Philosophy of Sport

Sports can be traced way back—even before Babe Ruth⚾️ batted in his first free throw in the third Super Bowl—to ancient history. All the way back to ancient Greece, when Socrates constructed his “ideal city” in The Republic, ensuring rigorous and universal physical education was a huge part of it. He called it “gymnastics” 🤸🏿‍♀️, though, and honestly, he was probably right; the ideal city is just everyone being Simone Biles.

First and foremost, philosophy of sport tries to figure out what sports even are. Everyone seems to agree that a bunch of guys running around with a ball means sports. But, what about cheerleading? Is it the physical exertion that makes something a sport? What about chess? Is strategy and competition what makes something a sport? Does the fact that the yo-yo emoji 🪀 is right smack dab in the middle of the other sportsball emojis indicate that yo-yoing is a sport? (It’s a well-known philosophical truth that emojis are really the ultimate decider in cases like this.) If you ask any cheerleaders, and even some chess players, there’s a pretty good chance that they have some pretty strong feelings about these kinds of things. There are so many questions to ask whether it regards youth sports, how many teams to root for, or what it really means to be ethical in entertainment sports. These topics only break the surface as to what the philosophy of sport could take a stance  🤺 on. So, whether you play, yo-yo, or just want to sit on the sidelines, philosophy of sport can get everyone in on the action.

Key Texts


  • What is Sport?

    The Sports Ethicists


Want to Know More?

Questions to Think About

  • What makes something a sport?

  • Is violence entertaining? If so, is this morally right?

  • Is there a right or wrong way to be a sports fan?

  • What makes sports fair?

  • Is competition a good thing?

  • Are sports about character development or entertainment?

Key Thinkers

  • Dr. Drew Hyland

  • Dr. Jeffrey Fry

  • Lao Tzu

“Drew, Chris, Will and John” by cplong11 is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

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