Category Archives: Sports Studies

CFA: The 10th Anniversary Summit on Communication and Sport

The International Association for Communication and Sport (IACS) is hosting the 10th Summit on Communication and Sport. The Summit is scheduled for March 30 – April 2, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.

They recently sent out the Call for Abstracts for papers and panels. The deadline is October 14, 2016. Information on submission is at the IACS website.

For conference events inquiries, please contact Dr. Jeff Kassing ( or Dr. Lauren Smith (

For conference submission inquiries, please contact Dr. Lauren Smith

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Sports Ethics at ASU Fall 2016

Here are the topics and readings for my Sports Ethics this fall at ASU.

What is Sport?
Reid, “Socrates at the Ballpark”

How can Sport affect Society?
Eig,  Excerpt from Opening Day;
Leavy, Excerpt from Sandy Koufax;
The 16th Man (Video)

What is Sportsmanship?
Keating, “Sportsmanship as a Moral Category”;
Feezell, “Sportsmanship”

Is it ethical to run up the score?
Dixon, “On Sportsmanship and ‘Running Up the Score”;
Feezell, “Sportmanship and Blowouts: Baseball and Beyond”

Is it wrong to foul?
Fraleigh, “Intentional rules violations”;
Simon, “The ethics of strategic fouling”

Is competition moral?
Kretchmar, “In Defense of Winning”;
Simon, “The Critique of Competition in Sports”;
Kohn, “Fun and Fitness w/o competition”

Is violence in sport okay?
Dixon, “A Critique of Violent Retaliation in Sport” ;
Zakhem,  “The Virtues of a Good Fight”

Should football be banned?
Russell,  “The Value of Dangerous Sport” ;
Sailors,  “Personal Foul: an evaluation of moral status of football”

Should PEDs be banned?
Savulescu and Devine, Oxford Debate: PED;
Simon,”Good competition and drug-enhanced performance”;
Hemphill, “Performance enhancement and drug control in sport ethical considerations”

What is the role of money in sport?
Duncan, “Does A-Rod Deserve So Much Money? Yes!”;
Shuman, “Does A-Rod Deserve So Much Money? No!”;
Collins, “Does the Salary Cap Make the NFL a Fairer League?”;
Sheehan, “Salary Cap”;

Is it ethical to be a sports fan?
Dixon, “The Ethics of supporting sports teams”;
The Philosophy of Sports Fan by Stephen Mumford (videos);
Aikin, “Responsible Sports Spectatorship and the Problem of Fantasy Leagues”

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Filed under Arizona State, Classes, Sports Ethics, Sports Studies

Teaching Economics of Sports: The Big Leagues

From time to time I invite colleagues to write a guest post for The Sports Ethicist. In this post, I asked my ASU colleauge, Brian Goegan, to write about a model he uses for teaching “Economics of Sports”. Brian is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the 
Department of Economics here at ASU and uses this fantasy-like game to teach the his students about the economics of sports. If you are an ASU student and interested in sports, you should look into taking this course (as well as my Sports Ethics course).

The Big Leagues

Sports provide an endless number of great examples that can be used in the economics classroom, and countless teachers have drawn on them for a wide range of courses and topics. But for a class on the Economics of Sports, I thought I’d try making the example the lesson. In fact, I have built a syllabus which revolves almost entirely around an elaborate simulation of the sporting world which I call The Big Leagues.

In my section of 68 students, we have organized into 30 teams, each owned by a group of two of three students. In their groups, students must manage their franchise, making decisions about where to locate, how big and how nice their stadium should to be, what strategy to take to win games, what prices to set, and what coach to hire. As a league, students must also grapple with a Players Association and vote on the rules which will govern their league. All the while, they need to manage their books, and make sure they end the game with enough profit to buy their grade for this portion of the class.

By acting as the owners, students end up experiencing the lessons they’d learn from a Sports Economics class first hand. Leagues collude to keep player salaries down, and are combated by the players’ union that threatens to strike. When the league is dominated by one or two teams, and matches are no longer competitive, fan interest (and TV revenue) declines. My game also allows owners to dope their players in secret, boosting their performance at the risk of being found out, and each semester I get to see an institution deal with the fan and media wrath after a huge swath of players get caught, voting to impose fines and punishments on each other. They also have to work through complicated formulas and gut instinct to figure out what the profit maximizing prices for their tickets and luxury boxes are, the bread and butter of any good economics class.

The list of complexities goes on and on. Stadiums degrade, players develop across seasons, owners choose actions which influence both of those things, players have ‘suits’ which have combination effects when put on a team with other players, teams can field substitute players, different general managers and different coaches enhance different strategies both for profits and for wins, and contracts with players can include different clauses that give the teams different options down the road. The rulebook for The Big Leagues is 21 pages long, but as one of my students put it recently, “the more you play the smaller the game gets.” In other words, it is a lot easier to understand that it sounds. To make sure they get all the lessons the game has to teach, I devote about 50% of my class time to it. The other 50% is devoted to linking up their choices and outcomes in the game to the real world.

Given its complexity and startup costs, I wouldn’t expect a lot of instructors to adopt the game. And that isn’t even mentioning all of the spreadsheet maintenance and troubleshooting needed to keep the game running from season to season. What I can report though is its effectiveness. Like the proverbial frog in boiling water, little economic lessons are incrementally imparted with every decision the students make in the game, and they barely realize how much they’ve learned until I point it out to them. And given my discipline’s disinterest in finding alternatives to the lecture-based format, they also find it to be a refreshing change of pace.

If you would like to learn more about The Big Leagues, please feel free to contact me at

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Filed under Arizona State, economics, Fantasy, games, Sports Studies

PHI 394: Sports Ethics (Fall 2016)

SportsEthicsFall2016After having taught Sports Ethics at Rockford University for many years, I’m bringing Sports Ethics to ASU this Fall.

PHI 394: Sports Ethics

A study of moral issues in sports, including, but not limited to, the value of sport, the nature of sportsmanship, the prohibition of performance-enhancing drugs, the value of fandom, the social effects of sport, and the role of danger and violence in sport.

The class will meet Tuesdays/Thursdays 10:30 – 11:45 am.

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IAPS at APA: Defining Sport

This year’s IAPS session at the Central APA meeting in Chicago is featuring three papers that tackle issues in defining the concept of ‘sport’. I hope to see you there!

Time: Saturday, March 5: 12:15–2:15 p.m

Topic: Defining Sport

Chair: Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)


  • Chad Carlson (Hope College) “A Three-Pointer: Revisiting Three Crucial Issues in the ‘Tricky Triad’ of Play, Games, and Sport”
  • Francisco Javier López Frías (Pennsylvania State University) “Broad Internalism and Interpretation: A Plurality of Interpretivist Approaches”
  • Kevin Schieman (United States Military Academy) “Hopscotch Dreams: Rectifying Our Conceptual Understanding of Sport with Its Cultural Significance” (Cancelled)

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Aaron Harper on Playoffs

One goal of my work is to promote and develop the field of philosophy of sport. This informs why I organized the Sport Studies Symposiums at Rockford University and continue to organize panels for IAPS at the APA. It is also part of why I write this blog, do a podcast (on hiatus currently), and tweet. It is a great pleasure to see a colleague whose work in its early form was presented in one of these avenues be published on a major platform.

The most recent case of this is Aaron Harper’s new publication: “”You’re the best around”: an argument for playoffs and tournaments” in the latest issue of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport. Aaron criticizes the arguments in the literature critical of the value of playoffs and offers a defense of what he calls Championship Pluralism. This is the view that there are multiple worthwhile ways of determining and deciding the best team or player.

Aaron presented an earlier version of this paper at the Central APA IAPS meeting in 2015. He and I also discussed the issues raised by his paper in a podcast in 2014. All the credit for this achievement is Aaron’s, but I am glad to have helped Aaron in a small way to develop his work from an idea to a publication.

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The University of Iowa has announced a search for a lecturer in Sport Studies. I thought some of my readers might be interested.

The University of Iowa is seeking a sport studies scholar for a three-year renewable lectureship teaching in the sport studies curriculum of the Department of American Studies. The position is effective August 17, 2016.

The teaching load is four undergraduate courses each semester; teaching assignments might include Inequality in American Sport; Women, Sport and Culture; Sport in America after 1900; and Race and Ethnicity in Sport. Teaching in the summer session for additional salary is also a possibility. Some undergraduate advising will be expected.

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Philosophy of Sport: CFA/P

Conference CFA:

International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS)

The 44th IAPS conference will be held September 20-24, 2016 in Olympia, Greece sponsored by Fonte Aretusa and hosted at the International Olympic Academy. The deadline for the CFA is March 31, 2016.  More info.

British Philosophy of Sport Association (BPSA)

The annual BPSA conference will be held April 4 – 6, 2016 at the University of Brighton, School of Sport and Service Management in Brighton, England. The deadline for the CFA is January 25, 2016. More info.

Journal Call For Papers:

Reason Papers: Philosophy of Play

Reason Papers is soliciting contributions for a Spring 2016 symposium on normative issues in play. We invite submissions that explore the nature of play; its developmental importance; and its role in human lives, values, and societies. We are also interested in explorations of the relationship between play and other human activities (such as other recreational activities, education, or work), structured vs. unstructured play, and children’s play vs. adult play.  Submissions are due by February 1, 2016.

CFP: Communication and Sport

This is a call for manuscripts for the C&S journal: “C&S publishes research and critical analysis from diverse disciplinary and theoretical perspectives to advance understanding of communication phenomena in the varied contexts through which sport touches individuals, society, and culture. “

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Filed under CFP, IAPS, Philosophy, play, Site Announcements, Sports Studies

CFP: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

Call for Book Proposals for new series: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

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.

The series encourages scholars new to the philosophy of sport to bring their expertise to this growing field. These new voices bring innovative methods and different questions to the standard issues in the philosophy of sport. Well-trodden topics in the literature will be reexamined with fresh takes and new questions and issues will be explored to advance the field beyond traditional positions.

Proposal Information

The series publishes both monographs and edited volumes. The “philosophy of sport” should be construed broadly to include many different methodological approaches, historical traditions, and academic disciplines. I am especially interested in proposals from scholars new to the discipline of philosophy of sport (either because they are from a discipline other than philosophy or they are philosophers new to the study of sport). Click here for proposal guidelines.

If you have an idea for a book but are not ready to submit a complete proposal at this time, please still email me ( to discuss your idea.

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The Sports Ethics Show: Sport Studies Symposium 2015

The 4th annual Sport Studies Symposium was held April 24, 2015. 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 Matt Adamson, Stephen Mosher, and Synthia Syndor about the nature of sport studies,its past, and its future. In the second part, Shawn and Mike talk with Aaron Harper, Stephanie Quinn, and Zach Smith about legal realism and sport, sport in the ancient world, and theology of sport.

Show Links:

Listen to this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes: iTunes Subscribe


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Filed under ancient, Conferences, law, play, podcast, rockford university, Sports Studies, theology