In 2010, philosopher Mike Austin (recently interviewed by me here) wrote an article for The Other Journal, “Football, Fame, and Fortune,” which set-off a discussion among friends and associates regarding the connections between football (and sports, in general), virtue, human flourishing, and ethics. Specifically, discussions ensued between Austin and philosophers Matthew Roberts and Jim Spiegel on the matter. For the sake of further discussion, we asked if this discussion could be “formalized” for public attention at the EPS website. We asked Doug Groothuis to contribute (HT: Lenny Esposito) because of his thoughtfulness in this area and he was already writing on the topic at his blog.
Here is a snapshot of the discussion as represented in our Library area:
Matthew Roberts argues that football possesses certain intrinsic bads which are both perpetuated by its extrinsic goods and perpetuate vice in some of its participants. As a means to the inculcation of virtue, football, like most sports, provides ample opportunity. But, other non heavy-contact sports are to be preferred over football when considered as a means to the inculcation of virtue.
In addition to the potential of sports to help build virtue in athletes, there are many other benefits as well. In this piece Spiegel discusses some of these, which are social, aesthetic, and even theological in nature. And he notes how these benefits extend beyond athletes to spectators
Groothuis argues that football is morally objectionable because it is intrinsically violent and thus is conducive to vice in both its players and its fans. By way of contrast, he argues that baseball is only contingently violent, that it is not based on violence, and that it is, as such, a morally superior sport.
Michael Austin consider the points raised by Professors Spiegel, Roberts, and Groothuis concerning the moral, physical, intellectual, and aesthetic value of football in particular, and sports in general. He considers how one might appropriate their points as a fan, participant, and parent of children involved in sports. He argues that there are ways in which the follower of Christ can and should seek to redeem life in the sporting realm.
You can enjoy all of these fine contribution by clicking here.