Wednesday, October 2, 2019

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.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

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.

IAPS Session: 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.

Monday, August 27, 2018

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.



Friday, February 16, 2018

2nd Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

Location and Dates:

Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, October 23-27, 2019


Professor Brian Bolt, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Michigan, US, email:
Professor Chad Carlson, Hope University, Grand Rapids Michigan, US, email:

Sponsoring Institutions:  

Calvin College and Hope College

Conference Administrator:  

Emily Dock 

Link to the website:

Congress Twitter Account: @SportTheology

Friday, February 9, 2018

Negative Soccer, or What's Wrong with Mourinho's Bus?

I'm team-teaching a course in our Honors Program this semester, "The Philosophy & Politics of Soccer." We cover a lot of different issues, but recently we discussed the morality of negative soccer vs. playing beautifully, using two chapters from Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game, edited by Ted Richards.

Consider the different approaches of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. Here are Mourinho's 7 Winning Principles:

1. The game is won by the team who commits fewer errors.
2. Football favours whoever provokes more errors in the opposition.
3. Away from home, instead of trying to be superior to the opposition, it’s better to encourage their mistakes.
4. Whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake.
5. Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake.
6. Whoever has the ball has fear.
7. Whoever does not have it is thereby stronger.

In contrast to this, in John Cross's biography of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's manager is quoted as follows:
“Let’s not forget you can win and lose playing with different styles. I believe the big clubs have a responsibility to win—but also to win with style. I believe our sport has moved forward a lot on the physical side, tactical side but we must not forget the values that it carries through the generations. One of them is the vibe coming out of team going into the stand…I always like to think that the guy who wakes up in the morning after a hard week of work has that moment, that fraction of a second, when he opens his eyes and says: “Oh, today I go to watch my team.” I like to think it makes him happy, he thinks he can maybe see something special. We can’t guarantee that, but we have to try…It’s amazing the effect you can have on people’s lives" (p. xi).
 So what's wrong with negative soccer? According to Stephen Minister in Soccer and Philosophy, it involves an entire team giving up on the pursuit of excellence. Parking the bus, getting stuck in, and taking no risks eliminates or greatly reduces a lot of what is beautiful about the sport. Players and teams are inhibited from freely expressing their creativity.

While I prefer attacking football to parking the bus, I think more can be said in defense of negative tactics. For example, it takes great skill and patience, as well as discipline, to play a defensive game well. Excellence can be demonstrated by neutralizing a team with great attackers. And surely there is something of beauty and excellence in a lethal counterattack. So while at the end of the day I agree with Wenger and Minister, I think more can be said for the excellence on display when a soccer team uses negative tactics.