Exploring values in sports: These are the questions to ask

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Sport and Values

Sport and Values is the theme for the upcoming 41st Conference on Value Inquiry, to be held at Neumann University April 16-18, 2015. The conference will be co-hosted by the Neumann University Philosophy Department and the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development.

The conference seeks to investigate the many different kinds of values available in sport: physical, psychological, social and political, economic, entertainment, historical, spiritual, aesthetic, ethical, and more!

Since it is a conference on value inquiry, let’s inquire into the basic values in sport…

If you want to develop your physique, would sports be valuable to achieve that goal?

Can sport have psychological value for you as well, in helping to alleviate stress, for example?

Can sport help you make money?

Sport seems to have a great deal of entertainment value. Why is sport so entertaining?

The values we see in sport also seem to be a reflection of the values of our society. Can we look at the history of sport and see our social history, with regard to race and gender, for example? But what exactly is the relationship between sport and society?

Many people claim that sport has profound spiritual value. Can we understand respect, balance, reflection, beauty and play as spiritual values in sports? Are there other spiritual values in sport?

The language of aesthetics seems to apply very easily to athletic performance. Why is that? Sport isn’t art, is it?

Everyone thinks that ethical standards apply to sport as well. But precisely how? How about this: if winning is everything, then that means the end (winning) justifies the means. Does it, though? If not, why not?  Perhaps we wish to reject a consequentialist sports ethic that says the end justifies the means; but if so, then what other kinds of ethic are available to us? How might a duty-centered (deontological) ethic apply to sport? It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game? Virtue ethics would seem to have a good fit with sport, wouldn’t it? Sport builds character, doesn’t it?

Since the values observable in sport can be a reflection of the values in society, perhaps it can be helpful to analyze various social issues in sport as a window or microcosm for engaging with broader value questions about our society. Visit Neumann University’s website to learn more about the 41st Conference on Value Inquiry: Sport and Values and access the official Call for Papers.

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