Play, performance, and the docile athlete

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 1 (1):47 – 57 (2007)
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Abstract
I respond to a hypothetical critique of sport, drawing on primarily post-modernist sources, that would view the high performance athlete in particular as a product of the application of technical disciplines of power and that opposes sport and play as fundamentally antithetical. Through extensive discussion of possible definitions of play, and of performance, I argue that although much of the critique is valid it confuses a method of sport for the whole of it. Play is indeed a noncompellable spontaneity, but one that involves the improvisational transformation of the technical skills of a sport within the context of a dynamic situation. Technique is a condition of heightened play; it does not produce it. This also means that the best play is not undisciplined. Play and sport can exist apart, but both are better combined.
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