Hyped Virtues, Hidden Vices: The Ethics of Icelandic Sports Literature

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Ideally, good sports literature illuminates the subtle moral contours of sports reality. We ask in this paper how modern Icelandic literature describes sport-related ethical issues and attitudes. Our findings indicate that, in stark contrast to the rampant egocentrism, individual vice and misconduct blighting Icelandic sports reality, modern Icelandic prose literature typically either ignores this reality or refers to sports as if they were in full harmony with idealised ancient virtues and morals. Our conclusion is that this discrepancy admits of four possible interpretations: that (1) theories about the individualism and egocentricity of modernity do not apply in Iceland and in Icelandic sports; (2) the writers are seriously self-deceived; (3) the writers write their books for the deliberate purpose of deceiving the public; (4) the writers write their books for the deliberate purpose of preaching. Our answer is that, while there may be reason to foreground (4), the explanation lies in a combination of those four factors.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-395
Number of pages16
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011