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The aesthetics of sport and the arts : competing and complementary.

Mumford, Stephen (2019) 'The aesthetics of sport and the arts : competing and complementary.', Sport in society., 5 . pp. 723-733.


Sport has a distinctive aesthetic that derives from its ontological basis in competition, indeterminism and emergence. The aim in sport is to compete, rather than the production of aesthetic value. An effective way to secure the latter, however, is pursuit of the former: competition in sport is at least part of the explanation of its aesthetics. The dramatic spectacle of sport, on the other hand, can also be explained by the metaphysical indeterminism that it must assume. If sporting outcomes were either deterministic or entirely indeterministic, sport would have no interest for us. Instead, outcomes are produced by actions that dispose towards certain outcomes without necessitating them. Finally, emergence is productive of aesthetic values especially in team sports, where the whole can be substantially more than (or less than) the abilities of the individual players. These three features, taken together, account for the special nature of the sporting aesthetic.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Sport in society on 01 Feb 2018, available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:25 January 2018
Date of first online publication:01 February 2018
Date first made open access:01 August 2019

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