What Does a Professional Athlete Deserve?

Prolegomena 13 (1):5-20 (2014)
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In this paper I sketch a possible answer to the question of what professional athletes deserve for their sporting activities. I take two different backgrounds into account. First, the content and meaning of desert is highly debated within political philosophy and many theorists are sceptical if it has any value for social justice. On the other hand sport is often understood as a meritocracy, in which all prizes or wins should be solely awarded based on merit. I will distinguish three possible goods that can be deserved for doing professional sport – money, social status and appreciation – and show that athletes deserve them according to their achievements and that this justifies certain inequalities in their distribution. These legitimate disparities have nevertheless been embedded within a broader framework of social justice, which limits them based on a strong understanding of social equality.
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