Fair Play in Sport: A Moral Norm System

By Sigmund Loland | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Good sport competitions

Play

SPORT: PLAY, WORK OR WAR?

1

In Chapter 3 I looked at what can be adjusted morally right in sport competitions, concentrating on ideas of fairness and justice. However, this is not enough for a comprehensive theory of fair play in sport. When I took up the question of the role of chance and luck, and considered how to choose between different interpretations of athletic performance, I complemented these ideas with others about what constitutes a good competition, not merely a fair one. I shall now look more closely at these matters. How can we formulate action-guiding norms intended to give rise to good competitions?

There are many views of what are the proper or the 'real' norms and values of sport. The powerful amateurist ideology, with norms of a disinterested and non-instrumental attitude at its core, developed historically in the culture of social elites. At first sight, the amateur ethos may seem to be a morally elegant and sophisticated philosophy of life. I am talking here of the ideal of the English gentleman and of 'the joy found in effort', to borrow the formulation used in the statement of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement (IOC 2000b). However, the social and political realities associated with this ideology were harsh. Reading between the lines of the amateur ethos we find a degree of contempt for the customs and attitudes of the lower socio-economic classes. In practice, amateur rules and regulations led to discrimination and the exclusion of people from sport, based on their social status.

A less ideologically repressive view of the values of a non-instrumental attitude is found in what we may call the 'play' tradition. A wide range of historians, psychologists and philosophers, among them Plato (1995), Schiller (1988), Huizinga (1950), Sartre (1995), and Csikszentmihaly (1975), offer a variety of arguments in favour of play. In play we are most truly human; play lies at the heart of culture; moments of play provide experiences of 'deep flow'; play offers existential self-realization. Meier echoes this tradition when he declares:

…I wish to proclaim, to extol, to champion, and to celebrate the cause of

-107-

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Fair Play in Sport: A Moral Norm System
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Editor's Preface ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Sport Competitions 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Moral Point of View 17
  • Chapter 3 - Right Sport Competitions 41
  • Chapter 4 - Good Sport Competitions 107
  • Chapter 5 - Fair Play in Sport Competitions 143
  • Notes 151
  • Bibliography 159
  • Index 167
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