Morgan, the ‘Gratuitous’ Logic of Sport, and the Art of Self-Imposed Constraints
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSport, Ethics and Philosophy. 2018, 12, 348-360. 10.1080/17511321.2018.1493530
Sport occupies a significant role in modern society and has a wide following. In his Leftist Theories of Sport (LTS), Morgan examines what he considers to be a degradation of modern sport and the lack of proper critical theory to address this challenge. In the latter part of LTS, Morgan presents a reconstructed critical theory with ‘a liberal twist’ in terms of an analysis of what he sees as the internal ‘gratuitous’ logic of sport, and a call for critical deliberation in sporting practice communities. I depart from Morgan’s ideas of the ‘gratuitous’ logic of sport which, I believe, has significant potential and operative force. I interpret the logic of sport as forms of self-imposed constraints at three levels: in the logic of the rules, in norms for fair play, and in a particular interpretation of sporting excellence as a form of human excellence. Using the practical case of performance-enhancing drugs, I demonstrate how this interpretation can exert operative power. I conclude by pointing to the internal ‘gratuitous’ logic of sport as cultivating what Goethe classically defined as a sign of mastery: the art of limitation and self-imposed constraints.
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