Ethics for Everyone

Moral wisdom for the modern world

10 Philosophical Quotes About Sport

Thoughts about the nature and value of athletic competition

"I wished I'd never said the thing...I meant the effort. I meant having a goal. I sure didn't mean for people to crush human values and morality." Vince Lombardi, talking about his oft-quoted statement, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."

"While winning is an important goal of the sports contest, since it is a primary way in which a competitor meets the challenge of the sport, it is far from everything." Robert L. Simon

"Violence is encouraged, not for the good of the game, but for the good of the gate." Jan Boxill

"The moral virtues that are often referred to under the umbrella of sporting behavior are revealed in acts of fair play. Such virtues as magnanimity, fairness, politeness, respect for rules, and cooperation are the qualities of character displayed and developed by those who play well. Often these virtues and their exhibition are the hardy perennials that have become embedded in and partly define the traditions of sport that are produced and reproduced by those who play." Carwyn Jones and Mike McNamee

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"We in sports can be the trailblazers when it comes to social justice issues." Dean Smith

"In calling for the development of new sports, I am suggesting that our concept of 'sports' contains a male bias." Jane English

"Sport has one big advantage. You can measure the performances of people. If you're good, you play. That's why I think sport can be a massive example of what society should be, it should follow the example of sport." Arsene Wenger

"Perhaps the greatest feeling we experience in sport is freedom." Heather Reid

"A number of elite athletes were asked if, hypothetically, they would be willing to take a special pill that would guarantee them an Olympic gold medal even if they knew this pill would kill them within a year. Over 50 percent of the athletes surveyed said yes." Dr. Robert Voy

"I prefer to win titles with the team before individual prizes or outscoring everyone. I'm more concerned with being a good person than being the best footballer in the world." Lionel Messi

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Michael W. Austin, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University.

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