Peg Brand Weiser has “retired” twice already, first from Indiana University and then from the University of Oregon. It hasn’t stuck. Weiser is now a laureate professor and research professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, teaching a course on “Philosophy of Sport,” among others.
Weiser is fascinated by the passion that sports can inspire, as well as the mind-body dualism involved in the philosophy of sport. “Philosophers don’t usually talk much about bodies,” she said.
In Weiser’s course, students study various sports-related topics, including sports throughout history; the nature of games and competition; sportsmanship and fairness; the commercialization and marketing of sports; and issues related to cheating, social justice, and transgender and intersex athletes.
Much of Weiser’s career in the fields of philosophy and women’s studies focused on issues related to aesthetics, feminist art, and beauty. She was the editor of such books as Beauty Unlimited and Beauty Matters and co-editor of Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Her interest in sports came later.
Weiser’s late husband, Myles Brand, was president of the University of Oregon and Indiana University, where he famously fired the men’s basketball coach Bob Knight (“We had death threats,” Weiser said). Brand then became president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, where he championed diversity and was a stalwart supporter of athletes being students first.
Brand’s passion for the important role of sports in society fueled Weiser’s interest, along with a sports-loving stepson. She began co-teaching classes with Brand on the topic and also discovered areas of overlap between sports and feminist aesthetics. She’s written on the challenges women in elite sports have faced with respect to their gender identity within a society that perpetuates misleading norms of beauty.
As a long-time academic and former “first lady” of major universities, Weiser is well aware of the importance of philanthropy and has contributed generously to higher education. Weiser and her husband, Ed — a retired physician who teaches medical ethics in the philosophy department — decided to fund the Peg Brand Weiser Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Philosophy of Sport to help advance the field and the career of a new Ph.D.
Weiser also wanted to support the university where she started her academic career 40 years ago. Weiser and Brand were stationed at Arizona from 1981 to 1986. Weiser was an instructor in the College of Humanities and Brand was chair of the philosophy department and dean of the College of SBS. Her stepson, Josh, graduated from the university in 1988.
“I’m both happy and proud to be back at the UA in my current position and able to ‘pay forward’ to develop a new area of philosophy that indirectly pays tribute to my late husband, Myles,” Weiser said.
This story was included in the Fall 2021 Developments newsletter