Visiting Scholar Discusses Philosophy of Sport

Participation in athletics teaches life lessons

Drew Hyland first learned how sports can make a significant impact on the development of a student-athlete 55 years ago – when he was a point guard on the men’s basketball team at Princeton University.

“My basketball experience was the core of my overall undergraduate education,” said Hyland. “I learned about having faith in myself, how to interact with other people, to always bounce back when things don’t go your way, and the value of teamwork. It was all about life lessons.”

Hyland, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of Arts & Sciences, is on campus to share his scholarship and expertise with the Suffolk University community. He is a retired professor of philosophy at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

“If education has to do with self-knowledge, then there is no better theater for gaining self-knowledge than the experience of playing sports,” said Drew Hyland, a pioneer in the field of the philosophy of sport. “But the catch is, if the student-athletes are not asked to think about that, then it will blow by them. So I took it as my task to make sure they thought about it.”

Utilizing his firsthand experience as inspiration, Hyland developed The Philosophy of Sport, a course he taught at Trinity College for 47 years. The class focused on the basic life skills student-athletes learn through their involvement with sports, as well as issues relating to ethics, race and gender.

One of his assignments was to have students attend a sporting event of the opposite gender and write a paper about the similarities and differences that they discovered.

“I always looked for ways to challenge my students,” said Hyland. “What I wanted them to realize the most was that their athletic participation was a central part of their education and not at all extracurricula.”

In addition to the philosophy of sports, Hyland’s research interests include ancient Greek philosophy, 19th and 20th century continental philosophy and the philosophy of art.

He is the author of numerous publications including Plato and the Question of BeautyQuestioning Platonism and The Philosophy of Sport.

“Drew’s nuanced and incisive work on Plato, especially in its relation to contemporary thought, has greatly influenced my own scholarship,” said Philosophy Chair Gregory Fried. “He is a masterful teacher who has inspired several generations of scholars.”


Wednesday, April 6
Panel discussion: “How Should We Read Ancient Greek Philosophy: Heraclitus, Plato, and Others?” 4 to 5:30 p.m., 73 Tremont St., tenth floor, room 100

Thursday, April 7
Panel discussion: “Sport and Education,” 1 to 2 p.m., 73 Tremont St., first-floor conference room

Hyland also lectured on “The Politics of Sport: Sport as Subversive Activity” and “Philosophy and Political Ideology: The Strange Case of Martin Heidegger” during his weeklong visit.