Ethics & Sports

There is a growing area of philosophy that takes interest in sports. Until recently, much of the literature was highly analytic and did not receive much attention, but now there is a significant body of work on the nature of different sports and the virtues and vices, rights and wrongs that enter into fair play. In the philosophy of sports one considers whether, and if so, why, sports
should be a regular feature of public education.  What virtues are sports intended to cultivate? When is competition healthy in sports?  Is the current stress on winning in public universities admirable?  What does it matter whether a university’s team wins?  Is boxing more problematic than, say, tennis, because in latter one does not engage in the deliberate, direct harm of another person? Should deliberate fouls be allowed?  Current practices in many sports, from basketball to football, include athletes deliberately committing strategic fouls to meet their objectives: delay the game, force an opponent into an undesirable position, and so on.  By allowing them (and even encouraging them) are you implicitly rewarding or praising athletes for doing something wrong?  When, if ever, should a country boycott the Olympics? On this note, check out the book The Olympics and Philosophy, edited by Heather Reid and Michael Austin.

And read this essay by Charles Taliaferro and Michael Le Gall on the ethics of boycotting the Olympics: “The Ethics of Boycotting the Olympics”

At St. Olaf College one of our most distinguished faculty members is Gordon Marino, who has championed boxing, both nationally and locally.

Here is an interview with Marino:“Meet the boxing philosopher of Northfield’s St. Olaf College” boxing

A list of Marino’s blog entries on boxing: The Huffington Post

One of Marino’s articles on boxing: “The Socratic Art of Boxing”

And here is Marino’s take on tenderness: “Try a Little Tenderness”