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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Football: A love letter

Stephen Mumford’s short monograph on football(soccer) is a philosophical love letter to the game. His goal is to explain, from a philosophic point of view, why football has such a hold on us. Worldwide, it’s the most popular game and this has given rise to any number of theories of why that is and what that means about the world or about the game. Mumford takes a stab at this by using philosophy to examine the nature of the game itself. 

While I think Mumford does a great job of pulling at these pieces and examining the nature of soccer, I ultimately think the project itself was doomed from the start. I guess that’s because I’m a sport pluralist: much of what he says about soccer can be said about other sports. I love soccer (though clearly not as much as Mumford); I’m just not convinced of soccer exceptionalism. 

But that said, this book is delightful. Mumford takes on the familiar idea of soccer as “the beautiful game” and examines the aesthetics of football and how they relate to the playing of the game itself. I particularly found the chapter on space and how that works in soccer to be one of the most interesting chapters (maybe because much of it was novel to me). The last two chapters, Chance and Victory, explored important philosophical questions about sport and games.

The book is short, 121 pages. There are no footnotes and only short bibliography. The audience of this book is, I think, someone who enjoys sports/soccer and also has a taste for philosophy. That doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to professional philosophers and academics (it appeals to this one); I think it can. It might also be a good book to introduce a more traditional philosopher to the richness of the philosophy of sport.

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Nizkor (We Will Remember)

September 6 is the anniversary of one of the worst days in Olympic history: the 1972 terrorist attack by the PLO terrorist group, Black September, against the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany. On September 5, the Israeli Olympic delegation was taken hostage in the Olympic Village. Two Israels were killed fighting back during the hostage-taking. The next day, the remaining nine Israelis were murdered after a failed attempt at the rescue of the hostages.

Nizkor (We Will Remember):

The names of the Israeli athletes and coaches murdered in 1972 at the Munich Olympic Games:

  • David Mark Berger.
  • Ze’ev Friedman.
  • Yossef Gutfreund.
  • Eliezer Halfin.
  • Yossef Romano.
  • Amitzur Shapira.
  • Kehat Shorr.
  • Mark Slavin.
  • Andre Spitzer.
  • Yakov Springer.
  • Moshe Weinberg.

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Sport and Society

This week in Sports Ethics we look at some questions about the relationship of sport and society. Such questions could encompass a whole course on its own, my focus is more specifically on two main questions:

  1. How has sport influenced society? Specifically, how does it unite people, bringing them together in positive ways? How can it, on the other hand, be divisive and negative?
  2. Assuming sport does impact society and social relations, how should it be (and should it be) used for social goals?

To spur the discussion we watch the documentary The 16th Man about the South African Rugby World Cup in 1995 and we read selections from Jane Leavy’s biography on Sandy Koufax and Jonathan Eig’s Opening Day about Jackie Robinson. We also look at Pam Sailors’ journal article: “Zola Budd and the Political Pawn.

When I first start teaching Sports Ethics, the tone of this discussion was always much more positive. Sport was seen by my students as nearly universally a positive force. More recent instantiations of the class have been more divided (particularly during the peak-Kap era). I am curious how this year will be.

I am excited to rewatch (again) The 16th Man in preparation. It’s a great documentary: it is emotional moving and informative, while also entertaining and compelling. I think the fact that it is focused on South Africa and on rugby, gives my US students some distance that helps think more critically about the questions regarding sport and society. With Koufax and Robinson, since it’s about baseball, it is much more familiar. That helps too, in a different way. The mix of these –with their contrasts and comparisons –helps underscore the ways sport influences society.

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Filed under Arizona State, Classes, Movies, Sports Ethics

Ethics of Running Up The Score on NPR

I spoke with Michel Martin of NPR’s All Things Considered about the ethics of the USA’s 13-0 victory over Thailand at the Women’s World Cup. There was a bit of controversy over the USA ‘running up the score’ as well as celebrating each goal. I defend the US team on both counts, and  argue that neither the scoring nor celebrating was disrespectful to Thailand.

You can listen or read the transcript.

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Sports Ethics (PHI 370) @ ASU

I will be teaching PHI 370: Sports Ethics at ASU in fall 2019.

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 new Sports, Cultures and Ethics Certificate.

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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. SLN#: 90250

Tentative Weekly Reading and Unit Schedule
(subject to change)

Week 1: Course Introduction

Week 2: Philosophy and Sport: What is ‘sport’ and why study it?

  • Heather Reid, “Socrates at the Ballpark” Baseball and Philosophy. Edited by Eric Bronson. Open Court: Chicago, 2004, pp 273-283.

Week 3: Sport and Society: What is and ought to be the social impact of sport?

  • Jonathan Eig, “Some Good Colored Players” Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Simon and Schuster: New York, 2007, pp 26-34.
  • Jane Leavy, “The King of the Jews,” Sandy Koufax. Perennial: New York, 2002, pp 167- 174, 193-4.
  • Pam Sailors, “Zola Budd and the Political Pawn.” FairPlay, Revista de Filosofía, Ética y Derecho del Deporte, vol. 10, 2017.
  • The 16th Man, Dir. Clifford Bestall. ESPN 30 for 30, 2010. Film.

Week 4: What is sportsmanship?

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

Week 5: Is it ethical to run up the score?

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

Week 6: Is it wrong to foul?

  • 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.

Week 7: Is competition moral?

  • Kretchmar, R. Scott. “In Defense of Winning,” Sports Ethics: An Anthology. Ed. By Jan Boxill. Blackwell Publishing, 2003. pp130-135.
  • 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.

Weeks 8 & 9: Violence in Sport: Can fighting or football be justified?

  • 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, 9, No. 1, 2015, pp 32-46.
  • 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.

Weeks 10 & 11: Should performance-enhancing drugs be banned?

  • 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, “Performance enhancement and drug control in sport: ethical considerations,” Sport in Society, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp 313-326.

Week 12: How should sport deal with sex and gender equality? 

  • 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.

Week 13: Should disabled athletes compete against non-disabled athletes?

  • Edwards, S.D. “Should Oscar Pistorius be excluded from the 2008 Olympic Games,” Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 2, No. 2: 112-125.
  • Burkett, Brendan; Mike McNamee & Wolfgang Potthast. “Shifting boundaries in sports technology and disability: equal rights or unfair advantage in the case of Oscar Pistorius?” Disability & Society 26, No. 5, 2011, pp 643-654.

Weeks 14 & 15: What is the role of money in sport?

  • 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.

Week 16: Is being a fan moral?

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

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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Examined Sport: Randolph Feezell, “Sportsmanship and Blowouts”

In this episode of Examined Sport, I look at Randolph Feezell’s “Sportsmanship and Blowouts: Baseball and Beyond.” Published in the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport in 1999, Feezell responds to Nicholas Dixon’s paper on blowouts that was the subject of a previous episode of Examined Sport. Feezell proposes what he calls the Revised Anti-Blowout thesis to better explain the ethics of blowouts.

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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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Examined Sport: Nicholas Dixon, “On Sportsmanship and Running Up the Score”

Published in the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport in 1992, Nicholas Dixon’s paper: “On Sportsmanship and Running up the Score” spurred a discussion on the ethics of wide-margin victories in sport. Dixon argues against what he calls the Anti-Blowout Thesis. Blowouts are not, on his view, always or necessarily unsporting.

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Filed under Examined Sport, podcast, sportsmanship