systems whether the professors and other skeptics like it or not. So in order to provide some common ground we must find one; One in which the athletes will receive that proper education along with a great athletic experience. It is never easy to change something that is embedded deeply into a culture, but it must be done. To reform athletics in universities in colleges is not taking a step back, I like to consider it turning around at the cliffs edge and taking a step forward, in the right direction.

Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

For centuries women have been treated as inferior, weak, and dependent on the opposite sex. It was thought that we are to uphold to this feminine image of beauty while feeding men grapes and vacuuming the house in our heels. I hate heels. But we have obviously evolved past this rudimentary image of a female, or have we? It was not until 1972, when Title IX was passed, females even began to start believing there was any hope that one-day males would treat us as equals.  When I say equal, I mean that we have equal opportunities and respect in all areas of our lives. Title IX opened the doors for women in sport as well as in a work environment. Being able to participate in sports gave women the confidence to push forward and defend their rights, as human beings.

In the article “Title IX and Gender Equity” Jon Boxill concluded, “For the vast majority of people, sport is the most available form of unalienated activity and consequently is an important way that people develop their uniquely human attributes, their self-respect, and their self-esteem.” (402) Whether you are male or female, movement is in your nature. We are made to move; both males and females have the capabilities to produce beautiful, fluid, and well-calculated movements. This movement is self-expression and is not synonymous with any gender. So why do we separate males from females? Should women play against males? How may society make the playing field equal?

Over many centuries our societies have been ruled by a masculine mindset of a selfish competitiveness, which involves treating your opponent as the enemy or obstacle to be defeated. Men are the protectors, the provider, and the one in charge. Men have suppressed the female population and are threatened by the thought of a women possessing equal skill. In ancient Greece they fought to the death, preparing for war, and now we play football.  Society has further suppressed women by incorporating a need for size, speed, strength, and power in sports such as football, rugby, and ice hockey where men knowingly have an advantage. In Bruce Kidd’s article “The Men’s cultural Centre: sports and the dynamic of women’s Oppression/Men’s Repression” He mentions, “ …For women were increasingly becoming a threat to men, and men responded by developing rugby football as a male preserve in which they could bolster up their threatened masculinity…”(407) In the most popular sports size does matter, this allows men to say, “ I don’t want to play with a girl. I might hurt her.” Resulting in women remaining unactive and unable to receive the wonderful mental and physical benefits of participating in a sport or physical activity. After Title IX women then had more opportunities to participate in sports, even the masculine ones.  Females have been gaining momentum and catching up with the men in sports AND business.

In Boxill’s article he states that, “because of the nature and design of sport, it provides a significant moral function for the individual and for society at large. It does so first because it provides autonomous agents with a vehicle for self-expression- a means to self-respect and self –development.” (396) The benefits that are found in sport are not gender specific, so why do sports have to be? As humans we are always evolving and adapting to the demands of life. Women have only been participating in sport for a few decades, while men have had centuries of practice. In the short amount of time women have participated in sports, the gap between men and women in some sports has significantly lessened, especially in the area of ultra- endurance sports. Boxill mentions that, “if women want to compete with men, then they must compete against them on the same level, using the same rules and standards. But, we don’t even require this of men.” (399) If you think about all of the different male and female body types, there is such a huge range; you cannot really say that men as a whole are stronger than women.  What if you had a male who was small and scrawny and was unable to put on any muscles against a girl who was a little larger possessed more manly characteristics? Who would win in a football game or wrestling match? There are to many body types of all shapes and sizes to say that women cannot become as strong, fast and powerful as their male counterpart.

I believe that there will always be a separation between male and female sports. It will never become fully integrated, or at least I don’t believe in this lifetime it will happen. I do not see anything wrong with this. I think that separation is OK. It is going to take a long time for females to catch up to males. It should be about having the option to compete against an equal counterpart, whether it is a male or female. If a female athlete is no longer challenged by her sport she should have the right to compete against the men. Women are evolving, some faster than others. I do not believe that as a woman wanting to compete with males is demeaning of women’s sports. Just like the men in big corporations had to step aside and make room for us ladies, men will also have to make room in sports.

We are designed to be different; this dualism allows us each to provide a different puzzle piece to this beautiful life, fitting together to make a whole. Physically and biologically we are different, on an energetic level, we are all the same. We both contain the essence of male and female within us. On the outside some males may have female characteristics and vice versa. Sports should be designed to ensure that everyone may have an equal opportunity to obtain excellence. Whether you are a male or female it should not matter. I know that there will always be a bit of a separation, because sometimes I just get sick of being around men and friendly equated competition from a female counterpart is just as fulfilling.  The point is, we are all one! I know that is a little hippy of me, but what can I say, it takes one to know one!

The Many Forms of Art

A beautifully executed kick, an impeccable dive, and a Picasso painting, would one consider these to originate from the same category? We speak of art and aesthetic in life and sport, but are they one in the same?  Some believe that some sports could be considered a form of art because of their aesthetically pleasing components, while others argue in opposition. In the world of sport there are two different categories, which include purposive sports and aesthetic sports. Within each category one may derive a few examples of beautifully executed movements, but does that constitute an art form or just an aesthetically pleasing component of sport? I will argue that sport can be considered a sub genre of art, although an artfully executed play or movement is not always the goal. There are definite overlapping factors that allude to sport being a form of art; in this article I will discuss such factors that may allow sport to be considered an art form in its own right and own genre.

Art is a form of expression, whether a painting, dance, poem, or sculpture it is an expression of the individuals thoughts, desires, and can reflect social, emotional, and political situations. Art as an expression of ones self is subjective and when first observed may not hold any intrinsic value or beauty, but once the meaning and understanding is established it has the ability to become beautiful, meaningful, and truly moving. In Bests’ article “The Aesthetic in Sport” he states, in art the means are inseparable from the end. He also believes that is may be the differing factor that makes sport not a form of art but only aesthetically pleasing to the spectator. He states that in the case of purposive sports the means are in no way connected to the end. In a game of soccer it does not matter in what way the goal was executed, but that the goal was scored. Aesthetic sports, however, are closer to an art form, considering that the means do correlate to the end product. In the example of the gymnast, it is all about how the action/performance was executed and aesthetics are what allow the athlete to succeed; but Best believes that the apparent lack of self-expression allowed in aesthetic sports is what separates it from the arts. In opposition Boxill disagrees. She believes that sport is considered a form of art, and I would have to agree.

In Boxill’s article “Beauty, Sport, and Gender” she makes many valid points to prove that sport is an art form. One, in which I strongly agree, is the parallel of how sport and art become aesthetically pleasing and become an object of self-expression. She references the novice musician or athlete and that in their attempts made to master a skill the beginning is never aesthetically pleasing. A sport or art form must become mastered in order to show beauty, skill, and fluidity in movement and form. I believe that sport, just like art, is an avenue to express oneself. Whether it is done skillfully or with beauty and grace, that may not necessarily be the main objective. I know that when I participate in sport it is a way to distress; this is also the case when I draw, sing, or dance. I may not have mastered each skill but it is still a form of my self-expression because it comes from me and no one else.

There are so many different forms of art, most are free of restriction and rules but some do have certain criterion that must be abided, such as in sport. Some type of poetry has certain criterion for which one must abide to be labeled so; this calls for more creativity on the part of the writer, just as in sport the rules are derived to challenge an athlete. Boxill uses the example of the 3-second lane in basketball, “was widened to prevent a 7-footer from just standing next to the basket waiting for a lob pass inside.” Such rules are made so that the athlete must use skill to complete a task. Yes, in sport grace and skill are not always achieved along side victory, but it does not conclude that the athlete has in no way showed a sense of self-expression.

There are many ways to express oneself. To be artistic should hold no boundaries. We all have the ability of self-expression and at times it may not always be viewed as beautiful and graceful, but that does not mean it lacks expression of oneself. We all have been a novice at a sport or instrument, or any other form of art, the beauty that we see in the world is subjective and no one should tell us that what we create or derive from our being is not art in its own right.

If You Cant Beat Em’, Join Em’ : Regulation of Performance Enhancing Drugs

Today in sports we reject the use of performance-enhancing drugs, yet most professional athletes have used them at some point in their career. In the article by Dimeo, he mentions that in the 1930’ s and 40’s the use of amphetamines were common among professional athletes until steroids were developed. The plus side of steroids were that they did not have to be taken as a “pick me up” during the race or event, but taken prior and aided in recovery and ability to train for longer periods of time. In reading these articles it seems that this inherent struggle to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs is more recent than I may have guessed. Athletes have been testing out ways to enhance performance artificially since the late 1800’s. In Dimeo’s article it is also mentioned that doctors had not mentioned any major side effects of the drugs, when used in medical dosage. It then goes on to mention that athletes have a tendency to consume more that the prescribed dosage and there were a number of athletes mentioned whose deaths were overlook despite the cause being the performance enhancing drug. Is this possible that performance-enhancing drugs could ever be regulated, not banned? If small doses of a substance render minimal negative side affects, then would regulation of the all performance enhancement drugs become acceptable?

There is an obvious history of record breaking in sports back when drug use was unregulated and not seen as an issue. Why is it that when someone breaks a record and has used PED’s they are stripped of their title, when some records that were made or broken from 1930-1960’s may have been done using PED’s also? We will never know who set records on PED’s because there was no record kept regarding who had taken the drugs. Is this unfair? There is a saying “If you can’t beat em’ join em’”. What if there was a regulation on such drugs; a common ground in which we may allow some forms of performance enhancement? I do not believe that PED’s will ever cease to be used. As long as there is a desire to become better, stronger, faster, etc., there will be a need/want for PED’s. In class we had briefly mentioned allowing a hematocrit level of 50, which is safe hematocrit level, and there are no questions as to how you achieved this hematocrit level. Our society is fighting an up hill battle against these drugs, so I believe that compromise could be the answer.

Is the use of PED’s fair or ethical? In Gardner’s article “on performance-enhancing substances and the unfair advantage argument”, he states that

“What determines acceptability is not whether an athlete has an advantage or whether the advantage itself seems unfair but our ethical evaluation of the way in which the advantage is required.”

Another suggestion by Gardner was controlling the use of PED’s by making them equally available to all athletes. This could make a more equal playing field. There are so many different ways to lead to one goal. In the instance of increasing your hematocrit level there are two methods, one of which is illegal. What if an athlete is unable to train in the altitude and his opponent trains in the altitude all the time, is that fair? Would it be fair if he were allowed to take the drug as opposed to the altitude training? I think that taking a PED that has a regulated dose may be appropriate. Both athletes train a certain way based on their available circumstances, and their desire to win. All professional athletes have the desire to win; so allowing them to improve their physical ability through PED’s may be a viable option. There is also the question to whether the substance aids in improving performance by use of a shortcut. Whereas with steroids the athlete still must put in the work to see the results, other PED’s improve an athlete’s ability without the accompaniment of hard work by the athlete. Considering how the improvement in performance was acquired should play an important role in the possible regulation of PED’s for use in sport.

In my previous post I was against the use of PED’s stating that it messed with the free will of athletes who were non-users. Reading further into the controversy I have a better understanding of PED’s role in sport. I believe that there is too much use of PED’s occurring to be able to ban use forever. Eventually there will be rules and they will be regulated. I would never consider the use of PED’s myself, but I am also not a professional athlete who wants to succeed and perform to the best of their ability.  I believe that the regulation of certain substances may be the answer. Right now the focus should be on finding a way to even the playing field with the use of PED’s. Can this be done? Will there ever be a common ground? I don’t know.

O The Things We Will Do…To Be the Best


Always striving for excellence, always trying to be better than the opposition, at all costs, no matter what it takes. This seems to be the motto of our culture. We are willing to risk our mental and physical health to achieve physiological advancements. One of the most controversial advances is the use of steroids in sport.  Prior to the reading of the articles by Hoberman and Simon, my first reaction was that it is obvious the use of steroids should be illegal in sports of all levels. Although I still uphold that they should not be used, there were a few counter arguments that made the solidification of my statement not so concrete. So to defend my opinion I would like to briefly discuss why I believe it is unfair to use performance enhancers.

Free will, our right as a human being to have free choice. In reference to sport, yes, we are free to train a particular way, adhere to a particular diet, and use a particular brand of equipment, which may or may not improve overall performance. But doesn’t this idea of God-given free will coincide with moral value? Yes, we have the right to choose whether or not, as an athlete, we want to risk our physical and mental health to achieve greatness, but at what cost? In previous posts and readings we discuss reasons why an athlete will participate in a competitive sport. I believe that it is not only for the love of the game but also for the love of competition. Athletes work hard, giving up luxuries of life, to compete. So if the opportunity to beat the competition arises, people will ensue. But is it morally ethical to make such a decision and to go to such extremes to beat out the competition? I think not.

We have rules and regulations so that each competition is fair and everyone has an equal opportunity to win. When an athlete agrees to consume steroids or any other type of performance enhancement drug they are producing an uneven playing field. In Hoberman’s article, an argument in favor of performance enhancers states “they yield improvement only in conjunction with hard training and demanding work ethic. In fact, they allow muscles to recover faster and therefore permit users to engage in more intense and more frequent workouts than nonusers are able to manage.” Though this is potentially a correct statement; there is no magic supplement to replace hard work, ALL professional athletes are working hard to achieve the same goal. What about the athletes who want to achieve athletic excellence sans external means? Is this fair to those who are prudent of their future? No, it is not fair. In sport we strive to make rules that allow a fair playing field and we occasionally adjust rules to add more dimension and/or overall excitement to the game, but in this instance the athletes still have equal opportunity to succeed. When you factor in performance enhancing drugs you are adding an element that is uncontrolled, unregulated, and unfair. While some athletes are willing to risk physiological damage for better performance now, others are not.

Hoberman also discussed the idea of coercion in sport. “Athletes may believe they are trapped because they are faced with the choice where neither option is attractive: Don’t take steroids and lose, or take them and remain competitive.” In this dog eat dog world we still must considered how our actions affect those around us. I would consider this a violation of ones free will. If an athlete feels like the only way to be a competitor is to take enhancement drugs, then they are unable to act using free will.

Although athletes are always reaching and searching for ways to improve the performance and catch an advantage over their opponent, it is important to have balance. Yes, it is healthy to have a strong competitive drive, but when does it cross the line to overly competitive? We must not forget moral obligation. We have free will to use however we choose, but we must become aware that our actions do affect others, and what we do unto others we do unto ourselves. Although it is the athletes’ choice whether they want to put their bodies at inherent risk by consuming performance-enhancing drugs, it is not ok for their choice to affect the will of others.

Projection is Reflection

What does it mean to achieve athletic excellence? Some believe that “it is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” There are those that believe winning is everything; others say a combination of the skill, determination, courage, and fairness of play also play a role in achieving excellence, along side of winning. In a society driven by money, power and the desire to be number one, this is also reflected in our view of sport. We dehumanize sport by referring to athletes as machines, use money and other external goods to promote competition and some coaches may even resort in tactics such as cheating, violence, and aggression as avenues to obtain the big W.  We put pressure on our kids to succeed at a young age and, in many cases, parents take the essence of play out of sport. Sport can become a great tool to teach kids morals, fair play, friendliness, and teamwork, but with an emphasis solely on the outcome these intrinsic factors take a back seat to winning. In this blog I would like to discuss why winning has been so over emphasized; Why the winner may not always be the superior athlete; What should sport emphasize if not winning?

My favorite quote is simple, sweet and to the point. “Projection is reflection.”

What we find wrong with sport is just a reflection of our society. In Hundley’s article “the overemphasis on winning: a philosophical look”, he believes we are too outcome oriented, all that we emphasize is whether or not we have won or lost. If we completely cut out the path in which we took to reach a particular outcome, I believe, we have missed the whole point of sport. Sports are a derivative of play; play is a form of human expression. The act of play is something in which all humans can relate. But when we pressure athletes to win and offer them external rewards for their win it takes away the element of play in sport. We would then consider sport a form of work, since the goal is to obtain a particular outcome. This overemphasis on winning is driven by our ego-oriented society, governed by work, where we strive for more power and we want more prestige. When we focus on winning we miss how the game was played, and sometimes the superior athlete does not always win. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that winning is an ingredient to athletic excellence, but it should not be the only ingredient.

There are several different factors that may affect the outcome of a game, causing the less superior athlete or team to win. Dixon discusses this further in his article “On Winning and Athletic Superiority.” He notes that referee errors, cheating, gamesmanship and bad luck all play a part in the outcome of a game. I do not believe that it is possible for any one person to always win; even the best must experience loss. Have you ever played a game where you dominated the opponent’s side of the field, had several chances to score, but missed them all? This would be considered bad luck or even an “off” day. This is allowed! We must remember that as a reflection of life, participation in competitive sports also has its ups and downs. If we did not know what it was like to lose, how could we truly appreciate what it feels like to win? There are also instances of athletes cheating to win a game. Dixon defines cheating as “an attempt to break the rules of a game while escaping detection and punishment.” This goes against the moral values and fair play that should be a major component in the way athletes treat others and the game itself. Dixon argues that in some ways cheating may be a legitimate tactic, which may lead to a better way of playing the game. I guess I would have to somewhat agree, we should always be striving to make a game better, but initially when a person cheats to deceive, it is not coming from a solid moral ground, but from a desire to win at all cost.

To balance out the overemphasis on winning we should also make light of the skill and moral conduct of an athlete. Why is it that we do not take more time to appreciate the beautifully executed pass or play? Playing a sport also means practicing and improving your skills, it takes determination, dedication, and teamwork to execute a play, but all we want to know is who won the game. Yes, there should be a competitive component to a game; this competitive drive translates well into work or school. But this should not overshadow what it took the athlete to achieve a favorable outcome. In the article by Stanley Eitzen, “The Dark Side of Competition”, He may have been a little harsh but made a few good points. I agree that we instill this sense of fierce competition in our children at such a young age, causing the loss of joy when an athlete participates in sports. I also agree that winning at all cost will also cause more violence, aggression, and the “tendency to crush the opposition”.   What ever happened to a quick pick up game where the score did not matter, but you were just there to play the game? We must remember to instill in our children a sense of cooperation, fair play, good moral value, and a healthy competitive mind.

In our society we are always running a million miles an hour, only focusing on external reward or the win. We are violent, aggressive, and cheat in order to achieve the win. We then pass this on to our offspring, Hundley made a good point in stating, “sport, however, does not merely reflect the values of the culture in which it exits. It also perpetuates them”. We must step back and realize that sports are a reflection of us, and we as a society can restore this perpetual cycle. We must put the play and joy back into sport, and it all starts with our own actions. So by all means play hard, be competitive, but have a heart, play fair, and enjoy the game.

Code of Conduct

In consideration of the cultural pluralism and moral diversity among all societies it is hard to unify a common moral code in specifically, a competitive sport. This apparent multiplicity of values, morals, and ethics makes it difficult to cultivate a common moral code among all cultures. In the article by Sigmund Loland “Fair play: Historical anachronism or topical ideal” He tackles the struggle to conform a moral and ethical code of conduct for all. As a society we strive for ideals, rules, and guidelines in which to follow to enable play or games, that are rule-governed, to bring about an end in which all parties are satisfied. In an effort to devise a common moral code one must look at the following factors: fairness, ethos and ethics in games, and the why one participates in a particular sport/game.

Fair play entails two norms, formal and informal. “Formal fair play is expressed as a norm on keeping the written rules of the game, whereas informal fair play prescribes a certain attitude towards the game in terms of doing one’s best and respecting one’s opponents.” All games are “rule-governed practices”, these rules, in any culture, are what allow the game to become reality. These rules may be arbitrary among different groups, but are followed nonetheless. In Loland’s fairness argument he believes that rules, “are meaningful only within the practice they conceptualize”. It is not about the rules but the intentional goals behind them.  When we decide to participate in a game we are automatically adhering these rules, and vice versa.  His fairness norm then concludes:

“ When voluntarily engaged in sport competitions, keep the formal playing rules!”

The problem with this norm as the ideal, is its formalistic approach, it assumes that there is only one way to play the particular game. Unfortunately, rules tend to become ambiguous among differing groups.  Considering the grey area in which rules are placed, no game is ultimately defined by its rules but is structured in constitutive elements, which make that particular game.  In a formalistic world any non-adherence to games assumes you are not playing that particular game, this does not give room for the ambiguity of the nature rules in games. As beings we enjoy the structure and values realized when participating in play, so non-adherence disrupts the nature of your true intention. This ambiguity of games takes us to the next objective, ethos in games. Adding the element of ethos, adds to the element of fair play. Making a more justifiable fairness norm.

The ethos denotes the common body of norms in which to interpret the rules of the game. Adding to the element of fair play, what is fair play to one group may not be so for another. It is stated:

“The ethos of a game draws distinctions between permissible acts which are in accordance with the rules, acceptable acts in terms of certain rule violations which are considered as “part of the game”, and rule violations which are considered unacceptable.”

This is an important factor when trying to devise a common moral code. It must be realized that unifying a common code will entail also the interpretation of ethos and ethics for each group.

Ethics allow for the distinction between fair ethos and unfair ethos. Lowland uses the example of  “it is wrong to prescribe adherence to the ethos of a game if this ethos accepts cheating or infliction of harm or injury on other players.”  It should be morally implied that one adhere to basic ethical principles such as, upholding justice, mutual aid, respect, and no intent of injury or harm the anyone. This then leads to anther interpretation of fairness norms:

“When voluntarily engaged in sport competitions, keep the shared ethos of the practice as long as the ethos does not violate basic, ethical principles!”

This is a step forward from the previous norm, it allows for diversity in the playing of the games as it relates to different groups, and takes away the formalistic approach. Rules are ever changing, a “dynamic product of historical process”. As we play games we are discovering new ways to make the performance better, more challenging. We must not formalize our view of games, as this would limit us in our ability to bring about a common moral code for all.

The next question, why is an individual participating in the game? Are the goals internal or external?  Internal goals could be that of achieving excitement, joy, or kinesthetic pleasure from a game. Loland states, “The realization of internal goals depends upon the realization of the game according to the shared ethos that conceptualizes it.” In this case, their upholding of what is fair helps drive the individual’s goals. External goals are realized outside of the game, this does not directly result in the adherence to fairness, but can be driven by external desires for prestige or profit. The one commonality between the two is the desire to win. We all play to win, no matter the reason for participation. It is the desired outcome for all sides, in all groups.

As a result of this commonality, Loland then devised not only a fairness norm that states:

“When voluntarily engaged in sport competitions, keep the shared ethos of the practice as long as the ethos does not violate basic, ethical principles and includes a sense of fairness!”

But also a play norm that reads:

“When voluntarily engaged in sport competitions, play to win!”

By adding a play norm this moral code of conduct, I believe, is a much more well rounded approach to the consideration of moral and ethical conduct. It reflects that the rules of the game are always changing, but good ethics is something that is shared all cultures. The idea of respect, justice, mutual aid, the desire to win are universal ideals and are assumed in the norm.

The final fairness and play norms are a great start to producing a unifying moral code.  It does not formalize the norms for a particular game, but encompasses why we participate in games and upholds the common underlying factor by which all cultures abide.

“Now Remember, Be a Good Sport”

From trick plays and foul language, to helping your opponent cross the finish line; sporting competitions can be portrayed as a brutal battlefield or place of common goals in the pursuit of excellence. As an athlete I have had many experiences that have gone in either direction. I have participated in soccer and cross-country, in both events I was small, quick, agile, and a great target for the defenders and other runners to push around. Sportsmanship has a plethora of well-stated definitions in reference to differing contexts in which the sport or activity is played. Feezell speaks of the relation of sportsmanship to virtue and how there are also varying degrees of seriousness to those who participate.  Arnold divides sportsmanship into three categories. In this blog, I would like to touch on the differing views as well as dive into the controversial subject of “Running up the score” where Dixon discusses his views on sportsmanship and its relevancy to “taking it easy” on the opposing team.

As a young athlete I always heard the saying “be a good sport”, but what exactly does that entail? There is much talk of the parallel of sport to life. Participating in sport may teach a child to work as a team, respect others, over come barriers, and learn to handle defeat and show respect to the defeated in light of a win. All of these attributes will translate well to situations later in life. Before I dive into what constitutes a “good sport” I would like to discuss what it means to be a “bad sport”.

In the video clip it shows a distance runner in the last leg of the race hitting his opponent when he passed him for the win. In his obviously frustrated state, his reaction was uncalled for, which I believe may also reflect his state of consciousness. If he was a “good sport” and had a good moral attitude he would have accepted his defeat and congratulated his opponent for a job well done. But as I will discuss later, the act of congratulating your opponent, in the eyes of Arnold, could be considered Altruistic and not necessary for good sportsmanship. In the next clip Metta World Peace elbows James Harden. Wow. I do not follow basketball, or any other televised sport, but that is not only a blatant disrespect but also complete contradiction of his external portrayal of who he claims to be. These are obvious cases of bad sportsmanship. As discussed earlier, sport is an aid in teaching moral value, though in the eyes of Simon he believes there to be no necessary connection between playing sports and building moral character, it can assist in doing so.  Other forms of bad sportsmanship would include, cheating or the intent to injure an opponent. Although Feezell states,  “but acting in such a way that one might injure an opponent is often morally ambiguous.” There seems to be a thin veil to what may represent “good” or “bad” sportsmanship.

In opposition, the article by Feezell quotes Keating in stating “the interpretations of the essence of sportsmanship have included numerous other virtues: self-control, fair play, truthfulness, courage, endurance, and so forth.” Keating then dives deeper by also implying the dual nature of sportsmanship, sports as a playful activity and sports as a competitive athletic contest.  There is a difference between participating in sports a player versus an athlete, but not to imply that there is no overlay between the two. The game its self has not changed, the rules are the same, expectations of moral behavior are not vastly different, but attitude, preparation, and reason for participation may differ. These divergent views of sportsmanship will help conclude later whether it is of good sportsmanship to “run up the score” of a game or event. I believe good sportsmanship should parallel good virtues, we all have moments where we may react to a situation in sport irrationally in the heat of the moment, and ultimately in the end it is how you handle the situation post reaction. Did you apologize for your crude irrational actions? Help the opponent up after you have just fouled them? Congratulate them for their win?

In Arnold’s article on sportsmanship it was divided into three different views. 1. As a social union, where “playing by the rules promotes a sense of community and amicability.” In this approach one must not only play by the rules but also keep faith in the spirit of the sport by acting in ways not required by the code of conduct but acted out due to your adherence to moral values, traditions of competition, and friendly rivalry. In this form of sportsmanship, it is not whether you win or lose – but how you play the game.  2. As a means to pleasure. Arnold disputes against Keating’s division between “sports” and “athletics”. Whether participating for play or the struggle for victory, “marked by a spirit of dedication, sacrifice, and intensity”, Arnold argues that some of the best examples of this type of sportsmanship arise from pursuit for ” honorable victory”. It is when an athlete acknowledges what is morally and ethically right even if it results in a loss for him/her. 3. As altruism, forms of action and conduct that are done not just because it is fair play but there is a concern for one’s fellow competitors.  In this occasion, an athlete goes out of his or her way to help an opponent, on the same side or not, even if the end result brings, suffering, misery, pain, or a loss; he is going above and beyond moral or ethical obligations. In the end I believe in sports, reason for participation aside, good morals and good ethics should always take forefront. Bad karma is not something I choose to collect.

The last question, is “running up the score” entail good sportsmanship? Dixon believes there is nothing wrong with allowing for a lopsided victory in a competitive game. In our society we have equated a large defeat with humiliation of the losing team. Dixon points out, if the game is played with out the intent to humiliate, and they conduct themselves fairly, there is nothing wrong with winning in such a way. Something could also be said of going “to easy” on the other team. Sportsmanship is a two-way road; you must accept defeat as honorably as you accept victory. Large defeat can also denote level of ability. There is something to be taken from defeat, it can be used as a tool to grow and become a better athlete. I believe that such a victory is acceptable, especially in a competitive athletic situation. I also think that there should be a level of prudent thinking for the starting players and if given the opportunity to rest, that should be done. Even in large defeat, I do not think that it is appropriate to ask the second string players to not play to the best of their ability. Some may only get a few minutes in the game to play, and if that were the case I would not be playing lightly. It would be appropriate to “take it easy” in more light-hearted gaming situations. In the case of teacher/student, if you know that your ability exceeds that of your opponent, and the context of the game is non-serious and non-competitive, then lightening up your game may be appropriate so that you may teach your opponent and allow him/her to grow in their own abilities.

We have all experienced the good and bad of sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship is not only abiding by the rules, but having genuine concern for others, not just for “honorable victory”, and having the ability to put emotions aside and respect the outcome of the game whether you win or lose. In the end, it is just a game. In moments where a teams ability is obscenely out matched, both teams must still play admirably, with only the intention of fair play. Though sport is not the only avenue for educating one of proper moral and ethical values, it can play an integral role of teaching us the ups and downs that occur in sport and life.