Cudd, Ann E.. Sporting Metaphors: Competition and the Ethos of Capitalism
Synopsis: This article examines metaphors that illuminate the competitive aspects of capitalism and its focus on winning but also metaphors that emphasize cooperation and ways that capitalism improves the lives not only of the winners but also of all who choose to play the game by its rules. Although sports metaphors invoked to describe capitalist competition may appear to cast an unflattering light on both capitalism and sport, on a deeper analysis those metaphors appeal to many of us because they reveal a closer resemblance to the Latin root of the word ‘competition’ and its cooperative, pareto-improving implications. Just as healthy competition in sports requires cooperation, healthy capitalism is also,ultimately, a cooperative endeavor. I will argue that metaphors imported from and expanded through our experiences of sport reveal many, while concealing other, aspects of capitalism.
Comment: This text would have a place within a course on business ethics that considers whether competition is good or bad within the context of the market. This would make it an interesting addition to a course that covered Satz's Why Some Things Should Not be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets. It is also a good overview of some ideas that are central to the philosophy of sport, such as what constitutes a game, the idea of cooperation, and competitiveness (winning/non-winning).