Friday, October 29, 2010

Dombrowski's Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals

I am currently working my way through Daniel Dombrowski's recent book, Contemporary Athletics and Ancient Greek Ideals (U Chicago Pr 2009).  I have finished his chapter on Weiss and am now reading the chapter on Huizinga.  His other major chapter discusses Feezell.  I would be interested in hearing what others have to say about the book, either here or off-blog.  thanks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Should we watch football?

Article in yesterday's NY Times asking that question:

An excerpt:
There are some who believe that taking physical risks in pursuit of a communal goal — and even watching people take risks — has its benefits. “We learn from dangerous activities,” said W. David Solomon, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame and director of its Center for Ethics and Culture. “In life, there are clearly focused goals, with real threats. The best games mirror that. We don’t need to feel bad about not turning away from a game in which serious injuries occur. There are worse things about me than that I enjoy a game that has violence in it. I don’t celebrate injuries or hope for them to happen. That would be a different issue. That’s moral perversion.”
Sean D. Kelly, the chairman of Harvard’s philosophy department, has a book coming out in January, co-authored with the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus of the University of California, Berkeley, that argues for the value of sports in a secular society. “You can experience a kind of spontaneous joy in watching someone perform an extraordinary athletic feat,” he said when we talked last week. “It’s life-affirming. It can expand our sense of what individuals are capable of.”
He believes that it is fine to watch football as long as the gravest injuries are a “side effect” of the game, rather than essential to whatever is good about the game and worth watching.
But what if that’s not the case? What if the brain injuries are so endemic — so resistant to changes in the rules and improvements in equipment — that the more we learn the more menacing the sport will seem? Where will football, and its fans, go from there?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CFP: Football (Soccer) in the Middle East

A call for proposals has gone out for contributions to a special journal issue, and a separate book, on Football (Soccer) in the Middle East. For details, see:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Is Cheerleading a Sport?

In an editorial called "Stuff your pompoms. This isn't sport." British columnist Victoria Coren weighs in on the "is cheer leading a sport?' debate. I like a lot what Coren has to say about feminism. When asked if she was a feminist Coren replied "My first, instinctive reply had taken the question to mean: "Do you believe in equal pay, equal rights and social freedom for all?", but, in 2010, that is surely just another way of asking: "Are you normal or a moron?" But I'm less takem by what she has to say about cheerleaders: "They aren't doing sport. They are waggling their arses near boys who are doing sport." I don't think Coren has watched much modern cheerleading. It looks pretty athletic to me.

Here's a clip from the Rick Mercer Report on the cheerleadering team from The University of Western Ontario. I'm not weighing in on complicated issues regarding funding and equal access for women's sports but the debate can't be solved simply by throwing up your hands and saying the equivalent of "I know sport when I see it and that isn't it." While I do wish that in Western's case the men's and women's uniforms were either equally skimpy or equally not, modern cheerleading is co-ed and VERY athletic.