We Still Have a Long Way to Go

Take a moment and think about your favorite athlete or sports team. Was the athlete or team that came to mind male? Most likely, and that’s by no fault of your own; women’s sports do not receive nearly as much media attention or recognition in our society as men’s do and that’s a result of the idea that women are inferior in sporting capabilities and their long history of restriction from sports due to the fact that some doctors believed it would somehow damage their reproductive organs. Yeah, right. Read More

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Who can speak up

It was a hot summer day in NYC; as I sat down to enjoy the new Hercules movie in the brand new 86th street theatre.  Twenty minutes into the movie my phone would not stop buzzing.  At once the whole theater seemed to be staring at me with a look of disdain.  I ran out of the theatre while my phone was blowing up from all of the twitter notifications.

A black man, Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson. My twitter feed was out of control

Signs made by people after the death of Michael Brown

Signs made by people after the death of Michael Brown

with posts about his death.  Everything from RIP to “The Wade family hearts and prayers go out to the Brown family. #RIPMikeBrown”.  

In the article Where Are the Jocks for Justice?, by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier, the authors state how athletes are often scrutinized for speaking up about political issues.  In the article, Candaele and Dreier mention how many athletes visit hospitals or do other charity work, but rarely speak up about more extreme issues because they are “expect[ed] to perform not pontificate”. The article also states that many athletes do not voice their opinions because “it is not our role to go around taking positions on things for the sake of taking positions.” (Donald Fehr, Head of MLBPA) 

In lecture this week, we also discussed the state of advocacy in todays professional athletics. We learned of Olympic athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith who, in the summer of 1968, decided to raise their fists during the national anthem in an act of solidarity for the black power movement. This moment was considered to be one of the defining moments in the history of political activism in sports.  However, Where Are the Jocks for Justice? argued that modern day athletes lack the same feeling of individualism held by athletes in the past like Carlos and Smith.

I disagree with Candaele and Dreier view that most athletes nowadays do not speak up when major political events occur.  If we look at the one of the most recent political controversies, the death of Michael Brown, we see an outpour of tweets and

 Johnson Bademosi #24 of the Cleveland Browns displays a message protesting the death of Eric Gardner

Johnson Bademosi #24 of the Cleveland Browns displays a message protesting the death of Eric Gardner

posts from athletes.  After Brown was not indicted Serena Williams tweeted, “Wow. Just wow. Shameful. What will it take???”  and Kobe Bryant tweeted, “The system enables young black men to be killed behind the mask of law #Ferguson #tippingpoint #change”.  Social media has given people the ability to voice their opinions to the entire world in a matter of seconds; and athletes have taken full advantage of this.  Not only have athletes been voicing their opinions on social media, they have also been doing it with what they wear.   After the death of Eric Garner, in a video of the arrest, Garner can be heard gasping, “I can’t breathe.”  Many athletes like Cleveland Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi, wore warm up shirts with the words “I can’t breathe” on them, while others such as Davin Joseph, a guard for the St. Louis Rams, wrote the words “R.I.P. Eric Garner” on his cleats.  And after the death of the Late Trayvon Martin, Lebron James tweeted a picture of the Miami Heat wearing hoods with their heads bowed in support of Trayvon Martin.  Athletes are glorified and

Lebron James and the Miami Heat wearing hoods with their heads bowed in support of Trayvon Martin

Lebron James and the Miami Heat wearing hoods with their heads bowed in support of Trayvon Martin

looked up to as heroes for many people; and because spectators put them on a pedestal they need to be given the right to voice their opinions.

Lack of Student-Athlete Activism at Michigan

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. 

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Should We Protest?

Seeing that the role of athletes in the political scene has been thoroughly discussed on this site, I want to turn our attention to a different, but equally if not more thought-provoking issue that was raised in lecture. This is regarding the role of academia in politics. Now, whether the faculty members of an educational institution should remain politically unbiased is one debate, and one which I will not discuss in this post having no personal insight in it, but another that I will discuss is whether their students should engage in politics.

Student activists have been famous – or infamous, depending on who’s talking – for organizing energetic protests aimed at the many grievances and worries students may have. This covers a wide range of issues.  We don’t have to look far, even in our own university, students protest whenever they feel it’s necessary. Some have been motivated by issues other than politics, like the recent rally that called for the firing of our Athletics Director. The kinds of protests I want to turn our attention to, however, are those which are politically motivated. Examples within the U of M are, among many others, the 1970s civil rights movements led by African-American students,  and the more recent protests that called for more affirmative action in university enrollment (I’m unsure whether the latter would actually be classified as political or not in the American context, in Malaysia it most definitely would be).

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Hands Up, Don’t Shoot?

On November 30th, five players on the St. Louis Rams entered the field with their hands in the air referencing the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture that has been receiving a lot of attention in recent weeks. This salute began after the recent events of the Michael Brown Case. For those of you who might not be informed of the Michael Brown Case (I’d be surprised if you aren’t), I’ll give you a quick recap.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams demonstrating hands up, don’t shoot

Michael Brown was an 18 year old from Ferguson, Missouri. On August 9th, Michael and a friend robbed a convenience store a few blocks away from Michael’s house. On the walk back, Darren Wilson, a Ferguson Police Officer, is responding to the robbery call and stops Michael because he fit the profile of the perpetrator. Read More

Political Science and Game of Thrones (Spoiler Alert)

Kit Harington at HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 3 Seattle Premie

Braving the crowd at Best Buy on Thursday evening, I was able to take advantage of the super sales and purchase a behemoth TV. While I was at it, I also was able to score a Game of Thrones box-set. Clearly, the only logical thing to do upon my return was marathon the series on my crisp, clear, 50-incher. As I was tied into the gripping series, I began to realize something that may be pure coincidence, or perhaps truly correlated. My realization was that our professor, Mika LaVaque-Manty, may enjoy Game of Thrones so much since it is chocked full of tidbits of political science, from Machiavellianism to the beliefs of Hobbes. Read More

Why Are We Really Here?

images (1)All of us here have one thing in common: we all chose to further our education. Why are we here though? This question might get many different answers from everyone here but they would all probably sound pretty similar. Most of us want a better job, something that requires a higher education level to achieve. Whether we want it for the greater challenges and responsibilities or we want it for the amount of zeros at the end of our checks, we all want it for something.  Read More

Comparison of Sports

Michigan is ranked very highly in the world of athletics and academics. We are guaranteed to offer an excellent education and, of course, great sports. While the football team may not have done that well this year, Michigan does have a tremendous reputation to preform at the top level in all sports. There is a history of excellence here that can not be beat by any university, especial those Buckeyes. The team and school spirit is infectious making the atmosphere of ever game incredible exciting.

While only being here a few months, I have been to several sporting events, including basketball and cross country. I love watching people represent Michigan and seeing people preform at the top level. Both the basketball team and the cross country team are ranking very highly and consistently put on a good show. Besides their reputation, Cross County and Basketball are (obviously) very different. The way they preform, play, train, celebrate, and even win are very different for each other. However I believe the biggest difference, as a fan of each sport, is the spectators.

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MLK Still Has a Dream

“The tear gas canisters clanking through the streets, flash-bang grenades, military Humvees and cops in riot gear facing off with angry protesters.” Taken out of context, this sounds like a quote straight from a history textbook, from a chapter on the civil rights movement in the 50s and 60s. It sounds like it should be from the era of Rosa Parks and Malcolm X and of course Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately, it’s actually from a CNN News article published just a few months ago.

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