The Philosophy of Sports


Sports are a group of activities in which participants strive to achieve a particular result by participating in physical events, such as running, throwing, jumping, or kicking. Sport is often governed by rules, which serve to ensure fair competition and allow consistent adjudication of the winner.

The nature of Sports (and the social values they convey) has been the subject of much philosophical debate. For instance, some philosophers argue that sport is art and that athletes can be admired for their achievements without allegiance to any specific team or athlete.

On the other hand, some philosophers claim that sport is a partisan activity and that spectators derive aesthetic pleasure from virtuoso performances by elite sportspeople regardless of which team they support. This view of sport has led to a debate over whether our fascination with and admiration of elite sportspeople is morally defensible.

In terms of the philosophical theories that have been developed, there are generally two main types: ‘externalist’ and ‘internalist’ theories. Externalist philosophers, like those of the Marxist or structuralist school, tend to understand sport in terms of larger social processes.

On the other hand, internalist philosophers argue that sport is a practice with its own distinctive value and internal logic. By focusing on the values and purposes of sport, internalist accounts uncover the core principles that underlie it.