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If only indirectly and by comparison with other, supposedly more consequential, social undertakings, sport and athletic commitment continue to be denounced as trivial in contemporary society. Against the backdrop of this abiding trivialization, this paper explores the value found in committing to athletic excellence or, using the terminology of the 2019 National Academy of Kinesiology’s annual conference, in pursuing optimal athletic performance. The author introduces and explains 6 kinds of value found in this commitment and pursuit. While these values can be conceptualized independently, they need not be thought of as mutually exclusive. Not only are the values comparably significant, but they might also overlap and combine in various forms and to different degrees. In some cases, they might develop concurrently. Before introducing the values, the author briefly conceptualizes both optimal performance and sport, because sound analysis depends on conceptual clarity.
The author is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Sport Studies, and Physical Education, The College at Brockport, State University of New York, Brockport, NY.