Category Archives: Sports Studies

Book Review: Philosophy, Sport, and the Pandemic

My review of Philosophy, Sport, and the Pandemic, edited by Jeffrey Fry and Andrew Edgar, was published on the Nordic Sport Science Forum.

There are some excellent chapters in this new anthology on sport and the pandemic, but my overall assessment of the volume is mixed. There are some issues with it that prevent me from recommending this work without qualification.

Read the review:


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Call for Abstracts | 50th International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (Split, Croatia)

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The International Association for the Philosophy of Sport invites the submission of abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 50th annual IAPS meeting and essays for the 2023 R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award. The conference will be jointly hosted by the University of Zagreb and University of Split in Split, Croatia and organised by Professor Matija Škerbić and his team.

The conference will be primarily in person but there will be opportunity for some online presentations as well as recorded Keynotes available to watch remotely.

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 27 March, 2023. Contributors will be notified about the status of their abstracts by 5 May, 2023.

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

2023 R. Scott Kretchmar Student Essay Award

IAPS is proud to announce the ninth edition of 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 of 2800-3000 words by 27 March, 2023 (in addition to an abstract, both through easy chair, see below) and notify the Conference Chair by email (  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 (if you wish to present remotely, please indicate this on your abstract) 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 27 March 2023. Abstracts MUST follow the template ( 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. Please note on your abstract if you wish to submit remotely otherwise it will be assumed that you wish to present in person.

Social Program

The organizers are planning for a social program throughout the conference and a pre-conference social program will also be arranged. More details will follow in the newsletter and conference updates.

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New Book: Sport Realism: A Law Inspired Theory of Sport

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

Sport Realism CoverIn Sport Realism: A Law-Inspired Theory of Sport, Aaron Harper defends a new theory of sport—sport realism—to show how rules, traditions, and officiating decisions define the way sport is played. He argues that sport realism, broadly inspired by elements of legal realism, best explains how players, coaches, officials, and fans participate in sport. It accepts that decisions in sport will derive from a variety of reasons and influences, which are taken into account by participants who aim to predict how officials will make future rulings.

Harper extends this theoretical work to normative topics, applying sport realist analysis to numerous philosophical debates and ethical dilemmas in sport. Later chapters include investigations into rules disputes, strategic fouls, replay, and makeup calls, as well as the issue of cheating in sport. The numerous examples and case studies throughout the book provide a wide-ranging and illuminating study of sport, ranging from professional sports to pick-up games.

Table of Contents:

  • Chapter 1: Interpretivism
  • Chapter 2: Hard Cases for Interpretivism
  • Chapter 3: Legal Realism and Sport Realism
  • Chapter 4: Cheating
  • Chapter 5: Sport Realism and Ethics

About the Author:

Available now at AmazonLexington, and other book sellers.

Studies in Philosophy of Sport Book Series

Series Editor: Shawn E. Klein, Ph.D. ( // )

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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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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Sport as Humanity

Two story lines getting attention in the sporting world are Novak Djokovic’s deportation from Australia prior to the Australian Open and the recent legal changes to COVID vaccine requirements in France that seem likely to impact the Champions League.

I’ve resisted writing about sport and vaccine mandates or related topics. Partly this is because I am always reticent to step into (overly) politicized topics (see my An Argument against Athletes as Political Role Models for more on why). But mainly it’s because it is not really about sport. It’s about health, it’s about policy, it’s about the limit and role of government. It is not about sport as such.

But there is an angle I think worth looking at. COVID-19 has affected all of us, throughout the globe. Certainly, some much more significantly than others, but everyone has been touched by it. And from very early on in the pandemic, sport has been a focal point (and a flashpoint).

It was the cancellation of sporting events in March 2020 that signaled to the wider public the seriousness of this new illness. It was the return to play that offered a mix of hope and trepidation. As sports came back, there were questions about testing: who should be tested? How often? What do the test means? Then as the vaccines become available: who should get vaccinated? When? And how should an athlete’s vaccination status affect testing, playing, quarantining, etc. And now we see many sport leagues revising their COVID related polices to reflect the shift to the impending endemic nature of the virus. Some view this as some kind of surrender and a path towards greater illness, while many others see the need to adapt the norms and rules that we live by to reflect the reality that the virus is here to stay.

Each of these questions raised in regard to sport are the very same questions and concerns throughout society. Should we cancel schools? How should we deal with testing in schools?  Should vaccines be mandated in school children, college students? And how do schools adapt (should schools adapt) to a future with endemic COVID? Or switch to any industry. Or to religious institutions. To restaurants and movie theaters. And so on throughout society. These same questions and concerns are raised in each and ever one of these domains.

But sport is not just another domain, one among thousands, that is dealing with all these issues. Sport is the closest thing we have to something universal. Not everyone has a kid in school or attends religious services. Almost no one pays attention to what is going in industries beyond their own. Few people pay attention to policy fights on the municipal level. But almost everyone, everywhere in the world, cares about sport in some fashion. It could be as fans. It could be as parents with children in youth sports. It could be as a player at any level, from pick-up games to the pros. Our (near) universal interest in sport makes it impossible to ignore these questions.

To be clear: I’m not at all suggesting that sport is leading the way or that we should take the policies of sport and apply them writ large or use them as guidance in our lives. My point is that sport carries with it, exposes and reflects all the major trends, issues, topics, concerns, etc. of society. The pandemic has highlighted that to a degree I am not sure we have seen before. However, we can see the same thing in race relations, in gender issues, in drug policies, in parenting, in governance, in questions of access and opportunity, and so many other areas.  It is hard to come up with some societal issue that doesn’t find its way into a sporting context.

Why and how is sport so interwoven with our lives? There are many philosophical, psychological, and sociological reasons why this might be.

Let me just suggest one path. Sport is fundamentally about the pursuit of goals and the development of personal and social excellences to strive for and achieve those goals. And since sport is embodied, it requires, more or less, our whole being: our mental, physical, emotional processes and skills are united in sport. Sport does this in a repeatable, yet limited, context such that we can focus in on, analyze, and thoroughly examine each aspect of these skills and means towards the goals. In this way, it essentializes and concretizes what is so central to being human: we are goal-directed beings who have to develop habits, characters, relationships, and norms of conduct to achieve our goals and flourish. We only have one life to do this in: and hopefully it takes many, many decades to pan out. Sport, though, allows us to experience, in a stylized way, the whole of life in 90 minutes; and to then do it again the next day.

This is in part what makes philosophy of sport (and the study of sport more generally) so important. Sport shows us humanity. To study sport is to study human beings; how we live and interact with each other: what we strive for, what we love, what we hate, and what we are.


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CFP: College Sports and Ethics

This is an open call for College Sports and Ethics, an edited collection to be published as part of Lexington Books’ Studies in the Philosophy of Sport series.

This new anthology, edited by Chad Carlson and Shawn E. Klein, focuses on foundational ethical issues in college sports, including the fit of intercollegiate sports with the university and the question of professionalism. It will also tackle several important ethical topics that pertain particularly to college sports, such as athletes’ rights and recruitment. This edited collection brings together top scholars of sport to examine college sports and analyze the important ethical issues in college sport. We invite you to submit a proposal to contribute as well.

There are many possible topics to focus on and we are open to almost any topic so long as it directly addresses a normative issue within intercollegiate athletics. We are looking for papers that focus on the particular ways an issue affects or arises in college sports specifically.

Topics of particular interest or need:

  • Athlete mental health
  • Academic concerns in connection to athletics
  • Recruitment of athletes
  • Religious issues impacting college athletics
  • Team names/mascots
  • Spectatorship/fandom

These suggestions are not exhaustive and we welcome proposals on many other topics as well. Feel free to reach out to us before abstract submission to discuss a possible topic.

To contribute, please email the following:

  • An abstract (300-500 words)
  • A CV
  • Submit as a PDF
  • Email by Nov 1, 2021
  • Email: and/or

We will notify contributors of acceptance no later than January 2022, and look for manuscripts to be submitted by May 1, 2022. All contributions will go through peer-review. We are expecting publication in early 2023.

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CFP: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

This is an active and ongoing call for proposals for the Studies in Philosophy of Sport series from Lexington Books.

This series 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.

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.

A few possible topic ideas:

  • A deep analysis of one of the central concepts or theories in philosophy of sport.
    • Internalism, conventionalism, mutualism, etc.
    • Fouls and rules
    • Technology and its philosophical implications
    • Competition
    • Sportsmanship
  • Epistemological issues in sport: can sport teach us anything about how and what we know?
  • Metaphysical issues in sport: mind/body, personal identity, time, etc.
  • Application of contemporary approaches to philosophy to sport.
  • Look at a specific sport (rugby, tennis, gymnastics, etc.) and examine what philosophy can tell us about that sport and/or what that sport can teach us about philosophy.
  • Philosophical/ethical issues in the Olympics, college athletics, or youth sports.
  • Adaption of dissertation to a monograph.

Proposal Information

Review the proposal guidelines.

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 happy to discuss topics before a formal proposal is submitted. Just email me and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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McNamee Student Essay Prize in the Philosophy of Sport

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For questions or inquires please contact BPSA (contact info below)

McNamee Student Essay Prize in the Philosophy of Sport

Sponsored by Routledge / Taylor & Francis

The British Philosophy of Sport Association (BPSA) invites submissions for the McNamee Student Essay Prize in the Philosophy of Sport. The Prize is named in honour of Prof. Mike McNamee (Swansea and KU Leuven), founder of the BPSA, and it is kindly sponsored by Routledge / Taylor & Francis.


Winner – £500 cash + £50 Routledge voucher

Runner-up – £200 cash + £50 Routledge voucher

Commendations x 3 – each of the three commended essays will receive £100 cash + £50 Routledge voucher

The Winner and Runner-up will be invited to present their essays at a BPSA online work-in-progress seminar in November ’21.

Essay Format

2500 words (including footnotes / endnotes but excluding works cited) on any topic in the Philosophy of Sport.

To become acquainted with topics considered in the Philosophy of Sport, please consult the Association’s journal Sport, Ethics and Philosophy:


Candidates must be enrolled in a full-time university undergraduate or graduate level course on 1 September ’21. Submissions must be single-authored and the candidate’s own work, and they must address an issue in the Philosophy of Sport. Each candidate may submit one essay only and submissions must be in English. There is no geographical restriction on eligibility.


In assessing submitted papers, the jury will place a strong emphasis on the following considerations:

  • Originality of the essay topic and its treatment;
  • Analytical rigour of the essay’s argument;
  • Critical engagement with relevant philosophical literature, including relevant work in the Philosophy of Sport.

Candidates will not receive feedback on their submission. The jury reserves the right not to award a prize if submissions fail to achieve an appropriate standard. The decision of the jury is final.

To Enter

Submissions should be emailed in Word or PDF format to with subject line ‘BPSA Essay Prize’
Candidates should submit two separate documents:

  1. Cover sheet that includes the candidate’s information (i.e. name, email address, university, and essay title); and
  2. Essay document that is anonymised so as not to reveal the identity of the candidate.


September 1st, 2021

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Examined Sport: Nicholas Dixon, “Boxing, Paternalism, and Legal Moralism”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I discuss Nicholas Dixon’s “Boxing, Paternalism, and Legal Moralism” published in Social Theory and Practice in April 2001. While Dixon is not the first to address moral questions about the sport of boxing, this paper is important because Dixon focuses on what he calls pre-emptive paternalism as the basis for restrictions on boxing. This conception of paternalism has since been influential in the philosophy of sport on a wide range of issues from doping to banning of American football.

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Examined Sport: Scott Kretchmar, “From Test to Contest: An Analysis of Two Kinds of Counterpoint in Sport”

After a long hiatus, Examined Sport is back! Look for new episodes every two weeks.

In this episode of Examined Sport, I discuss Scott Kretchmar’s “From Test to Contest: An Analysis of Two Kinds of Counterpoint in Sport” published in the Journal of Philosophy of Sport in 1975. One of the foundational papers of the discipline, Kretchmar examines the distinction between tests and contests. The paper introduces several ideas that are influential on Kretchmar’s later work and on other thinkers in the field.

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