This year’s theme semester in the college of Literature Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan is “Sport and the University.” Along with this theme semester comes certain events that students are able to engage in. This semester, I had the privilege of listening to two keynote speakers: Andrea Joyce and Amy Perko.
Andrea Joyce was a sportscaster who attended Michigan. She worked for CBS Sports for ten years followed by NBC Sports for another ten years until she retired.
Joyce was one of the most prominent sportscasters because she broke many barriers due to her gender. At the beginning of Joyce’s career, gender differences were a prominent issue in society. Joyce stated two examples that really shows the inequality there was between genders. The first example is when she walked into a basketball arena and everyone looked at her in disgust as if she was doing something wrong. Her mentality towards this was: this is my job; I just need to ignore those who are disrespecting me. Secondly, she states that there was a man who worked for a local newspaper in Dallas and he taped every single one of her broadcasts waiting for her to make a mistake just because she was a woman.
John Stuart Mill, a British philosopher, states that, “I consent that established custom, and the general feeling, should be deemed conclusive against me, unless that custom and feeling from age to age can be shown to have owed their existence to other causes than their soundness” (“The Subjection of Women”). When Joyce worked, the custom was for woman to be looked down upon compared to men, especially when they are talking to people about sports. This is because society felt as though they lacked the knowledge and experience needed to succeed as sportscasters. Mill states that customs can be useful, but most need to be analyzed. In other words, does society have a reason or purpose for degrading Andrea Joyce?
To analyze this topic, Mill uses a decision tree that looks like this:
(LectureTools, November 20th, Professor Mika LaVaque-Manty)
By using this decision tree, one can deduce that there is no good reason for degrading woman in the media. Mill believed we should experiment with different types of living. He also felt as though we should test established customs to see if there is good reason for them to be there. Mill does not care if something has good reason and is a custom, but he does care if something is a custom for no good reason. By degrading woman, you are not only harming the individual, but also damaging all women. There is no reason in the custom of degrading woman, which is why Mill would have a problem with this issue.
Nowadays, every woman is being slotted to be a sideline reporter, like Joyce. This is reflective of the progress that society has made in regards to gender differences because people are more comfortable seeing women on the sidelines and in public. There is also the aspect of attractiveness, as most people who watch sports are men and men want to see pretty woman interviewing players.
On the other hand, Amy Perko was a basketball player for Wake Forest University.
Amy is the director of the Knight Commission. The Knight Commission is an independent group funded by the Knight foundation that promotes principles and policy proposals and emphasizes the college in college sports. In Amy’s speech, she discussed how most college athletes are athlete-students, rather than student-athletes. As we learned in lecture, contracts are good for business matters and not personal matters. In my opinion, there needs to be a contract for college students that is regulated by the NCAA to promote equality between athletics and academics.
According to Dunning, sports are in between the line of competitiveness and seriousness. The reason that colleges allow their athletic departments to put athletics before academics is because of the social contracts in society; colleges believe that if their sports programs are succeeding, it makes their college more appealing and will make more money for the perspective college. Examples of this include advisors directing student-athletes to take classes that work with their team schedules and allowing the media to control their team schedules. However, if administrators continue to think this way, the “fun” in sports will be taken away even more than it already is. As Dunning would say, one begins playing sports as an amateur, and as time passes, the competitiveness and seriousness arises. With the competitiveness and seriousness coming to light, there is a lack of attention devoted to academics.
The connection that can be drawn from Amy Perko and Andrea Joyce is that sports are embedded in society and can cause just as much issues as gender, for example. The actual “fun” and “play” in sports is not causing this problem, but the competitiveness and inequality in society and sports is.