But is sport as I have described it? If it is not, this project is misconceived. Certainly, not all uncontentious sport conforms to this description – a fact not that important, if most sport did. It might seem, then, that one must 146 The project of a moral laboratory determine whether or not the majority of sports are like this. But it also seems inappropriate to be counting heads here, to determine what most sports do (in theory and in practice).
Even if there are exceptions, sports not fitting the model sketched above, that model would still be useful if it offered us insight into some sports. Yet it does seem important to plot the scope and limits of any such model. For clearly, not all sport operates by emphasizing fairness and suchlike (the rules of basketball [as interpreted] require players to foul) – a horrible possibility here is the morally harmful side of sport.
That is, the moral force in some sports might be towards immoral action. For if the connection is just to moral issues, then first there is no guarantee that contact with sport will be positively educative in respect of morality and second it is not clear that sport is always committed to the educative matters; or, better, that all sport is. Of course, the connection to rule-breaking activity might still be seen under the aspect of rule-related activity – and, as such, enjoys the moral commitment to the rules in their constitutive understanding (Chapter 7 pp. 122–5).
But this is a much weaker requirement than the more explicit concerns with justice, fairness and the like which have grounded this chapter. It is difficult to move on from here in the abstract: some concrete cases are needed. Yet sport operates for many purposes, and at many levels of performance and spectatorship. Which should be selected?
Having begun the chapter from De Coubertin (and in line with my interests), the examples come from high-level performance: namely, from Olympic sport. But the substance of these points could be restructured for other cases. (For example, with playground activities where considerations of fair play had no place, one can readily imagine disputes about the sport status of the activity.)