Sport, tradition and freedom

Burke, Michael (1992) Sport, tradition and freedom. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


"Sport, Tradition and Freedom" entails a philosophical examination of the relationship between traditions of rationality and understandings of freedom in sport. Chapter One introduces the ideas of freedom and virtue. Chapter Two involves a critical and historical exploration of the traditions of conservatism, liberalism and Marxism and the effects that these traditions have had on accounts of freedom in sport. Chapter Three examines the issue of freedom in sport from a social critical-formalist perspective, particularly addressing the influence that the process of commodification in advanced capitalism has had on sport. It also endeavours to suggest that the virtues, as explained by Alisdair Maclntyre, are important to the protection of formal freedom in sport, from the effects of advanced capitalism. Chapter Four examines the link between the modern liberal tradition and the virtue tradition. This link is made via the ideas of self-determination and authentic social unions which both traditions share. This chapter also investigates the influence that these various traditions have had on the framing and solution to issues in sport, using the drug issue as a paradigm case. The conclusion suggests that it may be profitable to explore the rationality of less dominant traditions in society when investigating sport. Inquiry revealed that many traditions of understanding in sport rely heavily on elements from political traditions in society. Freedom in sport has been linked to conservative notions of a craft, to liberal notions of play and the independent individual and to accounts of freedom which support the dominant capitalist institutions of society. The examination by social critical theorists of the freedom of authentic social practices and the location of this freedom in the formal rules of sport, provided an alternative to these previous explanations which had located freedom in either the attitude of the player or the economic institutions of society. On the formalist view of sport, freedom is located in the pursuit of gratuitous difficulty, which the rules of sport make possible. The protection of this freedom from social abrogation involves virtue, the formation of authentic social unions, and judgement in sporting participation. The concluding chapter suggested that the protection of formal freedom and the importance of judgement and "seeing without illusion" in sport is critical to issues such as feminism, professionalism and creativity in sport.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 2203 Philosophy
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Keywords Sports, liberty, freedom, tradition
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