Bob Simon in the Scott Field House.

On the heels of three successful edX online course offerings, Hamilton will debut a fourth course, Ethics of Sports: Do Sports Morally Matter?, presented by Robert Simon, professor of philosophy emeritus, beginning on Oct. 18. The free two-week program is designed to appeal to those who dabble in sports, as well as the avid fan and the athlete. Course enrollment is online on the edX platform.

Sports are important cultural phenomena attracting the interests of millions of people around the globe. Their cultural role or influence, although sometimes dismissed as frivolous, cannot easily be overlooked.

Athletic contests raise many fundamental ethical questions, principal among them, what counts as fair play? Simon’s course will explore this and other basic ethical issues such as the nature of sports to see what values, if any, sports do and should promote and the educational significance of sports especially in higher education in the United States. Simon will also address violence in sports, gender equity and the ethics of using performance enhancing drugs. Ultimately the course will ask the question, do sports morally matter?

online courses from Hamilton

EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT. The organization offers interactive, non-credit, online classes from the world’s best universities. Hamilton has been a contributing member since 2015.


The goal of the course is to give participants the analytic tools to evaluate ethical issues in sports; to examine the importance of winning and value of athletic competition; to explore opposing arguments on drugs, violence, and equity in sports; to consider whether sports undermine or enhance education; and to use critical reasoning to evaluate different sides of issues fairly.

Through brief lectures on videos, debate via discussion board, interactive media and some selected readings participants will be offered a broader overview of the ethics of sport. They will also gain an appreciation for the role of reasoned discourse in advancing our understanding of ethical issues and how to approach them.

An expert on ethical issues affecting professional as well as amateur athletics, Simon is the author of the newly published Ethics of Sports-What Everyone Needs to Know as well as Fair Play, which is now in its fourth edition.  He was named among the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport and has served as a member of the advisory and editorial boards of the NCAA Scholarly Colloquium on College Sports and of the Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, and as Hamilton varsity coach of three nationally ranked NCAA Division III golf teams.

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