I Skate, Therefore I Am?
When I was at the University of Lethbridge a few years back, I needed a philosophy course in the summer to fill out my degree requirements and allow me to finish a year early. As I recall, there weren’t very many attractive offerings, so I ended up taking a course called “The Philosophy of Sport.” I thought this would be a kind of cream puff course without much substance, but it ended up being fairly interesting. Philosophers can subject a lot of innocuous looking activities to mind-numbing analysis, after all, so why not sport?
Well, apparently a couple of Quebec philosophers have decided to apply a bit of philosophical scrutiny to our favourite pastime: hockey. Real Mental Toughness: Hockey and Philosophy
combines contributions from 16 Quebec writers with such essay titles as “The metaphysics of hockey,” “Kierkegaard and the art of goaltending in hockey,” “Esthetic elements of hockey” and “For a Kantian hockey.”
Among the other topics discussed in this volume are the ethics of deciding tie games by shootouts and the role of fighting in hockey. For the record, I say get rid of shootouts (and five minute overtimes) and fighting. As one contributor puts it,
those who maintain that fighting is an innate part of a physical game have surrendered to the Hobbesian view that man in his natural state is subject to violent passions and will use all means possible to vanquish his enemies.”
Brilliant. I now have firm philosophical support for my views about this most important of subjects. If only I could speak French. Apparently the volume is not available in English just yet (here’s the link, if you happen to be bilingual). Maybe if I learned French I could discover if the contributors to this volume have anything to say about the ethics of cheering for a hated (Canadian) rival once one’s own team has meekly and pathetically exited the playoffs…