Pretty late to the game on this topic, but better late than never!!! For class, we read a section of John Stuart Mill’s, “On Liberty.” In Chapter Five, he expresses his opinion that, “There is always need of persons not only to discover new truths, and point out when what were once truths are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better taste and sense in human life. This cannot well be gainsaid by anybody who does not believe that the world has already attained perfection in all its ways and practices.” He means that we should not accept any thing to be set in stone and we should always be pushing for changes to improve ideas and society. For Thanksgiving, it can easily be assumed that 99% of people eat the exact same meal; people go crazy over the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, pumpkin, and pecan pie.
In our last reading, “Where are the Jocks for Justice?”, Candaele and Dreier list several instances where athletes had the opportunity to stand up for a cause, but didn’t, or when athletes did stand up for a cause, but received backlash from media or fans. I realized after reading this article how instances like this exist in our very own athletic department.
Once former athletic director Dave Brandon went under attack this fall, I was instructed by my captains to not say anything negative about the athletic department in any circumstance to avoid anything getting worse. But even though my entire team and I were fans of Brandon, we were also warned against trying to argue with non-athletes who viewed Brandon negatively. We could not fight back against the majority of the student body who could regularly be heard bashing Brandon on our way to class, in the dining halls, and while we ate in the dorms. We had to come to terms with the fact that although we were probably more affected by Brandon’s actions within the athletic department and had much more personal communication with him, the majority of other students disagreed with our opinions.
In “Being a Woman and Other Disabilities,” Mika mentions that for a long period of time, women had little participation in sports due to societies, “beliefs about their weakness and physical vulnerability,” which still exist, “to some extent today.” Being a female student athlete myself and having trained in the past with a mixed gender team, I know that this is true. My male teammates can easily outperform me in any situation, running faster, lifting more, etc. While women are no longer considered to only be of importance to cook, clean, and have babies, they still are not regarded entirely as being as capable as men. Women remain stereotyped as the “weaker sex” in society today but are slowly making steps to becoming equivalent to men in the field of athletics with changes like Title IX and the increase of women in athletics.
But I was recently reading the book “Born To Run,” by Chris McDougall the other day. He starts the book looking on how to solve his nagging injury but then delves into research of how people, specifically the Tarahumara Indians that remain separate from society in the mountains in Mexico, are able to run extremely long distances. What I found most interesting from his book was his talk about the runner Ann Trason. In one of the most exciting parts of the book, the Tarahumara Indians are taken from their secluded tribes in Mexico to race at the premier ultra running event, the Leadville 100, “The race where legends are created and limits are tested. One hundred miles of extreme Colorado Rockies terrain — from elevations of 9,200 to 12,600 feet.” AKA, probably the most difficult race ever since you are running for at minimum 16 hours up and downhill with half of it overnight.
It is certain that rowing is by far not a popular sport. If I were to inquire with a close friend and ask him, have you seen a rowing race, or perchance, have you encountered an oarsman? I warrant that he aught to say no to both questions. The races are not best for looker-ons because one’s eye can spy about 500 meters of a race unless one is prepared enough to have brought himself binoculars or is biking down a race course with a cajole of coaches alongside clamoring like fools who placed their bets on the wrong horse.
Imagine that Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is a prince, student-athletes and coaches are his nobles, and Michigan students are his subjects. It is pretty absurd, but stick with me.
In Chapter IX of “The Prince,” Machiavelli says, “He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than when he who comes to it by the aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favor finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.” This means that a prince that has won over his nobles will have them to support him, but if he has not, then he has no one. Read More
Two days after I arrived to the University of Michigan, I was required to attend a compliance meeting where I paid little attention to the lengthy document that I was required to sign multiple times. None of it meant much to me at the time, I was happy to be attending Michigan for free to play a sport. I was willing to sign anything they put in front of me. But after reading “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed,” I realized how athletes are affected by these compliance rules.