Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Consultation: Character and Sport
In Partnership with The Jubilee Centre For Character & Virtues
Character and Sport are linked; linked in the media, linked in practice, and linked in education. Sport builds character, or so the myth goes. Practising sport builds resilience, determination, self-discipline, teamwork, and a whole host of other virtues, whether you are kicking a football around on a field with jumpers for goalposts, or playing elite sport and competing in the Athletics World Championships in Doha. We don’t test this, it is taken as read. Elite sportsmen and sportswomen speak of ‘showing character’ in their performances, and pundits, journalists, and fans comment on the lack of character when it is absent from performances, or evident in scandals of questionable behaviour, or win-at-all-costs mentalities.
So what is ‘character’ in sport? Does watching, participating in, and teaching and coaching sport need a moral dimension? How does one learn about respect and fairness? How do you coach someone the ‘spirit of the game’? The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has previously found that participating in sports is not necessarily a precursor to developing ‘good’ moral reasoning when presented with moral dilemmas, any more than participating in drama or choir is (Arthur et al., 2015). However, sport does have a hold over young people in terms of having a positive influence on their conception of what it means to live a ‘good life’ (Arthur et al., 2017). This consultation sought to bring together those researching, teaching, and delivering sport-based programmes in the community to discuss the place of a moral focus in sport, and how this can help individuals and communities flourish.
The full report from the consultation can be read here