Vicarious Pain and Genuine Pleasure: Some Reflections on Spectator Transformation of Meaning in Sport

In Heather Sheridan Leslie A. Howe & Keith Thompson (eds.), Sporting Reflections: Some Philosophical Perspectives. Meyer & Meyer Sport (2007)
Ambiguity in the athlete’s perception and description of pain that opens the door to a series of reinterpretations of athletic experience and events that argue the development of an increasingly inauthentic relation to self and others on the part of those who consume performance as third parties (spectators) and ultimately those who produce it first hand (athletes). The insertion of the spectator into the sport situation as a consumer of the athlete’s activity and the preference given to spectator interpretation shift control of meaning away from the athlete and encourage a demand for athlete suffering in aid of the spectator’s own need for meaning. Through discussions of the function of narrative in sport spectacle, the witnessing role of spectators, and the phenomenon of vicarious substitution, I discuss the representation of the athlete as a character ideal and moral exemplar. At a more developed level of external interpretation, the athlete (or team) becomes the champion of the spectator, the role model or focal point of civic pride whose victory asserts the ascendence of my team and town over yours; and finally, the athlete or team is the intentional object of fan identification: my team is me. I conclude that the existential commitment of the spectator as devoted fan is an inauthentic one.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Leslie A. Howe (2007). Play, Performance, and the Docile Athlete. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 (1):47 – 57.
Masami Sekine & Takayuki Hata (2008). Modern Sport as an Opportunity to Form a Sense of Self. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 47:35-43.
S. P. Morris (2012). The Limit of Spectator Interaction. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 6 (1):46-60.
Margrethe Bruun Vaage (2008). Noël Carroll and the Role of Empathy in Fiction Film Engagement. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 1:263-269.
J. S. Russell (2012). The Ideal Fan or Good Fans? Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 6 (1):16-30.
Andy Miah (2012). Genetic Technologies and Sport: The New Ethical Issue. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 28 (1):32-52.
João Tiago Lima (2012). The Competitive Perception. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 6 (1):61-66.

Monthly downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.

Added to index


Total downloads


Recent downloads (6 months)


How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.