Why We Love (Men’s) Sports

A few days ago, I was one of the thousands of fans present at the Chrisler Arena to cheer on our basketball team versus the Syracuse Orange. In dramatic fashion, including a late three-pointer by Spike Albrecht, the Wolverines pulled off a thrilling victory. The fan base erupted; in fact it was energetic all night. For example, a friend of mine got to the game around 3 o’clock to be admitted into the “Maize Rage,” a die-hard student fan base solely for the basketball team. Each fan comes decked out in maize, and is prepared to jump and cheer throughout the entire game in support of the team. I can contest to this energy being contagious, as the Maize Rage starts cheers that spread throughout the arena.

The Maize Rage, Michigan's basketball team's die hard student section, supports the team with constant energy.

The Maize Rage, Michigan’s basketball team’s die hard student section, supports the team with constant energy.

This same energy, unfortunately, was not nearly as present during a Michigan girl’s gymnastics meet later in the week. The talent between the basketball players and gymnasts is equally as impressive, but the Chrysler Arena was not comparably as excited or crowded. These unfortunate gender differences in sports are discussed in detail in Mika Lavaque-Manty’s “The Playing Fields of Eton.” Lavaque-Manty believes that “no women’s sport is what universities call a “revenue” sport—that is, a sport so popular that its paying spectators make it a major business” (132). Basketball season tickets are competitive and expensive, whereas the gymnastics admission was free. While these differences in the sporting atmosphere are unfortunate, they are existent and frankly understandable. I’m the first to admit that I would rather attend a competitive basketball game rather than a gymnastics meet, and I think that is for several reasons that have been engrained in our society.

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Tragedy Strikes in Ferguson

Throughout the past few months, rioters in Ferguson, Missouri acted out in frustration to the racism they felt was conducted as Michael Brown, an African American teen was fatally shot by a white police officer. It’s uncertain if the facts of this devastating story will ever be completely clear, but this has not stalled the outrage of many individuals due to the racial injustice they feel occurred. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in response to the criticism demonstrated by several white clergymen. His letter outlines his feelings of the racial injustice that took place in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement, similar to that which is being felt in Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading

The “Harm Principle:” Who is Harmed?

It’s extremely difficult to draw the line between actions that harm yourself versus ones that harm others. In fact, it is much more complex than John Stuart Mill leads on in chapters three and four of On Liberty. In these chapters, Mill outlines his “Harm Principle,” which states that individuals should be free to act in whatever manner they choose, as long as their actions affect no one but themselves. He states “the liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from molesting others in what concerns them, and merely acts according to his own inclination and judgment in things which concern himself, the same reasons which show that opinion should be free, prove also that he should be allowed, without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice at his own cost” (Chapter 3). If an individual affects only him or herself, then they are free to carry their actions, whether they are beneficial or not. Mill believes that authorities should punish only individuals whose actions affect others. This principle seemed rather simple and rational to me, but the issue is defining exactly who is being affected by the actions.

Mill supports free actions as long as they only affect the individual.

Mill supports free actions as long as they only affect the individual.

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A Guide to Risk Taking:

Growing up, I always wondered why my parents encouraged me to take risks. I was often urged to participate in new activities and behaviors that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with. Nothing dangerous, of course. In fact, activities that were most likely rewarding, just ones I was too nervous to choose for myself. At this point, I just didn’t see the purpose in pushing myself beyond my limits. For example, as a shy nine-year-old girl, I went to over night summer camp for 8 weeks. It’s safe to say I cried for at least the first 6 weeks, but eleven summers later, I still attend this same camp. Now, I thank my parents for pushing me to take the initial risk of summer camp. This experience changed who I am, and I would’ve never known this if I hadn’t taken a chance. At this point, I can say with confidence that I understand the importance of trying new things and taking these risks.

John Stuart Mill also discusses the importance of risk taking in chapter three of On Liberty. He examines whether or not people should be allowed to act upon their opinions. After reading this week’s assignments and analyzing my own experiences, I have come up with my own guide to risk taking:

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Women Athletes as Sex Symbols

Blog #2 , Section 10

While glancing through our class’s blog, a fellow classmate’s comment got me thinking. The blog addressed the much-discussed issue of women in athletics. As we already read, Mika Lavaque-Manty discusses women’s inferior role in sports in much detail in Chapter 5 of “The Playing Fields of Eton.” The issue has been made clear; there is a definite division between males and females when it comes to sports. However, a new thought grabbed my attention: the sexualization of women athletes. Continue reading

Deal with the Fortune

The University of Michigan is college football’s most-winning program. Known for its iconic winged helmets, spirited fan-base, and booming fight song, there is simply no place like The Big House. During the past few seasons however, the team’s record has dropped, and with a 2-4 start to the 2014 season, the fan base is fired up. All fingers are pointing to athletic director, David Brandon, and head football coach Brady Hoke. These two leaders need some advising, and Machiavelli’s The Prince can provide them with just that.

A long history lies behind the winged helmet and the University of Michigan's football program.

A long history lies behind the winged helmet and the University of Michigan’s football program.

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