Do Sports Have Values?

My most dreaded time of the year is whenever there is a major game taking place, be it FIFA, Olympics, RWC, NFL, NBA, etc. I dreaded these dark times because it is during these times you can play “Spot the collectivist” by looking through Twitter and Facebook:

“I am so proud to be a (insert nationality)”

“We did it!!1!!!!one!!!”

“What a beauty!”

Even most libertarians fall to the hysteria sometimes. To understand if these statements can really be justified, we need to look at the 3 levels of sports:

  1. Individual sports or teamed sports

As the name suggests, an individual sport is focused on a singular player performing certain athletic feat, for example, throwing javelins, triathlon, running, etc. A teamed sport on the other hand require at least 2 people to participate i.e. You can’t perform by yourself, such as basketball, cricket, soccer, etc. individual sports focus on the rational self interest of the individual, which is to be better than the others through indirect competition. Thus the value judgement resides in the goal for the the athlete to overcome his struggle to be better if not the best. Teamed sports require the players to cooperate under the same rational self interest- to win, thus the value judgement resides in how well each individual is able to cooperate to beat the other team.

(Note: sports like tennis, MMA, etc would be classified as individual sports despite needing at least 2 people to participate, if you think of it objectively, they have the same goal of overcoming sturggules to be better).

2.  Sports for profit or sports for achievement

Once you have made the value judgement on the primary level, you need to think about the secondary level. Because each individual perceives the world differently, some may find values in certain sports while others do not care about them (Note: the same in music as Rand described how she didn’t like Elvis but others were perfectly fine to enjoy his music). If enough people care about them, they will certainly make a profit or be sponsored to continue their existence. Therefore we can say the value judgment depends on the people who can financially support them voluntarily. Regarding sports for achievement it is a little different. Most people unfortunately do not care about them therefore they have little commercial values, in saying that, sports for achievement has seen growth in recent times as the athletes utilised media to become “inspirational” and gain the resources to support their passion, such as Ronda Rousey. Again, the value judgment would then depend on if they present the best human potential.

3. Domestic sports or international sports

Personally I find domestic sports to be of little merits as they are usually just teamed sports sponsored by various corporations for profit without ever achieving the greatest human potential, but surprisingly they are usually privately financed thus no one is being harmed through the process and most parties involved get benefits out of the games. Whereas international sports are unfortunately almost always sustained by the State, therefore in watching, say, a rugby game, when you are cheering for the victory, you are really just cheering for yourself being enslaved. In saying that, it could be profitable at times, like how Los Angeles actually made Olympics profitable.

What should be noted is that a good sport team deserves praises for being good, however, cheering for a team solely for the team being from your State is irrational because you are not making value judgement to come to this conclusion. Thus statement 1 should be condemned.

Statement 2 follows the similar collectivist mindset that you should be proud for other people’s achievement. You didn’t do it, the athlete(s) did it, not for you, but for themselves.

The last statement compares aesthetics to sports, now since we know a good art is to represent the best of men in the reality, it can be said the performance or game was beautiful if it has achieved romantic realism. Therefore the final statement may be rational.

Do sports have values? The question is in fact redundant. Sports have value if you can find values in them. The real question is, are the values rational?


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