In response to the most heated and controversial issue in the US right now, the murders of unarmed black men by white police officers, protests have taken many forms. Violent riots broke out in Ferguson, MO as after Darren Wilson had not be indicted. After the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, Al Sharpton arranged a more peaceful protest, a national march in Washington DC. Even those who didn’t physically participate in demonstrations still voiced their opinions via social media; the hash tag #blacklivesmatter began trending on Twitter. While obviously looting stores and violent demonstrations don’t solve anything, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should be allowed to voice this opinion if not inflicting harm on others. However, last Sunday, when St. Louis Rams players made a grand gesture during player introductions, there was a lot of outrage. Continue reading St. Louis Rams: Jocks for Justice
Having attended a small high school in a small town, hearing about a fellow student experimenting with marijuana was always so controversial. First, the entire school found out and then it quickly escalated to parents, teachers, and coaches, and was “the talk of the town.” Coming to the University of Michigan, a very liberal college, seeing the nonchalant talk and shameless usage of marijuana was a bit of a culture shock. It has changed my view of marijuana and I have come to the point where I don’t see any reason for not legalizing it. Continue reading Mill on Marijuana
Stereotypes, perceptions, rules, what is considered socially acceptable, etc. all mold over time periods. During the Civil Rights Movement it was seen as okay to be racist because that was what was being debated. Now it is very unacceptable to see someone’s life as less important than yours because of the color of his or her skin. During Women’s Suffrage it was okay to not want women to be able to vote, but now if one were to express these feelings they are the minority group and therefore it is not seen as socially acceptable. Those perceptions have completely changed with the molding of society.
Not only do perceptions change but rules do as well. With new advances in technology, sports have changed throughout time. Ice hockey used to be played with “block of wood for a puck” and “all players [had to] play the entire game.” Nowadays a puck is made of “vulcanized rubber” and substitutions are allowed. So because rules have been altered is that not still hockey? Do changes result in a new sport, or is it close enough to the original that it can still be considered the same?
*Thanksgiving Power up
“Ref! Are you kidding me? This is a joke.” Tensions were high at the University of Michigan Men’s Club Soccer game against Grand Valley State University (GVSU). The game was deadlocked as both teams made a push in the final minutes to win the game. Several times, fouls were committed to prevent a quick scoring opportunity for the opposing team. During one particular counter-attack, a GVSU defender tripped a Michigan forward just outside of the eighteen yard box. The forward was just about to rip a shot after slipping past a seam in the back line before being fouled. Michigan players immediately circled the ref, pleading their case for a penalty shot. The ref, however, placed the free kick outside of the box. Players were enraged, criticizing the ref for his decision. In the United States, competitive amateur sports are prominent in the athletic development and recognition of the athlete. However, in countries such as Great Britain, a strong division has been created between amateur and “club” level athletes.
Over the summer, I attended the Manchester United – Real Madrid match at Michigan Stadium. “Michigan Stadium has claimed another attendance mark, setting a United States record with an announced crowd of 109,318 watching Manchester United beat Real Madrid, 3-1, in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.” The game was fantastic. There was a quiet intensity on the field throughout the entire match. In addition, the level of play was extraordinary. Every player’s touch on the ball was flawless as teams moved down the field in coordinated unison, using different strategies to link with the forward and break down the opposing team’s defense. After watching the game, I began to think about the skill the players exhibited on the field. Their technical skills on the ball were far and away the best I’ve ever seen. I knew soccer was more popular in Europe; however, I struggled to understand why there seems to be such a stark contrast in quality of play between U.S. soccer and European Fútbol.
Recently, my questions were answered. In the semester-themed lecture, Positive Psychology and Sports, a student from the U.K. explained the differences between U.S. and European sports culture. In the lecture, I leaned that the U.S has many “grassroots’ sports programs. These programs allow children to develop in order to compete at the high school level. Success at the high school level has proven to be a gateway to recruitment opportunities by college coaches. In this case, sports gives student-athletes the ability to continue their careers at the collegiate level while providing these students with sports-related scholarships to make college more affordable. Sports, thus, have been wrongfully associated with success because of its link to educational opportunity. Instead, sports in the U.S. only encourages young adults to only focus on their athletic abilities, allowing sports commercialization to flourish. “One characteristic of creeping sports commercialization among young athletes is that it distorts, or even destroys, people and institutions it touches. College admission programs select poorly educated athletes who stay in college for 1-2 years, instead of highly qualified students who could help us overcome our global competitiveness gaps in science, business, and education.”
“As a result, according to another N.C.A.A. report, the graduation rate (given six years to complete the degree) for football players is 16 percent below the college average, and the rate for men’s basketball players is 25 percent below.”
High school football.
On the other hand, the European system truly upholds the “amateur” aspect of school sponsored athletics. Amateur sports in Europe are viewed as a positive way to keep young people healthy and social. Many high school teams find themselves scrambling, minutes before the starting time, to find someone to fill the roster. However, the U.K. also has many “club” sports teams. These “clubs” or organizations serve as direct feeders to the professional level. For example, talented fútbolers are often recruited by academies by the age of fifteen where they are trained while receiving an education.
The privatization of sports in the U.K. could be a possible explanation for their superior skills in sports such as soccer. Division of amateur and “club” sport is also a fascinating trait unique to Europe. Not only are players provided a better opportunity to pursue a career in professional athletics, but the boundary between amateur and private allows for a truer appreciation for amateur athletics. This boundary could also help revive the American educational system, in turn, increasing graduation rates and the number of citizens with college degrees.
As both Michigan and Syracuse basketball players moved with ease up and down the court, I was reminded of how naturally coordination and athleticism come to most individuals. For these players, shooting, dribbling and defending seemed breathing, habitual and fluid. Their fluidity and naturalness stands in stark contrast to what I have always known of my little brother, Matthew. Diagnosed with dyspraxia at age 4, Matthew has no ounce of athletic ability, and very little desire to develop any. Dyspraxia “isn’t a sign of muscle weakness or of low intelligence. It’s a brain-based condition that makes it hard to plan and coordinate physical movement. Children with dyspraxia tend to struggle with balance and posture. They may appear clumsy or “out of sync” with their environment.” Along with struggling with gross motor skills, Matthew’s weak fine motor skills cause everyday tasks such as tying his shoes and writing legibly to come difficulty. Continue reading Sporting Event Power Up: Disability not Inability
In sports today, there is a sincere issue with players becoming very selfish. As a result of many athletes acting selfish, they ultimately forget about the most important aspect, which is the team. Many amazing players in different types of sports lose their greatness by forgetting about the team and merely being self interested. Players being selfish is most evident in players asking for more money and also by the way they play on the court or the field. When teams come together and eliminate the selfish attitude, they eventually play better and understand how it is to truly win as a team. Regardless of skill, the teams that play cohesive and as a team always succeed more. In Rousseau’s social contract, he explains a major issue with human nature which connects to the issue in sports. The major issue Rousseau conveys about human nature is that humans simply get caught up with society, thus become selfish. Meaning, people just worry about themselves and not the rest of society. Therefore in order to avoid this, Rousseau provides a brilliant solution through his social contract. Rousseau conveys that in order to eliminate the selfishness from humanity, there must be a democratic contract so that people work together. The ideas of Rousseau show that in order to be successful, people must work together, thus teams must truly play as a team. To show an example of a team that follows the solution to selfishness of Rousseau, the Chicago Bulls provide a great example.
Division one college athletics, the illustrious promise-land of high school athletes across the nation, serves as the driving goal for many young competitors. A select few will be talented enough to advance to the professional leagues, but for most, college is their time to live in the limelight and it is often the very peak of their athletic career. Yet the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) holds strict enforcements and regulations against college athletes receiving any kind of payments or endorsements for their performance on the playing field. It is shocking when you look into the large summations of money brought into a college by athletes who attract a lot of attention, huge crowds, and rocketing jersey sales.