Competition, Fairness and Equality in Sport and Society

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  • Title: Competition, Fairness and Equality in Sport and Society
  • Author(s): Verner Moller
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Keywords: Elite sport, Competition, Fairness, Equality, Recognition
  • Date: December 05, 2022
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-957792-01-9
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-957792-02-6
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Moller, Verner. 2022. Competition, Fairness and Equality in Sport and Society. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-957792-02-6/CGP.
  • Extent: 117 pages

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Competition is a basic fact of life. Living organisms need resources. When resources are limited, they fight over them. This is natural. Life in the modern world, based on rationality, ingenuity, and co-operative skills, makes it easy to forget this basic truth and to believe that it no longer applies to us human beings. Developments in the western world since the turn of the millennium appear to confirm this perception. Progress made during the 20th century in gender equality and minority rights have been followed up by schemes committed to securing equal access for all to institutions, facilities, and opportunities for success in life. The equality agenda has been pushed further toward equity by initiatives meant to make up for injustices done in the past. It may be tempting to interpret these developments as the consequence of a civilizing process that has subdued the competitive nature of human beings in favor of improved empathy and moral sensibility. Competition, fairness, and equality in sport and society aims to show that this interpretation is wrong. Based on the workings of elite sport, it argues that the fairness and equality agenda, rather than being a manifestation of a mellowing of human nature, is essentially driven by the same innate competitive impulses. What has changed is that, once basic material needs for survival are covered, as is the case in the developed world, people continue to compete in other arenas attempting to improve their position in the human hierarchies and win status and recognition.