James Cartlidge
Central European University (PhD)
This paper evaluates Howe and Leota/Turp's accounts of gamesmanship by examining case studies of gamesmanship from professional darts. While Leota and Turp make some substantial improvements on Howe in reconceptualizing the idea of sporting excellence, I claim that there are points of criticism that must be addressed, notably in their claims that sports do not prescribe necessary skills, and that it is impossible to distinguish between legitimate sporting strategy unaccounted for by the rules on the one hand, and gamesmanship on the other. Leota and Turp criticise Howe’s account of rules for being misconceived: rather than rules prescribing necessary skills as Howe claims, rules actually proscribe skills and set limits on behaviour, rather than prescribing skills. I use darts and other sports to make the case that rules actually do both things. Elsewhere, in the phenomenon of ‘grouping’, I argue that we find a skill completely unaccounted for by the rules of darts and not a necessary skill for playing darts, which nonetheless counts as excellence for darts. This problematizes some claims from Leota and Turp on which their account of gamesmanship hinges. An aspect of Howe, Leota and Turp’s accounts on which they all agree is the importance of psychological resilience in sporting endeavours, which I discuss with reference to darts and rule changes in professional sport. The article ends with a discussion of an example from darts of a potential gamesmanship strategy, from a match between Michael van Gerwen and Darius Labanauskas, that unquestionably remains within the rules of the sport and which could not be eradicated through rule changes because it would violate the spirit of the sport. This is an interesting, controversial example for studies of the different forms of gamesmanship and their categorization, and indicates some limitations on what I say in my argument.
Keywords Gamesmanship  Darts  Sport  Rules  Cheating  Philosophy
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1080/17511321.2021.1992492
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