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This blog was mentioned in OTL: NBA lax in Sterling oversight. Readers might be interested in my earlier post on Donald Sterling: Donald Sterling, Racism, and Liberal Society

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Diving and Cheating in Soccer

A new episode of The Sports Ethicist Show is available!

Diving, flopping, going to ground, whatever you call it, it is a controversial issue in sport, especially in Soccer. Is it wrong? What is the nature of the wrongness? Is it cheating? Mike Austin, professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University joins Shawn Klein to discuss these issues.

Related links:

You can download the podcast here:
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/the-sports-ethicist-show-diving-and-cheating-in-soccer/

You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.

 

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Call for Papers: Defining Sport

Thank you to everyone who submitted abstracts.  The deadline has passed and I won’t be accepting any further abstracts for this proposal. But check back in the future for other opportunities.

Call for Papers: Book Chapters

  • Working Title: “Defining Sport: Contemporary Explorations”
  • Publisher: Proposal will be submitted to Lexington Books
  • Editor: Shawn E. Klein, PhD; sklein@rockford.edu

The focus of the book is to bring new scholarly attention to the issues and questions involved in defining and explaining the nature of sport. There are several classic works that treat these issues, but with the growth of the philosophy of sport a renewed focus on how to define and conceptualize sport is needed. Chapter ideas:

  • Analyses of common approaches to defining sport (or related concepts such as competition or athlete) in the philosophy of sport literature. (E.g. Bernard Suits, essentialism, formalism, interpretivism, and externalism.)
  • New approaches to defining sport (and related concepts).
  • Examination of borderline cases  (e.g. Motor Sports; Animal Sports, cyber-sports, fantasy sports)
  • Analysis of problematic cases ( e.g violent/blood sports)
  • Discussions of methodological differences between philosophy and other disciplines in terms of defining sport and related concepts.
    • E.g. Are there differences between philosophical approaches and sociological approaches? How might these differences affect how sport is studied or discussed in these disciplines and across disciplines?

If you are interested in contributing a book chapter to this volume, please send a tentative title, a brief abstract for review (500 words) and C.V or short bio, to the book editor: Shawn E. Klein: sklein@rockford.edu

  • Abstract deadline: July 11, 2014
  • Notification of abstract acceptance by July 25, 2014 (Update 7/29: I am still working through abstracts, so don’t fret if you haven’t heard from me yet)
  • Tentative Chapter Manuscript Deadline (contingent on publisher acceptance): December 12, 2014
    • Length: 6000-10,000 words (inclusive of references and notes).
    • Manuscripts should conform to Chicago style.

PDF: Call for Papers Defining Sport

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Brief Review: “Reality is Broken”

This book is not about sport, but some of what she says about games is applicable to sport. She does discuss, briefly, Suits’ definition of games, so that’s a plus.

Here’s my brief review (Cross-posted at my Philosophyblog and Goodreads).

The most surprisingly thing about this book is that it is many ways a self-help book. It discusses games in the context of how game-playing (and understanding games) can help make one’s life better. In the closing paragraphs, McGonigal says:  “Games don’t distract us from our real lives. They fill our real lives: with positive emotions, positive activity, positive experiences, and positive strengths” (354). Much of the book is explaining and defending these claims.

The first half of the book was much more interesting and engaging for me. McGonigal discusses how games affect individuals: their work, their happiness, their relationships. The games she brings in here seemed appealing. It made me want to go and play some of them. Typically the games where not in any way designed with these positive effects in mind; they were just games that had these results.

McGonigal also sees games as a way of changing the world and solving various kinds of large scale problems. This last part of the book was less convincing and less engaging. Maybe it’s because the games here seemed too contrived or the results too unrealistic, I am not sure. But in any case, something was missing in her discussion here that made me skeptical of the ways games (qua games) could be used to solve real global crises.

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Ethical Issues in Horse Racing

A new episode of The Sports Ethicist Show is available!

It’s the season of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing. Horse racing raises is exciting and thrilling, but it also raises several ethical and philosophical issues: doping, horse welfare, genetic manipulation, and breeding and body types. Rockford University Biology professor Sean Beckmann joins the show to discuss some of these issues.

Related links:

You can download the podcast here:

http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/the-sports-ethicist-show-ethical-issues-in-horse-racing/

You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.

 

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The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits (review and announcement)

Broadview Press has released a 3rd Edition of the Bernard Suits classic: The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. The new edition contains the illustrations from the original publication. Also, there is a new appendix on the meaning of play.

With this exciting news, I thought I’d repost a brief review I wrote of The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia.

“The Grasshopper” is unique philosophy monograph. It is part narrative, part dialogue, part treatise. It is also humorous and easy to read. It, quite self-consciously, plays off elements from Socratic dialogues, the New Testament, and Aesop’s fables. Though I don’t agree with many of its philosophic conclusions, the work, overall, is successful at pulling all these elements off. That is, I enjoyed reading it and found it enlightening.

The main focus of the book is an extended discussion of the definition of the concept of “Game.” While in some ways, it is a meant as an answer to Wittgenstein’s famous claim that one can’t define “game,” it is more philosophically rich than that. Suits’ discussion is really more an analysis of the meaning of life. The Grasshopper’s main philosophical claim seems to be that in Utopia, all meaning in life would come from some kind of game-playing. By Utopia, he means a state of life where all activity is purely and totally voluntary and no instrumental activity is necessary. Suits argues that the only activities in such a utopia would games (or other forms of play).

I think Suits is wrong here, for several reasons. Without going into detail (I hope to write a long blog fleshing this out), his use of Utopia is irrelevant. The life he imagines here is impossible, and even if it were, such beings living that life would be nothing at all like human beings. So, whatever we might learn about such a utopian life is meaningless for the life human beings live. His accounting of play as “all of those activities which are intrinsically valuable to those who engage in them” is far too broad (This sweeps in things like one’s career) (146). His distinction between instrumentally and intrinsically valuable activities is too constrained and too sharp (it leaves no room for mixed activities or constitutively valuable activities). So while I agree that game-playing and more generally play itself are important, even central, aspects of human life, I disagree that is the only intrinsically valuable (whatever that means) human activity.

My main quibble (and it might be more than a quibble) with Suits’ definition of games is the idea that “the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favor of less efficient means” (54). It is a quibble if by less efficient he really means obstacle-making. I do think all games involve rules that place certain kinds of obstacles for the players to overcome, surmount, or play around. These obstacles often mean that only less efficient means for achieving the goals/ends of the games are available. So my concern is that the focus on efficiencies is non-essential. The essence is obstacle-making, not efficiency reduction–even if these end up being co-extensive. I am not sure they are co-extensive; hence, my concern that this is more than a mere quibble.

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Sports Studies Symposium 2014

A new episode of The Sports Ethicist Show is available!

The 3rd annual Sports Studies Symposium was held April 25, 2014. In this episode, the symposium participants discuss the ideas raised by the papers given at the symposium. In the first part of the episode, Mike Perry and Shawn E. Klein talk with Sean Beckmann and Kevin Schieman about the 10,000 hour rule and what distinguishes sport from other kinds of physical games. In the second part, Shawn E. Klein, Zachary Draves, Huston Ladner, and Carl Robinson discuss the relationship between sport and society, cyborgs, and the value of spectatorship.

Related links:

You can download the podcast here:
http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/the-sports-ethicist-show-sports-studies-symposium-2014/

You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.

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Filed under Conferences, Fitness, games, NASCAR, Philosophy, play, podcast, RadioShow, Sports Ethics, Sports Studies, wrestling

Donald Sterling, Racism, and Liberal Society

Unfortunately the biggest story this weekend and probably the rest of this week is Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers owner, and his alleged racist comments. It is unfortunate in two main ways: (1) it is sad, disappointing, and infuriating that people still cling to such irrational views; and (2) it is sad, disappointing, and infuriating that this story pushes aside some great sports and dominates the news cycle. The first rounds of the NHL and NBA playoffs are going on. I haven’t watched the NBA playoffs, but the NHL games have been amazing. (And some great European football matches too, but those don’t get much coverage anyway).

The Sterling incident certainly is newsworthy and ought to be publicly discussed. While we have come a long way, race is still a problem. Honest and objective public discourse about race is hard to find. There is a lot of hypocrisy and double standards to such conversations. The Sterling incident reminds us both that racism stills exists and that we still have serious difficulties talking about it.

Proper Response

Assuming the recordings of Sterling are authentic, the views expressed should be condemned and criticized. But there is a wider call for action. Many want Sterling suspended, fined, or removed from his ownership position. Some are calling boycotts of the Clipper games. Sponsors have already started to pull out of their relationships with the Clippers.

These are tricky waters. I wouldn’t want to work for or with someone who I knew to hold the views Sterling expressed. If I was Doc Rivers or Chris Paul, I’d probably be scrutinizing my contract for a way out. If I was Adam Silver, I’d be digging through the NBA by-laws to find a way to put some considerable distance between the NBA and Sterling.

At the same time, I worry about the calls for Sterling’s removal from ownership. A flourishing and free society needs freedom of speech and conscience. This doesn’t only apply to the views we think are correct. It applies to offensive and irrational views such as the one’s Sterling appears to believe. It applies to Nazi’s wanting to march in Skokie, IL. It applies to a-holes who picket military funerals with homophobic signs. A society is treading in dangerous waters when it makes certain beliefs either required or forbidden.

The freedom of speech and conscience is not, however, freedom from consequences of one’s views. No one is (or at least ought to be) under any obligation to associate or do business with any one else. One is free to be a bigot, but I am equally free to avoid dealing with that person.

Here in lies the paradox of liberal societies. On one hand, as individuals we are free to associate with whom we want. This includes avoiding associating with those with whom one doesn’t want to deal. On the other hand, as a society we need to protect the freedom of everyone to believe what they want.

Should the NBA do what it can (legally and within its by-laws) to get Sterling out of his position as owner of the Clippers? Probably. Sterling is an embarrassment to the NBA and offensive to most of the audience (of all races) the NBA targets. The other owners probably have no more wish than most of us to do business with Sterling now. At the same time, we need to be careful about treating views that are offensive or otherwise outside of the given norms as sufficient reason for social and economic ostracism.

Update 4/29: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has suspended Sterling for life and fined him 2.5 million dollars.

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Marathon Monday

Every Patriots’ Day, I get nostalgic for Boston. I miss Boston all the time, but so much more on Marathon Monday. I grew up along the route. We used to go down to rt 135, hand out orange slices to the runners, and hang out while listening to bands play on top of the old Long Cadillac building. I used to work near the route and we’d take off in the morning to go and watch in Natick Center. I’ve watching along the route and at the finish line. I even worked on a website project at my old job for the centennial marathon. Like most of my friends, I grew wanting to run the marathon at some point (torn cartilage from playing football put an end to that).

Part of what makes the day so special is that it isn’t just about a world-class marathon. The race is a focal point, but the day means so much more. It is routed in the American Revolution (Patriots’ Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord). It is the start of the spring with the Sox playing their annual matinee game. Most people have off from work or school. It’s a celebration of the city and the region.

Last year didn’t change this. It’s added a somberness and solemnity to be sure, but the core is the same. It remains a celebration but now includes an celebration of the strength and resolve of all the people of this region. With nearly a million spectators and 38000 runners (9000 more than last year), Boston proves that we won’t let anyone change what Marathon Monday and Patriots’ Day means to us.

Boston Strong!

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The Sports Ethicist Show: Boston Breakdown with Joe

A new episode of The Sports Ethicist Show is available!

 Joe Danker and Shawn Klein discuss things Boston sports in this episode of The Sports Ethicist. What defines a successful season? How important is it for the Bruins to get to and win the Stanley Cup this year? Are the Red Sox in a grace period after winning the World Series? Is it wrong for the Celtics to be tanking their season?

Related Links:

You can download the podcast here:

http://www.rockfordcollegeradio.com/the-sports-ethicist-boston-breakdown-with-joe/

You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes.

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Filed under baseball, basketball, Boston, Football, Hockey, podcast, RadioShow, soccer