Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.

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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?

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

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 or contact Dr. Shawn Klein at


Filed under Boxing, Conferences, Fitness, NASCAR, Rockford College, Site Announcements, Sports Studies