More than a game: How participants can be liberally educated in elite sport cultures

  • Philip L. Smith The Ohio State University
  • Frederick L. Goodman University of Michigan


Our contention is that participants in elite sport cultures have an advantage that participants in standard educational settings are typically denied when learning moral concepts, such as justice, honesty, and respect.  We want to make clear at the start that by calling these cultures ?elite we do not mean to claim that they should be restricted by talent, but rather that the requirement is one of attitude and commitment.  That is to say, participation in these elite sport cultures is not for recreational purposes, or merely for fun.  The intent is to achieve excellence by the highest standards of that activity.  Participants are expected to be serious about what they?re doing, not frivolous.  If there?s a better term than ?elite? for describing this sort of thing, we?ll gladly adopt it.  We believe that our analysis has validity across the board.  But our particular focus is on elite sport when it takes place under the auspicious of educational institutions, especially at the collegiate level.