Journal of the Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education
Online ISSN : 1884-4553
Print ISSN : 0915-5104
ISSN-L : 0915-5104
Original Articles
The Social Significance of Competition in Sport: Amphibolousness in Simmel's “Sociology of Competition”
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2019 Volume 41 Issue 2 Pages 133-146


Research in Japan to date that has analyzed sport from the perspective of Simmel's theory of competition understands the theory as supportive of only the positive meaning of competition in sport. However, Simmel had a keen appreciation of the issues of modern society and addressed matters incidental to actual competition.

Contemporary society differs from Gemeinschaft(traditional local communities) with their fixed interpersonal relationships, and from the system of slavery, in which people were owned as if machines. While people now possess a sense of inalienable personhood, interaction between them has become shallower. Simmel saw competition in Gesellschaft(modern society) as effectively providing opportunities for people to bond.

For example, an essential element of sport is its ability to excite large numbers of people. As such, it bonds not only coaches and players, players within a team, and competing teams, but, by involving “the advantage of a third person”, creates a bond between all involved in competition and the masses, too. Yet, at the same time, this type of competition inverts the respective positions of the expert and the masses, making it more likely that a young pitcher, for example, may ignore the warnings of the experts and, in deference to public demand, waste his or her talent at national tournaments by pitching incessantly.

This paper attempts to clarify the social significance of sporting competition in Gesellschaft (modern society) from the perspective of such amphibolousness in the positives and negatives of competition.

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© 2019 Japan Society for the Philosophy of Sport and Physical Education
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