On competing against oneself, or 'I need to get a different voice in my head'

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 2 (3):353 – 366 (2008)


In a recent paper, Kevin Krein argues that the notion of self-competition is misplaced in adventure sports and of only limited application altogether, for two main reasons: (i) the need for a consistent and repeatable measure of performance; and (ii) the requirement of multiple competitors. Moreover, where an individual is engaged in a sport in which the primary feature with which they are engaged is a natural one, Krein argues that the more accurate description of their activity is not 'competition', but an attempt at harmonious interaction. I raise a number of problems against both criteria and argue that traditional and adventure sports do both involve self-competition on at least two levels: bettering one's previous performance and resisting the desire to quit. I argue that self-reflexive competition is not so much with one's self (which is philosophically absurd), but within one's self, between conflicting motivations and desires. I explore what is involved in self-reflexive competition, particularly at a phenomenological, self-constituting level, and raise the question of whether it is appropriate for activity in wilder natural environments

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Author's Profile

Leslie A. Howe
University of Saskatchewan

References found in this work

Nature and Risk in Adventure Sports.Kevin Krein - 2007 - In M. J. McNamee (ed.), Philosophy, Risk, and Adventure Sports. London ;Routledge. pp. 80.
Record Sports: An Ecological Critique and a Reconstruction.Sigmund Loland - 2001 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 28 (2):127-139.
Opponents, Contestants, and Competitors: The Dialectic of Sport.Drew A. Hyland - 1984 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 11 (1):63-70.
Self and Pretence: Playing with Identity.Leslie A. Howe - 2008 - Journal of Social Philosophy 39 (4):564-582.

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Citations of this work

Not Everything is a Contest: Sport, Nature Sport, and Friluftsliv.Leslie A. Howe - 2019 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 46 (3):437-453.
What Is Sport? A Response to Jim Parry.Lukáš Mareš & Daniel D. Novotný - forthcoming - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy:1-15.
A Phenomenology of Competition.Scott Kretchmar - 2014 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 41 (1):21-37.
Reflections on Competition and Nature Sports.Kevin Krein - 2015 - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 9 (3):271-286.

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