Category Archives: Sports Studies

Sports Studies Symposium: Defining Sport

Sports Studies 14 thumbRockford University is hosting the Third Annual Sports Studies Symposium on April 25, 2014 from 1:00pm to 5:00pm CT at the Grace Roper Lounge, Burpee Center. The conference is free to attend and light refreshments will be served.

Panel One

“Burning the Straw Man: the 10,000 hour rule, fitness, and athletics”
– Sean Beckmann, Ph.D. (Rockford University)

“From the Boarders: Skateboarding at the Fringe of Sport”
– Brian Glenney, Ph.D. (Gordon College) and Steve Mull (Gordon College)

“Sport, Seriousness, and Hopscotch Dreams”
– Major Kevin Schieman, M.A. (United States Military Academy)

Panel Two

“Sport in Society: How Athletics Shapes Our World and Consciousness”
– Zachary Draves, (Rockford University Student Contest Winner)

“The Convergence of Mechanization and the Modern Athlete in NASCAR”
– P. Huston Ladner, M.A (University of Hawaii)

“The Modern Literature of Ring Sport: A Cultural Phenomenon and Its Literary Forms”
– Carl Robinson, Ph.D. (Ashford University)

The Sports Studies Symposium is hosted by Rockford University professors Dr. Shawn Klein and Dr. Michael Perry. For more information please visit www.SportsEthicist.com or contact Dr. Shawn Klein at sklein@rockford.edu.

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New Philosophy of Sport Books

There are two interesting looking new books on philosophy of sport.

The Bloomsbury Companion to the Philosophy of Sport (Bloomsbury Companions)
Philosophy and Sport: Volume 73 (Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements)

I already have the Bloomsbury book and I hope to review it soon for this blog. On quick glance, it looks like a great companion. I especially like the electronic resource section (disclosure: this site and @SportsEthicist is listed).

Here’s the table of contents for “Philosophy and Sport: Volume 73″ (borrowed from Philosophy of Sport blog):

  • Preface, Anthony O’Hear
  • Ways of Watching Sport, Stephen Mumford
  • The Martial Arts and Buddhist Philosophy, Graham Priest
  • Sport as a Moral Practice: An Aristotelian Approach, Michael W. Austin
  • A Plea for Risk, Philip Ebert and Simon Robertson
  • Not a Matter of Life and Death?, Anthony O’Hear
  • Sport and Life, Paul Snowdon
  • Glory in Sport (and Elsewhere), Timothy Chappell
  • Conceptual Problems with Performance Enhancing Technology in Sport, Emily Ryall
  • Is Mountaineering a Sport?, Philip Bartlett
  • Rivalry in Cricket and Beyond: Healthy or Unhealthy?, Michael Brearley
  • In the Zone, David Papineau
  • Olympic Sacrifice: A Modern Look at an Ancient Tradition, Heather L. Reid
  • Chess, Imagination, and Perceptual Understanding, Paul Coates

And the table of contents for The Bloomsbury Companion (From the Bloomsbury website):

Introduction, Cesar R. Torres \ Part I: History and Development \ A History of Philosophic Ideas about Sport, David Lunt and Mark Dyreson \ Part II: Research Methodology \ The Philosophy of Sport and Analytic Philosophy, Scott Kretchmar \ The Philosophy of Sport and Continental Philosophy, Vegard Fusche Moe \ The Philosophy of Sport, Eastern Philosophy and Pragmatism, Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza, Koyo Fukasawa and Mizuho Takemura \ Part III: Current Research and Key Issues \ Theories of Sport, Robert L. Simon \ Fairness and Justice in Sport, Sigmund Loland \ The Ethics of Enhancing Performance, Sarah Teetzel \ Disability and Sport, Carwyn Jones \ Sport, Risk and Danger, Leslie A. Howe \ Sport and the Environment–Ecosophical and Metanoetical Intersections, Ron Welters \ The Aesthetics of Sport, Stephen Mumford \ Sporting Knowledge, Gunnar Breivik \ Sport and Ideology, Lamartine P. DaCosta \ Competitive Sport, Moral Development and Peace, J. S. Russell \ Sport, Spirituality and Religion, Simon Robinson \ Sport and Violence, Danny Rosenberg \ Part IV: Future Developments \ Sport and Technological Development, Alun Hardman \ Conceivable Horizons of Equality in Sport, Pam R. Sailors \ ‘Spoiled Sports’: Markets and the Corruption of Sport, William J. Morgan \ Sport Philosophy around the World, Peter M. Hopsicker and Ivo Jirásek \ Part V: Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts \ Part VI: Resources and Careers \ Resource Guide, Emily Ryall \ Careers, Charlene Weaving \ Part VII: The Literature \ The Sport Philosophy Literature: Foundations, Evolutions and Annotations, Tim Elcombe, Douglas Hochstetler and Douglas W. McLaughlin \ Index

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IAPS Call for Papers

IAPS conferences are wonderful! I highly recommend submitting an abstract if you have some research interest in the philosophy of sport. The following is the IAPS Call for Papers that has been distributed to email lists.

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The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport invites the submission of abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 42nd annual 2014 IAPS meeting. The conference will be held September 3-6, 2014 in Natal (Brazil) sponsored by the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sur.

Abstracts are welcome on any area of philosophy of sport (broadly construed), including metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, and from any theoretical approach, including analytic philosophy and critical theory. While IAPS recognizes, values, and encourages interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies, acceptance is contingent on the philosophical content of the project. Emerging scholars are encouraged to submit works in progress.

A Program Committee of three IAPS peers will review abstracts. Contributors will be notified about the status of their abstracts by May 19, 2014.

Proposals for round table and panel discussions, including a tentative list of participants, are also welcome and should follow the same format as paper abstracts.

2014 R. SCOTT KRETCHMAR STUDENT ESSAY AWARD

IAPS is proud to announce the third edition of the “R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award.” Interested undergraduate and graduate students should submit a full paper by June 16, 2014 (in addition to an abstract, see below). A separate announcement is posted at the IAPS website.

GUIDELINES
Abstracts should be 300-500 words long, in English, and must be received by March 31, 2014. Please, follow the following instructions (incomplete proposals will be returned). Provide:

1. Name, E-mail, current position, and employer
2. Title of Program
3. Key Words (three to five)
4. Three references that contextualize the topic in the pertinent philosophical literature
5. Primary Content Area/s (choose no more than 2)

  • Ethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Aesthetics
  • Epistemology
  • Phenomenology
  • Comparative
  • Applied
  • History
  • Other (explain
Indicate special Audio-Visual requirements (computer & projector will be provided)

The preferred mode of submission is by e-mail.

Please send the abstract blind-review ready as an attachment (e.g., name and other information cross-referenced with the title if on a separate page, or on a different page at the end of the abstract), preferably in Word.

Submit abstracts to the following email: iaps2014natal@gmail.com

For other queries write to: jgleaves@Exchange.FULLERTON.EDU

Contributors who lack access to e-mail may send a hard copy instead to the following address:
John Gleaves
IAPS Conference Chair Assistant Professor of Philosophy – CSU- Fullerton
800 N. State College Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92835

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Sports Studies Symposium: Speakers and Topics

3rd Annual Sports Studies Symposium:

Defining Sport

 Grace Roper Lounge, Burpee Center, 

Rockford University

April 25, 2014; 1-5 pm

Panel One: Borderline Cases

“From the Boarders: Skateboarding at the Fringe of Sport”
– Brian Glenney, Ph.D. (Gordon College) and Steve Mull (Gordon College)

“Is NASCAR a Sport? Are Drivers Athletes?”
– P. Huston Ladner, M.A (University of Hawaii)

“Sport, Seriousness, and Hopscotch Dreams”
– Major Kevin Schieman, M.A. (United States Military Academy)

Panel Two: Sport in the Culture

“The Modern Literature of Ring Sport: A Cultural Phenomenon and Its Literary Forms”
– Carl Robinson, Ph.D. (Ashford University)

“The Role of Athletics in American Higher Education Institutions”
– Chris Croft, Ph.D. (University of Southern Indiana)

Reserved for RU Student Contest Winner

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New Course: PHIL 340 Philosophy of Sport

phil of sport-thumb
The Rockford University Philosophy Department is offering a new course this spring: PHIL 340 Philosophy of Sport.

Course Description:

An inquiry into philosophical ideas and issues in sport. Topics and readings will vary, but may include: the nature and definition of sport, the mind-body relationship in sport, the effects of technology on sport, epistemological issues in officiating, and the aesthetics of sport.

The course will be using Heather Reid’s Introduction to the Philosophy of Sport (Elements of Philosophy) as well as supplemental articles from the philosophy of sport literature. The course does carry a pre-requisite of a previous philosophy class. Of course, if you have taken my Sports Ethics class, then you have satisfied this requirement.

The course meets T/TH, 1-2:15 pm. Please contact me if you have any questions about the course.

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Podcast: Sports Studies Symposium (The Sports Ethicist Show)

The podcast for episode 5 of The Sports Ethicist Show is available for download.

http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/the-sports-ethicist-ep-5-sports-studies-symposium/

In this episode, The Sports Ethicist sits down with Chad Carlson, John Harney, Trisha Phillips, Aaron Harper, Andrew Koehl, Carl Robinson, and Mike Perry to discuss the themes and ideas raised by the papers given at the symposium on April 19.

Original Air Date: April 22, 2013 on Rockford College Radio.

You can also subscribe to the Podcast via Itunes or this RSS feed.

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Sports Studies Symposium

The Sports Ethicist Show airs tonight at 6 pm (Central) on Rockford College Radio.

In this episode, The Sports Ethicist sits down with Chad Carlson, John Harney, Trisha Phillips, Aaron Harper, Andrew Koehl, Carl Robinson, and Mike Perry to discuss the themes and ideas raised by the papers given at the symposium on April 19.

Listen on Rockford College Radio (6pm Central):
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/ (Click on the Listen Live button)

A podcast of the show will be available after the show airs.
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/category/thesportsethicist/

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Sports Studies Symposium: Paper Abstracts

I have posted the abstracts for each paper to be presented at Friday’s Sports Studies Symposium.

The first panel, held from 1 to 2:45pm, focuses on Fandom. (Follow the links to read paper abstracts)

The second panel, held from 3 to 4:45, will focus on fantasy and play. (Follow the links to read paper abstracts)

You can also find the abstracts, and other information, at the Symposium Page: http://sportsethicist.com/symposium/

 

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Why Sport?

The Sports Ethicist Show airs tonight at 6 pm (Central) on Rockford College Radio.

In this episode, Professors Shawn Klein and Mike Perry follow up their discussion of what sport is with a discussion of “why sport?” They discuss the reasons why people play sports and why people watch sports. They end the show with a brief discussion of why they study sports.

Listen on Rockford College Radio (6pm Central):
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/ (Click on the Listen Live button)

A podcast of the show will be available after the show airs.
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/category/thesportsethicist/

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Reflections on the Case of Oscar Pistorius

As has been widely reported, Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home on February 14. Currently, he is out on bail awaiting trial. He asserts his innocence, claiming that it was tragic case of mistaking her for a home intruder. (The Guardian’s dedicated page for news regarding the case)

Pistorius’ fame reached a pinnacle during the 2012 London Olympics when he became the first Paralympic running in the Olympic Games. Like many Olympic athletes, Pistorius’ path to the Olympics was a challenging road filled with multiple obstacles. Unlike most Olympians, however, Pistorius faced legal challenges and public opinion battles regarding his right to compete as a double amputee against able-bodied athletes. This made Pistorius a story of inspiration, hope, perseverance, and justice. (My earlier blog on Oscar Pistorius) He inspired disabled and able-bodied athletes and spectators across the globe. This admiration and respect was concretized by Grenada’s Kirana James exchanging his bib numbers with Pistorius after the 400-meter semifinal. He seemed to be the most popular South African athlete, period.

Then came the news of the murder: a young woman dead at the hands of a national hero. Images, ideals, and idols shattered. Hope and goodwill turned to anger and outrage.

So what does this have to do with Sports Ethics or Philosophy of Sport? As tragic as it is, it doesn’t raise any special or novel issues for sport as such. Nevertheless, this case has led me to think about an issue that does somewhat relate to Sports Ethics. For several years, I have used Pistorius’ push to race in the Olympics as a part of my Sports Ethic course. We spend several classes examining the questions that arise in his case: issues of disabled athletes generally; should disabled athletes compete against able-bodied athletes; does running on the blades as Pistorius does, count as running; etc. It also connects nicely with the class’s discussion of doping and PEDs. Should arguments against PEDs apply to the technical aids used by a disabled athlete to compete? The case of Oscar Pistorius frames the whole discussion of these questions. I am hardly alone in this. Much of the literature that focuses on these questions is framed by Pistorius’ case.

After processing the shock of the news of Pistorius’ arrest and his girlfriend’s murder, I started to wonder: should I (or any teachers) continue to use Pistorius as the main case-study for my classes?

I am reluctant to do so. Historically, Pistorius racing at the Olympics is still an important and inspirational event. All the ethical and philosophical questions that it brings forward remain worthy of inquiry. But I am not comfortable using a murderer (assuming he is guilty) as the case to bring these issues up for discussion. Moreover, I am not sure my view would change if he is ultimately acquitted. Why?

  1. Part of what makes Pistorius’ case so powerful is Pistorius himself. We feel sympathy for him because he is a normal-seeming guy who just wants to compete. His story pulls at our sense of fairness: it is easy for us to imagine being him and in his situation. But if he is found guilty of murder, this doesn’t work anymore. Maybe this just requires a re-framing of the narrative, but it is hard to imagine that one can frame the story in a way that wouldn’t downplay the murder and do further injustice to the memory of Steenkamp.
  2. A practical concern is that trying to use Pistorius as a central figure here creates a huge distraction. Students will want to focus on the murder, not the issues.
  3. Even if he is acquitted, he is no longer the sympathetic figure he was. The practical concern would remain because students would likely be more familiar with him as someone charged with and associated with a murder. Moreover, even if acquitted of a murder charge, he still seems, based on released evidence and testimony, morally culpable for her death (more on this in the appendix below).

I do not expect nor demand that the figures discussed in class be moral saints or ideals. That is unrealistic, unnecessary, and contrary to the goals of education. However, Pistorius’ case raises a special problem because so much of the narrative of the disabled athlete triumphing in the quest of fairness is celebratory.

Innocent or guilty, I do not think Pistorius should be ignored in sports history. He was the first to do something significant in sport. He has helped and inspired countless athletes and others to overcome their own obstacles. (In this way, his situation is similar to another fallen sport hero: Lance Armstrong.) But now this narrative includes murder, and that forever changes it.

Whether I continue to use Pistorius or not in my class (I have not decided yet), he can no longer be an inspiration or story of hope and triumph. The loss of an inspirational figure to talk about in Sports Ethics does not even rise to the level of a tiny, micro-tragedy. A woman is dead. Her family and loved ones have suffered an incalculable loss. Obviously, that is rightfully where most of our focus and concern should be.

Appendix: What I think about the case itself
I admit I find Pistorius’ account, as reported, of Steenkamp’s killing unconvincing and even if true not exculpatory. On the other hand, the bail hearing revealed what looks like police negligence and incompetence in handling the investigation. Such mishandling might lead to, and if extensive demand, an acquittal. Nevertheless, it looks to me like he is still morally on the hook for her death.

This is what has been reported as Pistorius’ account: that he thought there was an intruder locked in the bathroom, and given both the crime rate in South Africa and past threats against Pistorius, he feared enough for his safety to fire his weapon four times through the closed door. (Graphic representation of Pistorius’ testimony).

The use of deadly force is justifiable in self-defense, but not without conditions. What these conditions would be and how they are justified is a complicated matter of social and legal philosophy. For that reason, I’ll assert, without argument, what I take to be at least two essential conditions for the justified use of force (deadly or not). (These are likely not equivalent to the South African legal requirements for the use of deadly force)

  1. There is the use of or imminent threat of use of force against one’s person or property (and by extension persons who in some way one is responsible for: children, loved ones).
  2. There are no reasonable or effective alternatives to defend one’s person or property (and extensions).

I think he fails to meet these conditions. Counterfactual, if he was right that the person in the bathroom was an intruder and not his girlfriend, this intruder would be initiating force against Pistorius by trespassing. This trespass, then, might meet the first condition. However, before using force, one has a responsibility to confirm (or try to confirm) one’s suspicion (at least as much as one can in a given set of circumstances). Nothing in Pistorius’ account so far suggests that he attempted to confirm that the person in the bathroom was indeed an intruder or a threat.

But even if he meets the first condition; he fails utterly on the second. At least based on the testimony so far reported, there seems to have been several alternatives Pistorius could have used to protect himself and his property instead of force. He could have removed himself from the perceived immediate danger from the intruder behind the door, called security and/or the police, and waited with his weapon in case the supposed intruder came out of the bathroom. Shooting blindly through a closed door hardly seems like the only (or more strongly, even a) reasonable and effective option for self-defense in this case.

This doesn’t establish that Pistorius is guilty of murdering Steenkamp. There are many legal hurdles and standards that need to be met to establish that. Moreover, I suppose evidence could come out that would show Pistorius was facing at least a perceived imminent threat with no reasonable or effective alternatives. Still, nothing like that seems forthcoming at this point even from Pistorius himself. My point is, guilty of premeditated murder or not, Pistorius is morally culpable for Steenkamp’s death.

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