ArticlePDF Available


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
1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.060
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
, Mirca Benetton
University of Rome "Foro Italico", Piazza L. De Bosis, 15, Rome 00135, Italy
University of Padua, Via Beato Pellegrino, 28, Padua 35137, Italy
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,
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
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:
© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Education and Research Center.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
From this follows that, in spite of realizing his or her potential to self-determination with dignity, those
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
e us into consideration for our merits. These concepts are at the very basis of dignity and of the Roman term
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
ove mentioned three other generations of rights. The fourth-generation human rights meet the new needs and
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
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
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
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
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
ermeneutical tool, we should rethink the fundamental structure of sport as conceived in contemporary society. We
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Arnold, P. J. (1997). Sport, ethics and education. London: Cassell.
Bale, J., & Christensen, M. (2004) (Eds). Po
st-Olympism. Questioning Sport in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford-New York: Berg.
Bodei, R. (2013). Imma
ginare altre vite. Realta, progetti, desideri. Milano: Feltrinelli.
Chionna, A. (2007). P
edagogia della dignita umana. Educazione e percorsi del rispetto. Brescia: La Scuola.
De Coubertin, P. (2000). O
lympism. Selected Writings, ed. N. Muller. Lausanne: IOC.
Farinelli, G. (2005). P
edagogia dello sport ed educazione della persona. Perugia: Morlacchi.
Isidori, E. (2014). Derrida’s concept about doping and its implications for sport education. In E. Isidori, F. J. Lopez Frias, & A.
Muller (Eds),
Philosophy, sport and education. International perspectives (103-117). Viterbo: Sette Citta.
Isidori, E. (2012). F
ilosofia dell’educazione sportiva. Dalla teoria alla prassi. Roma: Nuova Cultura.
Isidori, E., & Reid, H. L. (2011). F
ilosofia dello sport. Milano: Bruno Mondadori.
Emanuele Isidori and Mirca Benetton / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 ( 2015 ) 686 – 693
Isidori, E., & Ramos, R. (2014). Sport and Philosophy of Hospitality: Three Questions on How to Rethink Contemporary Sport Education in
Light of Gift and Peace. Physical Culture and Sport. Studies and Research, 59,(1), 5-10.
Isidori, E., Maulini, C., & López Frias, F. J. (2013). Sport and Ethics of Weak Thought: A New Manifesto for Sport Education. Ph
ysical Culture
and Sport. Studies and Research, 60, (1), 22-29.
Kateb, G. (2011). H
uman dignity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Kosiewicz, J., & Obodynski, K. (2003). Sp
ort in the mirror of the values. Rzeszow: Podkarpackie Society of Science.
Kreft, L. (2014). S
port, Education and Peace. In E. Isidori, F. J. Lopez Frias, A. Muller (Eds), Philosophy, sport and education. International
perspectives (13-31).Viterbo: Sette Citta.
Miller, S. G. (2000). Na
ked Democracy. In P. Flensted-Jensen, T.H. Nielsen (Eds), Polis and Politics (277-96). Copenhagen: Festschrift.
Musti, D. (1995). De
mokratia: origini di un’idea. Bari: Laterza.
Redeker, R. (2002). Le s
port contre les peuples. Paris: Berg International Editeurs.
Reid, H. L. (2012). I
ntroduction to the philosophy of sport. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Reid H. L. (2011). A
thletics and Philosophy in the Ancient World: Contests of Virtue. New York; Routledge.
Reid, H. L. (2006). Olympic sport and its lessons for peace. J
ournal of the Philosophy of Sport, 33,(2), 205-214.
Reid, H.L. (2002). T
he philosophical athlete. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.
Rosen, M. (2012). D
ignity: its history and meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Schurmann, V. (2012). Sports and Human Rights.
Journal of the Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education 34,(2), 143-150.
Sennett, R. (2003). R
espect in a world of inequality. New York, NY: Norton.
Siekmann, R. C., & Soek, J. (Eds.) (2007). T
he Council of Europe and Sport: basic documents, La Haya, T.M.C Asser Press.
... O Esporte assim compreendido torna-se crucial na aprendizagem e no desenvolvimento do ser humano ao longo da vida. Ele não representa, exclusivamente, o potencial biológico e fisiológico dos indivíduos, mas vai além, pois é um conjunto de características sistêmicas e complexas que são relacional, social e moral, que emergem do compartilhamento da natureza humana 5 . ...
... No mundo moderno o significado do Esporte está baseado na concordância de sua importância incondicional para as pessoas, o Estado e a sociedade em geral. Pelo prisma humanístico, o ator principal é o próprio ser humano, sua felicidade, sua saúde, sua liberdade, sua dignidade, seu desenvolvimento integral e harmonioso e a possibilidade de mostrar todas as suas habilidades 7 , de obter autocontrole, de expressar-se de forma criativa, de estruturar-se mentalmente, de construir virtudes como justiça e honestidade, e de enfrentar a vida como uma experiência de aprendizagem enaltecendo valores como coragem e humildade 5 . ...
... Percebemos que, por um lado, há o discurso a favor do Esporte e sua utilização como ferramenta de promoção dos valores humanos, da educação, do desenvolvimento, da paz, da cooperação, da solidariedade, da tolerância, da inclusão social e da saúde 5,7 . Mas, por outro lado, o que nos se apresenta com maior frequência, é um Esporte, de rendimento, baseado na discriminação e na exclusão. ...
Full-text available
Apresentamos os desafios e perspectivas envolvendo Direitos Humanos, Esporte e a Educação Física como agentes promotores da dignidade da pessoa humana. Valemo-nos dos principais documentos basilares do tema em questão e apontamos a necessidade do fortalecimento da educação em Direitos Humanos para viabilizar a construção de saberes capazes de desenvolver uma cultura de respeito aos DH e legitimar a luta pelos direitos sociais. Chamamos a atenção para o atendimento às necessidades de diferentes populações, especialmente, às que apresentam o Transtorno do Desenvolvimento da Coordenação com destaque para as questões envolvendo sua etiologia, os instrumentos de identificação e diagnóstico e a intervenção. Nosso entendimento é de que o Esporte e a Educação Física Escolar figurem como eixos articuladores dos DH, promovendo uma relação dialógica na construção de saberes plurais, heterogêneos e experenciais ao longo da existência humana.
... Education is classified as the only inclusion under Cultural Rights in this systematic review. Isidori and Benetton (2015) exemplified that Olympics could enhance education in social inclusion, rights to health, leisure, and human dignity from a pedagogic perspective. The legacies left by a mega-event might be of abundant source of education and eventually benefit the community. ...
This study aims to conduct a systematic review on human rights as related to mega-events (MEs) to locate possible key areas and gaps for further research in the field. A systematic literature review has been undertaken utilizing the databases of Scopus, Web of Sciences, and Google Scholar. A final sample of 127 articles was used for this review exercise. Findings resulted in past research studies classified into six groups and 18 topics for recommending for future research. The findings contribute to theory by identifying and underlining the key areas and research gaps for orientating further studies such as discovering some new phenomena which may elicit relevant research interests. The findings also contribute practically by urging the relevant policy and practice actors to actively seek out the stakeholders entailed in a mega event to minimize its possible adverse effects on the stakeholders.
... 34 Sport and exercise in themselves present physical benefits in the form of increased fitness and lower body fat percentage for both men and women. 35 Sport and exercise can also inculcate beneficial social attitudes such as mutual respect, discipline, fairness, respect for human rights and dignity, etc. 36 The legitimation of human rights in sports development movements was further carried out through such pioneering actions as those made by the IOC and FIFA in the bidding for the privilege to host the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup events, all of which align with the UN's MDGs for 2000-2015 where sport is positioned as an instrument of development, as well as the 2015-2030 SDGs that gave sport a place within the Sport for Development and Peace issues. 37 Fourth, active participation in the maintenance of a world order based on self-determination, perpetual peace, and social justice, in the sense that the Indonesian nation stands as a country that desires an orderly, safe, and peaceful world. ...
This article seeks to scrutinize the practices involved in promoting sport and exercise culture in Indonesia from a historical perspective and its relationship to global issues. It is expected to give rise to new ideas and advancements for the future developments of sports culture. The promotion is divided into several phases from far before the colonial era. The concept of sport and exercise development surfaced in Indonesia in 1984-1985 in the wake of the UNESCO’78 declaration on sports and physical education. Sport has recently come to colour Indonesia’s national sports development policies in response to global issues. Elite sports have attained a central position in promoting the nation’s honour, image, and dignity through competition against peer states. Meanwhile, sport and exercise development concepts related to the pursuit of MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) and SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) under the UN concept of SDP (Sport for Development and Peace) have not become a prominent strategic issue. They thus have not attracted enough attention to become a routine element of the government policy. This paper will engage in a detailed discussion of new ideas for the future evolution of Indonesian policies in the development of sport and physical exercise to achieve Indonesia’s national ideals as stated in the Preamble of the Indonesian 1945 Constitution.
... In the Australian context, well-known examples include Nicky Winmar proudly raising his shirt and pointing to his chest to protest crowd racism as a St. Kilda football player following an Australian Football League (AFL) game in 1993 (Klugman & Osmond, 2013) and Cathy Freeman's 400 m victory as a young and proud Aboriginal woman in front of home supporters at the Sydney Olympics of 2000. These images speak powerfully to issues of human rights, the potential to bring about change and make a difference, and respect for cultural, national, and ethnic diversity (Adair, 2011;Donnelly, 2008;Isodon & Benetton, 2015). In all of these iconic events, captured by vivid photographic images, one sees the potential of links for bridge-building between sport and education for democratic citizenship. ...
Full-text available
This paper explores Health and Physical Education (HPE) students’ HPE; sport; civics and understanding of Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) and citizenship education; fair discusses some of the links that connect HPE, sport and CCE in play; diversity; ethical Australia. A brief overview of CCE key features is provided. Second- understanding and third-year HPE pre-service teachers at an Australian regional university were surveyed to gauge what the baseline of knowledge and understanding of CCE amongst beginning teachers might be. Shared learning opportunities between HPE and CCE are discussed in different parts of the paper in relation to fair play; ethical debates and dilemmas; community involvement; identity; and respect for inclusivity. Linking to the pre-service teacher responses, the paper provides suggestions for some practical ways in which Australian HPE educators might make connections between the CCE curriculum and inter-connected HPE learning contexts for Year 3 to Year 8 students, the years for which a Civics and Citizenship curriculum is specified in the Australian Curriculum.
... and continue my career". As sport can play a fundamental role in promoting contemporary human rights education and human dignity (Isidori & Benetton, 2015), it is evident that education, as well, plays an important role in the professional career of elite football referees. When the AFC launched its Asia Vision Project within the referee's department, Ref 1, Ref 5 and Ref 6 were selected for future talent development from Iran. ...
Research into the career dynamics of high-performance level match officials across sports is scarce. The present study analyses the career dynamics of elite football referees from childhood to the elite level, creating a context of life design and a pattern for identifying individuals with potential talent. Twelve international and elite football referees participated in semi-structured in-depth interviews utilizing narrative inquiry. Participants were asked to recall all football refereeing–related experiences associated with their life stories from childhood to obtaining their FIFA Elite Referee (FER) position. Data analysis indicated that there were two common discourses (early and later) in an elite football referees’ career which helped to shape their job role with increased meaningfulness, providing invaluable insights for reaching the FER position. The interviewees experienced specific on- and off-field, reactions during their career (early and late) in order to prepare themselves to face challenging and conflict-related situations in football refereeing. Based on career stages, types of job crafting, and job characteristic levels, we developed the unique career dynamic identification profile of elite football referees. Accordingly, we argue that a talented individual needs to undertake individual training and career-based goal setting in their early career, whilst later in their career the elite referees should move towards collective training and game-based goal setting. The paper discusses the wider implications of the research findings, including their transferability to other societal groups populations, such as public sportspeople, talented individuals, national football federations, referee departments, and concludes by considering suggestions for future research.
... It needs to be considered more by the government or relevant authorities regarding the reward. In Indonesia, elite sports are intended as an effort to improve the abilities and potential of athletes in the context of completing achievements to improve the nation's dignity (Isidori & Benetton, 2015). The stage of development utilizing education and training of talented athletes in a planned, systematic, tiered, and continuous program is expected to produce potential athletes technically, tactically, physically, and physiologically. ...
Full-text available
Sports heroes are considered worthy of appreciation, especially for those who contribute to providing achievements for the nation at regional and international levels. The reward is given to athletes and coaches during their productive lives in the present until their retirement period. However, the rewards received by athletes and coaches tend not to be able to fulfill their welfare as a guarantee of life in the future. Therefore, this study was aimed at determining the relationship between rewards and the level of welfare given by the government and sports committees in Indonesia to athletes and coaches. This research was an ex-post-facto study using a self-administered closed-questionnaire conducted on athletes and national coaches on the 30th SEA Games team in Philippines in 2019. The number of samples was determined by using Slovin formula at 5% error rate and carried out on 46 athletes and nine coaches under the authority of the Indonesian National Sports Committee in Bandung. Data analysis was performed by using SPSS. From the results obtained, these rewards also had a direct correlation with the level of welfare of athletes and coaches. Considering that, if a maximum reward is given, the level of welfare will also be increased. The results indicates that there is a robust and significant positive relationship between rewards and welfare. Athletes and coaches expected the government and sports committee in Indonesia to give rewards that are not only limited to bonuses in terms of financial. Other aspects also need a concern when the athletes and coaches are no longer productive in contributing to the national sports achievements.
The main international instruments for the protection of the most basic human rights, of hard law or soft law, explicitly or implicitly address sport as a human right. However, it is a reality that persists in sports, namely, the systematic violation and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, religion, among others, in terms of access and development of sports competitions, in addition to racist acts perpetrated by athletes and spectators. It is critical to narrow the analysis in the fundamental principles underlying the Olympic Charter, the sustainable development goals, and the clash of lex sportive and national laws to point out the systematic human rights violations in sport contexts and in access to sport.KeywordsHuman rightsInternational instruments Lex sportiva Olympic charterSustainable development goals
Full-text available
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most ratified human rights treaty. In this article, three intimately connected concepts will be explored in relation to the framework of the State Party reporting mechanism related to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: physical education, physical activity and sport (PEPAS). A documentary analysis of three key document types from the Treaty Body reporting mechanisms was undertaken, including State Parties Reports (n = 104), List of Issues (n = 126) and Concerns/Observations and Recommendations (n = 797). There was a very low prevalence of the concepts of physical education, physical activity and, to a greater extent, sport, in these three reports. Seven themes emerged after the qualitative analysis: sport programmes, school-based sport, legislation and policies, key agents, interdisciplinary approach, enablers of sport and miscellaneous. Increased questioning of States with regards to their implementation of the right to sport, the issuance of PEPAS-based recommendations and guidance on how to achieve these rights from the Treaty Bodies would assist in solidifying understanding of sport as a human right and increase the impetus on States to act for PEPAS provision.
Full-text available
Background & objectives: Sports for all is kind of physical activity which improve physical, mental and social abilities. The purpose of this study was to identify the place of education in the process of people's tendency towards sport for all. Methods: This research was descriptive and applied (in terms of purpose). The statistical population was all professors and specialists in sports management, managers of federations, general managers of sports and youth of the provinces and senior experts of the Ministry of Sports and Youth (N=343). By stratified random sampling method and based on Morgan table, 181 people were selected as sample, among them 135 sample had analyzable questionnaires. The research instrument was a researcher-made questionnaire that its reliability was confirmed using Cronbach's alpha test (α=0.83). Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics (frequency, frequency percentage, mean) and inferential statistics (Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests, one-sample t-test and Friedman test) in SPSS software version 23. Results: The results showed that the variables of awareness (p=0.01, t=20.03), attractiveness (p=0.01, t=61.77), belonging (p=0.01, t=17.21), loyalty (p=0.01, t=22.36) and education (p=0.01, t=36.69) had significant roles in people's tendency to sports for all. It was found that the factors affecting people's tendency to sports for all, included the component of attractiveness (average rank: 4.43), education (average rank: 3.00), loyalty (average rank: 2.91), belonging (average rank: 2.41) and awareness (average rating: 2.26), respectively. In addition, it was found that with the increased level of education, the position of education in the tendency of people to public sports decreased. Conclusion: Due to the role of education in the tendency of people to sports for all, it is suggested that the country's sports for all authorities to provide a platform for sports for all education for different segments of society by producing educational programs in media and employing sports coaches for neighborhoods.
Full-text available
کشتی از گذشته¬های دیرین رواج داشته و با ابعاد چندگانه فرهنگ ایرانی پیوند داشته است و در این رابطه کشتی، آیین حرکتی و جسمانی بوده است و امروزه در سطح ملی، بومی و محلی انجام می¬شود. مسئله پژوهش این است که چه اسطوره¬هایی در پس این فعالیت حرکتی آیینی مطرح بوده¬است؟ هدف این است که با روش تحلیلی اساطیری را که علّت معنادهی، تدوام و ارزش این فعالیت حرکتی به عنوان آیین در فرهنگ عامه ایران طی تاریخ شده¬است، شرح داده شود. در فرهنگ باستانی، فردی که با نیرویهای مخرب طبیعت به نبرد تن به تن می¬رفت، تبدیل به کهن¬الگوی قهرمان می¬شد که معیشت و امنیت را در جامعه ایجاد می¬کرد و مردم به او احترام می¬گذاشتند. این چالش با آنتاگونیست به عرصۀ دشمنان ایران نیز وارد شد و کشتی¬گرفتن نماد عمل پهلوانانی بود که برای حفظ سرزمین¬شان و ارزش¬های آن به نبرد تن به تن می¬رفتند؛ امّا آنچه در فرهنگ ایرانی مطرح شد این بود که این پهلوانان که با اعمالشان امنیت و نظم جامعه را برپا می¬کنند، باید در ابتدا درون خود را از آنتاگونیست پاک کنند، و به اختیار به نبرد با سایه درون بروند. این در جامعه ایران به یک ارزش و بنیان اخلاقی برای کهن¬الگوی قهرمان تبدیل شد و در ناخودآگاه جمعی جامعه ایرانی باقی ماند و در جشنواره¬های فرهنگ عامه که کشتی برپا می¬شود همه این ارزش¬ها به شخصیت کشتی¬گیر فرافکنی می¬شود و گونه¬ای از هویت و انسجام اجتماعی را شکل می¬دهد که تماشاگران از اخلال آن محبت و خودشکوفایی را دریافت می¬کنند.
The ancient Olympic Games were held in spaces and places consecrated for hospitality, to xénia, a Greek word that means “gifts” but also something that refers to and belongs to strangers and foreigners. Foreigners from every part of Greece met in Olympia to celebrate the agón. In this place, a stranger or a foreigner (hostis in Latin), probably a former enemy, became a friend because he was both guest and host (hospes in Latin) in the sanctuary-town, which belonged to the gods and to all of the Greeks, who recognized themselves in its spirit. This mechanism of hospitality formed the basis of the Olympic peace system and was the fundamental prerequisite for the celebration of agón. The practice of the agón was therefore made possible by a “gift” but also by “for-giveness” that allowed people to meet and compete. We can conclude that at the base of the Olympic (and Greek) ethics there was the concept of hospitality. Olympia was then the common home of all Greeks, the place where ethics were carried out, were put into practice, and concretely exercised. It is not a pure coincidence that the Greek word “ethics” is linked to the word éthos, which means “house”, “home”. For this reason, ethics can be thought as the art of hosting somebody in our own home and trusting him/her, just as it happened in ancient Olympia during the Olympic Games, which demonstrated that ethics was always a home’s ethics. Therefore, taking into account this cultural and philosophical framework, this study will develop a methodological approach, derived from deconstructionism, which will be applied to concepts that are both ambiguous and semantically rich in meaning, such as “gift”, “forgiveness”, xénos, hostis, and hospes. The first objective of this study is to reflect upon the connection between “gift” and “sport” and show the deep interconnection between the two concepts. The second is to use the model of Greek hospitality at the Olympic Games to deeply rethink sport and contemporary philosophy of sport education in terms of peace and multiculturalism.
Dignity: Its History and Meaning By Michael Rosen. Harvard University Press. 2012. £16.95 (hb). 200 pp. ISBN: 9780674064430 The author, Michael Rosen, is a British political philosopher who is currently a professor at Harvard University. The book evolved from a series of lectures he produced
The so-called “weak thought”, theorized by the Italian postmodernist philosopher Gianni Vattimo (born in 1936), considered one of the most important Italian philosophers, has dismantled the main concepts on which Western philosophy was based (that is, the notion of Truth, God, Reason, an absolute foundation to thought, etc.). This philosophy, which is inspired by Nietzsche’s nihilism, by Heidegger, and by the philosophy of hermeneutics and deconstruction, offers a critical starting point not only to rethink, in a less rigid way, our Western culture, its philosophy, and its problems, but also the ethical principles and educational values that guide human life. Sport - as a human phenomenon and philosophical problem characterized by the presence of values, norms, behaviors, and rules that involves the action of human beings who interact and communicate “in” and “by” the game - can also be read in the light of this emerging philosophical theory. The aim of this study is to demonstrate that weak thought and its fundamental categories can be used and applied from a theoretical point of view in order to interpret and understand sport, deconstructing its meanings and its sociocultural and educational values. Using the critical contribution of weak thought, in this study we will reflect on and rethink in a new way some of the main concepts considered absolute and fundamental to sport’s logical and philosophical structure, such as “winning” and “losing”, “referee” (which embodies the principle of “authority”), “opponent”, “freedom” in the game, “rules”, and respect when one plays. The purpose of this study is to undertake a critical reflection on the limits of the concept of sport proposed by the Western tradition and to lay the foundations for a new model of ethics and education for the sports of the future.
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.