Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 (1):96 – 106 (2007)
|Abstract||Trash talking, which is the North American term for verbal barbs directed at opponents during a sporting event in order to gain a competitive edge, is widely accepted by athletes and the athletic community as a legitimate part of sport. It is, however, morally indefensible. A simple Kantian injunction against treating opponents merely as objects to be overcome is sufficient to condemn this verbal abuse. Attempts to justify trash talking as a strategic ploy that implies no disrespect are disingenuous in view of the fact that its effectiveness depends on opponents' being offended by it. Nor can we defend trash talking as enhancing the goal of athletic competition, since the ability to verbally abuse opponents and remain impervious to their abuse are extraneous to the athletic excellence that contests are designed to measure. Attempts to deflect criticisms by partially immunizing sport from moral scrutiny are implausible. With few exceptions, we judge actions in sport by the same moral standards that we use in any other context. Moreover, the view that neither trash talking nor other actions in sport are fit subjects for strict moral scrutiny is inconsistent with the often-heard claim that sport promotes moral development|
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