Fall 2021: Sports Ethics (PHI 370) @ ASU

I will be teaching PHI 370: Sports Ethics at ASU in fall 2021.

For ASU students: Check with your academic advisor, but this course may be used to meet your HU general studies requirement and your general upper-division hours requirement. It may also be used as one of your upper-division electives in both the Philosophy and the Morality, Politics and Law majors, as well as the Ethics Certificate.

This course is also one of the required courses for the Sports, Cultures and Ethics Certificate.

 

Course Description:

A study of moral issues in sports, including but not limited to the nature and application of sportsmanship, the prohibition of performance enhancing drugs, ethical issues in the economics of sports, the role of violence, and fandom.

Prerequisite(s): ENG 102, 105, or 108 with C or better; minimum 25 hours; Credit is allowed for only PHI 370 or PHI 394 (Sports Ethics)

The class is scheduled for T/TH 9-10:15 am on the Tempe campus (COOR 199). SLN#: 91210

Tentative Weekly Reading and Unit Schedule
(subject to change)

Module: Course Introduction

Module: Philosophy and Sport: What is ‘sport’ and why study it?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Carson, Chad. “A Three-Pointer: Revisiting Three Crucial Issues in the “Tricky Triad” of Play, Games, and Sport.” Defining Sport. Edited by Shawn E. Klein. Lexington Books: Maryland, 2017, pp 3-21.
    • Reid, Heather, “Socrates at the Ballpark.” Baseball and Philosophy. Edited by Eric Bronson. Open Court: Chicago, 2004, pp 273-283.

Module: What is Sportsmanship?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Keating, James, “Sportsmanship as a Moral Category,” Ethics 75, No 1, 1964, pp 25-35.
    • Feezell, Randolph, “Sportsmanship,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 13, 1986, pp 1-13.

Module: Is it ethical to run up the score?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Dixon, Nicholas, “On Sportsmanship and ‘Running Up the Score”; Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 19, 1992, pp 1-13.
    • Feezell, Randolph, “Sportmanship and Blowouts: Baseball and Beyond” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 26, 1999, pp 68-78.

Module: Is it wrong to foul?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Fraleigh, Warren. “Intentional rules violations — One more time,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 30, No, 2, 2003, pp 166-176.
    • Simon, Robert. The ethics of strategic fouling: A reply to Fraleigh,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 32, No. 1, 2005, pp 87-95.

Module: Is competition moral?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Kretchmar, R. Scott. “In Defense of Winning,” Sports Ethics: An Anthology. Ed. By Jan Boxill. Blackwell Publishing, 2003. pp. 130-135.
    • Simon, Robert. “The Critique of Competition in Sports,” Fair Play: The Ethics of Sport. 2nd Edition. Westview Press: 2004. Pp 19-35.
    • Kohn, Alfie. “Fun and Fitness w/o Competition,” Women’s Sport & Fitness, July/August 1990.

Module: Are playoffs fair?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Torres, Cesar R., and Peter Hager, “The Desirability of the Season Long Tournament: A Response to Finn,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 38, pp 39-54.
    • Harper, Aaron, “’You’re the best around’: an argument for playoffs and tournaments,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 43, no 2, 2016, pp 295-309

 Module: Should fighting in sport by allowed?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Dixon, Nicholas. “A Moral Critique of Mixed Martial Arts,” Public Affairs Quarterly, Vol 29, No 4, 2015, 365-384.
    • Dixon, Nicholas. “A Critique of Violent Retaliation in Sport,” Journal of Philosophy of Sport, Vol 37, No. 1, 2010, pp 1-10.
    • Zakhem, Abe. “The Virtues of a Good Fight: Assessing the Ethics of Fighting in the National Hockey League,” Sports, Ethics and Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2015, pp 32-46.

Module: Can playing dangerous sports be justified?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Russell, J.S. “The Value of Dangerous Sport,” Journal of Philosophy of Sport, 32, No. 1, 2005, pp 1-19.
    • Findler, Patrick, “Should kids play (American) football?” Journal of Philosophy of Sport, Vol. 42, No. 3, 2015, pp 443-462.
    • Pam Sailors, “Personal Foul: an evaluation of moral status of football,” Journal of Philosophy of Sport, 42, No. 2, 2015, pp 269-286. (focus on pp 269-76)

Module: Should performance-enhancing drugs be banned?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Savulescu, Julian, Roger Crisp, and John Devine, “Oxford Debate: Performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in sport” University of Oxford, 2014.
    • Simon, Robert. “Good competition and drug-enhanced performance,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 11, 1984, pp 6-13.
    • Hemphill, Dennis. “Performance enhancement and drug control in sport: ethical considerations,” Sport in Society, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp 313-326.

Module: How should sport deal with sex and gender equality? 

  • Assigned Readings:
    • English, Jane. “Sex Equality in Sports” Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol 7, No 3, 1978, pp 269-277
    • Sailors, Pam. “Mixed Competition and Mixed Messages.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2014, pp 65–77.

Module: Where should transgender athletes compete?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Coggon, John; Natasha Hammond; and Søren Holm, “Transsexuals in sport – fairness and freedom, regulation and law,” Sports, Ethics and Philosophy, Vol 2, No. 1, 2008, pp 4-17.
    • Gleaves, John and Tim Lehrbach, “Beyond fairness: the ethics of inclusion for transgender and intersex athletes.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol 43, No. 2, 2016, pp 311-326.

Module: What ought to be the social impact of sport?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Eig, Jonathan, “Some Good Colored Players” Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Simon and Schuster: New York, 2007, pp 26-34.
    • Leavy, Jane, “The King of the Jews,” Sandy Koufax. Perennial: New York, 2002, pp 167- 174, 193-4.
    • Sailors, Pam, “Zola Budd and the Political Pawn.” FairPlay, Revista de Filosofía, Ética y Derecho del Deporte, vol. 10, 2017.

Module: What should the role of money be in sport?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Duncan, Albert. “Does A-Rod Deserve So Much Money? Yes” Baseball and Philosophy. Ed. by Eric Bronson. Open Court: Chicago, 2004. pp 297-299.
    • Shuman, Joel. “Does A-Rod Deserve So Much Money? No,” Baseball and Philosophy. Ed. by Eric Bronson. Open Court: Chicago, 2004. pp 300-302.
    • Collins-Cavanaugh, Daniel. “Does the Salary Cap Make the NFL a Fairer League?” Football and Philosophy. Ed. Michael Austin. The University Press of Kentucky, 2008. pp 165-180.
    • Sheehan, Joe. “Salary Cap,” Baseball Prospectus. Feb. 19, 2002.

Module: Is being a fan moral?

  • Assigned Readings:
    • Dixon, Nicholas. “The Ethics of Supporting Sports Teams,” Journal of Applied Philosophy, 18, No. 2, 2001, pp 149-158.
    • Mumford, Stephen, “The Philosophy of Sports Fans,” PhilosophyFile, The University of Nottingham, 2011, video.
    • Aikin, Scott F., “Responsible Sports Spectatorship and the Problem of Fantasy Leagues” International Journal of Applied Philosophy 27, No. 2, 2013, pp 195-206.

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Arizona Legalizes Sport Gambling

Followers of my blog will know that I support the legalization of gambling, including wagering on sports. So I was excited to learn this morning that the governor of my state (Arizona) signed into law a bill that legalizes sports betting. The bill also includes daily fantasy sports and other forms of fantasy sports wagering. This site has a good summary of the legal changes.

Some of my blog posts on sports, gambling, and fantasy:

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Review: Play Ball!: The Rise of Baseball as America’s Pastime

This is a great course. Wonderfully delivered by Bruce Markuson of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the course covers the early years of baseball. From the early beginnings to 1920, the course looks at rules changes, equipment changes, field changes, as well as many of the social and culture changes that impacted baseball. As an overview course, it doesn’t go into as great detail as one might want for some topics, for example, the history of the Negro Leagues. While this is discussed, the history of these leagues is much richer (as admitted by Markuson) than could be covered here.

Markuson examines the different theories of where baseball comes from: the different pre-baseball ball games that were played widely in America and England in the 18th century and how they may have influenced the development of what become known as baseball. He covers how the professional leagues developed in the second half of the 19th century. He discusses how the baseball itself changed the game as the baseball changed. It even goes into how baseball fields themselves changed and developed as baseball evolved (and the changing fields drove some of the changes in the game as well).

If there is one thing you can take away from this course is that Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams was wrong. I love the movie and the speech Mann makes, but he was wrong. He says: “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” Sorry, but the history of baseball shows that it has changed again and again just like America. As America rebuilt and reinvented itself through the decades, baseball has changed right along with it, reflecting America’s greatness and her worst faults.

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Book Review: Big-Time Sports in American Universities by Charles T. Clotfelter

In his Big-Time Sports in American University, Charles Clotfelter aims to do several things: first, demonstrate that commercial sport is one of the core functions of American universities. Second, explore how big-time college sport figures in the outcomes of the university (both of the negative and positive variety). Third, make use of recent data and statistical studies to support the previous two points. Lastly, Clotfelter makes some recommendations for reforms.

The book starts with an examination of how sports fit into the university. The American system of commercial sport within universities is unique and part of what Clotfelter wants to do is sort out why and how we end up with the system we have. This helps set up some of his main questions: why, given the many problems that seem to come with commercialized college sport, do universities keep these programs and seek to grow them? Where do (and do) these programs fit into the mission of the university? His conclusion is that commercial sport play important and crucial roles in the modern American university and these shouldn’t be ignored or downplayed. Part of his diagnosis for some of the problems of big-time sports is precisely because the centrality of college sports has not been fully and honestly acknowledged.

Clotfelter then turns to teasing out the consequences for the university of having college sports. He explores, using some clever statistical studies, the impact that college sports have on the academic outcomes, social and community outcomes, and financial outcomes of the university. Some of these are concerning (the negative impact on academic standards and progress) and some of these are positive (the entertainment and happiness produced for the broad community of fans). But in the end, not much of what he finds is all that surprising but seeing it connected to data helps sort out the various ways high-level commercialized sport can impact the university and what it does.
Lastly, he looks at some possible reforms. Some of these are likely to happen soon(ish) though with unknown consequences (such a name, likeness, and image reform). Others are more radical and unlikely to move beyond the pages of academic works.

One of the more interesting conclusions Clotfelter suggests is that while money drives a lot of what goes on in college sport, it doesn’t seem to be the ultimate end or purpose. That is, what he finds is that university leaders and stakeholders that support big-time college sports are ultimately doing it because they want to win. Money is essential to building successful programs, but the end goal is not profit, it is wins: “Despite the palpable commercial value of college athletics, however, it bears repeating that the primary objective of athletic departments is not to make for its own sake. Rather, it is to produce winning teams, for which money is virtually an ironclad necessity” (153).

I appreciate that Clotfelter walks a balanced line. He is quite critical of many aspects of big-time college sports, but also notes the value it brings to the university and society more generally. He brings forward data to help figure out both the harm and the value so that we can better evaluate college sport, but also to more helpfully target criticism and reform. Those looking for either a morbid focus on salacious scandals or enthusiastic cheerleading of the wonders of college sport will need to look elsewhere.

This is an important and helpful work for those interested in understanding the context of big-time college sports. It is not overly technical or mathematical, but it does rely on statistics and other tools of the social scientist. It’s not a casual, beach read, but it’s not a difficult read either. I could also see pulling specific chapters out for assignment in a course. With a little context, many of them can stand alone. In the final analysis, I do not think one walks away with a clear path to realistic reform or even definitive answers to the main questions about college sports, but the book, just as the title indicates, provides a solid foundation for understanding the relationship of big-time college sports to American universities.

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IAPS @ Pacific APA 2021: Ethics for Sports Fans

The IAPS meeting at the Pacific APA will focus on Ethics for Sports Fans. The Pacific APA is being held remotely, April 5-10, 2021. To attend the session, you will have to register for the APA.

April 6, 3-5 PDT

Chair: Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)

Speakers:

 “A Fair Shake for the Fair-Weather Fan”

  • Kyle Fruh (Duke Kunshan University)
  • Marcus Hedahl (United States Naval Academy)
  • Luke Maring (Northern Arizona University)
  • Nate Olson (California State University, Bakersfield)

“Fanmanship”

  • Jack Bowen (Independent Scholar)

You can register for the APA: https://www.apaonline.org/event/2021pacific

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Surfing and the Philosophy of Sport

I’m thrilled to announce the publication of the newest book in the Studies in Philosophy of Sport Book Series.

Surfing and the Philosophy of Sport uses the insights gained through an analysis of the sport of surfing to explore key questions and discourses within the philosophy of sport. As surfing has been practiced dynamically, since its beginnings as a traditional Polynesian pursuit to its current status as a counter-culture lifestyle and also a highly professionalized and commercialized sport that will be included in the Olympic Games, it presents a unique phenomenon from which to reconsider questions about the nature of sport and its role in a flourishing life and society. Daniel Brennan examines foundational issues about defining sport, sport’s role in conceptualizing the good life, the aesthetic nature of sport, the place of technology in sport, the principles of Olympism and surfing’s embodiment of them, and issues of institutionalized sexism in sport and the effect that might have on athletic performance.

Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1: Surfing and Sport
  • Chapter 2: Waves and Wipeouts in Utopia
  • Chapter 3: Drawing Lines on Waves; surfing and the aesthetics of sport
  • Chapter 4: Making Waves: Surfing and Technology
  • Chapter 5: Surfing’s Olympian Moment
  • Chapter 6: Surfing like a Girl: Sexism in Surf Culture and Feminine Motility

Available now at AmazonLexington, and other book sellers.

Studies in Philosophy of Sport Book Series

Series Editor: Shawn E. Klein, Ph.D. (sklein@asu.edu // sportsethicist@gmail.com )

The Studies in Philosophy of Sport series from Lexington Books encourages scholars from all disciplines to inquire into the nature, importance, and qualities of sport and related activities. The series aims to encourage new voices and methods for the philosophic study of sport while also inspiring established scholars to consider new questions and approaches in this field.

More on the series.

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Outside the Studio: Sports Betting

I had a fun conversation with Matthew Blittner, Daniel Green, and Walt Bonné from the Outside The Studio radio show/podcast on Friday. We talked about how the perception of sports betting has changed over the last few years and what some of ethical implications of the legalization of wagering on sports are.

The podcast is available on Apple, Spotify, and elsewhere: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/outsidethestudio/episodes/2021-02-12T14_21_55-08_00

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You kidding me? Playoffs?

The Washington Football Team ended the 20-21 season with a 7-9 record.  Normally, this means an early start to the off-season. But Washington will host a playoff game. 7-9 was good enough to win the pitiful NFC East this year, and so not only does Washington make the playoffs, they also, as division winners, host the 11-5 Tampa Bay Bucs in the Wild Card Round.

This doesn’t happen too often. The Carolina Panthers won their division and made the playoffs in 2014 with a 7-8-1 record and the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West in 2010 with a 7-9 record. Both went on to win their Wild Card games and lose in the Divisional round. (The strike shortened season in 1982 also had teams with losing records in the playoffs.)

On one hand, there is no basis for an objection. The conditions for qualifying for the playoffs are set prior to the season and a winning record is not a condition for winning the division. The division winners make the postseason and host the game.

On the other hand, this just seems wrong. The postseason is supposed to be a tournament of the best teams in the league to determine the champion. Shouldn’t a winning record be a pre-condition for qualifying? Isn’t this unfair to teams with better records who don’t make the playoffs?

This year is not as egregious as previous years. In 2010 while Seattle hosted a playoff game, the Giants and the Bucs stayed home, both with 10-6 records. In 2014, Philadelphia had a 10-6 record but didn’t make the playoffs. This year, of the teams not making the playoffs, only the Arizona Cardinals have a better record. But at 8-8, they also failed to have a winning record.

Given the way the NFL schedules its games, there is a case to be made for the way the NFL does things regarding the playoff qualifications. If each team played each other at least once, then the Eagles, Bucs, and Giants would have a better case. But with the unbalanced schedules, the divisional structure, and the fact that some teams do not play each other in a given season, what is ‘fair’ here gets very murky very quickly.

Still, I’d favor adding some kind of rule that requires all playoff teams to have winning record (and maybe allow for .500 teams) and only allow a team with a losing record in when no teams with winning records remain. The team with the best record (or tiebreakers) that otherwise didn’t make the playoffs would get the playoff spot instead. The teams would be re-seeded with this newly qualifying team being the lowest seed.

For example, under a rule of this sort, in 2010, Seattle wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Instead the Giants would have qualified (based on tie-breakers). They would have then been the sixth seed.

Maybe this wouldn’t work or would introduce other problems. Still, at the very least, the team with the losing record shouldn’t be able to host the playoff game. That’s just embarrassing.

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Philosophy of Sport: Reading List

This is the reading list for the PHI 394: Philosophy of Sport (Spring 2021).

Defining Sport

  • Bernard Suits, “The Elements of Sport” in Osterhoudt, Robert G. The Philosophy of Sport: a Collection of Original Essays. Springfield, Ill., Thomas, 1973
  • McBride, Frank. “Toward A Non Definition of Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 4–11.

Sport and Play

  • Suits, Bernard. “Words on Play.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 4, 1977, pp. 117–131.
  • Roochnik, David. “Play and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 2, 1975, pp. 36-44.

Sport and Games

  • Suits, Bernard. “Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, 1988, p. 1-10.
  • Meier, Klaus V. “Triad Trickery: Playing With Sport and Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, 1988, pp. 11–30.

Sport and Art

  • Cordner, Christopher. “Differences Between Sport and Art.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 15, no. 1, 1988, pp. 31–47.
  • Kaelin, E. F. “The Well-Played Game: Notes Toward an Aesthetics of Sport.” Quest , vol. 10, no. 1, 1968, pp. 16–29.

Theories of Sport: Formalism

  • D’Agostino, Fred. “The Ethos of Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 8, no. 1, Fall 1981, pp. 7–18.
  • Morgan, William J. “The Logical Incompatibility Thesis and Rules: A Reconsideration of Formalism as an Account of Games.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 1987, pp. 1–20.

Theories of Sport: Broad Internalism/Interpretivism

  • Simon, Robert. “Internalism and Internal Values in Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 27, no. 1, 2000, pp. 1–16.
  • Russell, John.  “Are Rules All an Umpire Has to Work With?” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 26, 1999, pp. 27–49.
  • Dixon, Nicholas. “Canadian Figure Skaters, French Judges, and Realism in Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 30, no 2, 2003, pp. 103–116.

Theories of Sport: Practices and Narratives

  • Brown, W. Miller. “Practices and Prudence.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 1990, pp. 71–84
  • Gleaves, John. “Sport as Meaningful Narratives.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 44, 2017, pp. 29–43.

Theories of Sport: Deep Conventionalism

  • Morgan, William. “Broad Internalism, Deep Conventions, Moral Entrepreneurs, and Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 39, 2012, pp. 65–100.
  • Moore, Eric. “Against Deep Conventionalism.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 45, no. 3, 2018, pp. 228–40.

Concepts of Competition

  • MacRae, Sinclair A. “Competition, Cooperation, and an Adversarial Model of Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 45, no. 1, Mar. 2018, pp. 53–67.
  • Skultety, Steven. “Categories of Competition,” Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, vol. 5, no 4, 2011, pp 433-446.

Officiating Technology

  • Collins, Harry, “The Philosophy of Umpiring and the Introduction of Decision-Aid Technology” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 37, no. 1, 2010, pp. 135-146.
  • Royce, Richard, “Refereeing And Technology–Reflections On Collins’ Proposals” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 39, no. 1, 2012, pp. 53-64.

E-Sports as Sport

  • Hemphill, Dennis, “Cybersport” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 32, no. 1, 2005 pp. 195-207.
  • Gawrysiak, Joey, “E-sport: Video Games as Sport” in Defining Sport, edited by Shawn E. Klein, Lexington Books, 2016, pp 207-221.

Mind and Body

  • Breivik, Gunnar. “Zombie-Like or Superconscious? A Phenomenological and Conceptual Analysis of Consciousness In Elite Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol. 40, no 1, 2013, pp. 1–22.
  • Sheets-Johnstone, Maxine, “Rationality and Caring: An Ontogenetic and Phylogenetic Perspective,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, Vol. 29, no. 2, 2002, pp. 136-148.

Epistemology

  • Steel, Margaret, “What We Know When We Know A Game,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 4, no. 1, 1977, pp. 96-103.
  • Birch, Jens Erling, “Skills – do we really know what kind of knowledge they are?” Sport, ethics and philosophy, Vol.10, no. 3, 2016, pp.237-250

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Book Review: Sport and Moral Conflict

My review of William Morgan’s newest book, Sport and Moral Conflict: A Conventionalist Theory, was posted on the Nordic Sport Science Forum.

William Morgan is one of the leading thinkers in philosophy of sport. He is the author of several books, including widely-used textbooks, and many seminal journal articles. The publication of a new book by Morgan is thus significant. And his newest book, Sport and Moral Conflict, is a significant book: it is a must for any philosopher of sport to have on his or her shelf.

While it can be dense and turgid at times, overall it is intellectually engrossing. It is a book I know I will return again and again for its trenchant analysis and thoughtful insight. Indeed, though I disagree with important aspects of Morgan’s argument, I am already making use of it to supplement my current teaching and writing.

Read the rest: https://idrottsforum.org/klesha_morgan201217/

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