Sequins and Scandals: Reflections on Figure Skating, Culture, and the Philosophy of Sport
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M.G. Piety has written an important social critique in the form of a series of vibrant essays about her chosen sport. Her main point is that figure skating is naturally fun and that those who participate in it ought to be having fun while doing so. She decries the fact that so few people in the figure skating world - skaters, coaches, judges, officials, and even fans - seem to be having any fun with it. She further laments that the International Skating Union (ISU) and other governing bodies systematically undermine efforts to keep figure skating fun and that they contribute toward creating a culture in which fun is nearly impossible.
But this lack of fun is not unique to figure skating among sports, games, and other structured recreational activities. For example, the National Football League (NFL) under the administration of Roger Goodell has been bashed from many sides as the "No Fun League." Yet fun endures in football despite Goodell. Its dominant culture is one of fun. Much of the success of Chip Kelly, his Philadelphia Eagles, and his Oregon Ducks is because he obviously has so much fun coaching these teams. You can see it in his face. He exudes joy. His sideline demeanor infects players and fans alike with enthusiasm. Which is not to take anything away from the success of grumps like Bill Belichick.
Contract bridge expert Charles Goren famously said of his favorite game: "You should play bridge for fun. The instant you find yourself playing the game for any other reason, you should pack it up and go on to something else." Piety claims that too many people associated with figure skating have become disgusted with its prevailing culture of joylessness and have indeed gone on to something else.
Foreword by Mary Louise Adams, author of Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity, and the Limits of Sport.