Recently, we've seen several contributions to the philosophy of sport literature from philosophers who made their names elsewhere. Three cases in point are Michael Sandel's The Case Against Perfection, Gumbrecht's In Praise of Athletic Beauty, and most recently, Colin McGinn's Sport. I always experience keen anticipation as I order, open up, and begin to read such books. The excitement comes, I suppose, from knowing the excellent work that such individuals have produced in the past and the expectation that their analyses will enlighten me in exceptional ways. Invariably, however, I end up disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were unreasonable.
One factor, however, that seems to be a constant in such first-time volumes is a lack of background research by the author. Well-known, mainline philosophers who choose to turn their attention to sport for the first time, in other words, rarely do their homework. They do not bother to see what has already been written on the topic. They do not properly cite authors who made identical (and very well-known) claims years ago. From all indications, they are not even aware of the scholarly journals that exist in the area. When they offer recommendations for future reading, their suggestions are typically pathetic.
Of course, from this it does not necessarily follow that their work is not at all worthy. Indeed, there are parts of the aforementioned books that are quite good. But this practice is bothersome. It is bothersome because it would seem that a first step for any scientist who comes upon what is, for that person, a new problem is one of finding out what is already known about that very issue.
Thus, a question: Does any philosopher who is entering a new arena have an obligation to do some homework before putting his or her name to a publication? Is that a reasonable expectation or not?