Fair Play: The Ethics Of Sport – Robert L. Simon

SportsThe analysis in most places was sane, thorough, with no whiff of leftist thought in sight. It excels at establishing the purpose of sports at a fundamental level as a pursuit of excellency. Also successfully argues that sports does not necessarily instill character but rather reveals and nurtures it, which goes against the popular view of sports as a means of rehabilitation.

Issue of cheating, in the variety of forms they come, including the use of performance enhancement drugs is also discussed, arguing that one cannot be said to be participating in the same sport as a competitor if the rules are not followed. Simon’s case against doping is the book’s high point. The intentional hurt aspect of Boxing is not something he seems comfortable with. Although his objections to Boxing is a little weak, it is a different case if the same logic is applied with the increasingly popular MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) where the level of intentional, hurtful violence is ratcheted up.

Where it fails is in the examples the author gives, which are mostly American (Football), there’s even a whole chapter on intercollegiate sports which is not at all relevant to anyone outside of America, although some Truths can be gleaned from this, especially his treatment of the issue of when Colleges exploit minority Athletes at the expense of their (the Athlete’s) academic achievement.

The final chapter on the social responsibility of sports stars comes to an inconclusive end, as we are left to figure out for ourselves if the public are right to demand morally upright sports stars. In the famous words of the Basketball player, Charles Barkley “I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids”. Or for a more culturally relevant example, should Ched Evans be allowed to Football (Soccer) again?

Not a book I’ll recommend, although it seems to be popular as it is already on its 4th edition, I bought the 2nd because it was cheaper. It is however quite good as a starting point for thinking about the philosophy of sports.


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