We look up to athletes as role models. We want them to behave professionally, and say and do the right thing at all times, while also playing to the best of their abilities during games. The debate in today’s world that comes up is what exactly is the right thing to say or do, and if anything should be said, or done, at all.
The past few months have been filled with numerous controversial stories over the actions of police officers against other people. The first came when Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. The controversy is over whether or not Darren Wilson, the officer that fired at Brown, was acting in self-defense after Brown attacked him and attempted to take his gun, or whether Brown did not actually do anything wrong, and the officer shot him in a reckless case of police brutality. The grand jury of the case chose to not indict Wilson, which sparked continuous protests in Ferguson.
Just days after the decision was announced, five players on the St. Louis Rams football team came out during pregame introductions holding their hands up, resembling the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture that has been common during protesting. Some, including fans of the team and even St. Louis police departments, have expressed their anger towards the players for expressing their opinions, but the organization is supporting their players’ actions, claiming that they can exercise their freedom of speech. Continue reading
In my Comparative Literature class, we are discussing the experience of watching sports. We recently read two articles that debate why the WNBA is not as popular as the NBA, both focused on the entertainment that comes with watching a women’s basketball game. The first, written by Stacey Pressman, explained how she believed that the lack of popularity of the league was due to the minimal entertainment value that the play provides. The other was Graham Hays’ response to Pressman, in which Hays said that the claim was ridiculous, and asserted that the lack of popularity comes down to the trivial fact that the women are not as athletic and can’t dunk.
Michigan Women’s Basketball Attendance
I recently attended both the men’s and women’s basketball games against the University of Detroit. To get a good seat for the men’s game, you would need to show up at least an hour in advance, while for the women’s game, arriving at tipoff guaranteed you a seat in the lower bowl. Of course, the women’s team has not had the same success that the men’s team has had and this can contribute to the attendance discrepancy, but it is more about the lack of great athleticism in the women’s games.
During class on November 11th, we were asked to name examples of “pleasing illusions” that we all have. The term comes from Edward Burke’s defense of thinking of the king and queen of France as more than just regular people in his piece, Reflections on the Revolution in France. One of the responses that struck me as humorous was that we all still believe that, “Michigan is an awesome football team.”
It is difficult to imagine that anyone still believes that a 5-5 team can be considered “awesome” in any sense of the word, but with the history the program has, it is not difficult to imagine that people still think of Michigan football as elite. I started thinking about the year the team has had, and upon thinking back about something I saw at the Minnesota game, I had an interesting revelation.
The boo-birds were out in full force. All around me were screaming for the mediocre play to end. However, there was one fan a few rows in front of me who was advocating for something else. “STOP BOOING! THIS IS MICHIGAN,” he yelled until he was red in the face. I thought to myself, “it’s nice that he cares so much about the team, but when things are this bad, it’s hard to not boo.”
That fan would not let the tradition of Michigan be tainted by a few unhappy students. He longed for things to return to the way they once were, when Michigan wanted to keep the Michigan tradition of winning alive, much like Burke would’ve wanted. Then it hit me; if Burke was alive today, rather than during the French Revolution, and was a college student, he would be attending the University of Michigan. Continue reading
We live in a time where many believe that no one should be excluded from something on any grounds. We strive to give everyone equal rights and equal opportunities, but even after years of fighting, there are still needs for change. For a long time, people considered being any race other than Caucasian a “disability.” It took years of fighting in the Civil Rights Movement to win the battle against racial inequality. The activism campaigns that supported this change are now focused on lobbying for the rights of women, disabled people, and homosexuals. These fights all have a common denominator: whether you have a literal or figurative disability, your rights and opportunities to do what you desire should not be restricted.
The struggles that are developing are taking center stage in the world of sports. In “The Playing Fields of Eton,” Mika LaVaque-Manty brings up multiple cases in which people have had to fight for their right to competition and equality, and overcome their disabilities. He first touches on the 1999 lawsuit in which nine wheelchair users sued the New York City Marathon after “alleging discrimination that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
The plaintiffs were offended by the rules put in place by the organizers, which included making participants in wheelchairs stop to allow able-bodied runners to pass, and not actually giving them any prize for their success. The wheelchair participants simply wanted their own class, which eventually was given to them in 2000, once the case was closed. Making people in wheelchairs compete against runners simply does not make sense, as they require two separate sets of skills.
Every religion has its followers. And so does every television show. Religions have a day where those followers come together to worship, and so do television shows. Religions have people that will blow up if their religion is insulted, and so do television shows. The parallels go on and on. So where in this do sports fall? Can they be considered a religion, or are they just entertainment, like any other TV show? Michigan football answers the question.
The University of Michigan Athletic Department is going through a rough stretch of time. The football team is its driving force, and while it is sad that the team’s hard times are overshadowing the success that others are having, this is simply how it is. And if the lack of success on the field wasn’t enough, the department’s leader is facing a storm of criticism every day.
On October 16th, the university’s Board of Regents met to discuss numerous topics, none of which were as publicized as the future of Athletic Director Dave Brandon. Many believe it is just a matter of time before the money-grabbing leader is fired, due to his alienation of students and fans, controversial ticket policies, poor handling of the aftermath of Shane Morris’s concussion, and general treatment of one of the most prestigious universities in the country like the pizza company he used to run. If the 11,310 people that have signed the petition to have Dave Brandon removed of his duties have their way, he will not be with the university for much longer.
Do I play? After reading Johan Huizinga’s article, I don’t think so.
Like many other young boys, I played a variety of sports growing up. Baseball, football, and golf were the main three. Once my mom realized how easy it could for me to get hurt in football though, she quickly killed that possibility. So I was left with baseball and golf. I loved both, but in different ways. In baseball, I could play with my friends and feel a sense of team, regardless of a win or a loss. It wasn’t all on me. But with golf, it was the exact opposite. Very few of my friends played, but my dad did almost every day of the week, so I got to enjoy countless hours of father-son bonding. If I played well, I could take all the credit, and walk off the course knowing my hard work paid off. But when I played badly, it was like the world was coming to an end. It was all on me, and all my hours of practice weren’t paying off. Continue reading