Chad Carson (United States) on Justice Through Sport

September 7, 2012

While sport certainly provides opportunities to challenge one’s self and stand for one’s nation, the greatest thing that sport does is provide a pathway to positive peace.
Through solidarity, sport and the Olympic Games encourage competitors and the nations they represent to recognize each other as dignified human persons. Through the values that it promotes, sport leads to positive peace and justice. According to author David Cortright in Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas, true peace is “the presence of justice” as opposed to merely “the absence of war.”

Sport leads to justice not merely by encouraging those with differences to compete for a common goal but by allowing competitors to view others as dignified persons. When athletes sing their national anthems, shake hands after a match, and live alongside each other for two weeks during the Olympics, they naturally are forced to view other competitors as dignified humans, despite previous differences.

The Olympic Games have always had the goal of uniting adversaries and creating a dialogue through those competitors. However, Olympic values now go beyond that; they lead competitors to live in solidarity. They cause those athletes not to see each other as just people but rather as persons—persons who deserve to be respected and have the same aspirations.

Expanding sport and its values will create a world that encourages the presence of justice as opposed to the absence of war. Promoting justice through sport will lead to less violence by creating communities that value others as persons as opposed to other people. As the international community struggles with major human rights issues around the world, future discussion must include the role of sport and the values it promotes—respect, excellence, and friendship. Promoting the values that sport encourages, such as fair play and combating discrimination, will lead to a more just and therefore more peaceful world.
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