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October 11, 2010

When Does Sport Become Immoral?

Filed under: Culture And Society — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:06 pm

Despite what goes on in Australia, sport should be an adjunct to life not the basis to life. If everything else is going well and there is time left over in the day, then sport, especially something like athletics, is a wonderful thing to add into the mix of a balanced life. I should know – in my youth I was an obsessed sprinter and used to love to run in my spare time. Even as an adolescent though, I could never have put “running” ahead of the well being of a fellow human being – not under any circumstances.

Today of course, we have career athletes who earn a good living out of athletics – a natural development I suppose when you look at the economics of other aspects of our society. In itself there’s nothing wrong with earning a living out of what you’re good at – what is a problem however, is when someone is determined to earn a living out of it and ignore the consequences of those actions on other people.

Lets take for instance the situation in Delhi. By simply participating in the current Commonwealth Games, people are indirectly supporting the fact that the local government chose to spend 15 billion (US) dollars on a two week event rather than create housing for millions of homeless people in that city. Attending, participating and following a sporting event under these circumstances, is sending a message to the Indian government that it’s OK to prioritise a transient thing over the life long well being of your own citizens.

Obviously, it could be argued that this also applies to any other field of endeavour, not just sport. In order to avoid being entangled in such an ethical mess, you need to think through how your action or inaction cascades and effects others. After living with my own head in the sand for far too many years, I now have a very basic rule of thumb that guides my social activism and that is – “if you ignore your effect on your surroundings, you are definitely part of the problem!” – a play on – “…if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.” [1977, C. McFadden, Serial xxvi.]

In living this approach, I don’t think you need to construct some grand solution and then be a part of that construction. All you need to do is tread lightly and minimise any detrimental effect you have on your fellow human beings, other creatures and your environment. If we adhere to this one thing, then any of us can participate in a sporting event, or any other event for that matter, with a clear conscience.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

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