Monday, November 9, 2009

Criticisms of Philosophy of Sport

In the past year, I've encountered the view that philosophy of sport is not "real philosophy," meaning, I take it, that sport is not a topic worthy of philosophical reflection, or that it is not "philosophically interesting." This got me to thinking that I'd like to read a good defense of philosophy of sport against such charges. However, I've been unable to find an extended defense. So, I'm thinking about writing one, and this post is a call for assistance. I'd like to know any references in print that criticize or dismiss philosophy of sport. I don't think there are many in print, as it is more of an attitude that many hold rather than something they have written about. However, if you're aware of any, please post in comments or email me directly (mikedotaustinatsymbolekudotedu).


Yuval said...

Hi Mike,
Out of curiosity: what is the charge? I heard People sometimes "snub" at the idea of Philosophy of Sports, but I never heard any real criticism (I don't mean sound, but anything resembling a serious charge). Did you? Or are you referring to snubbing?

Mike Austin said...

Primarily it's a snub, or a vague charge as mentioned in the post that it isn't "serious philosophy" or something like that. I suppose a good defense would seek out conditions that such philosophy meets, and show how phil of sport meets it, or criticize the assumptions about what serious philosophy is.

Yuval Eylon said...

The latter strategy seems more promising to me - why on earth can't good philosophy be about sports?
Do you think that other areas of Philosophy are similarly snubbed at?

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Well, I suspect an actual (meaning "final say of") philosophy of sport would kill philosophy. :)

And if you cannot philosophise about sport then there should, by right, also be no philosophising about art and aesthetics.

Because if philosophy is still truly about sophia, then the question of philosophy will always remain that of the problem of "wise judgement".

And sport and art will inevitably have something to say about that.

Griff said...


I actually think there's a veiled criticism of Phil. of Sport right in your own comment: "And if you cannot philosophise about sport then there should, by right, also be no philosophising about art and aesthetics."

A lot of people appear to think that most discussion in phil. of sport is primarily reducible to either aesthetics or ethics. But I think there's a lot more that philosophers could (should?) be discussing. There are some heavy metaphysical and epistemological issues that phil. of sport could be tackling, not to mention the debate about the function of sport itself. I'm inclined to think it's more than just aesthetics!

Javi1345 said...

Hi Mike,
I have some bibliography about this question but mainly from an ethic point of view. For example, "Fair Play" by R.L.Simon, "Ethics in sport" by McNamee.
I have heard that Fraleigh wrote a book about the relationship between sports and philosophy, whose name was "Sport: a philosphical inquiry" but I´m Spanish and I couldn´t find it.

Jim Tantillo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Tantillo said...

perhaps you're thinking of Paul Weiss's book by that name? As the Library Journal review blurb says on the amazon site, Weiss "insists that this ‘is a work in philosophy . . . not in sport.’ "

Javi1345 said...

Hi Jim Tantillo! Actually this is the book I was thinking of, I was wrong with the author and that´s the reason why I couldn´t find it before, now I can buy it.


asepsotic said...


Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts.

When I wrote that comment, I meant sport and art as areas of equivalence; aesthetics as an *aspect* of both.

Sorry I didn't check back soon after so I saw your comment late.

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