Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Purposive/Aesthetic Sport: A Note on Boxing.

Marisa Yeomans, Jason Holt


Common sense, Bernard Suits, and David Best would agree that boxing is a purposive (i.e., non- aesthetic) sport. We argue, on the contrary, that boxing is in fact purposive only in some contexts (i.e., knockout) and an aesthetic sport in others (i.e., decision by judges). This is because boxing judges are empowered to give more points to a fighter not just for the quantity but the quality of strikes and of their performance in the ring in general. In other words, in bouts whose outcomes are decided by judges, a boxer’s purpose is not just to land punches, as the manner in which blows are struck (cleanly, with better ring control, etc.)—that is, how a boxer performs—figures into the awarding of points and consequent determination of outcome. This is the very hallmark of aesthetic sports. Boxing should therefore be classified instead as a “purposive/aesthetic” sport: a hybrid category that undermines a pure dichotomy between purposive and aesthetic sports.

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