In Search of a Level Playing Field: Rules, Morals and the Jurisprudence of Sport

By Harjass Singh.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

On 27th June 2010, in a telling display of disbelief the vuvuzelas, English as well as German, fell silent in Bloemfontein. The referee and his assistant, having failed to notice the ball bounce a foot inside the German net, had decided to wave play-on in a World Cup round of sixteen match with a single goal separating two historic rivals. While a demoralised England decided to throw in the towel, the gravest loss was that of the sport. A public inquisition into the feasibility and necessity of goal line technology in football followed, resulting in its recent affirmation by FIFA.
Similar questions regarding the governance of various sports crop up every other day, be it the enforcing of a crucial foot fault against Serena Williams in the final game of a US Open Semi-Final or the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s staunch opposition to using technology to streamline a game often marred by controversial umpiring.
Historically, eminent Jurisprudes including Hart, Fuller, Dworkin and Rawls have made use of examples from sport to substantiate or convey their broad theories on ‘the law’, ‘morals’ and their interplay in everyday society. Yet, there is precious little academic thought dedicated to an obvious overlap between jurisprudential theory and the interpretation and enforcement of rules in the sporting world.
The author attempts to promote an understanding of the enforcement of rules in sport relying on jurisprudential thought relating to enforcement of laws in the non-sporting world. Fuller’s scale ranging from ‘Morality of Duty’ to the ‘Morality of Aspiration’, it is submitted, exemplifies the pursuit for evolution of rules from those that aim to achieve the bare minimum to tenets that strive to make sports perfectly equitable and fair. The intention behind this research paper is to foster a more inclusive jurisprudential understanding of the governance of sport.

Keywords: Jurisprudence, Rules, Principle of Fairness, Enforcement of Rules in Sport, Interpretation of Rules in Sport, Morality of Duty, Morality of Aspiration, Legal Theory

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, pp.81-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 464.616KB).

Harjass Singh

Student, BA/BSc. LLB, The National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Harjass Singh is studying Law at the National University of Juridical Sciences in India and has presented his research on contemporary Legal issues at various reputed International Conferences, including a Conference on Protecting People in Conflicts and Crisis Situations conducted by the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. His research work has also been published in numerous reputed journals and books. Having represented his School and University Football Teams, he retains an almost effervescent interest in all aspects of sports. He has had the opportunity of working towards reigning in infringements of Intellectual Property (IP) Rights in Sports during a month-long attachment with Copyright Integrity International, an international Sports Law and IP Law Firm. An accomplished MUNner, Debater and Public Speaker, his interests range from Sports to the UN, International Politics, International Law and Jurisprudence.