Why Student-Athletes should Profit from their Image

Manuel Sarmiento

Blog Post #4

One of the main questions around the commercialization of college athletics is that it attracts many questions about those who play the game. Should certain key players of a school’s team be compensated for the added revenue the university is receiving? March Madness alone generates one billion dollars in revenue and also from using the names and likenesses on merchandise. So one could argue that players should receive some sort of payment for the use of their public image. But the case can be made that the possibility to receive advanced education and the possibility of signing a major professional contract is enough reward for dedicating so much to the school’s team. I believe that the NCAA should adopt a more Burke-influenced ideology to solve the issue of player compensation. Continue reading

Hobbes and Dystopias

The Hunger Games Mockingjay (Part I).


After seeing the midnight premiere of the new Hunger Games movie a couple of weeks back, my mind’s been fixated on the idea of a dystopian society as cinematically portrayed by this drama-infused motion picture. The concept of a futuristic dystopia actually seems to be quite popular in pop culture today as many movies and tv shows feature this type of action-packed drama (think Divergent, The Walking Dead, Maze Runner, and so on). A characteristic that all of these movies and tv shows have in common is the idea that society as we know it will one day digress into an uncivilized and oppressed state, where corruption runs rampant. Most movies picture it like this: the setting is a broken-down city that is either run by a politically strong, tyrannical, leviathan-like leader, or the state is in complete anarchy with no form of Hobbesian sovereignty to be found. Whether the plot concerns the former, like in Fahrenheit 451, or the latter, like in The Purge, the general consensus among Hollywood writers, producers, and directors is that civil society as we know it is tumultuously going downhill. *Cue Chicken Little’s “The sky is falling!”*

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Death with Dignity and the Harm Principle

On November 1, 2014 Brittany Maynard died in Portland, Oregon under the states Death with Dignity Act. She moved there from her home of San Francisco in the spring of 2014 after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Prior to her death she joined forces with Compassion & Choices, “the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping everyone have the best death possible (Compassion & Choices)”, which launched her story into the forefront of American news. It all started with this video: 

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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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Applying Menand’s Theories to Modern Sports

Blog Post #4

Section 10

In Louis Menand’s “Live and Learn”, he proposes three theories for the purpose of college. Theories two and three fit perfectly in studying changes in all levels of sports in recent years. Theory two values the well-rounded experience college provides. It claims that what you learn from academic, social, and individual experiences is the most important aspect of college. On the other hand, theory three claims college is all about specialization and giving one the necessary knowledge and skills for a specific place in the professional world. Just as theory three helps explain the increase in popularity of non-liberal education, it helps explain the increase of sport specialization.

Pictured is Jim Thorpe: arguable the greatest athletes ever

Pictured is Jim Thorpe: arguably the greatest athlete ever

In the early 20th Century, the best athletes played multiple sports. Jim Thorpe and Babe Didrickson Zaharias are widely considered the greatest male and female athletes of their time periods. What attracted people to Thorpe and Zaharias was their uncanny abilities to succeed at the highest levels in multiple sports. Thorpe played professional football, basketball, and baseball, while also earning gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon in the Olympics. Similarly, Zaharias thrived in golf in which she won 10 major championships, basketball, and Olympic track in which she won two gold medals. Later on in the century, incredible athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders succeeded in two professional sports, but not nearly to the same degree as Thorpe and Zaharias. Nowadays, the greatest athletes specialize in one specific sport.

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The Decline of America’s Pastime

Blog 4

What sport do people consider America’s pastime? What major issue has hindered the respect and love that people have for the game of baseball? The reputation that baseball has had for a century has been hurt by the discovery of performance enhancing drugs in the past couple of decades. Players have taken an unbelievable risk by using this drug both getting caught and health scares. Even though Major League Baseball has done a good job with handling each situation separately, the issue is still rampant throughout the game.

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In the 1980’s, when the Detroit Tigers won their first World Series in many years, my father was apart of their organization. I have grown up hearing stories of the players that he faced and more importantly, the players that were future Hall of Famers. The 80’s were one of the last years that the game was clean. In the early 1990’s all of baseball turned in to a sport that only was measured by how many home runs or RBI’s that were scored. The steroid use during that era was outrageous and many players during that time have had consequences that have affected their lives. As stated in “Leviathan”, “Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind than another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can there upon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others, that are in the same danger with himself” (Hobbes 1). This quote fits perfectly into my blog due to the recognition of a single man by each man is equal but some take certain steps to greater their strength, thus causing a separation in equality.The bignamed athletes that took steroids consisted of Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds. Although there are many more players that fell into the temptation of taking steroids, these players had the biggest impact in the game. As mentioned before, these players were unbelievable home run hitters and broke records that will never be broken again. Barry Bonds is the career home run hitter and Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa led multiple categories until Bonds broke them. Without having to really go in depth, steroids obviously helped these men in their sport but have had major consequences.

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The pictures above show the transformation of Bonds from his early years with the Pirates to his later years with the Giants. Many people might say that he matured and lifted weights, although that is very true, he was getting stronger by using steroids, which caused dramatic changes. As you can see, his head has doubled in size, his upper arms and forearms have become massive, his neck is extremely thick, and his overall body mass is outrageous. Steroids are drugs that help an athlete become stronger, faster, heal quicker and plenty more positives that boost their ability to play the game of baseball, but there are downfalls. “A steroid is a type of organic compound that contains a specific arrangement of four cycloalkane rings that are joined to each other” (personal). The fact that steroids are illegal from sports should scare people away from ever using them, but people have to learn the hard way to actually understand that. There are many health risks when taking steroids, there are plenty of major risks and some minor ones. The minor risks consists of prominent breasts, baldness, shrunken testicles, infertility, and impotence. Some major risks are severe acne,increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture, liver abnormalities, heart and circulatory problems, aggressive behaviors, rage or violence, infections from drug such as HIV and hepatitis if you are injecting according to the May Clinic. These are only a fraction of the major health risks that athletes take when using steroids.


Burkean & Conservative Are Not Synonymous

Polls show evidence that teenagers tend to have similar political views to those of their parents.  As someone whose parents have diametrically opposed outlooks on major political issues, this was never really an option for me.  Therefore, I suppose it is up to me to establish my own positions on matters of policy implementation.  Despite being fascinated by the American as well as the geopolitical landscape, I have yet to have had much luck finding consistent consensus in ideology with any political party.  However, I have recently discovered a philosophy with which I am able to say I align with most of the time.  I am a Burkean.

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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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Colonel Jessup, Machiavelli, and Modern-Day Dilemmas

I don’t think I’m the only one vehemently excited for Thanksgiving break; I’ve been keeping a tally since September. For almost all of us, Thanksgiving break means going home, eating our body weight in great food, and spending quality time with family. For me (besides what’s already listed), one of my favorite things to do over break is watch movies with my dad. We have very similar tastes, and a few years ago, he introduced me to one of my favorite movies of all-time, A Few Good Men.

To me, this movie is pretty much perfection. The film has one of the greatest storylines of all time, is responsible for some of the most quotable and memorable scenes ever, and is one of the precious few films that Tom Cruise doesn’t overact in. Honestly, I could make this entire post about the greatness that is A Few Good Men. But, in particular, I wanted to focus on one of its most memorable scenes: Colonel Jessup’s famous “You can’t handle the truth.” It highlights a concept that has birthed moral controversy for many, many years. Perfectly articulated by Machiavelli, it explores the idea that, as a leader, “it is better to be feared than loved.” 

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Miss. Independent?

At the beginning of the school year, I began working at a clothing store in downtown Ann Arbor. As the weather has decreased, the amount of black coats, black leggings, and black boots purchased by girls on campus has exponentially increased. The store buyer constantly has to order more of these sought after items in order to keep up with the high demand. I personally own a black winter coat, black boots, and a countless number of black leggings. Is this to say I am not an individual? Am I conforming to what I think society expects of me? Or do I sport these fashions because I genuinely enjoy wearing them and think they are the best on the market? Nicole Santa, a 17 year old, explains how she sees conformity in teenagers when it comes to fashion.

The jacket that everyone wears or the jacket that is the most practical?

The jacket that everyone wears or the jacket that is the most practical?

I cannot help but to think abut this issue of conformity while observing the identically dressed girls that come in and out of the store everyday. I always wonder what their thoughts are about this topic. Are they purchasing and wearing the same items because they genuinely like them or because they feel as if they need to conform to society?

If John Mill were asked this question, I believe he would say that girls dress this way and conform in the way that they do because there is no point in being different and standing out. He believes that no on will notice their efforts to stand out, so they might as well conform. Although he does not specifically write about black long jackets and leggings in, On Liberty , he does talk about how individuals who stand out are hardly recognized. If I could go back in time and have dinner with him, I can hear him saying, “If everyone else is doing it, you should too!”

Is John Mill an individualist because his photo is in black and white?

Is John Mill an individualist because his photo is in black and white?

Although Mill possesses these views, he does say, that it is good and beneficial to question them. He encourages the reader to question why they’re conforming and what their intentions are in doing so. On the contrary, he also gives encouragement to the person who does stand out and “dares” to be different.

I think that Mill is saying that it is okay to conform to society and he in a way supports it; if though, you have good reason to conform. Do I think the girls who come into the store have done research about the clothing they are purchasing and now it is the most practical item on the market? No. So, in that sense I do not think Mill would support their behavior in conforming. But he would support the girl who has done her research and is aware of the fact her purchases are the best on the market.

If Mill were alive and needed a winter coat and boots, I am sure he would do his research and pick the most practical option. If that meant conforming to society, then he would be in full support of it.