What Is Sport? A Response to Jim Parry

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 17 (1):34-48 (2022)
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One of the most pressing points in the philosophy of sport is the question of a definition of sport. Approaches towards sport vary based on a paradigm and position of a particular author. This article attempts to analyse and critically evaluates a recent definition of sport presented by Jim Parry in the context of argument that e-sports are not sports. Despite some innovations, his conclusions are in many ways traditional and build on the previous positions. His research, rooted in the conceptual analysis, starts with a stipulation that sport is paradigmatically Olympic sport. He defines it then as an ‘institutionalised, rule-governed contest of human physical skill’ i.e., identifies six necessary elements of sport: human (not animals), physical (not chess), skill (not jogging), contest (not mountaineering), rule-governed (not ‘field sports’), institutionalized (not hula-hooping). Our claim is that this definition, despite its methodological clarity, is not accurate and does not sufficiently represent sport outside the Olympic context. First, to say for something to be a sport it is necessary to be a contest leads to a narrow concept of sport. Secondly, Parry’s account lacks the emphasis on game and play-like structures that are inherently present in sport (even in the Olympic sport), namely non-necessity, non-ordinariness, arbitrariness and gratuitousness. We try to direct the attention precisely on these structures and offer an alternative account of sport understood as a modern ‘hard core’ sport that nevertheless reaches important congruences with Parry’s definition. The originality of this contribution lies in presenting the essential qualities of modern ‘hard core’ sports, which, although sometimes hidden in the modern emphasis on high level performances, competition, and results, play an important role in the question how sport ought to be played and approached.



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Author Profiles

Lukáš Mareš
University of South Bohemia (Czech Republic)
Daniel D. Novotný
University Of South Bohemia

Citations of this work

On the Definition of Sport.Jim Parry - 2022 - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 17 (1):49-57.
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References found in this work

E-sports are Not Sports.Jim Parry - 2018 - Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 13 (1):3-18.
Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport.Bernard Suits - 1988 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15 (1):1-9.
Competition as cooperation.C. Thi Nguyen - 2017 - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 44 (1):123-137.
What is a game?Bernard Suits - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (2):148-156.

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