In answer to Orwell: a defence of international sport

Robshaw, Brandon (2021). In answer to Orwell: a defence of international sport. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 48(1) pp. 1–9.



This paper first considers and rebuts George Orwell's case against international sport. He argues both from general principles and specific examples that international sporting contests lead to orgies of nationalism and exacerbate animosities between nations. In response I argue that his examples are cherry-picked, pathological cases. I then consider the argument of Gleaves and Llewellyn, which objects to international sport on a) ethical and b) lusory grounds. Drawing on the work of Iorwerth and Hardman I claim that the ethical problems are not intrinsic to international sport and can be avoided or mitigated; while their lusory argument relies on a single-value definition of elite sport that can be contested. I conclude that neither Orwell nor Gleaves and Llewellyn make a successful case against international sport and that it provides goods that they do not acknowledge.

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