Huizinga – Let’s Agree to Disagree.

Blog #6

Section 10

Over Thanksgiving break I attended my thirteen-year-old brother’s travel basketball game. It was his opening game and he is always trying to impress me, so consequently he was pretty nervous. I was very excited to see him play because each time I watch one of his games, it is clear that he has improved. Once the game started, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the court. Soon enough, he’ll be able to beat me in a game of 1v1 which is a very scary thought. His team played hard and he lead them to victory.

Just last night I attended the Michigan vs. Syracuse basketball game. This was the second Michigan basketball game I have been to this year, but by far the most exciting of the two. The first half was relatively tight, but we went up by 10 points in the second. However, Syracuse came back and tied the game up 63-63 with approximately 1:30 left on the clock. Spike Albrecht hit a three pointer to send us up by 3, a deficit Syracuse would come close to overcoming but fall a bit short in the end. The atmosphere in the Chrysler Center was tangible. Everybody in the crowd was having fun, yet I can argue the players were not.

Spike Albrecht

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Sooner or Later…

Blog #5

Section 10

In my most recent blog post, “The NCAA: A Modern Sovereign” I highlighted similarities between the role of the NCAA in college sports and Hobbes’ idea of a sovereign in his social contract, Leviathan. I ended the post by saying there is a chance that student-athletes rise up against the NCAA to revolt against the tyrannical system that is in place. As Taylor Branch said in his themed semester event lecture, “college athletes have no rights” and “student-athletes have no representation in the decision making process of the NCAA.” As I poured over these ideas more and more after actually publishing the blog post, I began to veer away and question the idea of the NCAA as a sovereign and challenge my own self.

After much thinking, I started to connect the NCAA & student-athlete relationship with the bourgeois & proletariat relationship posed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their publication, The Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels define the bourgeois as the wealthy class and business owners, and the proletariat as the working class and creators of profits for said businesses. They say the bourgeois constantly exploit the proletariat for their manual labor and low wages. Now this sounds STRIKINGLY similar to the current situation in college sports. However, instead of the student-athletes getting low wages, they get nothing! And yet, these hard working and talented young adults bring in an enormous amount of money to universities and the NCAA.

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The NCAA: A Modern Sovereign

Blog #4 (Themed Semester Event Power Up)

Section 10

Amy Perko and Taylor Branch both gave very compelling lectures about college athletics and the responsibilities and rights of student-athletes. Having sat through the talks back-to-back, I was really able to analyze the similarities and parallels between each of their arguments. They certainly did not have the same beliefs, yet much of what they had to say made me realize how “sovereign-esque” the NCAA really is.

Amy Perko is a very storied and accomplished woman. She played on the women’s basketball team at Wake Forest and was a three time academic all-american, which lead to her induction to the Wake Forest Hall of Fame. In her professional career, Perko has worked for the NCAA which has given her first hand experience on how business is conducted there. She, interestingly, has also worked as the team president for the Fayetteville Patriots (an NBA D-League team). Currently, Perko is the executive director of the Knight Commission, an organization which, as she put it, “promotes the ‘college’ in ‘college sports.'” She has held this position for the past ten years.

Taylor Branch is best known for his award-winning publications regarding the Civil Rights Era. Branch holds multiple impressive degrees from notable universities. At this point you may be wondering why a Civil Rights Movement historian would be giving a talk about sports. I was too, but then he said these words and it all made sense to me: “Student-athletes have no rights.”

Taylor Branch

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NFL: A Hobbesian State of Nature

Blog #3

Section 10

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan outlines his ideas about the state of nature and what steps he thinks should be taken to suppress the barbaric “war of every man against every man.” Hobbes believed that a single sovereign should be appointed and he (back in the time when Hobbes was still alive, there was no way a female sovereign would come to power so excuse my gender blindness) should be granted absolute authority and hold the responsibility of protecting the people. This social contract is considered to have a somewhat cynical view of the state of nature and may not apply very well to the American society, however, I do believe Hobbes’ Leviathan applies directly to the NFL.

Let’s consider the NFL as a microcosm of the Hobbesian state of nature. All 32 individual NFL teams will be thought of as the  people that make up society as a whole. These teams would be inherently violent and vicious toward each other if there were not governing rules to the game. Heck, even the terminology is war-like.

Go to 3:53 for the part which applies to this blog post.

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Mo’Ne Davis: A Trailblazer of Our Time

You had to have been living under a rock to have not heard about the female sensation of Mo’Ne Davis this summer. She exerted dominance from the pitcher’s mound this summer in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She lead her team from Philadelphia deep into the tournament. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated seemingly overnight and was the youngest person in the history of the magazine to do so. Her amazing performance inspired and astonished girls around the country.

She was on the cover of the edition published on August 18, 2014

She was on the cover of the edition of Sports Illustrated published on August 18, 2014

What made Mo’Ne Davis such a remarkable story was the fact that she was a girl who was unstoppable even to boys! If a boy with Mo’Ne’s talent had been the ace for the team from Philadelphia, there is no way he would’ve been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

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The Dark Side of Sports

Having fun is one of the basic principles held in sports in today’s society. Every Sunday, I head down to the local sand volleyball court and play on my intramural team. Win or lose, I can say I had fun each and every game. I signed up not because I have a burning passion to win the IM league, but because I want to relive my high school volleyball glory days. I love the sport and love playing it. In his article “Take Time for Paradise,” Giamatti suggested that sport from the perspective of a player OR a spectator always brings a sense happiness and enjoyment to them. There are countless examples in which this can be proven true, but I have decided to question and challenge his conclusion.

Diehard fans of professional and collegiate sports teams take copious amounts of pride in their team’s success. As a Washington Redskins fan, having grown up in a suburb of New York City filled with Giants fans (their arch rival), I had it rough. When the “G-Men” won two Super Bowls in the span of 4 years, I did not hear the end of how good the Giants were and how superior they were to the Redskins. However, the Redskins weren’t actually thaaaaaat bad. They could compete. They had success earlier on in history, which I could take a little bit of pride in.

There are teams in all of sports who have been consistently terrible for a long stretch of years. An example of one of these teams (I’ll stay in the NFL for now) is the Jacksonville Jaguars. This franchise was created in 1995 and had moderate success in its first 4 seasons. Since then, they have made the playoffs just twice and the past three seasons they have been absolutely embarrassing. Their fan base has been extremely discouraged about how terrible their team is, especially being that they are the only professional sports team in Jacksonville. These reactions say it all:


Talk about deflated…

A society has a certain attachment to its local sports team(s). That can be seen right here at the University of Michigan. Michigan Football has gotten off to the worst start of its storied history with a 2-3 record. Losing is not something Michigan Football and its fans are used to. The student section voiced their opinion on the matter mid-game by chanting “Fire Hoke” repeatedly. The mood around campus was angered and dispirited after the loss. This shows just how much influence the performance of sports teams have on those who follow them. Giamatti said that sports are tools to instill happiness, pleasure, and a temporary form of euphoria. I believe that sports can also bring about sadness, anger, and depression. A fan base’s emotions peak with when the team performs well, and plummet when the team doesn’t. Also, if a player makes a costly mistake or blows the game for his or her team, he or she will likely feel extremely guilty and ashamed. This could be the case at any level of sports. However if a professional or collegiate player makes a costly mistake which leads to a loss, he or she not only feels that they let the team down, but also, the entire fan base. Athletics can definitely provide an individual player or spectator with delight and joy, but they can also impart misery and hardship.