Devin Gardner: A “CLASS” Act

If indeed a picture is worth a thousand words, the following image may sufficiently replace all of the positive descriptors and superlatives that come to mind when describing University of Michigan football player Devin Gardner. Words like gifted, dedicated, resilient, humble, and genuine to start with.

Devin Gardner consoling an injured J.T Barrett

When Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett suffered a fractured ankle during the 4th quarter of the November 29th Michigan/OSU game, Devin Gardner quickly came to the side of the injured rival. As a University of Michigan student and fan, I could not have been prouder to be represented by a student-athlete who shows such sportsmanship. Few who know anything about Gardner were surprised by his actions and even die-hard OSU fans praised his empathetic reaction. Dave Claborn, Director of Development and Community Relations for OSU sent this letter of gratitude.

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The Team, The Team, The…NBA?

I have never played basketball. Throughout my life I have chosen to participate in the sports of softball and soccer which are more in line with the reality of my vertical limitations. But I LOVE basketball. I love the pace, the dunks, the comebacks and the buzzer-beaters.  I stand and cheer (sometimes several times a week) in support of the Michigan men’s basketball team as a loyal member of the “Maize Rage” student fan section. For the past two seasons, during Michigan’s March Madness appearances in the NCAA tournament, everything else virtually ceased to exist as I followed each and every play. I love basketball, so you may be surprised to know that until last month, I had never attended a women’s college basketball game.

The Game, The Game, The Game

To gain some perspective on similarities and differences, let’s compare some elements of the Michigan women’s basketball game played on November 16th and the Michigan men’s basketball game played the very next day. Each game pitted the Wolverines against the Bison of central Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University.

Both Wolverine teams displayed incredible athleticism with their speed, agility, strength and endurance. The women demonstrated their physical talents with 4 crowd-pleasing blocked shots and 7 three-pointers that contributed to the 68-61 win. In the men’s game, senior Max Bielfeldt came off the bench consistently muscling his way inside to tally an impressive 18 points allowing the Wolverines to outscore the Bison 77-53.

Players from both teams also displayed a high-degree of skill which, in the game of basketball, can   only be gained through a great deal of practice. The women were led by the smart play of senior Cyesha Goree who achieved a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Evidenced by the high number of assists and the low number of turnovers, the men showed excellent ball-handling and strategic skills.

While the athleticism and skill levels emphasized similarities between the men’s and women’s teams, the disparity in the tenure of the starting teams highlighted the differences. The women’s team boasted 4 returning starters (Goree, Shannon Smith, Nicole Elmblad and sophomore Siera Thompson), the men’s team had only two (junior Caris LeVert and sophomore Derrick Walton).

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Confessions from the (WO)MAN Cave: We’re Obsessed with Sports Too!

Hold your tongue. Breathe. Breathe. Do NOT, I tell myself, go off on this man. I somehow manage to hold it together in the wake of suffering what I consider an enormous indignity. I have just been told, for probably the 5th time, that I know a lot about football… “FOR A GIRL!” It is obvious that this perpetrator, no less than an octogenarian, meant his remark as a compliment, and so I allow him to slide.

I must confess others have not been so lucky. While I’m at it, there’s more…

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Crossing the Line: Exploring similarities between street gang and sports fan behaviors

Flames shoot high into the crisp October night. Downtown businesses fall victim to countless incidents of smash-and-grab theft. Over 150 people, including several law enforcement officers, are injured and dozens of arrests are made. Was this mayhem the result of a violent turf war in the gang-ridden city of Los Angeles? Chicago? Philadelphia? Not even close. This scene played out on the streets of Vancouver, B.C. when disappointed fans took to the streets after the Vancouver Canucks folded to the Boston Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

Read more here

While typical sports fan behavior resides within the boundaries of social norms, there are unfortunate incidents where fans cross the lines of sportsmanship, decency, and at times, the law. There is no shortage of examples illustrating that too often fan behavior mimics that of street gangs.

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Stepping Off the Bandwagon: Why hasn’t professional soccer caught on in the US?

I had a great time following Team USA as they battled through the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Brazil last summer. I can honestly say that I had never been interested in watching professional soccer, live or on television, but nonetheless became caught up in the hoopla of it all. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone I knew developed a passion for a sport we had never appreciated at the professional level. Groups of people were seen walking around Ann Arbor decked out in patriotic red, white and blue repeating the adopted chant of US fans, I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!” It was all very exciting, and I happily took my place on the bandwagon.

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From Assault to Injury: When did college and professional sports stop being about the game?

Recently, questionable decisions have been made by both the NFL and by College Football coaches (including our own Brady Hoke) in pursuit of a win or, more importantly what a win brings, money. Money is now the center of all things in sports, from ticket sales, to merchandise, to player and coaching contracts. The driving force for all things done by football organizations these days seems to be cold hard cash. In J. Huizinga’s article Homo Ludens: The Play Element in culture, Huizinga lays out the several aspects of play that he believes to be true. These aspects include

  • Play is voluntary
  • Play is limited by space and time
  • Play is disinterested

According to Huizinga, we do not play to win, or play to be paid. So why are both money and winning so important in the act of “playing” football? In fact, it seems that both money and wins are so important to NFL organizations and college teams that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get them.

When did football become so greedy?

Continue reading From Assault to Injury: When did college and professional sports stop being about the game?