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A Christian Theology of Sport and the Ethics of Doping

SHAFER, MICHAEL,ROBERT (2012) A Christian Theology of Sport and the Ethics of Doping. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The purpose of this thesis is to present a theologically informed alternative to common conceptions of sport in contemporary culture, particularly in response to the challenges of doping in athletic competition. In the first part we will examine contemporary ethical perceptions of doping in sport by analysing the major arguments commonly used to justify the current ban on enhancement substances. The outcome will show that the context of the debate fails to account for a more fundamental analysis of the purpose and nature of sport.
Part two will develop a framework for conceptualising sport. I will identify sport in the theory of social practices as depicted by Alasdair MacIntyre where sport is premised on the virtues and has no end beyond itself. This theory differs from the views traditionally held by the church which include seeing sport as insignificant, immoral or instrumental.
In the third part I will offer suggestions for ways Christian theology contributes to our understanding of sport. We will look at three critical steps necessary in developing a Christian ethic of sport. First, we must reconcile Christian moral practice and participation in sport. After this we must recognise sport’s nature in the context of our human essence. As a third step Christians need to actively recover the spirit of play in sport that stands in contrast to the contemporary sports culture.
When we have taken these three steps we begin to see sport differently than does the modern sports culture. In the conclusion I will suggest that, for Christians, sport becomes a form of worship as it points us to God through the components of grace and gratitude. This approach should shape our moral behaviour in sport, including in the issue of doping. It is clear that the benefits sought through enhancements fail to contribute to these purposes in any meaningful way. The motivation behind doping is to gain a competitive advantage and is based on a view of sport that sees winning as the highest value. This is incompatible with a Christian theology of sport.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Feb 2013 15:02

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