Category Archives: Conferences

Post IAPS Conference Reflections

I recently returned from the IAPS annual conference. This was a special one: the 50th anniversary of the organization. Founded in 1972 as the Philosophic Society for the Study of Sport, it has grown to be the premier philosophy of sport organization in the world. It changed its name to the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS) in 1999 to reflect its international stature. In addition to the standard philosophy panels, there was a wonderful celebration of one of the central founders of the society, the late Warren Fraleigh.

My talk went, I think, really well. I got a lot of great feedback from folks with suggestions for developing the paper further. I was honored to be paired with two great philosophy of sport scholars, Jeff Fry and Nick Dixon. Jeff spoke about free will and Nick about immoral attitudes in sport. Both talks gave me lots to think about.

I chaired a session on ancient philosophy that was really wide-ranging and interesting. The first paper, by Oh-Ryun Kwon and Jeong-Hyo Kim drew some fascinating comparisons between Plato and Confucius on mind-body issues. Breanna McCoy then discussed the interrelations between the concepts of democracy, sport, and philosophy. Lastly, Jenny Schiff examined Aristotle’s virtue of bravery and its application to sport.

I few other highlights:

  • John Russell critique of Suits utopia of games showed many pitfalls in Suits’ otherwise brilliant account of games.
  • Adam Copeland and Tom Rorke examined the idea of athletic citizenship as a way to understand athletic role models. I don’t agree with them, but their paper raises important issues.
  • Mitchell Berman laid out a robust framework for thinking about transgender participation.
  • Jo Morrison and Eric Moore presented some really compelling evidence about placebo performance enhancing that calls into question a lot of the assumptions about PED. In particular, Jo Morrison was exciting to listen to: I’d love to have taken some science classes with her.

There were many other terrific talks, and many more I wished I could have attended.

Next year’s conference is in Split, Croatia. It looks to be another great one; the location is amazing. Alas, it’ll likely be too far and too expensive for me to go. But the year after that is in Nova Scotia, so that is much more doable for me.



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Conference: IAPS 2022 @ Penn State

I will be attending and presenting at the IAPS conference at Penn State in August.

The 49th IAPS 2022 Meeting celebrates the organization’s 50th anniversary. The meeting will be held from Sunday, August 14, 2022 to Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at Penn State University. More info about the conference here.

I am presenting my paper: “Gamesmanship as Discovery Process”

Here’s the abstract:

In her classic article, “Gamesmanship,” Leslie Howe argues that gamesmanship is wrong when it “subverts excellence in favor of wining” (216). She also acknowledges that certain forms of gamesmanship are compatible with the ideals of sports and excellence. Subsequent work on gamesmanship has explored what kinds of gamesmanship fit into this latter category.

In this presentation, I argue that a more permissive view of gamesmanship, of even the subversive type, is important for helping to discover essential features of sport. I will do this through an analogy to entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is often described as a process by which individuals discover information about the needs, desires, or plans of market participants. This information is not known to anyone a priori; it has to be discovered. This entrepreneurial discovery process is one of speculative trial and error, daringness, imagination, and alertness. Acting from a place of imperfect and necessarily incomplete information, entrepreneurial discovery is essential for identifying the kind of knowledge needed for market success.

The entrepreneur is not primarily motivated to act in order to create this knowledge. She is first and foremost looking for profit opportunities. But through the discovery process of searching for and acting on such opportunities, this knowledge about our needs and desires and how to better satisfy them is identified.

By analogy, gamesmanship can also be a discovery process. This process is not, of course, about discovering anything about market participants. Instead, the process helps to discover the meaning of the rules and other central elements of our understanding of sport. It is widely recognized that the meaning, extent, and application of the rules of sport are underdetermined. We cannot foresee every possibility or relevant case. We also never have an authoritative or complete understanding of the underlying principles or norms of the sport. Gamesmanship can help to discover and form this vision.

Through trial and error and imagination, gamers, seeking mainly competitive advantage, push the boundaries of rules, discovering loopholes that were not intended or foreseen. This allows us to reflect: do we like what was done by the gamer? In so doing, we discover new things about the underlying vision, norms, and principles of the sport. More than that, this process helps us to form that vision.

For example, Coach Belichick lines up the running back as a receiver but has him declared ineligible. This confuses the defense and the Patriots score a touchdown. Is this a creative or cynic use of the rules? Is this the way we want NFL offenses to operate? Since the NFL later changed its rules, their answer seems to be no. But we didn’t know that until Belichick’s “artful manipulation of the rules” (Howe 213). His gamesmanship allowed us to discover something new about the rules and the underlying vision of the sport. In this presentation, I will argue that permitting such manipulation is valuable for discovering how to understand and evaluate sport.


Howe, Leslie A. “Gamesmanship.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 31, no. 2, 2004, pp. 212–25.

Johnson, Christopher, and Jason Taylor. “More Than Bullshit: Trash Talk and Other Psychological Tests of Sporting Excellence.Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, vol. 14, no. 1, 2020, pp. 47–61.

Kirzner, Israel M. “Entrepreneurial Discovery and the Competitive Market Process: An Austrian Approach.” Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 35, no. 1, 1997, pp. 60–85.

Morgan, William J. Sport and Moral Conflict: A Conventionalist Theory, Temple University Press, 2020.

Russell, J.S. “Are Rules All an Umpire Has to Work With?” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 26, no. 1, 1999, pp. 27-49.

Simon, Robert L. “Internalism and Internal Values in Sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, vol. 27, no. 1, 2000, pp. 1–16.

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IAPS @ Pacific APA 2022

IAPS is hosting a session at this year’s Pacific APA. The Pacific APA is being held in Vancouver, BC Canada , April 13-16, 2022.

The session is Friday April 15, 2022, 7-9 pm

Chair: Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)


Christopher C. Yorke (Langara College)
“Bernard Suits and the Paradox of the Perfectly Played Game”

Comments by: Jack Bowen (Independent Scholar)

Jeff Fry (Ball State University)
“Is Anyone on First? Sport, Agency, and the Divided Self”

Comments by: Nathanael Pierce (Arizona State University)

More Information about the Pacific APA 2022.

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IAPS 2022: Call for Abstracts

IAPS 2022 is scheduled for August 14-17, 2022. I hope to be there!

Below is the Call for Abstracts that has just gone out to the Philosophy of Sports distribution lists:

Call for Abstracts

International Association for the Philosophy of Sport Conference

August 14 – 17, 2022, Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA

The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport invites the submission of abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 49th annual IAPS meeting and essays for the 2022 R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award. The conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of IAPS and will be held on August 14 – 17, 2022 in State College, PA, USA on the Penn State University campus, co-hosted by Francisco Javier Lopez Frias and Colleen English.

The conference is being planned as an in-person event, though there are plans for virtual components for those who are unable or unwilling to travel. Due to uncertainties about the global COVID-19 pandemic and availability of vaccines, alterations to this plan will happen as necessary and be communicated to attendees at the earliest opportunity.

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.

Deadline for abstract submission is 25 March, 2022. Contributors will be notified about the status of their abstracts by 6 May, 2022.

Proposals for round table and panel discussions, including a tentative list of participants, are also welcome and should be directed towards the IAPS Conference Chair, Emily Ryall (

About IAPS

The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS) is committed to stimulate, encourage, and promote research, scholarship, and teaching in the philosophy of sport and related practices. It publishes the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, which is widely acknowledged as the most respected medium for communicating contemporary philosophic thought with regard to sport. IAPS members are found all over the world and constitute a growing and vibrant international community of scholars and teachers. More information on IAPS can be found at

2021 R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award

IAPS is proud to support the “R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award.” Interested undergraduate and graduate students who will be presenting their paper at the conference should submit a full paper by 25 March, 2022 (in addition to an abstract, both through easy chair, see below).  A separate announcement is posted at the IAPS website ( The selected winner shall present their paper and receive the award at the annual IAPS conference. Previous winners are not eligible to receive this award. Please indicate on your abstract submission if you plan to apply for the essay award and/or student travel grant.

Conference Requirements

All conference presenters shall register for and attend the conference to have their paper included on the conference program. Presenters must also be members of IAPS (either student or full). New members may register for IAPS membership at the following

Abstract Guidelines

IAPS will be using the “Easy Chair” conference management system. Submitted abstracts should be 300-500 words long, in English, and must be received by 25 March 2022. Abstracts MUST follow the template (which can be found here) and include:

  • A brief summary of a philosophical research topic
  • Keywords (three to five)
  • At least three references to relevant scholarly publications that contextualize the topic.

Submission Instructions

To submit an abstract, go to New users for Easy Chair must create an individual account login. Please complete the submission information and upload your abstract.

Social Program

The organizers are planning for a social program throughout the conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of IAPS. Additionally, a pre-conference social program will be arranged.

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Call for Session Proposals: IAPS @ APA 2022

I am seeking proposals for the IAPS affiliated group session at the 2022 Pacific APA. It is set to take place in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 13-16, 2022

I am looking for either a proposal to present a paper or a proposal for a set of thematically connected papers.

Any topic within philosophy of sport is welcomed.

What I need for the proposal:

  • Name and institutional affiliation
  • CV
  • Paper title & short abstract
  • Deadline: Sept 30th, 2021

If you are proposing a theme:

  • Names and institutional affiliations of each participant
  • CVs of each participant
  • Paper titles & short abstracts for each paper as part of the theme.
  • Deadline: Sept 30th, 2021

All presenters will need to be IAPS members. (Joining is easy:

Also, if you are planning on attending the Pacific APA and are willing to provide comments to any of the potential papers, please contact me.

Please send proposals by Sept 30th to Shawn Klein: sklein at


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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)


 “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)


  • Jack Bowen (Independent Scholar)

You can register for the APA:

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CFP: IAPS @ Pacific APA 2020

I am organizing the IAPS meeting at the Pacific APA and I am looking for participants to present or comment.

I like to have a theme. I already have a paper on “fair weather” fandom, so other sports fandom papers/ideas would be great. But other topics are also welcome.

Where: San Francisco, CA

When: April 8–11, 2020

What I need for the proposal:

  • Name and affiliation
  • CV
  • Paper title
  • Paper abstract

Just interested in being a commentator? Send: Name, affiliation, CV

Send to: sklein _at_

Deadline for proposal: Friday October 11, 2019

If you are interested, please let me know ASAP. It’s quick turn around, the deadline for submitting the group request for the program snuck up on me and I need to get the APA the information by Monday October 14.


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IAPS @ Pacific APA: Sport and Admiration

The IAPS meeting at the Pacific APA will focus on Sport and Admiration.  The Pacific APA is being held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, April 17-20, 2019.

Date/Time:  Thursday, April 18, 6 – 8 pm

Chair: Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)


  • Jack Bowen (Menlo School)
  • Kyle Fruh (Stanford University)
  • Tara Smith (University of Texas at Austin)

Abstracts for the talks:

Appreciation of Sport: How the Seemingly Trivial Becomes Essential
Jack Bowen, Menlo School

Sport is considered by some as trivial: athletes spending countless hours honing a skill which only has value in the institution of that particular sport (throwing a ball through a circle, in the case of basketball for example). Though, it is actually becauseof this that sport and the athletes who play it are worthy of our appreciation. Throughout human history and until recently, we have needed to hunt for our own food, fight in various wars and battles and, yet, at a time of great peace and abundance, sport now fills that niche for many of us. Sport provides a venue in which we can show appreciation on various levels: regarding physical accomplishments, moral achievement, and, from there, an appreciation of our own good fortune to even be able to appreciate—which has its own benefits. In doing this, it turns out we may actually need certain mantras in place often dismissed by those who love sport such as, “winning is everything,” and that sport is a matter of “life and death,” and other such hyperbole. In addition, we may need to continue the narrative of athletes as making sacrifices, etc, despite the fact that such assertions fall flat outside of the sports context. In a sense, we’re asking of ourselves and those who participate to maintain a sense of dissonance in order that our appreciation rings true with what we otherwise rightly celebrate and hold dear.

“Moral Achievement, Athletic Achievement, and Appropriate Admiration”
Kyle Fruh, Stanford University
There is a strong presumption that when we respond to moral excellence with admiration, the object of our admiration is virtue. I develop three arguments to show that morally reflective practices of admiring should generally spurn this widely shared presumption about the object of admiration and take instead as their object what I will call moral achievements – discrete, morally remarkable actions – rather than aspects of an agent’s character. In each argument, I draw on an analogy with a domain of non-moral admiration – namely, admiration of athletic achievement. As a rich terrain of admiring responses, sports offer us relatively well-understood distinctions among possible objects of admiration – a particular feat or play, a set of skills, a career, a team, etc. I suggest, in each of the three arguments I develop, that the analogy is instructive for reflective moral admiration. The upshot of the paper is, on the one hand, theoretical, inasmuch as it develops a tension between the conditions governing appropriate admiration and an empirically informed view of the nature of character. But there is also practical upshot, especially in the context of collective, public practices of admiring and honoring, as when we build statues of heroes or name buildings after them

“On a Pedestal—Sport as an Arena for Admiration”
Tara Smith, Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin

In philosophical analyses of the value of sport, a relatively unheralded feature is the opportunity that sport offers for admiration. While we readily salute many of the things that people admire (the amazing catch, the sensational comeback), we do not sufficiently appreciate that admiration itself is a positive good, potentially beneficial to the admirer. At a time when much in the world around us seems distinctly unadmirable and when admiration itself is often dismissed as naïve, athletic achievements and the qualities that propel them present palpable counter-evidence to our darker conclusions.

The paper proceeds in four stages: first, explaining what admiration is; second, identifying the kinds of things that sport distinctly offers to admire; third, demonstrating the value of athletic admiration, tracing how this contributes to a flourishing life through the role-modeling that it offers, the action that it encourages, and the feelings that it fosters; fourth, addressing objections, which serves both to clarify and to fortify its central contention.


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Pacific APA Call for Commentators or Presenters

I will be organizing the IAPS session at the 2019 Pacific APA. It takes place in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, April 17-20, 2019.

I have one paper lined up that looks at the relationship of sport to the value of admiration. If you are interested in commentating on this paper, please contact me.

If you have a paper on some related (broadly construed) topic, please contact me.

If you know you will be at the Pacific APA and are willing to provide comments to any of the potential papers, also, please contact me.



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IAPS: “The Value of Play and the Good Life”

The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport(IAPS) is holding its annual conference in Whistler, BC, Canada, September 6-9, 2017. I will be attending and presenting. The title of my presentation is “The Value of Play and the Good Life”.

Here’s the abstract:

The dominant conception of play in sport philosophy is that it is must be autotelic. This conception, though, is the subject of some important criticisms. Stephen Schmid argues that the concept of autotelicity admits of many interpretations all of which fail to provide a clear and accurate picture of what play is. Randolph Feezell argues for a pluralistic conception of play, calling for us to acknowledge the variety of meanings and usages of play when we theorize about it. This pluralism seems to push back on the idea that play must always be autotelic and non-instrumental. Additionally, it is worth noting that the empirical literature on play focuses primarily on the external and instrumental benefits that play provides.

With these and other criticisms in mind, my paper seeks to move the discussion of play beyond the dichotomy of autotelicity and instrumentality. Even though most theorists acknowledge that players have mixed-motivations, purposes, and goals, there still is a tendency to treat autotelicity and instrumentality as exhausting the options for categorizing play. The underlying implicit assumption is that it must be either autotelic or instrumental: done for its own sake or done for the sake of something else. This assumption ignores or downplays a third possible category: an activity that is chosen for its own sake and at the same time chosen for the sake of something else.

Drawing a parallel to the role virtue and friendship have in a broadly construed (neo-) Aristotelian ethics, I argue that play is an important part of the good human life. Like virtue and friendship, play is chosen both for the sake of its importance to the good life and for its own sake. It is partly constitutive of the good life and thus chosen as part of and for the sake of the good life. At the same time, however, play is chosen for its own sake: for what it is distinct from any further ends it might bring about. Thus, play is not autotelic, but nor is it instrumental.

Recognizing play as a constituent value of the good life will allow us to integrate the internal and external, the autotelic and instrumental, and gain a better understanding of the value of play.

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