Reflections on the Presence of Play in University Arts and Athletics

Reason Papers 38 (1):38-50 (2016)
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Recent work has explored the extent to which intercollegiate athletics even belong at the university or meet the university’s mission. Just as play seems evident in athletics, it is also present in music, art, and theater. While these programs are popular targets when discussing possible cuts, few question their legitimacy at the university. In this article I argue that the justification for retaining the extracurricular status of intercollegiate sports should be based on their being especially playful. Indeed, on the basis of this argument, I suggest that universities offer even greater and wider access to sport through club and intramural sports. However, while athletics might appear to be more playful, I hold that there is substantially more play present in university music, art, and theater programs than there is in intercollegiate sports.

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Aaron Harper
West Liberty State College


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