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Sport as Education: Between Dignity and Human Rights

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Abstract

The main topic of this study is the relationship between sport and dignity. By taking a pedagogical perspective, we will analyze whether sport, understood as human and educational practice, expresses human dignity and human rights, as stated in the Olympic Charter as well as in many declarations and documents of United Nations and the Council of Europe. Everybody has the right to health, social inclusion, and leisure: this is the reason why the above mentioned international organizations regard sport, which is always referred to as healthy and ludic activity, as a key means to promote the fundamental rights and dignity of people as human beings and citizens. Nevertheless, we will argue that the way in which we conceive sport in our society is at odds with the goal of turning it into real inclusive practice. For this reason, we need to critically rethink sport in order to avoid the presence of the so-called “hiddencurriculum”in the discourse that conceives of sport as a human right linked to the concept of human dignity. In this study, we will use a deconstructionist methodological approach. Our main conclusion will be that sport can be better rethought from a social, inclusive, and educational perspective, rather than from a merely rhetorical one. From such an inclusive standpoint, sport can play a fundamental role to promote both contemporary human rights education and human dignity.
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com
1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.060
ScienceDirect
7th World Conference on Educational Sciences, (WCES-2015), 05-07 February 2015, Novotel
Athens Convention Center, Athens, Greece
Sport as Education: Between Dignity and Human Rights
Emanuele Isidori
a
, Mirca Benetton
b
*
a
University of Rome "Foro Italico", Piazza L. De Bosis, 15, Rome 00135, Italy
b
University of Padua, Via Beato Pellegrino, 28, Padua 35137, Italy
Abstract
The main topic of this study is the relationship between sport and dignity. By taking a pedagogical perspective, we will analyze
whether sport, understood as human and educational practice, expresses human dignity and human rights, as stated in the
Olympic Charter as well as in many declarations and documents of United Nations and the Council of Europe. Everybody has the
right to health, social inclusion, and leisure: this is the reason why the above mentioned international organizations regard sport,
w
hich is always referred to as healthy and ludic activity, as a key means to promote the fundamental rights and dignity of people
as human beings and citizens. Nevertheless, we will argue that the way in which we conceive sport in our society is at odds with
the goal of turning it into real inclusive practice. For this reason, we need to critically rethink sport in order to avoid the presence
of the so-called “hidden curriculum” in the discourse that conceives of sport as a human right linked to the concept of human
di
gnity. In this study, we will use a deconstructionist methodological approach. Our main conclusion will be that sport can be
better rethought from a social, inclusive, and educational perspective, rather than from a merely rhetorical one. From such an
inclusive standpoint, sport can play a fundamental role to promote both contemporary human rights education and human dignity.
© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
Keywords: Sport; Education: Dignity; Pedagogy; Human rights
1. Introduction
Sport is a phenomenon resulting from human actions; it is a c
ultural construct which refers to a certain
anthropological and axiological conception of the human being. Sporting behavior deals not just with athletes who
practice sport, but also with all those persons who train and educate such sportspeople. It could be said, thus, that
* Mirca Benetton. Tel.: +0039-049-827-1746; fax: +0039-049-827-4719.
E-mail address: mirca.benetton@unipd.it
© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
687
Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
both of them, sportspeople and educators, are engaged in and participate in sports at different levels and various
ways.
As a human cultural construct, sport can only be underst
ood, both as a whole and as a specific educational
feature, by reflecting upon its relationship with people’s dignity and, thereafter, with the benefits that human beings
can derive from such a social practice in terms of their personal fulfillment. Sport thus conceived becomes a tool to
lifelong learning, and can be seen as a possibility to self-improvement throughout the course of the life of every
h
uman being. Therefore, sport, as a whole, does not represent just an exclusive expression of the biological and
physical potential of individuals, but rather a set of complex and systemic features, which are relational, social, and
moral, and emerge from our commonly shared human nature.
If we want sport to become a positive value, we should n
ot overlook its inseparable link with human dignity. For
this reason, we must analyze the pair of concepts “sport” and “human dignity” in a separate way, and after that, try
to grasp their inseparable connection in their three-sided relationship with education, focusing on the concept of
pers
on as both nature and culture, and heart of sport. Human dignity, as a universal value, does not refer to specific
qualities or skills belonging to the subject; but rather it primarily refers to her or his being a woman or a man and, as
such, to being bearer of values and, therefore, of rights. These values and rights must be fostered by education. To
have dignity means to have the possibility and opportunity to take the path of humanization in the many forms in
w
hich it manifests itself , which is also expressed by an autonomous act
ing, and by making a decision with
responsibility and freedom (Rosen, 2012; Kateb, 2011).
The principle of human dignity, moreover, has been well expressed by Kant’s categorical imperative, which
ref
ers to the act of always treating the person as an end in
her/himself and not as a mere means. Worthy behavior is
that which makes dignity manifest. The term “dignity” derives from the root *dek,
from which the Latin verb decet
comes, and it means “to suit”, “to agree”, “to convene”. The verb “to convene” implies a mutual recognition
bet
ween two subjects who perceive themselves as similar and appreciate each other (Chionna, 2007). As a result,
worthy behavior is able not only to better show this sign of humanity each person embodies and declines in her/his
subjectivity, but also to get into a “moral relationship” with the other, and to be recognized as a person.
This way of understanding human dignity, however, req
uires careful interpretation and historical
contextualization as well. These are especially necessary in our time and its morality, which seems to neglect the
based on-existential-dignity component of the subject. When this hap
pens, respect and the taking care of the person
show themselves in a limited way (Sennett, 2003), hindering the realization of the abovementioned Kantian
imperative.
From this follows that, in spite of realizing his or her potential to self-determination with dignity, those
in
dividuals who are to achieve the main objectives of their life can experience specific circumstances where self-
awareness and moral dignity are wanting. The mutual recog
nition of our human identity by both the self and the
other can therefore be influenced negatively and develop in distorted ways. For this reason, personal emancipation
could socially express itself as an exasperated search of celebrity, of hyper-competition, of a wide egoistic
m
anifestation of its own being, and of what is excessive and sensational as well (Bodei, 2013). Human dignity, and
the same can be said about sport and its meaning horizons, cannot be regarded as fully developed when one
proclaims its universality; it requires a commitment and awareness so that it can be preserved and fulfilled. It should
be made clear the way in which its values can be promoted and put into practice.
2. For a shared dignity in sport
People are always subject to a set of relationships; their
dignity takes shape in the variety of circumstances
through which it is configured. Sport is one of such circumstances; sport is an action that is inherently related to
human beings’ essence as an expression of creativity, of originality, and of psychological and physical balance.
Sport has, therefore, both an ontological nature, on the basis of which, as De Coubertin taught, practicing it can be
recognized as a universal human right, and a socio-historical development. In reference to the various international
charters of
rights, sport is recognized as a means to protect human life, its well-being and, last but not least, human
dig
nity. For this reason, one should think of sport, fundamentally, as a practice related to freedom and to the care
and enjoyment of one’s own body.
Sport, conceived of in its original form, contains an impli
cit education. As education is specifically intended at
preserving human dignity and to perfect it, being a learning opportunity for the person (Arnold, 1997), sport allows
people to gain self-control, to express themselves in a creative way, to acqu
ire a certain order of mind, to try certain
688 Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
virtues such as justice and honesty, and to challenge life as a learning experience by highlighting the importance of
both courage and humility. Sport allows women and men to manifest themselves as “social animals”, to test their
plasticity and adaptive behaviors in an ethical sense. By moving their own body, men and women show and
demonstrate the possibilities they have to use and to live their bodies: the more they do it, the more their human
dig
nity is developed.
The ambiguity that characterizes sport in its educational es
sence also emerges when one wonders whether sport is
really universally assumed in a educational sense, thereby contributing to “worthy” human behavior, or, in its
historicizing and taking root in social space, sport is conceived of as a means aimed at other goals than contributing
to the process of humanization (Isidori & Reid, 2011).
Sport can actually develop as a dehumanizing practice when it becomes part of show business society. This
com
modified way to understand sport undermines human dignity in many ways. For instance, players are exploited
for mere advertising purposes. By following a mercantilist logic, they are bought and sold as if they were mere
objects or things (Redeker, 2002), even at a very young age. Moreover, sport is detrimental to human dignity when
it takes all the lifetime of sportspeople and does not give them any possibility to attain other forms of personal
fulfillment.
Sport can also reveal itself as a false socializing tool when it pu
ts together crowds of spectators and supporters
who offend and insult teams, athletes, hosting cities, etc. In so doing, sport undermines human dignity. Sport can
also alter the relationship between right and wrong when it is based on the concept of victory as strength and
dominance over others, and as winning at any cost, also by acting on the naturalness of the performance (doping)
(Palmer, 2009). In so doing, not only respect and protection for persons and their health fail, but also fair play and
morality (Kosiewicz, Obodyński, 2003).
To be clear, it is necessary to think of sport and its edu
cational values by using a methodological approach based
on a hermeneutic-deconstructive method aimed at both investigating its
deeper meaning (Isidori, 2012), and at
increasing the possibility to use sport as a tool for enhancing human dignity.
It is of fundamental importance to focus on a philosophi
cal interpretation of sport that foster its educational
potential (that is to say, humanizing) (Reid, 2012). The athlete-philosopher or, more broadly speaking, sportspeople
co
uld use sports as means to get to know themselves as persons, and to take responsibility for their actions towards
themselves, others and their own sport. In so doing, they will defend and protect the values of sport, of their
community, and those upon which human dignity is conferred (Farinelli, 2005).
In this study, we are using the term “sport” in a broad sense, that is, referring to not just as a bodily game played
w
ithin a competition or contest, but also as a synonym of a ludic physical activity whose main aim is to enhance
human life. This is an important task, since we are convinced that the discourse on sport as a human right is often a
simple and ambiguous statement that hides the presence of both discrimination and exclusion instead of social
in
clusion. We will discuss all these issues by trying to answer the following questions: Does really sport express
human dignity? Is it sport a human right? Does sport really promote social inclusion? How can sport become an
inclusive practice?
3. Does really sport express human dignity?
The first question, does sport really e
xpress human dignity?, is linked to the question: what does dignity mean?
Dignity derives from the Latin word “dignus” which is linked to decet, a v
erb connected to the Greek term
prepon”, w
hich means “décor” and “honor”. “Decet” is tied to the concept of doxa, which refers to fame,
honourableness, and reputation. Reputation and honourableness are conferred when the others respect, esteem, and
tak
e us into consideration for our merits. These concepts are at the very basis of dignity and of the Roman term
potestas”.
Dignitas (which is the Latin word for “dignity”), as decor, it express
ed physical beauty and moral dignity. In the
ancient world, dignus was the one who gained respect, reputation, appreciation
, excellence, esteem, fame (which the
ancient Greeks called doxa) and honourableness by abiding by the moral rules of his society. For ancient Greeks, the
word “axion” summed up this concept. This is important to remark, because we have inherited the concept of
dignity as a category of ethics and aesthetics which expresses both moral and social quality from the ancient
Greek
s and Romans. For us, dignity is a quality that belongs to every person as a human being who lives in a
democratic society.
To be clear, sport and human dignity are deeply interconnected
. If we analyze and reflect upon the concept of
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Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
dignity, we can argue that sport as such illustrates human dignity. Sport conceived of as a human practice expresses
and sums up the aesthetic and moral values found in the concept of dignity, as can be seen in its educational and
social function. Dignity cannot be thought of without sport and vice versa. To put it clear, dignity is the point of
departure and arrival of sport regarded as a social and pedagogical practice rooted in freedom.
As we have shown before, sport is linked to the concepts “pr
epon”, “doxa”, and “axion”, that is, to a set of
ethical and aesthetic values that should always be conceived of as a whole. We, the moderns, still regard sport as a
human practice that relates to the beauty of both the body and our actions when they become moral actions on the
basis of respect for the rules. Winning or participating in a competition (value which was introduced by de
Coubertin in his ethical account of sport) by respecting the rules, it gives the person doxa, honour, and glory; these
are the main prize for the athlete. Doxa is gained if one abides by the rules through ethically and morally sound
action
s in games and competitions. Doxa is conferred by merit and by winning a competition according to the rules.
Sport makes us worthy of winning and deserving a prize,
worthy of the freedom that we all have as human
beings, as illustrated, for example, by the right to participate. It also makes us worthy of being considered honest,
worthy of being trusted by others (who become “your people”, “your community”), and worthy of being considered
as an example and valuable. This is how dignity relates to the concept of sport as beauty, glory, and merit. Dignity
is, as stated before, the starting point and the end of sport.
Axion is an ancient concept that sport shares with democracy
as well (only the worthiest can take part in a
competition, and have chance to win) (Miller, 2000; Musti, 1995). Coubertin knew this. This is the reason why for
him sport expressed and synthesized the concept of democracy. For de Coubertin, sport is an educational tool that
promotes values which confer merit and social recognition. He dreamed about achieving a more just and equitable
society through playing and competing under the rules and sharing the common good expressed by sport as a human
practice: this society is the so called “sport republic”.
Following both ancient Greeks’ and De Coubertin’s thought, sport makes us worthy by providing us with a
chance to be better. Sport, theref
ore, has the potential to promote human dignity. This possibility is open to everyone
who is free. There is no dignity and no reason for conceiving sport as a human practice without freedom. Sport is a
means by which we express our humanity, our aspiration to be more than a mere material body. Sport, as a
possibility for human beings to express their essence, is both an inalienable right and prerogative of the person.
Sport is a human right as well as a practice of freedom that political s
ystems have to promote, develop, and protect
as a common and shared good of humanity (Schurmann, 2012).
4. Is it sport a human right?
According to the Olympic Charter and
many declarations and documents of the United Nations and the European
Union, sport is a human right. Everybody has the right to health, social inclusion, and leisure: this is the reason why
the above mentioned international organizations look at sport, which always implies both a healthy practice and
ludic activity, as a key means to promote the fundamental rights of people as human beings and citizens. As a
human right, sport should be promoted and developed in such a way that the most number of people can practice it
in everyday life in the best possible way. The IOC, th
e United Nations and the European Commission always
emphasize that sport is connected with the level of development of a society or a country.
As sport is both culture and education as well as a practice affected by them, people’s involvement in sport is the
in
dicator of the level of social inclusion and well-being achieved in a given community. In order to attain a set of
criteria to critically
measure the communities’ level of social development, humankind formulated the declaration of
human rights, which can be divided into four different generations. We state that sport is a human practice belonging
to w
hat we call thefourth” generation of human rights. Many European Union declarations and the Universal
Declaration
of Human Rights, for example, support this idea of sport as a human right. From all these documents
emerge the idea that sport is, in all respects, a human right. Some statements within the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, for instance, claim and recognize the right to rest, leisure, and leisure worldwide.
Sport is a human right that meets specific needs of the
human beings who lives within our contemporary and
complex societies; it contributes to human beings’ fulfillment as persons and citizens. From this point of view, we
could say that sport as a right belongs to the fourth-generation of human rights. Freedom belongs to the first-
generation of human rights (among which we fin
d the civil and political ones). The second-generation of rights is
structured around the concept of equality (economic, cultural and social rights). Within the third-generation of
h
uman rights there is solidarity (that is the collective rights). This third-generation of rights is mostly a set of
690 Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
environmental rights (i.e. sustainable development), and they are generally still in the form of loosely binding laws,
such as the Rio and Stockholm declarations.
Lastly, there is the fourth-generation human rights which are positive and h
ave yet to be defined from a
philosophical point of view. The main purpose of these four-generation human rights is to put into practice the
ab
ove mentioned three other generations of rights. The fourth-generation human rights meet the new needs and
req
uirements dictated by the current social changes (including the technological one) taking place in the
contemporary world. Among these rights should be included the right to recreation, leisure, and tourism.
Sport as a human practice, therefore, f
alls into this fourth-generation rights. Sport is a right; this should be the
starting point of sport education, which should start from the philosophical assumption affirming that sport is a
human activity that sums up in itself all the human rights. This is so because sport is, first of all, body, movement,
and play/game. Its nature implies a bodily dimension that is connected with health and well-being, as well as with
th
e biological and psycho-social dimension of every human being.
5. Does sport really promote social inclusion?
Sport is a human activity related to health and wellness that, if properly developed, can inculcate bodily and
psy
cho-social values (that is habits) in people by helping them
improve their lives and existences as human beings
and by allowing them to live a better social and communitarian life. This is the reason why sport is tied up with
concepts like education, development, and social inclusion; the three very concepts that structure the rights we have
mentioned before. Education is a tool that helps sport promote its intrinsic values, which are global and public goods
for the benefit of humanity. But sport in itself is nothing because it is not a “good” in itself, but rather a “good” in
“perspective”. To be clear, it is always the social context of sport (the social and educational agencies) which
ensures that the mixed values of this practice do not degenerate into negative values, but rather turn into pure values.
The context determines the perception (which should always be both pedagogical and educational because they are
aimed at the development of the person and his/her spiritual enrichment) of the nature of sport in its different forms.
We could say that sport, per
se, is not a pure value (i.e. it does not generate communitarian or social values), but
a mixed one. It is always the educational perspective on this practice that makes it such a value and enables it to
generate other fundamental values for the human being. To state that sport is a value and promotes values is only a
rhetorical discourse without any sense from a philosophical and social standpoint. From the philosophy of sport
education point of view, the concept of sport is very similar to the Greek concept “pharmakon”, whose several
meanings range from “poison” to “remedy”, “antidote”, and “cure”. To be clear, sport is a pharmakon because it can
be “
good” or “bad” and “good” and “evil” in sport always coexist (as th
e French Philosopher Derrida has argued)
and its being “good” or “bad” depends upon the context w
ithin is interpreted (and promoted) (Isidori, 2014).
This means that the several meanings
of sport can never be attributed a priori but in the hic et nunc (here and
now) of its context. Sport is, therefore, not a positive nor a negative concept as such (a healthy or an unhealthy
practice, for example), but rather it can be positive or negative depending upon the context of its interpretation and
of its being put into practice. Sport is always an ambivalent and ambiguous concept which always implies some
risks (both physical and moral) for the person, and her/his own life and body.
This is the reason why the philosophy of sport education h
ighlights not just the importance of educating people to
be responsible in sport and taking notice of all the risks and benefits this practice always implies, but it also
emphasizes the need for helping people decide, after a careful evaluation, if playing sports is “good” or “bad” (we
could say “poisonous” or “remedial”) for them and their existence and life experience as human beings. Educators,
physical education teachers, coaches, and people working within sport organizations are those who promote sport as
a set of human values. This promotion always implies responsibility and engagement. Conceiving of sport as a
phármakon implies going beyond the mere rhetoric that often characterizes sport as a h
ealthy and inclusive practice
able to promote human beings’ development.
6. How can sport become an
inclusive practice?
From a philosophical point of view and in a critical perspective, we should reflect upon the relationship between
s
port and development, wondering what the meaning of “development” is i
n relation with sport in a global and
capitalistic society. Philosophical analyses like these ones can
help us identify and dismantle some ambiguous
discourses and statements on sport, regarded as a human right and indicator of social development, defended by the
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Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
above mentioned agencies that try to promote sport as a healthy, inclusive, and peaceful human practice (Kreft,
2014). Their discourse on sport as a human right, in fact, is often just a simple and ambiguous statement that hides,
instead, the presence of a discourse that implies discrimination and exclusion rather than social inclusion.
From a philosophical and ethical point of view, the kind of sport prom
oted by sport organizations is neither
inclusive nor healthy (under a bodily and psychological dimension). Sport as promoted by international sport
agencies and education system should be hermeneutically and critically rethought in order to weaken the ideologies,
prejudices, stereotypes and forms of discriminations it implies (Bale & Christensen, 2004). Using philosophy as a
h
ermeneutical tool, we should rethink the fundamental structure of sport as conceived in contemporary society. We
h
ave identified here some points that should be critically analyzed in order to change contemporary sport into an
inclusive and healthy practice in accordance with the fundamental principals of human ethics, or the ethics of person
(Isidori, Maulini, & López Frias, 2013).
1) Competitive sport should not be engaged in by nations. W
e have seen how concepts such as “homeland” and
“nation”, born with the birth of our modern society, have no longer meaning in light of the postmodern and post-
Enlightenment society within we live. In the name of God, f
atherland, and nation, men have fought, and are still
fighting, the worst and most destructive and fratricidal wars, which have destroyed civilizations and perpetuated
aberrant crimes and violence. These are the concepts that generate the worst violence among fans who perceive
themselves as both adversaries and enemies. The idea of nations, still present in contemporary sports, brings us back
to the big nationalistic battles of the wars that have caused so much destruction in the history of Europe and of the
world.
2) The concept of sport conceived of as a practice divided by
gender, ethnicity, or race (or religion) should be
rejected. Nowadays, sport can generate dangerous speeches about race and racism (through discourse about genetic
predispositions to sporting success or failure of athletes based on their membership in certain ethnic groups). Sport
is a physical and cultural practice influenced by numerous cultural, educational, social, psychological, and historical
factors; the differences among ethnic groups cannot be regarded as so influential in sport and physical activity to
justify any form of discrimination.
3) International sport agencies and organizatio
ns should recognize the diversity of cultures, of the sports, and of
their intrinsic cultural values (all sports are an expression of human creativity and are equal in dignity), and use the
multicultural nature of sport as a tool and resource for the inclusion of developing policies and plans to achieve this
g
oal.
4) One should not have a contra-(op)positive conception of sport but a confron
tational one. The opponent is not an
ad-versus, a person
that is hostile and against me, but a con-versus, a friend, another human being with whom I
converse and with whom I aspire to a common purpose, which is playing the same play/game and respecting the
same rules.
5) One should take aware that violence in play and sport is al
ways an expression of strong categories (the winning
and losing). The concept of victory never has to be conceived as an expression of power and destruction of the other
person.
6) One should look at the pleasure of playing as the main ess
ence of sport. In short, we should have a concept of
sport thought of without any winner and loser in a strict sense. This kind of thinking does not deny the concept of
sport conceived both as play and game, or as a recreational activity characterized by the rules that can include the
traditional idea of victory and defeat, but it tends to sum it up in the essence of a free play, of a creative and intrinsic
satisfaction and pleasure;
7) One should think of sport not just as a physical experien
ce, but as something which refers more than a merely
material and bodily experience. We, for example, could refer sport to the religious dimension and intimate
experience that every human being has as a manifestation and a gift from God and as an openness to the possibility
of understanding other meanings of life.
We are convinced that sport, if it is not conceived in ligh
t of the above mentioned principles and orientations, will
never be a healthy and inclusive practice. The challenge of this pedagogical methodology consists of the following
steps which have to be put into practice through practical and concrete strategies thought by educators and
developed together with their students or athletes (Isidori & Ramos, 2014).
1) To recognise that sport is always based on a mutual acceptan
ce of us as “others” who are always given hospitality
692 Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
in the same home and share the same rules.
2) To show the importance of conceiving of sport as a co-opetition, that is, as a collaborative practice in which the
oth
er is the challenge who makes the competing with ourselves possible. In this framework, educators have to show
that the intention of sport conceived of as a game is not to defeat the other but to test our possibilities and limits.
3) To teach the importance of the rules/norms in sport and social life not regarded as an imposed system which is
m
andatory to respect, but as something that, being a combination of play and game, provides us not only with a
better understanding ourselves and the world through the experience of our limits, but also with a framework within
which engaging and bonding with the others, who are not the end, but the possibility of overcoming these limits.
7. Conclusions
In a nutshell, the practice of sport is a human right. Ever
y individual must have the opportunity to participate and
to play sport in accordance with her or his needs. If the practice of sport is a human right then it cannot operate in
isolation of other basic human rights. It is absurd to think so. Social development is a broad term that describes
actions that are taken to build positive outcomes and prevent negative social outcomes which can adversely affect a
com
munity. Good prevention starts with parents: this is the reason why the family should be the first to be educated
as a sport agency. Family, first than school, should be the starting point of sport education and its values in our
society. In itself, sport does not educate; sport can teach but not transmit values. Social agencies (such as parents,
educators, teachers, sport organizations, federations, clubs, mass-media, etc.), are those which are responsible for
m
aking this change, which can be a revolution. Therefore, can sport educate youth and help create a better more
peaceful world? We answer that sport in itself cannot. But “we” (as educators, teachers, athletes, researchers,
managers, supporters, journalists and so on) are those who make this happen.
There is a need to change policies and practices th
at reinforce the interest for sport as an ethical and educational
matter. Sport (be it competitive or not) must be conceived, first of all, as a means to promote education, dignity, and
human rights. According to the Kantian ethics, the other as a person and value in her/himself must always be aim,
goal, and purpose of our acting in sport. Without respect to this principle, there is no ethics, dignity or education
through sport.
To conclude, we want to stress here that sport is, first of
all, an educational, ethical, and social problem, neither a
biological nor a medical one. De Coubertin (2000) stated that Olympism is a practical philosophy of life and a
philosophy of education and of human rights with an agenda that should be entrusted to philosophers and educators.
Regarding himself foremost as an educator, De Coubertin criticized certain tendencies in sport science at that time
which considered sport performance solely in terms of its bio-physiological aspects and excluded its spiritual
di
mensions.
For De Coubertin, winning a competition was a goal defined by
the person’s will, and by his/her state of mind
and motivation. Basically, for De Coubertin, sport performance was a problem of the mind-body relationship, a
psy
cho-pedagogical problem of how to form the person’s will and
motivate her/him in the name of the pedagogical
values expressed by sport. We must start from this de Coubertin’s view if we want to philosophically rethink sport
as an inclusive and educational practice. A practice able to make the social change we have mentioned above
possible n
ot just as a mere utopia, but as a real experience of dignity and rights.
°Authors’ contributions. This study is the result of a collaboration between the two authors. The authors’ contribution can be summed up as
follows: Mirca Benetton wrote parts 1, 2, 3, and 4; Emanuele Isidori wrote parts 5, 6, 7.
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Post-Olympism. Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century
  • J Bale
  • M Christensen
Bale, J., & Christensen, M. (2004) (Eds). Post-Olympism. Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford-New York: Berg. Bodei, R. (2013). Immaginare altre vite. Realta, progetti, desideri. Milano: Feltrinelli.