Olympic and sports ideas: general characteristic of the problem of internal complementarity

Фотографии: 

N.N. Vizitey, professor, Dr.phil.nat.

N.N. Vizitey, professor, Dr.phil.nat.
V.G. Manolaki, professor, Dr.Hab.
State university of physical education and sport, Republic of Moldova, Kishinev

Key words: Olympic charter, creative heritage of Coubertin, philosophy of sport and Olympic philosophy.

1. Sport and the idea of Olympism: standpoint of the Olympic Charter.

Today Olympism is the official (at least, at declarative level) ideological and worldview doctrine of sport, first of all – elite sport. Nevertheless, the question of the relatedness of the idea of sport and the idea of Olympism has not been clarified in many respects till now. The Olympic Charter defines Olympism in its basic treatment as a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the merits of body, will and mind [9, 9]. It is notable that sport is not mentioned anyhow in this definition, i.e. the idea of Olympism here initially does not include any idea of sport as its basic element (at any rate, in an explicit form), does not correlate with any of its particular ideas.

It is also evident that the definition in question is very broad in sense, and, taking it as a guideline, trying to understand the deep essence of Olympism, we face the need to take the phenomenon of human life in general as the main subject of the analysis. Another circumstance is also obvious here: trying to combine the idea of Olympism with the idea of sport we will have to follow the line of a mere introduction of the Olympic idea into sport from the inside. It is quite evident, however, that such kind of strategy alone is ineffective; it could be effective in this case provided we initially, already at first stages of analysis, were aware of such peculiarities of sport whereby it would become predisposed to the perception of the idea of Olympism. Striving to detect and estimate this predisposition, in this case we inevitably have to apply to the question: to what extent the idea of Olympism is intrinsic to sport itself or the question of the essence of sport per se.

However, there is no such a consideration in the Olympic Charter; moreover, even any holistic definition of sport is completely lacking here. In such case it comes to light that the possibilities of the chosen strategy of solving the problem are considerably limited, and, probably, namely this circumstance acts as an inner premise of the fact that the Olympic Charter already in those propositions, which immediately follow the basic definition of Olympism, sharply changes the general approach to the problem consideration. Notwithstanding the initial standpoint where Olympism is treated extremely wide as a certain philosophy of human life per se, now it is sport that starts to be considered as the source and the main bearer of the Olympic idea, and it is sport that we should comprehend now as a subject, from which one should begin the analysis, trying to understand the essence of Olympism. At the same time, as it is evident, an issue on the ways of distribution of the idea of Olympism in society inevitably is considered differently: now the following task is set as paramount, namely the transferring of the idea of Olympism out of sport, where it is first and foremost substantially presented, according to the new understanding of the situation in general, into other spheres of social life. Note should be taken, that it is the given strategy that is reflected in the second paragraph of “The basic principles” of the Olympic Charter, where it is stated: “The goal of Olympism is to make sport a facilitator of human harmonious development, with the purpose of promotion of civilian society caring about human dignity” [9, 9].

Thus, in this case Olympism is understood first of all as “a life philosophy” implemented within sports activity, and, it should be stressed once again, now the task is to provide for the broadest possible distribution of this philosophy beyond the sport. But here, however, we face the problem already familiar to us: success in the distribution of the Olympiс idea, which is present in sport, beyond its limits, will be undoubtedly defined by the fact to what extent the opposite side (society) will be inwardly susceptible to the indicated idea. In other words, we once again return to the question of the initial presence of the Olympiс principle in social life, of the reflection of the idea of human presence per se in this principle.

In the light of the foregoing and speaking exceptionally formally, it is possible to say that there is a tendency in the Olympic Chart to resolve the problem of correlating the Olympiс idea with the sports idea as if two conceptual approaches were on the counter motion: in one case, we, having defined the essence of Olympism as the philosophy of life in general, try to specify and implement the strategy of its introduction into the particular sphere of social life – into sport, in the another case, – having defined the sports idea and stated that the sports idea was presented immanently there, we try to make this idea public. In the first situation we, having a definite philosophy of human life, apply to sport and try to enrich it by means of inculcation of this idea in it, in the second situation, - having revealed the sports idea, we try to make it universally social. In one case we enrich sport with the definite humanistic idea of general character, in another – make the humanistic sports idea universal.

While assessing such kind of strategy in the methodological terms, it should be noted that in general, to a certain extent, it is rightful. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the necessary premise of success in the relevant actions, nevertheless, is the presence of common basic elements in the given definitions (the Olympiс and the sports ideas). These elements can be given, of course, only in the most abstract form in the initial situation of the analysis, but, however, in the course of analysis can and should become more and more certain. It is evident that only under such condition we can expect to reach the targeted situation in the course of discussion, when each phenomenon will be fully defined through another one, when the way from one of them to another one will be reliably made during analysis, and these phenomena in our perception will become fully corresponded: Olympism will be interpreted as the philosophy of sport life, and the later will acquire the meaning of a definite variant of the philosophy of life of society. Then the task of the International Olympic Committee stated in the Olympic Charter will be resolved: “to encourage and support initiatives of blending sport with culture and education” [9, 10].

Such is a real situation. Meanwhile, it is evident that one can take very little concerning our interest from the text of the Olympic Charter. In the initial Olympiс idea we can’t find any sports ideas, and in the initial sports idea - any Olympic idea. Moreover, in both cases we actually can find here only general statements. In particular, obviously, the basic definition of Olympism as the idea of human existence, aimed at achieving the balance of “body, will and mind” have not only the disadvantage that it does not refer us explicitly to the notion of sport, but also that it itself, being a reference to a certain variant of harmonic human state, is extremely vague. In fact, here the common principle is indicated, and in the most general form, which is put in the forefront in many socio-philosophical, religious and pedagogical concepts, when it is a question of the ideal case of human existence and development - both in ancient times and nowadays. (Thus, Aurelius Augustinus (V AD) says that a person is always striving for harmony, and Frankl (XX AD) affirms that harmony is an issue of all cultures.) However, the problem we face is not simple. Particularly, we need to specify the essence of this phenomenon, as well as to find out what particular sense it has in case when we talk exactly about Olympism; at least we should define in what ways this harmony can be achieved, both in sport and in the other kinds of social life. Without clarifying and specifying the relevant notions the conceptual content of the Olympiс idea remains extremely weak.

There are also some problems regarding the definition of sport. As we have already noted, any clear and complete definition of it is lacking in the Olympic Charter at all. Ultimately, we can conclude that on the base of some arguments, stated here, that sport in this case is understood as an athletic activity and is based on the principle of “fair play”. It is quite obvious, however, that this definition is also weak, and the specific character of sport as a socio-cultural phenomenon here is not reflected specifically and fully enough.

It should be finally noted that in the Olympic Charter Olympism is also treated in one more, the third sense, namely not as an ideologically-worldview principle of sport or social life as a whole, but as an activity purposefully carried out by itself that ensures connection of sport with society. The aim of such kind of actions is to create “way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” [9, 9]. In our opinion, this interpretation is generally not well-chosen. It would be, probably, more logical to set the task of ensuring of the connections between sport and society as a prerogative of the International Olympic Committee, which introduces the Olympic idea into life, than to consider this task to be a part of the Olympic idea itself.

For all that this position is also directly stated in the Olympic Charter. Here already in the first paragraph of the section “Objectives and role of IOC”, i.e. indicated as something priority, it is spoken of the necessity “to encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport as well as education of youth via sport” [9, 10].  It is worth to draw our attention in the context of the analysis to the way this statement is formed. It can be easily noticed that its first part suggests that we have to make efforts to introduce those norms of ethics into sport that are adopted in society, the second one – to introduce ethics of sport into society, i.e. to apply efforts in another, actually opposite, direction. Sport (“ennobled by introducing ethics, which exists in society”) is supposed to be used as a factor of favorable influence on the society itself, in particular, the factor educating people, first of all, as the Charter states, - the youth. It has to be said, that all this in general is an already familiar to us logics of solution to the problem. And it should be pointed once again, this would have had some sense, if initially the Olympiс and the sports ideas substantially had been represented in the Olympic Charter more definitely, rather than they really are.

This is the real state of affairs. And, ultimately, it has to be stated that the Olympic Charter interprets both Olympism and sport to a large extent equivocally and it does not ensure the proper ideologically-worldview grounds, due to which we would be able to act consecutively and productively towards the true understanding of the Olympiс idea, the sports idea, as well as of that unity which can be the result of correlation of these ideas.

However, some may note here that the Olympic Charter does not set itself (and probably, even does not have to set) the task of creation and statement of the Olympic conception and sport full-fledged. It is the task of such disciplines as philosophy, sociology, psychology and pedagogics. Generally one can, surely, agree with such a statement. Meanwhile, obviously, a more strict approach to the fundamental definitions has to be implemented in the Olympic Charter, which defines itself as a document which “regulates the fundamental principles and the indispensable values of Olympism” [9, 7].

But why the situation is exactly like this? It is be noted, the main reason of the mentioned imperfections is well-known: at present plenty of debatable questions still remain at the level of philosophical and sociological analysis of sport as a social phenomenon. And these questions are often fundamental. The aforesaid is revealed in the most obvious way in fact that at present there are very different and often – right opposite opinions concerning the social significance of sport, including Olympic one: here one can see, in particular, both pejoratively disclosing and enthusiastically eulogistic opinions. Here are the examples of the first ones: Erich Fromm – modern Olympic Games “are a dirty mixture of advertisement and business” [12,166]; J. Huizinga notes that “neither Olympic Games, nor sports organizations in American universities, nor international competitions are able to raise sport to the active force, which can create style and culture. It remains a fruitless function” [16, 223]. And here are the examples of the second ones: Michael Novak - “I believe that sport is one of the forms of divineness in the human” [6, 6]; Nicolas. A. Nissiotis claims that a person reveal via sport that the meaning of his existence is comprehension of the supreme form of being [21, 173]. Accordingly, the opinions, concerning Olympism of Coubertin, are also polar: in some cases they say about unconditional importance of this idea for the modern society, in other cases – don’t consider it to be relevant at all.

 Such a situation itself while considering the questions of the essence of sport and its historical prospects in fact, certainly, may not provoke profound concern, since the difference in opinions concerning the social significance of one and the same social institution today is to a great extent a quite typical phenomenon. But we are deeply concerned that both positive and negative opinions of sport in conception are often poorly grounded today. It is not hard to notice, in particular, that in the debates, in which sport is estimated positively, the authors rely first of all on their own intuition concerning existentially-sense role of this phenomenon, based on the principle of fair competition. The point to be emphasized is that such a kind of intuition, in general, is legitimate and effective. However, this is just intuition.

As for the negative assessments of sport, they are more often based on a mere statement of empirically evident negative facts, which are related with the life of elite sport: athlete’s egocentrism, aggressiveness, the use of doping, excessive commercialization of sports activity in general, etc. It is clear, that the stated points of view are competitive, and the winner here, like in other similar cases, is (though in general it hardly corresponds to the real state of things) the second one, since the facts of real life usually act as more cogent arguments during the debate rather than evidences of somebody’s intuition.

It is no surprise that the relevant views of an athlete in such case are also contradictory. On the one hand, dealing with the profound processes of sport (competitive) activity, he often already in pure spontaneity discovers their high worldview and moral significance for himself. On the other hand, such assessments are not usually full-scale and stable. And, we must say, there are many reasons for it. In particular, here comes out the shortcoming, already mentioned above, - not very high level of general conceptual development of the problem, and also (and, perhaps, in a higher degree) the circumstance, that the general situation of human presence, including that of an athlete, in the modern world, is characterized by the weakening of his relations with profound, essential horizons of the human existence. That is why the basic, existential-moral essence of sport, as well as (it is acceptable, probably, to say) the essence of human existence in general, are rather dim for us today.

Today, generally, we live most likely as amateurs. The Greeks of the ancient times – professionals. The situation, undoubtedly, is exactly such. And it is to be emphasized, that our professionally-commercial sport is also generally only the amateurishness. It might have become professional as a commercial enterprise from the definite historic moment, but it has not evidently attained the professional level as an Olympic affair, in comparison with the sport of the ancient Greeks. We must at least fully realize this circumstance, examine it with interest and in detail, and aim our efforts at acquiring the proper worldview and socio-cultural professionalism, to be inspired by the task of such an acquisition – both in life in general and in sport in particular.

Poor general theoretical development of social problems of sport acts as a negative factor in the professional work of trainers too. The necessity to ensure high sport results for his pupils in conditions of uncertainty of ideas on the essence of sport and Olympism leads to the fact that a trainer in his activity, in particular, trying to form and develop the motivational sphere of an athlete, often takes the path, where there are not so much clarifying and strengthening of those, as we noted not enough conceptually grounded, but in general adequate views with regard to the high socio-cultural significance of sport activity as such, which an athlete often has, but the way, where these views are left without attention, that to a great extent provides their depreciation.

At last, it is be mentioned here about the present situation regarding propaganda and distribution of the Olympic idea among people, that is, as it is known, one of the major tasks faced by Olympic Academies. The sizeable work, which is being carried out here quite often, to a considerable extent is not very effective, but again, because of the lack of general theoretical development of the corresponding problems. People usually receive extensive information only about external aspect of life of the Olympic sport, whereas the profound sense of the corresponding events more often remains concealed for them.

Whereas in general the situation is such, then probably it is appropriate even to put a question here: is Coubertin generally right when he formulates the Olympiс idea and correlates it conceptually with the sports idea?  Doesn’t he lose here a sense of reality, in what he has been reproached for many times in one form or another? In spite of the critical remarks expressed above regarding the general conceptual level of the Olympic Charter, which is based on the ideas of Coubertin, we consider him, however, to be generally right. And the main argument in favor of this conclusion is the historical fact that such a kind of correlation took place already and was fruitful within the definite culture and the limits of the particular historical epoch – in ancient Greece. It is generally known, that exactly the knowledge of the history of the Greek culture and the Greek Olympic sport has inspired Coubertin to take a courageous and, as the further events shown, far-reaching decision – to impart the Olympic character to the modern sport and to set the goal before it: to be a factor of rehabilitation of the modern society as a whole. It can be said that in some respect all what Coubertin is talking about, what inspires him and what he hopes for, has already taken place to some extent, and it can and must become for us, as assumed by the author of the modern Olympic idea, an example for imitation.

Thus, generally the situation is the following: Coubertin rightly appreciated the ancient Olympic Games as potentially rich phenomenon in the socio-cultural sense, worthy of being an example for us. However, he does not have any scientifically grounded conception of the essence of the Greek Olympism. It can be said that his arguments are grounded on general considerations, which are generally right, but today it is obviously not enough. Many fundamental issues on the peculiarities of the ancient culture and their reflection in the Olympic Greek sport are not represented definitely to the necessary extent in the Coubertin’s conception. Another thing is also essential: philosophical and sociological studies of Olympism and sport that were carried out in the times of Coubertin, and also further, up to nowadays, have not changed in general the situation considerably, so that the cardinal issues of the indicated manner acquired the necessary general theoretic resolution, to what we have already noticed above.

However, the problem of sport and Olympism accumulates a lot of fundamental problems of human life. Here we must note that as far back as the 30s of the last century one of the classics of the European philosophy Max Scheler emphasized that it was unlikely that any other phenomenon in the world deserves that day the same deep socio-philosophical examination as sport. Sport has grown immensely in its meaning, but the sense of sport has been left without proper attention [22, 19]. Later on in the 80s well-known American sociologist of sport Allen Guttmann notes in his book “From ritual to record”, commenting upon Max Scheler’s words: “Sport remains among the most discussed and least understood phenomena of our time” [10, 7]. Has the situation changed considerably in what follows? – Hardly!

Here we must notice one principal thing: Olympism – is a philosophy of life and that already per se obliges us to turn to the philosophical consideration of the corresponding problems. It should be noted that in the recent years there are some persistent attempts to create the philosophy of sport [13]. At the same time it is evident that at present we are still at the very beginning of such a way. We need qualitative, satisfying the fundamental requirements of philosophical analysis, knowledge on sport, as well as (and we should make a special emphasis here) – on Olympism. 

2. Sport and Olympism: on the ways of philosophical comprehension of the problem.

Trying to build the philosophy of sport or to define the essence of Olympism as a philosophy of life, here in all cases we definitely face the question of the specific character of philosophical knowledge as such.

What is philosophy? It should be noted that this question is as old as philosophy itself. It is the question, an interest to which is undying with time [5], and one of the main threats for us on the way of building the philosophy of sport (and philosophy of Olympism), is that we simply once again will remain within the frame of exceptionally scientific (or, in fact, if to keep in mind the real results of such efforts, - pseudoscientific) consideration of the corresponding issues, i.e. will ignore the importance and seriousness of namely the philosophical conceptual approach.

The use of such an approach can be started from the common knowledge: philosophy – is love of wisdom, verity. The process of philosophizing – is an active emotional experience of love by a person, who is aimed at verity comprehension. However, the most important question here is: on what base does it occur? The act of philosophizing – is an act of spiritual-practical accomplishment, within which a subject we are discussing is related to the ultimate reality in some variant – the Common, the Absolute, God, Being, Cosmos, the ground of the external world, etc. It is essential that when such kind of correlation takes place, there is a situation, within which the distance between the cognizing agent and cognizable object in fact disappears. Now these phenomena are not extrinsic but are related to each other. Here the object is given full-scale to the subject both as an outer and an inner reality simultaneously (i.e. is given phenomenologically). In such kind of circumstances that what is open to the subject as the ground of the external world is open to him equally and as what in its utmost view is given to him as the ground of his internal world as well. The first being and human entity in this situation in fact are equal to each other. It is the situation of “unity of reality and impression of it” [7, 95].

Here in cognition I (a cogniser) see not only the truth of an object but the truth of being. It is important to note that this truth is open, presented to me both as a natural result of my presence in being and as a consequence of my active volitional manifestation as well, i.e. as my performing and performed duty. (M. Bakhtin: “To understand an object means to realize my duty towards it” [1, 95]. Here the truth of my vitally-practical existence in being and simultaneously vitally-practical existence of the truth of being as such mediated by me are present and implemented. It is the truth of the world, having performed in the point of my bodily presence, the world, in which I am immutably set and to which I at the same time deliberately, willfully give myself unselfishly, and therefore that is love – both in my existentially-personal manifestation and in its ontological view simultaneously.

Each separate kind of philosophy (of science, art, religion, law, etc.), provided that it is a real philosophy, aims via the motion of being to discover, catch by intuition a process, an attitude, an event, which is immanently connected with the phenomenon of their primary interest (with science, art, religion, law, etc.) The task of each of these philosophical disciplines – to consider, to understand their subject as the phenomenon of the utmost reality in the context of its universal accomplishment. The aforesaid corresponds to the point of view of M. Heidegger, who, discussing the specific character of philosophical (metaphysical) analysis, claims that, first of all, every philosophical question always covers the metaphysical subject matter as a whole. Secondly, any metaphysical question can be asked only in such a way that a person, who asks is also involved in it, i.e. is also under the question. A metaphysical question must refer to the whole and be asked from the essential location of the inquiring presence [15, 23].

Each philosophy – is first of all ontology and this circumstance finds its reflection in philosophical disciplines devoted to the analysis of some kind of social activity. Here are some examples, which illustrate the aforesaid:

Philosophical anthropology. M. Scheler: “A human being is a meeting point”. And the essential basis of the world comprehends itself in the same act, in which the human being sees himself rooted in it [17, 93].

Philosophy of religion. F. Schleiermacher: religion is “sense and taste for the Infinite”; moreover the religious feeling” should be understood existentially – as a human contact with the bottom of the Universe in the inner depths of personality as genuine religious self-awareness, the initial act of any awareness as a whole, and in this case there is no division into “self” and “otherness”, subject and object, will and cognition [18, 74].

Philosophy of law. R Marchich considers the reality of being or the reality of the world as the reality of law. The law is a feature of being. The order of being and law inherently coincide [20, 129].

Philosophy of science. M. Mamardashvili affirms that we comprehend via organs, which are not given to us by nature, but which emerge and are given in the space of mind, which convert a man into a space dimension, which penetrates space and time [8, 53]. [All cases of emphasis text in assertions of M. Scheler, F. Schleiermacher, R. Marchich and M. Mamardashvily are ours. – N.V., V.M.]

And now we are to indicate one more principally important side of the problem: Olympism – is the philosophy of life. There is nothing said about Olympism in the Olympic Charter – as of “principle of life”, “strategy of life”, “life line”, “way of life” or something similar, but is said exactly – philosophy of life. This is not an intellectual assertion of life, but real life itself, embodied in philosophy. This is the being of a person in its ontological authenticity, who is addressed to the problem of the profound meaning of his existence and is a creator of this meaning. Therefore, speaking about Olympism, in this case we discuss the possibility of finding and keeping of the orientation by a person to what is the very essence of human existence. In fact here is an appeal to a person to perceive and live actually philosophically, that is to consider and purposefully realize it within the context of movement of the utmost reality, in the context of movement of the being per se, an appeal to live without losing a feeling of metaphysical profoundness of his moral and reflexive existence, an appeal to realize his own metaphysical essence spiritually – practically – same as the Greeks did it in their time. Here one can see, and we must stress it, not only a kind of artificially accepted position, not only one of the many possible ones freely chosen by us attitude. M. Heidegger emphasizes that metaphysics is a fundamental event in the human existence [14, 460], and M. Mamardashvili notes that only metaphysical is really human in us [7, 346].

The question about the essence of Olympism – is, undoubtedly, a question of activity-practical human participation in the ontological supreme state. M. Heidegger reminds us of the affirmation of Platoon that the difference between philosophizing and non-philosophizing persons is like a difference between wakefulness and a dream. A non-philosophizing person, including a man of science, of course, exists, but he is asleep, and only philosophy is a vigilance presence, something completely different from all the rest, something incomparably independent [14, 477]. There is no doubt that Olympism is a vigilance presence.

It should be emphasized that, surely, the particular forms, in which such presence will take place, could be, however, different. Olympism as a definite type of human world outlook and self-actualization is initially presented full-scale in history in the variant, which has been formed in ancient Greece. But the Olympiс idea itself is undoubtedly universal. Therefore it is possible and necessary to find the premises and cases of its presence in other cultures as well (in particular, in the Eastern), and in other historical periods (in particular, nowadays), and this is one of the topical tasks to be resolved while building a developed Olympic conception.

It is also possible to say that Olympism is a call for enlightenment, a call for the human overcoming of his metaphysical ignorance. It is to be noted that people for many times in history faced this problem. It is not a mere chance that in Buddhism, in particular, it is said about avidia which is the source of all misfortunes and the essence of which is exactly that a person has lost the understanding and the sense of metaphysical character of his existence. Similarly in Christianity, the human alienation away from God in the result of the original sin - it is also in fact his conversion into the state of metaphysical ignorance. P. Tillich claims: “We are threatened not only with losing our individual selves but also with losing participation in our world” [11, 65-66]. In a situation like this the modern Olympism can be actually taken as a factor of possible change of the state of the society as a whole, that corresponds, as it is evident, with the Coubertin’s point of view, which in the content, however, has somewhat another sense than that defined in the discussions above.

The consideration of the problem “sport and the Olympiс idea”, first of all, sets before us a task to define the strategy of the analysis? – From our point of view, in general here it is advisable, we will stress it one more time, to follow Coubertin, i.e. to refer first of all to the antique Olympism and antique sport. And here we face the need of conceptual considering first and foremost the following questions:

1. What is the essence of the antique Olympism?

2. To what extent does the Olympiс idea, formulated by Coubertin, correspond with the antique one?

3. To what extent has the idea of Coubertin been implemented in the modern sport?

4. Should we maintain the idea of Coubertin for the case of the modern sport and modern society, and if we should, is there the necessity of its enhancement?

5. If to admit that the modernization is required (and, most likely, it is so), in what direction is it advisable to act: weather to increase the equivalence of the Coubertin’s Olympiс idea with the antique one, or, being satisfied with the today’s level of such equivalence, to improve it first of all by taking into account the peculiarities of the modern socio-cultural situation and the peculiarities of the modern sport?

6. What is the specific character of the presence and which are the possible ways of implementation of the Olympiс idea in different spheres of social life, besides sport (art, economics, politics, etc.), and also in cultures of different type (Western, Eastern, etc.)? 

Consideration of the given questions is, surely, a task of an independent research. However, here it should be noted that thanks to the first steps of the mentioned analysis the fundamentally important fact has already been revealed: the general theoretic core of Greek’ ideas about Olympic sport, as well as about Olympism itself, make up his ideas about agon (competitiveness), which is notoriously the prevailing element of life of antique society and to a large extent defines its essence. As we see it, there is a ground to take exactly agon as a fundamental event which is a premise and even a source of both the sports idea and the Olympic idea both in the ancient Greece and at present. Namely agon is that unknown common element which connects the sports idea and the idea of social life in general [2; 3].

The competitive attitude in its profound essence is an act of reflexivity, the act of movement of being. This movement, on the one hand, produces the subject (agent), but on the other hand – is the manifestation of activity of this agent, who is directed to the being like to his source. (G. Hegel notes that consciousness strives for awareness of the substance of the world, but latter for the situation, where it could be open for itself [4, 291]; M. Heidegger claims that self-comprehension of a person corresponds to the self-disclosure of being [14,470].) The subject is immersed in being, deliberately dissolves itself in it, and at the same time is constantly revived by being again and again. The immersion itself is the premise and the moment of his rebirth, and the rebirth itself is simultaneously the manifestation of actual presence of a subject in being, strengthening of his roots in being.

It is the competitiveness (agon) that is the essential moment of this process. The matter is that presence in being for the human in basic respect is his presence in society. Being is co-being, and J. P. Sartre reasonably notes: “In order to get any truth about myself, I must have contact with someone else. I need someone else for my own existence and self-actualization” [10, 336].

The specificity of sports competitiveness is connected with the circumstance that sport extremely intensifies and, in fact, clashes both of the mentioned strivings. Sport reproduces inner, profound development of human self-affirmation as such, presents them in an outer manner – as the situation of real interpersonal interaction [2]. The existentially-conceptual potential of sport is, undoubtedly, high, and ancient people were well aware of it. The Olympic champion for them was a person, who ranked with mythological heroes, with those, who overcame destiny, won the victory over death. Nowadays sport also possesses a considerable socio-cultural potential; however this potential is still poorly distinguishable by us, is not comprehended enough and is purposefully little supported.

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