Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 August 2013
The majority of – usually moral – problems inherent in elite sport, such as whether athletes should be able to take particular drugs, wear particular clothing, or utilise particular tools, arguably stem from a conceptual one based on faulty logic and competing values. Sport is a human enterprise that represents a multitude of human compulsions, desires and needs; the urge to be competitive, to co-operate, to excel, to develop, to play, to love and be loved, and to find meaning in one's existence. From the perspective of an amateur athlete, this pluralism is possible. When one is involved in athletics at the lower echelons, the values that one holds in relation to sport are fluid and flexible; they are prioritised according to a myriad of other influences that are contingent to a particular situation. As such, the reasons that the general population participate in athletic activities and the values they consequently ascribe to it are complex and wide-ranging and thus fall into the sociological realm. The philosophical problem with value in sport is found at the highest level, the professional platform, where discordant values are espoused, particularly the value of ever increasing quantifiable performance. The athletic events at the Olympic Games are the archetypal manifestation of this Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger) aphorism and yet when taken to its logical conclusion becomes evidently absurd.
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