1st Edition

The Ethics of Sports Fandom

By Adam Kadlac Copyright 2022
    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    Fans largely regard sports as an escapist pursuit—something that provides distraction from the cares and concerns of "real life." This book pushes back against a fully escapist account of sports fandom and argues that we should understand the value of fandom in terms of the ability of sports to prompt fans to reflect meaningfully on the notion of a good life. Even if we are not engaged in high-level athletics, it is possible to learn a great deal from those who are: what sacrifices are required to achieve our goals; how to persevere through failure and disappointment; and about teamwork and the rewards of accomplishing things together. Moreover, partisan fandom, which has been criticized from various quarters, can teach us valuable lessons about love and what it means to be invested in things over which we have no control. If our reflection on the efforts of individual athletes helps us reflect on our own pursuit of the good life, our attachments to teams can help us to cultivate a certain kind of humility and openness to all that life has to offer.

    The Ethics of Sports Fandom is an accessible resource for researchers and students interested in the ethics and philosophy of sport that offers an analysis of several different aspects of contemporary fandom: fantasy sports, the ways that fans interact with athletes on social media, violent sports, women’s sports, and the support for our countries’ national teams. In all these areas, reflecting on what it means to respect athletes as individual human beings engaged in their own pursuit of the good life requires that fans consider their sports-related behavior in a new light.

    Introduction: Probing the Ethics of Fandom in a Post-Pandemic Age

    1. On “We”

    2. Why Sports Are Like Shakespeare

    3. Love ‘em Like a Brother: In Defense of Partisan Fandom

    4. Avoiding the Pitfalls of Objectification

    5. A Cautious Defense of Football

    6. Egalitarian Fandom

    7. Cosmopolitan Fandom

    Conclusion: A Few Guidelines for Being a Good Fan


    Adam Kadlac is Teaching Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University, USA. His published work has appeared in a number of venues, including American Philosophical Quarterly, Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Philosophical Studies.

    "Sports fans have long argued amongst themselves about the ‘right’ way to be a fan, their duties to ‘their’ teams, and the comparative value of everything from their favorite players to women’s versus men’s athletics. The Ethics of Sports Fandom aims to settle some of these classic disputes and raise new ones, with a philosopher’s eye to questioning even the most dearly held beliefs of die-hard sports fans, while it defends fans from their unkinder critics."

    Erin Tarver, Emory University, USA

    "Adam Kadlac’s The Ethics of Sports Fandom is an engaging and compellingly argued book. Kadlac argues that fans need to view their teams from an appropriate distance: we did not win at the weekend, the team did. One might think that this pushes the fans away from the team and makes fandom less important, yet Kadlac does an admirable job of arguing why fandom is a valuable part of our lives, rather than mere escapism. Along the way, he addresses a variety of ethical issues, like the ways fans objectify players, the harms players suffer, how fans so rarely are fans of women’s teams, and the divisive nationalism international sports can arouse. In doing this, he shows both how fandom can be valuable, but also the ways in which we need to change in order to avoid some of the ethical problems fandom can bring."

    Jake Wojtowicz, Rochester, NY, USA