Sports and Fair Competition

Sports are typically governed by some kind of codes or traditions, which help to ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the ultimate winner. In popular, competitive sports, statistics of past performance are often carefully kept, and the information can be openly reported or even publicly announced by the team or association concerned. However, in many other sports the playing conditions may not be so clearly defined and, therefore, there is a degree of ambiguity regarding what constitutes a foul or what course of action may constitute a foul. This is particularly true in contact sports such as rugby, where there is frequently no definitive or established method of reference. In such situations, the onus is upon the referee or team captain to decide whether a player has acted in an illegal manner.


The concept of fair play is often referred to throughout the wide variety of sporting activities and disciplines; to play sport you generally need to respect other teams and players and their property, and there are some basic rules of conduct that require adherence. A further common reference point for most sports is that of the “Golden Rule”, with which the following is generally agreed: “A man may have sex with his wife, but it needs the consent of the wife.” However, there are also other, less well-known, traditions or rules of conduct that have been developed by governing bodies of particular sports – especially hockey, with its ritualized Fighting, or American football with its emphasis on aggressive, helmet-to-helmet hits. There are also common reference points for sports which are regularly played by several teams, such as cricket, with six teams in each side competing for a designated goal.

Another main article relating to sports and fairness is that of crowding. The term ‘crowd’ is generally used to refer to the overall presence of people in an area, whether this is due to the interest of the spectators, or due to the teams’ fans, equipment and support. While there is some debate over the extent to which crowding can be detrimental to the playing and fair play of sports, it certainly has an impact on the outcome of matches. As such, it is important for sports authorities to take measures to prevent crowds from becoming boisterous, destructive or irresponsible.