Jocks (and Coaches, and Industry Leaders) for Justice?

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

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Athletes’ Activism: Is it Right to Speak Out?

If you live in America and haven’t been under a rock for the last five months, you’ve heard something on the news about the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was an African-American teenager who was shot and killed by a white police officer. While this case has made national news stories, there have a few other similar cases, including the killing of Tamir Rice (a 12-year old kid) and Eric Garner (a grown man) by police. Many people, including professional athletes, have spoken out against these killings.

But should they?

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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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The Unfortunate Nature of the World of Sports

This past Tuesday was quite a night at the Crisler Center. The Michigan men’s basketball team beat Syracuse in dramatic fashion, lead by the clutch shooting of Junior Spike Albrecht. As someone who went to game, I can personally attest to the atmosphere at the Crisler Center that night. The student section, informally known as the “Maize Rage” was electric. The arena was packed with a sea of students all wearing maize. It was great to see the Michigan faithful come together and create an awesome place to watch the team play.

Tuesday night was a great example of one of the main reasons I decided to enroll at the University of Michigan. I wanted a school with an overwhelming amount of school spirit on campus. On Tuesday night I felt that spirit I had so deeply desired. Although Tuesday night was amazing at the Crisler Center, not every night at the Crisler Center is quite as electric. Early in October, I went to the women’s volleyball game against Michigan State at the Crisler Center. Most of the time the volleyball team plays in the Cliff Keen arena, but against a rival like Michigan State they moved the game to the larger Crisler Center. Being that they moved to the larger arena for a rivalry game, I assumed that there would be an awesome atmosphere at the game. To my disappointment the arena was basically empty. My question is how it is possible that in the same arena, representing the same school, there could be this drastic of a difference in environment?

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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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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.

All Work and No Play

A person wakes up every morning, spends 1 to 2 hours per day getting dressed and ready for work, then spends 3 to 4 hours per day doing their job, and then finally must spend 3 to 4 hours preparing for01football_span-articleLarge-v2 the next day’s job. In life, normal working people go through this drill in order to earn a living, support their families, and build a career. Day after day college athletes provide the same effort, but for conditioning, game preparation, studying, and attending classes. In the working world, individuals have their skill set and a job that compensates them according to their performance. In college athletics, the students have a skill, however the only compensation they receive for their efforts is a college education while the institutions that they attend make millions of dollars annually from game attendance, merchandise sales, and television contracts that are the result of the participant’s efforts. College athletes are not compensated fairly for the work they provide, the risk of injury and loss of future earnings, and the huge profits that they help to generate. Continue reading

Marketing Sports Equally

Blog 3

Marketing throughout sports is a major reason why people watch different games. The entertainment part of sports is enhanced by how marketers portray certain sporting events. More people are going to watch an event if there are advertisements about that event that grasp the viewers attention. I was able to attend a couple sporting events that gave me an idea on how the different sports get their viewers. I went to the Maryland versus Northwestern Big Ten Championship game at the new facility in Ann Arbor. Although the new Phyllis Ocker field is beautiful and top of the line, the event did not have the attendance that it needed. There were a couple people talking about the game earlier that day but that was the only time I heard about it. The Big Ten Tournament is an extremely big deal that those women on each team work year round for that one weekend. I believe that there needs to be a certain amount of advertisement for the events to get people to come to the games. Locke states, “Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent” (Locke 95). Locke talks about in his book, that men need to be treated fairly, which relates to men and women. The difference between field hockey and men’s hockey is the race of the player. The two sports need to be advertised the same so they can have similar fan basis. Field hockey is not a revenue sport, which causes the sport to have less interest due to the lack of marketing that is shown. While I was at the game, there were not many people and not the best fan interaction. The parents of the players were the main percentage of people that attended the game.

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The second sporting event that I attended was the Men’s Hockey game versusPenn State. This game went back and forth the whole game but Penn State came out victorious. The game was packed with students, families, fans and spectators. All these people were so interested and cheered for the team that they wanted to win. The Michigan fans gave an electric feel to the arena and helped the players play their best. Knowing from experience, when the fans have your back and are extremely interested in the game, it is easier to play your best. The game was advertised on television, online and throughout the campus. So many people knew about the game and wanted to attend to be apart of the electric crowd. Host Arena, home of the Michigan Wolverines is known to be the number one hockey experience in the nation. The fans are the best in the nation and they get involved in the game, which allows the players to have an extra boost during the games. The amount of marketing of the multiple games that Michigan hockey play is outrageous. Many people are paid to get fans to the arena. Hockey is a revenue sport, which allows many people to work for them and build interest for the games.Featured image

These two sporting events have many similarities but the main difference is the fact that they do not get equally advertised. Both the sports are extremely interesting and have qualities that allow different viewers to like different things. The field hockey events need to be advertised more because they very exciting and people really enjoy watching the games. Locke and Hobbes talk about the equality of men and women. There writings compare to this topic because men and women should be treated similar, especially when it comes to a simple task as advertising.

What would Mill say about playing football?

John Stuart Mill

While I was reading blog posts on The Big House of Ideas, two posts (Mill’s View of Professional Sports and the College Alternative and No Easy Answers- Rule Changes in Football) sparked my interest and I thought to myself, would John Stuart Mill think that playing football is harming oneself or harming others as well? In the fourth chapter of his book “On Liberty”, Mill reveals that “an individual may do anything as long as he or she does not harm others”. However, it is difficult to draw the line as to what is only harming oneself and what is harming others around you.  Continue reading

What Would John Stuart Mill Think of the Fab Five?

Blog Post #3

Section 10

Michigan’s famous Fab Five changed college basketball forever. The players’ individualism shined as they refused to conform to the standards of college basketball in the early 1990s. The fab five is the nickname for the legendary 1991 recruiting class of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. When former Michigan head coach Steve Fisher brought these five-star recruits in, they instantly became the center of attention in college basketball. Four of them were McDonald’s All-Americans and three were ranked in the top ten of the ’91 class. These players came in with a swagger and confidence that forced many to view them as cocky, but this new level of confidence is what permitted them to change the “looks” of the game of basketball that still exist today.

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