Being a part of the 43rd Annual International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS) Conference at Cardiff, Wales has been absolutely amazing. People may have their preconceived notions of philosophers, but never have I been among a more diverse, scholarly, and welcoming group of people. Though philosophers love to debate and discuss their ideas and works, this group does it with a genuine warmth, and desire of finding new knowledge. I discussed it briefly with my advising professor, Dr. John Gleaves, on the last night at the banquet, and he said, "philosophy is at its best when people can discuss their ideas without letting their ego interfere. We welcome someone that is able to prove us wrong, or suggest another approach. This is how we add to the body of knowledge."
The IAPS Conference was as one might imagine a philosophy conference: There was a series of 90 lectures (split among 2-3 parallel sessions at a time), two keynote speakers, two panel discussions, and the presidential address. In between there was plenty of coffee and snacks, as well as lunch, and an opening dinner reception and closing banquet. During the Opening dinner, an award-winning choir of Wale sang for us, and there was plenty of wine to go around. As it was a Sport Philosophy Conference, a majority of the group saw the Wales Vs Italy Rugby game on Saturday (of which Wales won).
Leading up to my presentation I got to attend many amazing lectures, including that of a fellow CSUF graduate student, Emmanuel Macedo. Seeing the general layout of the lectures, I was able to better prepare and know what to expect, and by the time of my presentation (the third day), I was a lot more comfortable with the group.
I had met many people I only ever knew by name in the books and papers they wrote. People like R. Scott Kretchmar, Chad Carlson, Heather Reid, Mike McNamee, and Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza (the current president of IAPS) were just some of the "legends" in my mind that I was able to meet in person and discuss philosophy. I also met many others with an incredible wealth of knowledge, and attended the presentations of even more with inspiring and thought-provoking topics.
I presented on Friday morning parallel session of "Thoughts on Play." This session, which included Chad Carlson whom I referenced in my own paper, was viewed by over thirty people, including Scott Kretchmar, which was a great honor. --As a side, Scott Kretchmar is a huge name in sport philosophy, and the "Godfather" of a significant number of Penn State graduates (around 12 of which were at the conference) as the senior Philosophy of Sport Professor. In fact, Peter Hopsicker mentioned that the Penn State sport philosophers are called the "Kretchmar Mafia."--Generally, I think my presentation went well. After a minor technical difficulty using my ipod to read my paper from, the rest of the presentation went swimmingly. I was able to "split the room" as Dr. Gleaves said, and none of the questions (of which there were a number) were impossible to answer. Afterwards, Chad Carlson and Eric Moore sat with me during the break and discussed some of the points of my paper, and John William Devine complimented the slides and said I was off to a very good start, especially as a master's student. Scott Kretchmar was also very complimentary, and said he looked forward to seeing more work in the future. I was on cloud nine hearing all these great things from so many respected professors.
Alas, though, the Conference came to an end too soon. Saturday had the last presentations, concluding with the presidential address by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza. His presentation was perhaps the most inspirational (which is saying a lot because there were many amazing presentations and knowledge I had already gained). Jesus presented on the topic of emptiness (as from an Eastern philosophical perspective) and gratitude in regards to sport. I would need to write another post to truly capture its brilliance, but as one fairly well versed in Eastern philosophy, I was both moved and inspired by Jesus' presentation; especially when most of the people in IAPS often come from a very Western philosophical perspective.
After a brief IAPS Business Meeting, we were let off early, and I was able to run (literally) to the Cardiff City Centre about 2.7 miles away, and do some site seeing and souvenir shopping. I ran back to my dorm, took an hour nap, got formally dressed, and then walked another 2.5 miles to Swalec Stadium for the Closing Banquet. The banquet had a high end three-course dinner with red and white wine (in addition to the Fosters Super Chilled beer I ordered when I arrived). I sat with Dr. Gleaves, Chad Carlson, Peter Hopsicker, Douglas Hochstetler, Eric Moore, Emmanuel Macedo, and friend Lukas Mares, many of which I had met earlier in the conference. The conversation, food, and environment was a beautiful end to an amazing time in Cardiff, Wales. I could not be more grateful for this time, and I am inspired to contribute to this amazing association, and hopefully attend many more IAPS conferences in the future.