Hobbes, College Football, and College Coaches

UT: All Business
UT: All Business

You have 95%of the guys that are doing it right, and then you have a small fraction of guys that just feel like, ‘Hey, this is the way I’m going to do it whether you like it or not,'” These are the words of University of Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong.  Charlie Strong is in his first year as head coach and is implementing a set of rules to help control the nature of his players conduct.He is the ruler, and the all-powerful sovereign ruler over his players.

Thomas Hobbes: State of Nature or Sovereign power?
Thomas Hobbes: State of Nature or Sovereign power?

The state of nature exhibited by his young college football players is much like The Hobbesian state of nature, and one that requires Strong as the sovereign power to keep order on the team. Hobbes believes that in a state of nature every man is acting out of fear and acting with the interest of only themselves in mind. He writes, And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end, (which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation only, )endeavour to destroy, or subdue one another.)” Well what do the football players desire? what is that that these young college boys want? They want to have a good time. They want to have fun. They want to explore and get the college experience. They want women. They want to relax and not go to class and play football. Why? Because they fear that if they don’t do so somebody else will do it. They fear that if their time is spent doing something like academics they could lose their position. They fear if they don’t do what it takes in their mind to have fun that somebody else will achieve that fun. They fear that if they don’t do what it takes to be with a particular woman somebody else would. These fears and these desires cause these players to act out. They end up doing drugs, not going to class, not paying attention in class, abusing women, abusing the rules, and so on and so forth. They march to their own drum out of fear of what may happen to their playing time, what they may miss out on, and what somebody else might attain. How does one fix it? How does one combat and deal with this state of nature?

A sovereign leader is the answer. According to Hobbes a sovereign leader who shows visible power to “keep his subjects in awe, and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants” Charlie Strong does keep his players in awe as he already dismissed 9 players before the entire season started.  He instills fear and punishment in his players like no other and they abide to his rule. He lays down the law and simply focuses on winning. How does he do it? He laid out a list of rules for his players to abide by. Rule 3 states, ““If a player misses a class, he runs until it hurts. If he misses two classes, his entire position unit runs. If he misses three, the position coach runs. The position coaches don’t want to run.” These players have a covenant with the team to play football but they also have a commitment to go to class as they are at a higher-level educational institution. They cannot miss out on class out of a desire to be doing something else or of fear of doing so would take away from other things such as football. Rule 4 states, ““No earrings in the football building. No drugs. No stealing. No guns. Treat women with respect.”” These young men have a covenant with the team, university, and the law not to do drugs, and to treat women with respect. They cannot be left to act as they would in the state of nature. In acting out of fear as the players seemed to do in order to obtain desires in competition with others is wrong in and of itself. It is important that they act with order and maintain respectful human behavior as acting as one would in the state of nature is simply unacceptable and something that needs to be controlled.

Charlie Strong and his rules are needed in order to prevent what some players would do in the state of nature and on-top of that maintain order among the players, Hobbe’s world consists of rule breaking, acting out of fear and to obtain personal desires. In order to keep order and control a sovereign power is needed and that is what Strong serves as. He very much resembles an all powerful sovereign power and is the answer to helping prevent these issues that arise with young individuals especially athletes and is the reason that there is order on the team.


One thought on “Hobbes, College Football, and College Coaches

  1. College football players are college kids with an exceptional talent to play a sport. What they go through on the field is unlike anything that any other student experiences.

    They must compete at the highest level day in and day out if they want to keep their spot on the team. In many cases, if they fail to perform at a high level, their scholarship is at risk. Now I guess my situation contradicts this argument as I cannot perform at level of a division 1 basketball player anymore, but coach Beilein recognizes my situation and values my contributions to the team.

    Unlike Nick Saban or any other of the renowned coaches across the country who probably would have pulled my scholarship after my accident 3 and a half years ago, coach B is extremely loyal and has honored his commitment to me. He is ten times the man than he is a coach.

    I am a part of the team and go through everything the rest of my teammates do. That has resulted in a sense of commraderie unlike any other I have ever experienced. All of my teammates are ‘Hobbesian’ in a sense. Coach B is as meticulous as any coach anywhere, trust me, but he also has his priorities in order.

    Winning is not everything to him. It is about doing things the right way and with integrity.

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