The Concept of Sport in Olympism


  • Jim Parry Charles University


Sport, values, Olympism, concepts, athlete


This paper provides an account of the values of sport in the idea of Olympism. It develops a concept of ‘Olympic sports’, as institutionalised rule-governed contests of human physical skill, and these six criteria form the basis of a normative account.

The conceptual account provides both a definition of sport and a demarcation criterion, and it also suggests a specification of the internal values of sport. Just as an example, take just two of these criteria, ‘rule-governed’ and ‘contest’, and it can readily be seen that they require adherence to certain values. There is no contest without an implicit contract – a kind of promising to accept and obey the rules, which, in turn, are there to ensure the equal treatment of competitors, and fairness of contest. Without agreement on rule-adherence, the authority of the referee, and the central shared values of the activity, there could be no sport.

Because it is difficult even to state the characteristics of sport without relying on terms that carry ethical import, such universalisable meanings apply across the world of sports participation. This paper examines the concept of sport for its internal values, and its relation to Olympism, by following our six-criteria outline definition.






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