Sports Ethics and the Philosophy of Sport
Please write an academic paper in response to one of the following prompts:
- What role do games play in the good (and/or ideal) human life, according to the Grasshopper?
- What is the relationship between game-playing and make-believe? Are there games of make-
according to the Grasshopper? Does he adequately respond to Skepticus� position on this
- Compare and contrast �fight to the finish� (Chapter 6) and mountain climbing (Chapter 8), in
terms of the
Grasshopper�s definition of games (Chapter 3). Skepticus uses both as examples of games
The Grasshopper disagrees. Are the Grasshopper�s objections to Skepticus� assertions
persuasive? Why or
Be sure to address yourself not only to an answer to the question you choose to answer, but also
to providing your reader
with an account of why you believe your answer to be correct. What are your reasons for
understanding The Grasshopper
in the ways you do? In order to justify the claims in your paper to your reader, you must offer
substantiation for your
claims with quotations from the texts. Quotations are absolutely required; papers that do not use
from Suits� The Grasshopper to support the claims they make will receive a failing grade.
Please do not consult any sources or resources other than Suits� The Grasshopper. Papers that
cite from other sources will
not be acceptable; papers that rely significantly on other sources without citation will be
considered plagiarism. Any paper
that quotes from a source other than the texts assigned for class, or which can be shown to be
reliant upon a source other
than those texts, will receive a failing grade and its author will be subject to the appropriate
detailed in the U Academic Honesty Policy (available online, or in the U Student Handbook).
Please note: �a
source other than those texts� includes anything not written by Suits in any copy, edition, or
translation of his writings,
such as editor�s and translator�s introductions, forewords, afterwords, epilogues, and notes.
The paper should be 5-to-6 pages long, typed and double-spaced. Use an 11- or 12-point font
with reasonable margins.
Citations should be in either the MLA or Chicago Manual of Style formats (information on both of
which is available on
the university Library website, under the heading, �Citing and Writing�), and as such must give
information for both texts in either a �works cited� (MLA) or bibliographical footnotes (Chicago).
Quotations should be
set off from the rest of the paper (typically by quotation marks), and you must cite the page
numbers in the relevant text
where the quoted passage appears..
- What role do games play in the good (and/or ideal) human life, according to the
Game is a characteristic of human life starting from infancy. The first actions that babies
take is play. This work evaluates the role that games play in shaping a good an ideal human life
as illustrated by Suits in the Grasshopper: games, life and utopia (1978).
Suits try to define play by contrasting it with non-play or work and then compare it with
Utopia that is a world of ideal of existence (p. 166). Suits saw games as a logical human progress
and a way of overcoming boredom and malaise. He includes the intricate interrelationship
between games, play and work. According to Suits, games are goal oriented. A game player has
the attitude to choose, look for means to attain ends and observe set rules. This attitude, he called
lusory attitude is important since it makes one to play the game. He writes “My task will be to
persuade you that what I have called the lusory attitude is the element that unifies … the
elements of a game are the goal, the means of achieving the goal, the rules, and the lusory
I agree with Suits on the element of lusory attitude. We seek challenges in formal or
informal environments in order to attain ends in life. This concept shows the relationship
between play and work. Many activities in life have the elements of a game expressed by Suits.
The elements that characterize games are expressed in his statement;
“To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using
only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in
favor of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because
they make possible such activity [lusory attitude]” (p. 41).
This definition summarizes a game as a voluntary attempt to overcome artificial
obstacles. A game player is like the Grasshopper that will do anything for gratuity. The
Grasshopper values the intended challenges in its life. According to Suit, the Grasshopper
understands that working is not a proper end to life. An existence dedicated to working only,
such as that of ants, is illogical. He says that “the ideal of prudence, therefore, like the ideal of
preventive medicine, is its extinction” (P. 8). The Grasshopper is aware of winter and the need to
guard it. But according to the Grasshopper, it is not wrong to behave his way. By principle, the
grasshopper believes that we should also brace ourselves for “the possibility of an endless and
endlessly boring summer” (p. 176).
Suits advocate finding some activity or something that present an obstacle that we should
strive to overcome. This activity is of course, a game. Playing games make it possible to retain
enough effort in Utopia that makes life worth living (p. 172). He does not include every aspect of
games nor excludes the elements that are not game. He seems to suggest that everything that is
unnecessary fit to be called a game. He further insinuates that a person who comes up a problem
is a game-wright, and one who voluntary pursues a goal under such constraints is participating in
Suits include all activities, whether simple or complex, those that require skills and those
that are not fully developed. He also includes instances where individuals and groups in
competition that produce no winner are rewarded. His definition also includes different levels of
intelligence such as playing chess or basketball. He includes simple task as walking home and
warfare caused by natural factors as games by introducing various aspects of games such as
constraints. Finally, he believes that it is possible to manufacture games by providing
unnecessary hurdles to simple everyday projects.
Games are important in our daily lives. As parents, teachers, students, philosophers and
sportsmen, every behavior can amount to a proprietary game, by applying the lusory attitude in
our natural roles. Every action we take can either be poorly done or well done depending on the
character we want to portray. Any person who carry the knowledge of right and wrong moves,
cogent responses, appropriate gesture and appropriate action is a game player. Games give use
the experience and problem-solving skills that are required in life.
Suits understanding of the games is skewed. He suggests that the only requirements are to
know the rules, (and thus avoid cheating), willingly work towards achieving the goal of the game
(and thus avoid being a trifler), and avoid disregarding the means and ends (and thus avoid
spoilsport). If they were the only requirements, it would be easy to play a game. It would be easy
for the skilled, as well as the unskilled, the young, as well as the old, the educated and the
uneducated, the sophisticated and the plain individuals alike to meet the demands.
My evaluation of Suit’s definition of a game is inclusive. Everything we call a game
metaphorically is included in his definition. Suits broad definition seems to suggest human
beings are grasshoppers in disguise. We may have unintentionally turned our work lives into
games. Suits suggest that games are ubiquitous of every human being. On the negative, I believe
that Suits qualify one type of game and ignore the other.
Suits assert that performances are not games (p. 8 &9). This conclusion is erroneous.
Games in life present challenges that require goals. Games culmination shows some relative
degrees of success or failure that is similar to our view that life is challenging. This assertion is
relative to some objectives such as happiness or survival. Human beings must work to attain
these goals or otherwise do nothing and fail.
Suits further acknowledge that goals can be reached in a certain way. In a game, crossing
the finish line van be specified as a way of attaining the goal. “And because any achievable state
of affairs whatever could, with sufficient ingenuity, be made the goal of a game, the description
does not include too much. I suggest that this kind of goal be called the prelusory goal of a game
…” (p. 37). In the workplace, for example, an objective can be reached by employing qualified
personnel, interplaying cost, and work efficiency to achieve quality products. However, it is not
the case for games where the means and ends are not required.
Suits view games as a couple of journeys. To play the game, according to him, is to travel
towards a goal. He compares games metaphorically to constitutive rules that give a person a path
to a specified destination although with unnecessary barriers between where one is and want to
go. This metaphor works in life. Life is a process coupled with numerous barriers that require a
person to appreciate and see as interesting. Work exhibit these characteristics and has a sense of
achievement. Reaching the desired point is a summary of all efforts made to overcome barriers
on the way. Just like in life, barriers in games are elected not to prevent one from achieving their
objectives but to increase challenges. Submersion in diving is not a conceptual problem, for
example. It signals the end of testing for the goal to be achieved.
The concept of Utopia is apparent in Suits’ characterization of game players as attentive
intervention, skills and work-efficiency. This definition rules out people without such skills.
However, in a place where utility does not make sense, one would be better of playing games
than doing nothing. “Even if it is not necessary to compete for these things in Utopia people
would still have to work to achieve them” (p. 168). Skills and efforts would still be required in
Utopia. Suits argue “game playing makes it possible to retain enough effort in Utopia to make
life worth living” (p. 172). Those who will survive in Utopia are those who “place a high value
on the activity of conquering worlds” (p. 175).
In summary, games replace the effortful activities of work. They take the best part of the
work and abandon the remainder. Games give someone something to do and an opportunity to
exercise their skills and control boredom. The undesired part of work include rigidity,
extrinsically and non-fulfillment.
Bernard Suits. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia (Toronto: University of Toronto