Sport and Philosophy of Hospitality: Three Questions on How to Rethink Contemporary Sport Education in Light of Gift and Peace
The ancient Olympic Games were held in spaces and places consecrated for hospitality, to xénia, a Greek word that means “gifts” but also something that refers to and belongs to strangers and foreigners. Foreigners from every part of Greece met in Olympia to celebrate the agón. In this place, a stranger or a foreigner (hostis in Latin), probably a former enemy, became a friend because he was both guest and host (hospes in Latin) in the sanctuary-town, which belonged to the gods and to all of the Greeks, who recognized themselves in its spirit. This mechanism of hospitality formed the basis of the Olympic peace system and was the fundamental prerequisite for the celebration of agón. The practice of the agón was therefore made possible by a “gift” but also by “for-giveness” that allowed people to meet and compete. We can conclude that at the base of the Olympic (and Greek) ethics there was the concept of hospitality. Olympia was then the common home of all Greeks, the place where ethics were carried out, were put into practice, and concretely exercised. It is not a pure coincidence that the Greek word “ethics” is linked to the word éthos, which means “house”, “home”. For this reason, ethics can be thought as the art of hosting somebody in our own home and trusting him/her, just as it happened in ancient Olympia during the Olympic Games, which demonstrated that ethics was always a home’s ethics. Therefore, taking into account this cultural and philosophical framework, this study will develop a methodological approach, derived from deconstructionism, which will be applied to concepts that are both ambiguous and semantically rich in meaning, such as “gift”, “forgiveness”, xénos, hostis, and hospes. The first objective of this study is to reflect upon the connection between “gift” and “sport” and show the deep interconnection between the two concepts. The second is to use the model of Greek hospitality at the Olympic Games to deeply rethink sport and contemporary philosophy of sport education in terms of peace and multiculturalism.
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