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Boxing: great sport or senseless violence?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.

What do you think about boxing?

Great sport - I have no problem with it
3
13%
It's a sport that I have serious reservations about
6
25%
It should be discontinued as a professional sport
15
63%
 
Total votes: 24

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kbell
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Boxing: great sport or senseless violence?

#1 Post by kbell » December 10th, 2007, 12:44 pm

I can never understand why people want to watch two men deliberately trying to inflict bodily harm on each other but obviously some people like it. Is that enough reason to keep it going when the result could be brain damage?

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whitecraw
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#2 Post by whitecraw » December 10th, 2007, 12:50 pm

Providing the bout is between consenting adults, I don't have a problem with it. I wouldn't particularly like to do it; so I don't do it. I don't particularly like watching it; so I don't watch it.

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Alan C.
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#3 Post by Alan C. » December 10th, 2007, 1:08 pm

If they must do it (box) I think they should all be made to wear the protective headgear that is compulsory for amateurs, points are scored by the punches landed, not for the damage inflicted.

Is there a typo in option 3?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

kbell
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#4 Post by kbell » December 10th, 2007, 1:42 pm

Dammit, Alan, you're right. I've corrected they typo but it gave the opposite meaning to what I intended. Sorry folks.

:sad:

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gcb01
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#5 Post by gcb01 » December 10th, 2007, 6:19 pm

Alan C. wrote:If they must do it (box) I think they should all be made to wear the protective headgear that is compulsory for amateurs, points are scored by the punches landed, not for the damage inflicted.
I've seen comments on headgear by a neurosurgeon to the effect that the protection would only work if it was placed inside the skull as the damage is caused not by the force of the blow on the head but the brain subsequently rattling about inside the skull.
Regards

Campbell

Diane
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#6 Post by Diane » December 10th, 2007, 6:30 pm

I can't think of any other competitive sport that involves deliberately trying to inflict serious bodily harm on an opponent - in fact you'd been penalised in most of them if you did.

Most people who would be appalled by bear baiting, dog and cock-fighting are willing to sit and cheer as two men attempt to inflict injury on each other with the risk of permanent brain damage. I don't get it!

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#7 Post by Alan C. » December 10th, 2007, 6:56 pm

Diane
I can't think of any other competitive sport that involves deliberately trying to inflict serious bodily harm on an opponent
Rugby Nick? :grin:
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whitecraw
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#8 Post by whitecraw » December 10th, 2007, 9:52 pm

Most people who would be appalled by bear baiting, dog and cock-fighting are willing to sit and cheer as two men attempt to inflict injury on each other with the risk of permanent brain damage. I don't get it!
The two guys elect to do so. Fish, flesh and fowl don’t have a choice. That’s what makes bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting cruel: the element of compulsion. That’s also what would make ‘discontinuing’ boxing tyrannical.

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#9 Post by Nick » December 10th, 2007, 10:31 pm

Alan C. wrote:
Diane
I can't think of any other competitive sport that involves deliberately trying to inflict serious bodily harm on an opponent
Rugby Nick? :grin:
:laughter: Except that the objective in rugby is to score when the ref is not looking!

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#10 Post by Jem » December 11th, 2007, 10:54 am

Diane wrote:I can't think of any other competitive sport that involves deliberately trying to inflict serious bodily harm on an opponent - in fact you'd been penalised in most of them if you did.

Most people who would be appalled by bear baiting, dog and cock-fighting are willing to sit and cheer as two men attempt to inflict injury on each other with the risk of permanent brain damage. I don't get it!

I don't think boxing is comparable to bear baiting and cock fighting from an ethics point of view. As wc said, it's not the choice of the bear to be baited. I do believe that other sports are at least as dangerous - horse racing and motor racing, for example.

The argument for the discontinuation of boxing seems to be more about the subjective displeasure of individuals rather than the objective dangers of the sport, which isn't very persuasive.

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whitecraw
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#11 Post by whitecraw » December 11th, 2007, 11:18 am

The argument for the discontinuation of boxing seems to be more about the subjective displeasure of individuals rather than the objective dangers of the sport, which isn't very persuasive.
My point is that neither our subjective feelings about nor the objective dangers of the sport warrants interfering with the liberty of individuals to participate in it. After all, those who do elect to box are harming no one but themselves.

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#12 Post by Diane » December 11th, 2007, 12:58 pm

I find the argument that 'they are harming nobody but themselves so they should be left to get on with it' a curious one.

There is surely a case for preventing people from harming themselves. It's certainly a principle that is applied in other areas of life so why should sport be excluded?

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#13 Post by kbell » December 11th, 2007, 4:02 pm

Jem wrote:
I don't think boxing is comparable to bear baiting and cock fighting from an ethics point of view. As wc said, it's not the choice of the bear to be baited. I do believe that other sports are at least as dangerous - horse racing and motor racing, for example.

The argument for the discontinuation of boxing seems to be more about the subjective displeasure of individuals rather than the objective dangers of the sport, which isn't very persuasive.
There are certainly potential dangers in horse and motor racing - there is probably some danger of accidental injury in every sport. What makes boxing different from every other sport I can think of is that the purpose of boxing is to physically injure someone else. That, to me, is a strong argument for banning it. It seems ridiculous to make assault and GBH offences unless they are a sport and I slightly resent the obligation we have to look after ex-boxers who've suffered brain damage because they've exercised their liberty to participate in this so-called sport.

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whitecraw
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#14 Post by whitecraw » December 11th, 2007, 4:29 pm

I find the argument that 'they are harming nobody but themselves so they should be left to get on with it' a curious one.
It’s a fundamental principle of liberalism. As John Stuart Mill puts it in his classic essay On Liberty:
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him, must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
There is surely a case for preventing people from harming themselves.
There are arguments to be made in favour of interfering with a person’s liberty in order to prevent them from harming themselves; but, if you accept the principle of individual autonomy and ‘the absolute and essential importance of human development in its richest diversity’ (‘the grand, leading principle towards which,’ Mill says, ‘every argument unfolded in these pages directly converges’), those arguments won’t be very persuasive.
It's certainly a principle that is applied in other areas of life so why should sport be excluded?
That our personal autonomy is interfered with in other areas of life is hardly an argument for extending that interference into sport.

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whitecraw
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#15 Post by whitecraw » December 11th, 2007, 5:11 pm

the purpose of boxing is to physically injure someone else
Is this true? Physical injury might be a consequence of boxing, but is it its purpose? Surely the purpose of boxing is to score more points than one’s opponent in any given round, and to win more rounds than one’s opponent in the overall bout. You don’t get points for injuring an opponent, but only for clean punching, effective aggressiveness (moving forward and landing punches), ring generalship and defence.

Of course, if a boxer is deemed unable to defend himself whether through injury or lack of ability, the bout is stopped and awarded to his or her opponent on a technicality; so there is a sense in which it might be advantageous for a boxer to set out to injure his or her opponent (or for a promoter to mis-match opponents to ensure a victory and improved rankings for ‘his’ fighter). But, even so, this does not make inflicting injury on someone else the purpose of boxing.

But whatever the purpose of boxing: it’s no less tyrannical to interfere with the liberty of consenting adults to box than it is to interfere with the liberty of consenting adults to engage in any other activity one considers might harm them.

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#16 Post by jaywhat » December 11th, 2007, 5:13 pm

There are huge physical dangers in boxing, surely.

It does damage others who watch it by making the not-so-clear-thinkers think personal violence is all right - particularly young people.

It is pretty shocking that two of the top three in the recent awards for sport went to boxers.

I did it at school and in the army, but what a pillock I was.

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#17 Post by Nick » December 11th, 2007, 6:47 pm

jaywhat wrote: It does damage others who watch it by making the not-so-clear-thinkers think personal violence is all right - particularly young people.
Hmmm. I'm not sure about that. A couple of comments, which I will leave hanging, as I'm not in a position to substantiate them.

First of all, we are always being told that boxing and martial arts in general are a way of controlling aggression, and lead to less violence, not more.

Secondly, violence and bullying is a feature of an inadequate personality. Again, boxing and martial arts may have a role to play in helping young men in particular to cope with life. This can also be extended to less violent sports of course.

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#18 Post by Alan H » December 11th, 2007, 8:40 pm

Nick wrote:First of all, we are always being told that boxing and martial arts in general are a way of controlling aggression, and lead to less violence, not more.
I think there is a big difference between boxing and (most) martial arts. There are obviously some martial 'arts' that are as brutal as boxing (eg full contact forms), but many (eg judo, Tae Kwon-Do, Karate) where the contestants can get hurt, but that is a side effect of the match, not its purpose.
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#19 Post by Lifelinking » December 11th, 2007, 11:26 pm

I have to concur with much of what Whitecraw has written.

If I may, I will also throw in a wee tuppence worth about my experience of amateur boxing, which was hugely positive.

I boxed as a youngster, with the wonderful Dick McTaggart's club over on the south side of Glasgow.

Dick McTaggart was a first class role model for young men. A fine athlete, and a most accomplished pugilist. In the ring he exemplified how a true sportsman should deport himself. Competing hard, but competing within the rules. Within and outwith the ring he was a gentleman. An honest, decent, caring human being.

I learned about myself and others physically and emotionally, and learned about discipline, self control and friendship. I learned about how to lose and to win with good grace.

My young son is in a Judo club and loves it. If he wanted to box I would have no hesitation in allowing him to do so if I could find a gym of an appropriate standard.

I finish with a link to an article with a picture of the marvellous Dick McTaggart boxing at the Rome Olympics

Those who do not want to witness such 'barbarity' - please don't click on it.




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#20 Post by tubataxidriver » December 13th, 2007, 8:10 pm

I was interviewed on BBC 5 Live the other day about boxing in schools, as I had in a rash moment made a comment on their "Have Your Say" area some time ago, from a school governor's point of view. I am very much against boxing in schools because of the peer pressure to participate etc.

I have no problem with consenting adults choosing to have themselves beaten up, assuming there are no public health / tax burden implications. However, the role of the professional game behind the "front" of amateur boxing is far from clear. The professional game needs a continuous supply of new "victims", who are encouraged up through the amateur route, many from boxing clubs and schools. They are a bit like the tobacco companies - they have to appeal to children to get their future customers.

Hence I don't think schools should have anything to do with amateur boxing.

Also for everyone's information, there is a poll on the ABA website at the moment - they are proposing to remove the requirement for headgear!

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