Sports coaching, virtue ethics and emulation
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
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Background: The argument in this paper is founded on two related premises. First, we claim that the moral imperative of sport is derived not from specific rules or laws associated with it but from its intrinsic nature. As engaging in sporting practices inevitably require us to be pre-occupied with central principles such as fairness (and therefore justice), our encounters with notions of 'fair play' and of a 'level playing field' provide practical examples of where sport and the moral inherently coexist. Though such encounters are contextualised through particular sporting environments, they nonetheless require sportspersons to acquaint themselves, contemplate and act upon moral principles, and elsewhere challenge and confront those whom they suspect do not. Sport, therefore, provides the context and wherewithal to 'explore the contours of morally relevant possibilities' and is why it can be considered a 'moral laboratory'. The second premise we establish is that the coach plays a central role in influencing the moral terrain within contemporary sports practices. The coaching session, the training field, the changing room, the game, are all environments where children (and older athletes), alongside the presence of the coach, develop and test the moral dimensions of their evolving characters. Purpose: Our argument is that the coach, having a central role in this process, ought to positively influence what is happening, endeavouring to ensure that the moral encounters possible within the coaching context go well rather than badly. Like it or not then, we argue that coaching is to be recognised and conducted as a moral enterprise. Interventions: Drawing on the philosophical principles of virtue ethics we attempt to illuminate and make more explicit what has often been muddy and implicit with regard to the positive moral influence and role of the coach. We do this by identifying three distinct normative questions and suggest some practical implications for coaching practice based on critical reflection. First, we assess what kinds of person a coach should be. Second, we consider how a coach should behave and act. Third, we deliberate on what should be the purpose of coaching. Throughout the article we provide examples to illustrate our arguments. We suggest ways in which change to individual coaching practice and the wider institutional structures in which coaches operate can overcome actual socio-cultural and political barriers that currently prevent a more fruitful sporting environment for all.
Physical education and sports pedagogy;
Hardman, A., Jones, C. and Jones, R. (2010) 'Sports coaching, virtue ethics and emulation', Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 15(4), pp.345-359
- Sport Research Groups 
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