Being-On-The-Bench: An Existential Analysis of the Substitute in Sport

Ryall, Emily S ORCID: 0000-0002-6050-4353 (2008) Being-On-The-Bench: An Existential Analysis of the Substitute in Sport. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 2 (1). pp. 56-70. doi:10.1080/17511320801896158

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Being a substitute in sport appears to contradict the rationale behind being involved in that sport, especially in those sports where substitutes frequently remain unused or are brought on to the field of play for the final moments of that game. For the coach or manager, substitutes function as a way to improve the team achieving a particular end, namely to win the game; whether to replace an injured or tired player, to change a team's structure or tactics, to complete a specialised manoeuvre (such as goal kicking in American football or a short corner in hockey), or to run down the clock. Whether a substitute is afforded an opportunity of playing the game appears to be directed by others; arguably if one had a choice in the matter one would chose to be on the field of play rather than off it. Nevertheless, the Existentialist position is that our situation is always inexorably one that is freely chosen. To argue that one has not freely chosen one's position is to be ‘inauthentic’. Furthermore, to conceptualise one's manifestation and to be treated by others as a thing ‘in-itself’–such as a substitute – is to fall into ‘bad faith’. Culbertson (2005) has already argued that elite competitive sport is an arena that promotes rather than avoids bad faith due to its constituent factors. Culbertson's frame of reference primarily applied to sporting events that involve individuals competing in co-active, parallel competition – such as athletics, swimming or weightlifting – where bad faith is generated via a tacit acceptance of ever-improving and quantifiable performance. The purpose of this paper is a continuation of such an enquiry but with a redirection of focus away from parallel competition by individuals towards team competitions which are, by nature, less concerned with an unremitting contest against time, distance or some other measurable concept. This paper sets out to examine the nature of the substitute in sport, who appears to be equally liable to find herself being ‘inauthentic’ and/or in ‘bad faith’. It attempts to consider the nature of these concepts and offer direction as to how substitutes can attempt to realise the Existential ideal.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: REF2014 Submission.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Emily Ryall
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 16:27
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:11

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