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Faculty Essay


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"While he lived long ago, the ethical writings of the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) still have relevance to the present day, particularly when we try to understand the meaning of the term “sportsmanship.” For Aristotle, the purpose of ethical training was to help human beings achieve personal excellence, what he called “eudaimonia” or “self-fulfillment.” Since we are by nature social animals, such fulfillment can only occur within a communal setting. One judges an individual by the way in which that individual excels, and one judges a community by the role models it holds up as type of citizens who best express that community’s ideals. Personal excellence, therefore, is intricately connected to engaging in social activities. Sport can provide the means for testing one’s own abilities through cooperative team activities against worthy opponents, with the support of a community to inspire one to achieve one’s best. To win by cheating, or by disparaging an opponent’s abilities, or by excessive violent acts, would not be a mark of a worthy character. This theory is known as “virtue ethics” and the concept of good sportsmanship is at its very heart."

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