Miracles and Firsts

We’ve all heard the story a million times, and if you are watching TV during the Olympics you are bound to see a few Visa or Coca Cola commercials telling the story again. The story of when the United States beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 winter Olympics at Lake Placid. Its by far one of the most inspirational sports stories in American history, and the story is retold in the 2004 movie “Miracle” which was shown at one of this semester’s themed events in November (side note: I had no idea who John Bacon was but everyone should look him up he’s honestly so cool). While watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think about how it related to when we learned about A. Bartlett Giamatti’s idea about spectators and sports. Read More

eSports?

The logo for StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

“The rise of the professional cyber athlete” reads the tagline of Ben McGrath’s article. The topic is StartCraft, a virtual game that has one of the largest followings in the world. The game is dominated by South Korean’s, but has recently been expanding to other parts of the world, including North America. The most talented players gather to compete in tournaments featuring large cash prizes and many opportunities to gain sponsorships. There is a common question that arises, and the topic has been debated for a long time: What is a sport? (And are eSports actually sports?) Read More

The Consequences of Activism in Athletics

Chris Kluwe, former Minnesota Vikings punter

Chris Kluwe, former Minnesota Vikings punter

From 2005-2012, Chris Kluwe played football with the Minnesota Vikings as a punter. Kluwe holds a number of team punt records for the Vikings, and at one point was one of the ten highest paid punters in the NFL. During his time with the Vikings, Kluwe was an outspoken supporter and activist for LGBT rights, which in his opinion, is the reason he was fired.

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Fun is For the Non-Competitive

I believe that as competitiveness, passed high school, increases then sports become much more serious because there is a lot more at stake for everyone involved.  High school football in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is, what I consider serious as far as high school sports go.  My school was considered a football school and took great pride in having a quality football team.  It was always fun because everyone was out there at practice, regardless of what your skill level was, just having fun with all your friends on the team.  We had a very successful team my three years I lived in Pittsburgh in which we only lost one game.  The competition that we played did not match ours, we just had more talent than most of the teams we played.  That is why I believe High School football was so much fun, because there was not that much competition therefore everybody on my team could just cut it loose and have a great time.

North Allegheny Tigers 2013 State Champions my senior year

North Allegheny Tigers 2013 State Champions my senior year

I thought college would be very similar to my high school experience, everyone having fun enjoying the game we all loved.  As I entered into my first training camp I quickly realized that that was not the case.  College football is a lot more serious because there is competition everywhere.  If you are not performing, there will be somebody who is better then you that will take your job.  That is coaches and players alike.  This is why in the reading, The Dynamics of Modern Sport by Eric Dunning, he is correct in saying as the competitiveness increases in sports so does the seriousness.  However I do not believe that he is entirely correct when saying that there is no fun when it is extremely competitive.

University of Michigan Football

University of Michigan Football

College sports are extremely stressful and time consuming which is why you have to have a true passion for the game.  If you have that passion then you will always find enjoyment in playing football.  I believe that the stress increases as the competitiveness increases because there is a lot more at stake.  For example once you become a professional football player you either succeed or you fail.  Your football career is your life and your source of income.  Therefore it is extremely stressful and competitive in order to be a professional football player making the game difficult to be fun.

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line

The only thing that I would argue against Dunning is that I do not believe that the NFL is all serious and no fun.  During the season it is extremely stressful; however the season only lasts about four months out of the year.  What do NFL players do the other 8 months out of the year?  the majority of players will work out extremely hard in order to get in the best possible shape for the next season; however with 8 months of limited time they are allowed to be with their team it leaves a lot of time in order to enjoy themselves.  With the minimum veteran salary being $950,000 dollars, NFL players have money to go have fun.

The Process of Change: Professional Sports vs. College Club Sports

The amending of rules in professional sports is not something that happens quickly. When changes are actually made, it usually involves many months or years of methodical deliberation. If there was one person who I feel embodies methodical deliberation it would be Edmund Burke. He believed all decision-making should never be rushed and that a conservative approach is the best approach. When Major League Baseball (MLB) finally decided to implement instant replay challenging in the 2014 season, it was met with great jubilation because umpires had made very questionable errors leading up to this point. Although this augmentation might be thought to influence the traditional nature of the game, Burke would advocate that this decision would improve the justice of baseball.

Edmund Burke

 

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How Does Instant Replay Change the Game?

Rule changes in organized sports are rare. The process of making rule changes in a major sports league such as the NBA, NFL, or MLB is lengthy and difficult. Because of this, and because we as a nation like as little change as possible, when major rule changes do occur in organized sports, it’s a big deal. Reaction to changes in rules can be drastically in favor or drastically against, and since sports are a core part of the lives of many Americans, people generally aren’t shy about voicing their opinions.

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The MLB’s Attempt to Speed Up the Games

Angel_Stadium_of_AnaheimMajor League Baseball is in the process of trying to implement new rules that will hopefully speed up the game. The new rules seem necessary and subtle, but could have a very serious impact on the game. In total, there are six rules that have been proposed to increase the pace of the game because the total time for a baseball game has been increasing by about four minutes a year for the last three years. The biggest impact of these new rules is the fact that baseball has always been a game that moves at its own pace with no clock telling how long a game could go. Now, there are propositions to post clocks on each dugout that keep track of time between pitches, innings, and pitching changes. Again, someone not completely familiar with the game might think, “So what? What’s the big deal?” In reality, this would be another step in revolutionarily changing the game of baseball.

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Planned Success?

On a frigid fall night in New York, as I stood in front of the basketball hoop on my driveway, my mind was spinning.  It was 2 AM before my first day of classes as a high schooler, but more importantly it was the night before the tryouts for the JV basketball team. The prior season I rode the bench and was doing everything in my control during the offseason to perfect my game.

 

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What I looked like before high school

I was never the greatest athlete nor was I born with the greatest talent, but coming into high school everyone started fresh in the eyes of the new coach.  Hobbes’s manifested the theory that all men were created equal.  Everyone starts at a similar point whether it be sports, school, or acting and have the ability to control their own destiny.

One the biggest inspirations in my life is Tom Brady.  Everyone knows of tom Brady as the nine time all star and three time super bowl champion, however this was not always the case.  He was never the most talented quarterback and did not have a prototypical body and arm that scouts looked for in quarterbacks.  He was even forced to split time with quarterback Drew Henson, during his senior season at Michigan.  Brady ended up being picked with the 199th pick in the sixth round, with six quarterbacks being selected before him.  He can be seen crying during an interview, because of how upset he was about being pick so late in the draft.

 

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Tom Brady looking scrawny and weak at the NFL Combine 

However, Brady shut up his critics and took advantage of his fresh start in the NFL.  Brady spent countless hours at the gym, and outworked everyone.  Similar to Brady’s success, I ended up being a three year starter on my varsity basketball team, overcoming my deficiencies.

 

In this instance Brady showed that there is an element of control in how successful one becomes.  This was also evident from what I achieved on my high school team.

But does everyone have control over whether they succeed? Does everyone get the job they want?  Can the strength of the weak really take out the strength of the strong?  Do we really believe no is subordinate to anyone else?

 

I did end up starting on my varsity team because I worked head and shoulders more than anyone else.  However, the star of the team rarely put in hours at the gym, quarreled with the coaches, and skipped mandatory workouts because of his natural talent.  Is it really in our control to decide where we end up?  I would have loved to go to the NBA, was it realistic or even a possibility? Heck no!


Nonetheless, I believe that Hobbes is stating that everyone cannot be completely equal in the long run and people don’t have complete control over whether they succeed or not rather it is up to them to make the most out of their given opportunities.  Hobbes also states that “strength of the weak really take out the strength of the strong” which I believe means that generally the weak may not be able to take down the strong, but on any given night anything could happen.  And Herb Brooks, the USA Hockey coach from the Miracle movie, perfectly sums it up by preaching that “One game. If we played ’em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight.”  

College Football and Covenants

Thomas Hobbes addresses the idea of covenants in his book called “Leviathan.” Covenants are promises or oaths that are made between two parties for the benefit of all. They arise when two or more people, groups, or nations have a common goal and can attain that goal by working together, e.g. world peace, fighting a war, getting a good grade on a group project.

Covenants have also had a major impact on collegiate athletics. The whole concept of a scholarship is a covenant. When Michigan agrees to give a scholarship to a football player the University is promising four years of education for free (+ some other perks that just come with playing for the Wolverines). When a player accepts that scholarship, or covenant, he is agreeing to play football for the University of Michigan, and is refusing to play for anyone else.

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The Winged Wheel and the Old English “D”

 

Behind the economic struggles lies a city with incredible promise, not to mention an awesome skyline

The city of Detroit has had it’s fair share of ups and downs. Throughout history, many of Detroit’s shining moments have been related to sports. Athletic events are one of the most popular attractions in the city, not to mention one of the largest sources of revenue. For spectators, professional athletic events in the city are thought of as very laid back, recreational activities. After attending games of both the Detroit Red Wings (National Hockey League), and the Detroit Tigers (Major League Baseball), I have been able to formulate similar opinions to those expressed by former MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti in his book Take Time for Paradise.

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