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College sport is big business, and generates a tremendous amount of revenue. Should the player receive some share of that money?

Before I begin, let me issue a quick reminder: Not all college sports is big business. Some of it is, to be sure: Big-time college football, basketball, and the like. But college golf, tennis, swimming, and gymnastics don't generate much revenue, except perhaps at the most elite programs, and college sports don't generate much revenue at all at institutions like, say, MIT. So when I talk about college sports and "student athletes" below, I'm talking about only some college sports programs. So, that said, I used to be a huge fan of college basketball. (I went to Duke. Go figure.) Now I hardly watch at all, and the reason you mention is perhaps the most significant. The rules governing (that is, prohibiting) the compensation of "student athletes" were put in place many years ago to protect the interests of such students. For example, there was concern that a student might decide to go to school X rather than school Y, not because school X would better serve that student's long-term interests---which...

In many sporting competitions (and other types of competition) people will pray to God for help. Would it be fair to call such help cheating if it were granted? Is it ethical to even ask for what would be an unfair advantage over an opposing side in what should be a purely human competition? The critics of performance enhancing drugs seem to say nothing on this issue.

I'm not quite sure I understand what his has to do with performance-enhancing drugs. But, as I in effect said in response to a different question , if it turned out that the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 only because God had intervened, I don't think I'd feel quite the same about it. The nuns at Sunday School always taught me that it is wrong to pray for that kind of help. One may pray that one does one's best, that no-one is injured, and the like. But one may not pray for one's opponent's to do badly, nor for victory. God does not play favorites, and to ask God to do so is the height of arrogance. That God does not play favorites is something with which it is difficult to come to terms, if one really considers its full implications. And, as a result, this viewpoint is, clearly enough, not universally shared. That is a tragic fact, one that is at the root of many of history's most regrettable episodes, not to mention a good number of the present's.

Aaron Meskin provided this as part of his response to a question about performance enhancing drugs: "...But there might be other sorts of reasons. Professional athletes are entertainers, and one of the things we value in entertainment is the manifestation of human skill at a very high level. Sport and other forms of entertainment are like art in that way. The use of performance enhancing drugs tends to undercut our sense that sport is valuable and enjoyable because it allows us to experience high levels of skill and human achievement." I think this is a reason IN SUPPORT of performance enhancing drugs! There are individuals who are biologically high on these same hormones, who no doubt enjoy enhanced performance over those who are naturally lower on these same hormones. Why not level the "playing field"? We would see enhanced performance from all players, but the highest from those who have perfected their technique. I don't see how use of these drugs "undercuts" our appreciation of sports. I fully...

I think it's not just that we take joy in "high levelsof skill and human achievement" that are the result of "extraordinaryand undeserved pieces of luck" but, perhaps even more so, in such performances that are the result of extraordinary dedication. Suppose it turned out that, shortly after he was diagnosed with cancern, Lance Armstrong sold his soul to Satan in exchange for the cycling skills requried for a sequence of Tour de France victories. (Obviously, I am not suggesting that any such thing might have happend.) Speaking just for myself, I'd regard that as a form of cheating, and I'd take no pleasure whatsoever in Armstrong's accomplishments. They wouldn't have been his accomplishments, in the relevant sense. What makes his story gripping is precisely the fact that he was able to return from death's door to dominate his sport because of his dedication to doing so and not because Satan was giving him an unfair advantage. Now obviously, if Armstrong took "performance-enchancing" drugs ...

Is it fair and reasonable to say that one sport is more difficult than another? Sure football may be more athletic than golf, but does the ladder require more mental strength? Is it possible to rank the difficulty of sports?

Some comparisons may be possible, but I don't seen any particular reason to suppose that relative difficulty, for sports, is what mathematicians would call a total order : There may be questions of the form "Is A more difficult than B?" that simply do not have answers. The case of golf and football may well be such a case: Golfers and football players (and footballers, for that matter) use very different sets of skills. Perhaps one could ask whether it is more difficult to perfect the one set of skills than the other, but even that question might not have an answer. What is involved in perfecting the relevant sets of skills might, again, be very different.

Loyalty. Is it unethical to move loyalty to another sports team just because the current team you're rooting for isn't doing well?

There is an intriguing (if not very philosophical) question here what leads otherwise sensible people, such as myself, to attach themselves so strongly to sports teams. I don't really know the answer to that question. But it doesn't seem very plausible that such attachment is in any way deserved or that past attachment creates an obligation to the team. If not, then, one might say, there can't be any moral bar to shifting attachment for any reason one wishes. Sports franchises are businesses, and one increasingly hears fans described as consumers of sports-product. If so, couldn't one argue that shifting one's allegiance is simply a matter of choosing a good product over a bad one? So Yankees versus Red Sox is like Walmart versus Target. Actually, however, I'm not very sympathetic to that line. Being a "fan" of a team isn't, I think, like being a K-mart shopper. Whatever the source of one's allegiance, I don't think it's comparable to low prices or good selection. That's just an intuition,...