The 2020 Tokyo Olympic games are finally going ahead. But increasing concerns over the games turning into super-spreader event, means that the athletes will be competing and performing without a live audience. The stadiums will be empty.
But even without live spectators, the Olympic games will be watched by millions of people around the world. So what is it that gives many of us such a pleasure to watch athletes perform at the peak of their game? Is the pointlessness of sport, the absence of any life or death consequences, part of the reason we enjoy it? Is the ferociously competitive nature of sport, with winners and losers sometimes separated by only milliseconds apart, a good model for life itself? And most importantly of all questions, why is parkour not a sport?
Stephen Mumford is a professor of philosophy at the University of Durham, and although a metaphysics, he is also one of the most prolific philosophers of sport, and author of three books on the subject, Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion, Football: the philosophy behind the game, and more recently: A philosopher looks at sport.
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This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org
Artwork by Nick Halliday
Music by Rowan Mcilvride