So here I am, just woke up from my power nap after I watched team 135 of the University of Michigan dismantle Miami of Ohio, and I can’t help but think of how my intro to political theory class has already ruined football for me.
I have loved football my entire life. I’ve been a New York Giants fan for as long as I can remember and I’ve been a Michigan fan ever since my sister enrolled here a little over four years ago. I even played football in high school! My love for the game, whether I watch it or play it, is undeniable. I never thought about the rules of the sport, I simply sat down to watch as grown men violently fought for the right to call themselves victors on the gridiron.
One day though, Professor LaVaque Manty opened my eyes and (rightly so) ruined the game of football for me. He made me think about why we have the rules that we do in our society, and he used sports as an analogy to make this point. He did not use football specifically, but since I am constantly thinking about the sport, it wasn’t to hard of a jump to make.
In football, you have four chances to drive the ball ten yards. If you do that, you can keep advancing the ball. If not, your opponent regains possession. Now because football has become a societal norm, that statement at first glance does not seem too bizarre. But think about it, who decided that each team has to drive the ball ten yards? Why not five, why not twenty? And why four tries? When you start thinking about it, rules in sports, not just football, seem to be completely random! Why do basketball players have twenty-four seconds to get a shot off? Why does that number change to thirty-five in high school and college? It all just seems so random!
Obviously, Professor LaVaque Manty didn’t really ruin football for me (though my head has been throbbing ever since that lecture), but he did open my eyes to the world we live in. Like in sports, our society has come up with so many rules and an unspoken code of ethics that we don’t even think about. There’s the differing ages at which one can drive across the US, the drinking age of 21, the voting age of 18 (which doesn’t make much sense at all considering 18 year olds are considered competent enough to help decide the future of our country, yet can’t be trusted to hold a beer, but that is another issue in and of itself). But still, it are these rules that make our accomplishments meaningful. Imagine football without downs; when Devin Gardner (eventually) completes the ball to his receiver (granted he doesn’t throw it to a Spartan or a Buckeye), would he have that same sense of accomplishment if it took him fifteen tries to complete it? The fact that there are distance and time restraints make the sport more difficult, and therefore more rewarding. There are so many rules in our lives that we never really think about. However, these are the rules that make our daily practices meaningful.
Rules are established so individuals or groups of individuals can achieve a sense of satisfaction. While these rules may seem randomly put together, they do serve a purpose. The reason society puts these rules together is so that people may follow them in order to gain acceptance. To live your life following these rules is a choice, but you may be looked down upon if you do not follow the rules as you should. You can choose to live your life in any way you choose, rules or not. Just be wary, because one day you may think you have made a “big play,” only to find a yellow flag underneath your feet.
Polici 101 Lecture Tools Slides