Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Ethics of Sports


This seminar focuses on the variety of ethical questions that are encountered in the world of sport. Athletes, coaches, sports commentators and fans wrestle with a variety of important issues that deserve careful moral scrutiny. We will ask questions, such as: What is a fair game? Do athletes have a duty to be role models? What is the value of sportsmanship, and what are the vices that come with professional sports? Does money degrade sports? Are college athletes exploited? Is it morally permissible to train people to use violence? What to think of the use of gender categories in sport, and is gender testing ever acceptable? Does sport exacerbate nationalism? Which forms of performance enhancements should be allowed? Should we ban sports that involve severe health risks?

This class should be of interest to athletes and sports enthusiasts alike. It will be structured around small and large group discussions and exercises where students get an opportunity to approach key sports-related issues from an ethical perspective. The lecturer will facilitate the exchange and guide students through a variety of important moral and political concepts (such as fairness, justice, equality, exploitation, virtue, vice, duty, etc.). By the end of the seminar, students will have a good understanding of the various ethical challenges that surround the world of sport. They will be able to offer a well-structured and well-argued ethical analysis of specific sport activities, norms, modes of assessments, and policies (on campus and beyond). They will also be prepared to apply the critical ethical thinking that they will have deployed onto topics other than sports.



Meet the Instructor(s)

Juliana Bidadanure

"I have always been interested in sports. I practiced martial arts for many years, and I have always asked myself about the ethics of self-defense and the responsibility of trainers to ensure their students do not harm others. My training is in ethics and political philosophy, and I am very excited to bring my philosophical expertise to bear on sportive issues. I am also very much hoping to learn from the students about the specific ethical issues that arise in the sports they themselves practice or are interested in. Being French and having lived in England and Italy, I am very curious in particular to learn more about how various ethical problems play out in American sports and competitions."