Are eSports Bad for Society?

The 21st century is well known for its developments in technology, ranging from medicine to video games. Although most of the developments in technology are positive, there are some negative effects. One negative effect would be eSports or electronic sports.

Electronic sports are a type of “sport” that deals with video game competitions between professionals. These eSports continue to draw out major sponsors, such as Coca Cola, and numerous fans.

Esports_world_cup_2599424b

This picture was taken at the 2006 World Cup of eSports held in Paris. There were over 30,000 fans!

The question of whether eSports are actual sports is up to much debate. For example, in Ben Mcgrath’s article, ESPN’s President John Skipper states that “It’s [eSports] not a sport…it’s a competition.” I would agree with him in this sense because a sport should constitute some sort of athleticism, but eSports do not. Electronic sports can range from one on one matches, such as NBA 2K15, to team matches, such as Halo.

However, as I have learned through my Communications 102 class, video games have a negative effect on society. Playing video games can actually become an addiction. For example, Jordan Vinnie, from Oregon, booked a cruise and locked himself in the room solely to play video games.

game addiction 6

(Jordan’s Addiction)

Gamers who play heavily have lower real world social support, and higher rates of depression, stress, and anxiety. According to the New York Times article, “For South Korea, E-Sports Is National Pastime – NYTimes.com,” eSports are a milestone in South Korea’s technological and national development. Jun Byung-hun, a South Korean National Assembly member and leader of South Korea’s eSports division, KeSPA, discusses video game addictions and how parents believe that video games are simply distracting their children from education. He states that “the best way to avoid addiction is for families to play games together.” In my opinion, his claim will be accurate in years to come. My parents did not grow up playing video games so they do not play with me. Nonetheless, because I play video games at 18 years old, I will most likely play with my children to monitor their play and develop my relationships with them, as playing video games is entertaining.

Video games are also very violent. The most well known video game series is Call of Duty and it is a violent video game. This violence can cause one to become more violent in real life. Because of the phenomenal graphics nowadays, players are primed in the short term by violent game play, which creates elevated levels of aggression. Repeated priming makes these mental pathways more easily accessible and eventually these aggressive thoughts become hardwired and create more aggressive personality. Although the U.S. has implemented a law that does not allow adolescents to play rated “M” (for mature) games, children continue to find ways to play the games.

The development of eSports is great for the video game industry, but bad for individuals. If video games become the new football and basketball, then humans will be less healthy and their mental states will differ for the worse. This is why I believe that eSports in the United States need to be controlled because video games are simply not as healthy as real sports and do not have the potential benefits, such as scholarships, physical activity, sport as a job, that real sports do. I do visualize more video game communities arising in the United States and I hope that this is controlled.

Football and Abusing Collegiate Athletes

In Marc Tracy’s article, “NFL Rules Changes: When is Football No Longer Football” (Article) Tracy discusses three changes in the game that are for the safety of the players. The three changes are not allowing ball-carriers to lower their helmets into oncoming defenders in order to gain extra yardage, no kick-offs in the Pro Bowl, and an elimination of tackling during preseason camps. Within these changes arises the discussion of whether football is going to continue to be actual football. As a person that follows sports I see numerous rule changes taking place in all major professional sports. However, I do not see as many changes taking place in college sports as professional sports and the changes are more needed in college sports.

First and foremost, most professional leagues have made it so athletes need to attend at least one year of college in order to become a professional. However, there is a problem in this; what happens if the player who was destined to make millions of dollars in the NFL suffers a career ending injury while representing his University? Sure, there are insurance policies in place for this, but the insurance does not equate to the actual possible success both in money and in life. An example of this can be seen with Marcus Lattimore, who suffered horrible knee injuries in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Lattimore suffered a gruesome injury in his junior season at South Carolina. The injury can be seen here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LHhL2e61JE) keep in mind it is very gruesome. Before this injury Lattimore was on track to be a first round draft pick, but because of it, he was drafted in the 4th round and will never see a down of NFL football. Just this past week, an Ohio State football player, Kosta Karageorge, who suffered numerous concussions was found dead in a dumpster (Kosta Karageorge).

In my opinion, this is a clear example of the NCAA abusing the players. Lattimore was on track to make at least $5 million in signing bonuses and salary in 2013 before his injury (Darren Rovell’s Opinion). Now, all he has is $1.7 million worth of insurance (about $40,000 per year of playing). This just does not seem right. Sure, Lattimore appreciated the scholarship to study at South Carolina, but he would have preferred to use his skills on the real stage. Both the NCAA and professional athletic leagues need to make up a union where they ensure the financial safety of the players. The collegiate players are making loads of money for the school, TV programs, and athletic departments, but not making any money for themselves, especially if they become injured. It should be noted that this is just one example of a player being screwed over by the NCAA and there are many cases!

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner is not helping matters with these rule changes.

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(Roger Goodell Picture)

His views on the NFL’s past rule changes can be seen in this short video: (Roger Goodell Rule Changes). Football is and by definition always will be a dangerous contact sport. Why should the NFL be able to adopt certain rule changes and the NCAA not be able to? Shouldn’t both leagues have the same rules if college football is preparing players for the NFL? Also, Goodell is changing the game of football to prevent injuries, but eventually a line will be crossed and football will not be the same. Goodell is also undermining college football and their insurance policy on players by trying to change the rules because he is saying that football is dangerous and can cause injury. Many collegiate athletes will look at his rule changes and say is it really worth it for me to play if I’m going to get seriously injured? Why should the NFL be promoting players safety more than the NCAA when the NFL players are the ones that are getting paid?

All in all, football continues to cause controversy in the United States both because of its economic impact and dangerousness. Surely, if college athletes were paid, a lot of the issues discussed would not be issues. It will be interesting to look at college football and the NFL in ten years to see how different they are because as of right now they continue to adapt from each other more and more every year.

Collegiate and Young Athletes

This November I went to two live athletic events. The first event was my brother’s 13 and under AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) tournament at Sacred Heart University. My brother’s team, CT Elite was in white and defeated the opposing team.

7th-grade-boys-13

AAU Basketball Picture

I also attended the University of Michigan’s basketball game against Detroit University, which resulted in a Michigan victory. The highlights of the game can be viewed here: http://www.btn2go.com/video/detroit-at-michigan–mens-basketball-highlights

NCAA Basketball: Detroit at Michigan

(Michigan Basketball Picture)

These two games are polar opposites as the youth game was being played for the development of the children, whereas the collegiate game was being played solely for competition. Many parallels and differences can be drawn from these two games. The most obvious conclusion to me was that the younger kids were having a lot more fun whereas the collegiate athletes seemed to be “working.”

Johan Huizinga, a Dutch historian, who wrote a book about the study of the play-element in culture, defines play as an activity that you do inherently.

Homo Ludens eng

(Homo Ludens Picture)    (Johan Huizinga)

According to Huizinga, there is no direct definition to play. However Huizinga states that all play is a “voluntary activity” and “is free”… and “a stepping out of ‘real life’ into a temporary sphere of activity with a disposition of its own” (Huizinga, 8). The first question that arises is whether collegiate athletes, like the UM basketball team, and youth athletes, like my brother, are constituting Huizinga’s play.

In my opinion, many youth athletes are not playing through their own will and are being pressured to play by their parents. Therefore, some of the play in youth sports does not follow Huizinga’s definition because it is not a voluntary activity. However, there is more of a play element in youth sports. In regards to collegiate sports, athlete’s play is not “free.” Collegiate athletes lack the freedom that amateurs endure because they are competing rather than having fun. The athletes know that their school and administers have given them a scholarship so they can help their school succeed athletically, rather than academically. Also, play should be distinct from ordinary life and more often than not sports are not distinct from normal life because all the athlete’s do is practice their sport so it becomes a habitual action/activity. I am certain that Derrick Walton and athletes similar to him spend more time practicing basketball than they do studying for school. This is not the case for my brother and other youth athletes.

According to Eric Dunning, modern sports are in between the line of competitiveness and seriousness. For example, my brother begins to play basketball for fun and then it becomes more competitive towards his high school days. If he decides to pursue a scholarship to play in college he will realize how serious the play is and that he is not playing for “fun” rather for the success of his school and his scholarship. Oftentimes the most skilled athletes always play in college or professionally. In my opinion, there needs to be a change in this; society needs to have leagues, such as men’s softball leagues, where extremely skilled players compete for fun.

McSwiggs_Mens_Champs_Summer13-1

(Men’s Softball League)

In reality, collegiate and professional athletes are not competing for fun. Some of the benefits they receive from playing may be fun, but their actual “play” is not fun. In conclusion, society has an issue at their hands. During the 1800s, play was for fun and most everyone did it. Nowadays, there is less and less play because of the seriousness and competitiveness around sports. Sports are a huge part of the U.S. economy and culture, but the question remains as if this is a good or bad thing?

Joyce and Perko

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.

 meanlady(Andrea Joyce at the Olympics)

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 2.29.48 PM

(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.

perko

(Amy Perko)

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.

Shooting in Britain

Shooting_1890

(http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/shooting.html)

Shooting, one of the most scandalous and controversial verbs in the English dictionary, is and was a game, but is not a game for many. Shooting, which derived from the British, is defined as “hitting, wounding, damaging, killing, or destroying with a missile discharged from a weapon” (dictionary.com). There were three steps to progression of shooting in Britain…1.) to hunt so one can eat. 2.) to protect a nation through better weaponry and more power and 3.) to use shooting as a game. Within the discussion of shooting develops the questions of whether shooting follows certain Game Laws.

To begin, at most points in Trollope’s British Sports and Pastimes hunting and shooting are intertwined (notice how hunting precedes shooting chapter wise). This is because to be able to hunt successfully over time, one needs to be able to shoot. Trollope states that, “No one can deny that the pride which manly and genuine sportsmen feel in their shooting achievements is enhanced” when hunting because the hunter is getting something more useful out of shooting (nourishment with enjoyment due to success) (Trollope, 133). Although much of the food we eat is from a large farm, there are still people who hunt for enjoyment and sustenance.

The second step in the progression of shooting for the British is the most used and valuable step worldwide, as being a strong country entails good shooting abilities and artillery. In Britain in the 1800s, military reasons were behind the introduction of breech-loaders as they are better than muzzle-loaders. This spread of the practice of shooting in Britain lead to sportsmen adopting improvements in their gaming equipment that originally had rigorously practical applications. This transition to a better weapon is a part of the reason why Britain was so powerful and shooting became such a popular and enjoyable game.

A muzzle-loaded gun looks like this:

Replica_Muzzle_Loader-1

(http://www.thespecialistsltd.com/prop-firearms?page=3)

On the other hand, a breech-loaded gun looks like this:

Springfield-Breech-loader-1-Vertical-Section-of-Breech-loa-1

(http://chestofbooks.com/reference/American-Cyclopaedia-10/Rifle.html#.VD6oLUu0Zg0)

This chart summarizes the major differences and the pros and cons between the two types of guns.

Difference Pros Cons
Breech-Loaded Gun The cartridge is loaded into a chamber rather than a barrel. Breech-Loaded guns really evolved in the early 1900s.
  • “May be fired five times”
  • “No recoil”
  • “Hits harder and shoots quicker”
  • Heavier
  • Not as easy to carry
  • More noticeable
  • Heavier
  • Not as easy to carry
  • More noticeable
Muzzle-Loaded Gun Bullet is charged from the open end of the barrel. Muzzle-loaded guns evolved in the mid 1800s.
  • Smaller
  • Cheaper
  • Easier to make
  • Can only be fired once
  • More dangerous because “the loader’s
  • Can only be fired once
  • More dangerous because “the loader’s hand is in jeopardy”
  • Harder to reload because you have to use single bullets

If you would like to learn more about the origin of the muzzler-loaded and breech-loaded guns, this video does a great job in allowing one to visualize the differences (watch the first 30 seconds): 

(Trollope, 149) (http://www.sportinglife360.com/index.php/muzzle-loader-or-breech-loading-rifle-6788/)

The mid-1800s is when shooting really started to arise. Victorian and Edwardian hunting weekends were known as Saturday to Monday house parties, This is when the royal class shot glass balls filled with smoke or feathers and threw them in the air, shot a bat disc, or trap shot (http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/shooting.html). Many people are not aware of the fact that owning a gun entailed being upper class because the upper class had money and were the only ones sharing the wealth of shooting between each other. In the 1800s, the laws “denied all but county gentlemen the right to take game or even to possess a gun. Shooting as a sport for gentlemen and aristocrats…took place under the aegis of the landowner with his county house” (http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/shooting.html).

In regards to the Game Laws of shooting, “there is not much to be said against them; nor do we think that poachers would, in the main, be gainers if Game Laws were abolished” (Trollope, 138). Guns were used for hunting and military purposes, but society eventually turned them to be a part of a game.

Shooting is a game unlike any other as it has life and death implications; however, many connections can be drawn in the development of rugby, another dangerous sport, to shooting. The first clear correlation is that both games were only played by the rich upper class; rugby was reserved for upper class citizens due to the cost of equipment and the danger in playing the sport (http://www.rugbyfootballhistory.com/originsofrugby.htm). Rugby, like shooting, is linked to another sport in its ideals: American football. Without rugby, there would be no American football and without the need for food (hunting) there would be no games of shooting. In regards to the Game Laws, rugby actually has a “laws of rugby union,” which was established in the mid 1800s. The democratization of sport was limited to the upper class in the 1800s, but now it is a common pursuit for the masses today.

In conclusion, shooting is a game that follows certain norms and laws, similar to those of rugby, and developed as a game due to the stated progression in Britain. Many activities can develop into games because society claims them as a source of enjoyment and worthy of time. This is the case with shooting developing from hunting or chess coming about from battle strategy practices. Shooting evolved in Britain as a game from hunting and it eventually correlated to military power as soldiers realized that a breech-loaded gun was much more useful. Right now, the game of shooting is in decline and it is more often called “hunting,” but this hunting is “gamified.” This shows the continuing relationship between the development of gun usage and leisure.

-Zach Mettel

Menand Versus Mettel

Education remains one of the most discussed topics in today’s day and age for a valid reason – because education is fundamental to today’s society. Louis Menand, a college professor analyzes three theories as to what people should be getting out of higher education. Theory one proposes that college is a sorting mechanism; once there, grades will dictate how successful and intelligent you are. Theory two suggests that higher education is teaching students how to live in the real world whether it is doing finance or trying to raise a child. Finally, theory three states that the purpose of college is to produce workers. In my opinion, there are flaws in all of these theories. I will formulate my own theory after discussing why I disagree with Louis Menand.

Theory one is what most people follow, as it is what is embraced by society. However, grades and test scores should not dictate how successful one is. Everyday more and more people realize that standardized testing is an unfair way of testing someone’s knowledge and that it should not dictate where one goes to college. This can be seen through the fact that over 160 colleges do not require standardized test scores. This is a list of all the colleges in the United States that are test-optional: Optional-Schools-in-U.S.News-Top-Tiers ACT-SAT-Annual-Test-Takers-Chart (http://www.fairtest.org). Also, college is a very distracting place with several opportunities to do activities that are not related to schoolwork. If someone decided to go to a frat party the night before an exam, they will not receive a lower grade than someone because they are less intelligent, but because they decided to socialize rather than work.

When Louis Menand is discussing theory one, he states, “College is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test…it’s important, therefore, that everyone is taking more or less the same test.” However, no one is taking the same test because everyone is different; everyone’s brain operates differently. This comic emphasizes this point (Albert Einstein came up with the words that are italicized).

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(http://www.pinterest.com/pin/251638697902762596/)

I have the largest issue with Menand’s second theory of higher education preparing you for the real world, for a couple of reasons. First off, I would agree with Menand if he were saying that the social aspect of college enhances someone’s real life experience. However, the educational aspect of college does not teach students how to live in the real world; it teaches students about certain subjects. The majority of classes at the University of Michigan do not help me in the real world, but rather help me better understand a certain subject. This is partially due to the way that the education system is designed in that there is not enough hands on experience. Everything you do in college is similar to being in a bubble because nothing prepares you for real life, except real life. Dr. Leonard Arvi, an Assistant Professor of Finance at Salisbury University, reiterates this in an article for a local ABC TV network (Are Colleges Preparing Students For the Real World?).

Furthermore, Menand’s last theory states that the purpose of college is to produce workers. This confuses me because sitting down and listening to a lecture, writing a paper, or taking an exam, does not produce workers. Rather, it produces knowledge about a certain subject. The majority of U.S. workers believe that their job does not require a degree. This can be shown through this chart:

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(http://www.gallup.com/poll/164321/majority-workers-say-job-require-degree.aspx)

Also, one may devote all their time to a certain subject and not even get a job in that field. This can shown through this image:

            6a01348793456c970c017d42d83cf8970c-450wi

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/)

In my opinion, the purpose of higher education is to increase an individual’s knowledge about certain subjects, while developing social skills that allow you to apply that knowledge to certain subjects. This will in turn allow you to succeed in life. Often times people believe that being smart, which people sadly define as getting good grades, will allow you to be successful. However, social skills are what can really be applied to life.

All in all, some components of Menand’s theories do make sense, but I do not agree with their other elements. Menand gets it wrong when he focuses on college as a training environment for specific knowledge rather than a place where you learn to interact with the people who will be important in your future life. This could mostly be true because I am writing in the point of view of a student and not a professor. Students see college as important for interacting with their peers, whereas professors see college as important for students to learn what is being taught. Menand states that what you learn determines large portions of your life, when really what you do with others is equally if not more significant.

-Zach Mettel