Published: Sept. 27, 2018

Alex Wolf-Root

Alexander Wolf-Root, creator of the course (Photo: Matthias Steup)

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce a new course on Philosophy and Sports (PHIL 2240), which is debuting this semester, Fall 2018. Alex Wolf-Root, a 5th year PhD student in philosophy, proposed the course, and is now teaching it with a group of 34 students, most of whom have never previously taken a philosophy course. The course grew from his own philosophical interests – his dissertation is on conceptual issues in sports and games – as well as his personal passion of athletics (Track & Field).

The course starts by examining conceptual issues in sport, including the nature of sport, sportspersonship, and cheating, before moving to four units of applied issues: doping, collegiate athletics, sex & gender, and sport & society. Questions include:

  • Doping: What is doping? Is it always wrong? What are the ethical concerns with anti-doping?
  • College Athletics: Why connect academics and athletics? Are college athletes exploited? How is the relationship of athletics with racism, sexism, and sexual assault justified?
  • Sex & Gender: Who is a woman for the purpose of sport? What are the ethical concerns around cheerleaders? Should we treat men’s sport different from women’s?
  • Sports & Society: Can and should sport be separate from politics? Is the relationship between nationalism, militarism, and sport problematic? Is it ethical to be a sports fan?

Two sections of PHIL 2240 are scheduled for Spring 2019. It fulfills the University’s Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences distribution requirement, and can be applied to the philosophy minor and major.