Sport In The Context Of A Just Society

A friend asked my opinion – this is an edited version of my reply.


This essay might help you place your feelings:

I was introduced to Rawls by the Harvard Justice course.

For me, “just” success comes from an honorable path. It’s a fundamental error to let the pursuit of winning get in front of the pursuit of honor. The value of athletics to society comes from the virtuous pursuit of honor. It sounds like a quaint concept but that’s what athletics is about.

Early in my finance career, my Dad passed along advice that he received from the owner of the bank where we worked – always be willing to make a little less money to maintain your ethics. I’ve taken that further to “always be willing to be a little less successful.” The ability to leave a little on the table greatly reduces the chance that we’ll end up in jail or disgraced.

Livestrong is a powerful shield for Lance because it gives the appearance of a large benefit to the masses from one man’s success. That is an extremely powerful concept in terms of social justice (see Rawls). Based on the public facts, Livestrong may be an illusion. The clearest example is the splitting of the .com and the .org to personally benefit the founder – the fact that the millions of dollars from Nike, Trek and Oakley weren’t enough is telling. 

The joy we felt was real and you should feel lucky to have the capacity to feel joy from sports. I’ve lost most the joy I felt with elite sport. I know what lies beneath the surface and the illusions held by the masses bother me at some level.  I’m surrounded by constant reminders of athletic cheating.

Hold on to joy, release the hate and focus on being a good guy within your family. You’ll get the best return for your own life by emotional investment in those that are near to you. They know who we are and like us anyway!

The elites in society have a duty to hold themselves to a higher standard – most (many? some?) top athletes fail that test. Criminal violations by elites should be punished.

By “elites” I mean the top 1% of our society, not some poor guy making $35k a year with a pro triathlon card!