In Sport Realism: A Law-Inspired Theory of Sport, Aaron Harper defends a new theory of sport—sport realism—to show how rules, traditions, and officiating decisions define the way sport is played. He argues that sport realism, broadly inspired by elements of legal realism, best explains how players, coaches, officials, and fans participate in sport. It accepts that decisions in sport will derive from a variety of reasons and influences, which are taken into account by participants who aim to predict how officials will make future rulings.
Harper extends this theoretical work to normative topics, applying sport realist analysis to numerous philosophical debates and ethical dilemmas in sport. Later chapters include investigations into rules disputes, strategic fouls, replay, and makeup calls, as well as the issue of cheating in sport. The numerous examples and case studies throughout the book provide a wide-ranging and illuminating study of sport, ranging from professional sports to pick-up games.