The 'enforcer' in elite level sport: A conceptual critique
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
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The role of the 'enforcer' in elite-level sports contests is a familiar one. Simply, the role involves establishing or restoring a 'moral balance' to the sporting encounter when it is absent – usually when match officials are thought to be failing to apply the laws/rules of the game. How the enforcer secures this outcome is more morally contentious as it may involve deliberate violations of the laws/rules of the sport. In this paper we consider the role of the enforcer in rugby union. First we interrogate some of the extant sports ethics literature and explore the notion of 'fairness' in the well-played game, including the role of the enforcer. Second, we illustrate conceptually how the ethos of elite sport as a moral discourse creates a theoretical platform from which to assess the intervention of an enforcer. Third, we address the role of match officials as members of the practice community from an institutional sense (what the international governing body for rugby union makes explicit) and from an empirical sense (what actually occurs or might occur) in the circumstances that precipitate the intervention of 'enforcers'. We conclude that the conceptual tension between the laws and the spirit (ethos) of the game is reflected in the choices facing players when playing the game.
Sport, Ethics and Philosophy;
Jones, C. and Fleming, S. (2010) 'The ‘Enforcer’in Elite-Level Sport: A Conceptual Critique', Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 4(3), pp.306-318
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