Athlete and Coach Contract?

What good are contracts for? What relationships use contracts? Are contracts really beneficial in the long run?

A coach will always expect a lot out of his athletes

A coach will always expect a lot out of his athletes

Contracts are great for all sorts of things. Many use them for business relationships, landlord and tenant relationships, employer and employee relationships, teacher and student relationships, and so on.

On the other hand, there are plenty of relationships that do not use contracts. Some of these include family relationships, friendships, and dating/romantic/marriage relationships.

In my life, one of the most important relationships that I have is with my coach. The relationship between an athlete and a coach is very special. There are actually many similarities to an employer and employee relationship. While my coach “owns” me in some sense, I work for him to the best of my ability to bring success to my team (or company, in the comparison). Having a contract between a employer and an employee is very important, because as an employer, you need to know that your employee will work their tail off at all times, will be trustworthy, respectful, and responsible.

Another relationship that can be compared with a coach and an athlete is a family relationship. In our gym, our coaches are almost seen as parental figures in our life. Being away on our own, we each (my teammates and I) lack the guidance that our parents once gave us. This, however, is nothing new to the college student. College is a time to find out who you truly are and make decisions for yourself. But, with the extra responsibilities as a student-athlete, it has made all the difference to have them supporting us each and every day. The relationship between family members normally does not have a contract—only in cases such as divorce or adoption, perhaps.

So where exactly does the relationship between an athlete and their coach fall? Should there be a contract, similar to the one in an employer/employee relationship? Or would a contract be unnecessary, like in any family relationship?

While these are all good questions, I turned to the experts on social contracts. Others (Hobbes, Locke) have looked at social contracts and exposed their findings/opinions, but I specifically looked at Jean Jacques Rousseau’s State of Nature and Critique of Civilization.

Rousseau

Rousseau

His anthropological theory states that in the state of nature, we are born free and people were by themselves—we were happy, not rational. Rousseau made it clear that once we started thinking, everything will begin to go to hell if we start comparing to one another, and if we are dependent on others’ opinions. Out of that, the part that stuck out most to me regarding the athlete/coach relationship was being dependent on others’ opinions. As an athlete, if I am dependent on my coaches’ opinion, I will never be satisfied. They will always want and expect more, because they can see the potential that I can’t.

This is why I believe that the coach/athlete relationship should remain without a contract.

Thinking about your life, what relationships would you like to use a contract for?

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A Mathematical Proof of Menand’s Theory 1

Last week I was meticulously studying the Syllabus for my Math 116 course in anticipation for an upcoming quiz.  A theme that my Graduate Student Instructor stressed was teamwork to encourage learning. Throughout the year we will be having group assignments and we will have opportunities to teach the other students. One point my instructor made about teamwork was that once we graduate and begin to work in the real world, we will be probably not be working individually but rather be part of a group. And to prove the power of teamwork outside of the classroom my Graduate Student Instructor alluded to a statement from some professionals in the working world. Below is taken directly from the syllabus,

Boeing’s most famous plane the 747 (via Wikimedia)

Here’s what a principal aerodynamics engineer from The Boeing Company and members of the Washington State Software Alliance have to say.

What do we look for in employees? We hire those who have demonstrated that they:

  • Enjoy the process of learning & know how to learn independently
  • Thrive on intellectual challenges
  • Are creative and flexible in how they solve problems
  • Have a good understanding of the fundamentals (mathematics, science, economics)
  • Can manage knowledge and information, as well as tasks and things
  • Can operate effectively in a team environment
  • Have good communication skills

College acts as a Sorting Hat like the one featured in Harry Potter

As I was studying, a light went off in my head, I thought, “where does it mention anything about an engineering degree?” It was my belief that an aerospace or software engineering degree was crucial for a job at Boeing or similar companies. I realized that these companies are following Louis Menand’s Theory 1. His theory states that college is simply a four year intelligence exam, so that by the end the smart and hardworking are separated from the lazy and dumb. My political theory professor, Mika LaVaque-Manty, was able to relate this theory to Harry Potter as he has done with many other aspects of our class. He said that this theory treats college like it is a sorting hat- it will separate people based on their skills and strengths.  A controversial aspect of Menand’s theory is that the content of the classes a student takes is irrelevant, so it does not matter what the students learn just so long as it is challenging.

Boeing and the Washington State Software Alliance are stating that just so long as someone is intelligent and willing to work hard then they are a good candidate for a position in their companies.  This is in direct opposition to Menand’s second and third theories of what college should be. Theory two is focused on knowledge and actually teaching students for the purpose of learning rather than for a job. Theory three is similar but is more focuses more on teaching students only one skill. This theory states that the purpose of college is to teach students a skill that they can then apply to a job later on.

Wall Street, New York City (Via Wikimedia)

This is an example of a real company putting their support behind theory one. Up to this point we have discussed these theories and their meanings, but we have not looked at any concrete examples of them being put to use. In my own experience I have seen other instances in which theory one has been applied.  After I graduate I am looking to go into business- hopefully finance or investment banking.  I have met a lot of people in that field who haven’t majored in finance or economics but rather in history. I can guarantee that Wall Street firms didn’t hire these people because they know a lot about ancient Greece.  These people were hired because of the skills they developed during their time in college- writing concise and “to the point” essays, and being able to read lots of information and pick out the important points. Employers look for these skills, and it doesn’t matter what the person has actually learned, just so long as they have a skill set that fits the job.

After seeing this in my math syllabus I was convinced.  Theory one is definitely the theory I put my support behind because up to this point I have not heard about a company strictly hiring people because they have an education in a relevant field. Just this small omission of a requirement of having a degree in engineering was all I needed to persuade me. It is beginning to seem more and more like employers want people with skills, not with knowledge.  Companies can train and teach employees what they need to know, but it is much harder to teach good writing or communication. The argument can be made that college is not all about getting a job.  But my time here at the University of Michigan will only be four years (hopefully). I need to get a job and make a living for the rest of my life and it seems that an education that follows theory one is the best way to achieve that goal.

Is It Still Golf?

Marc Tracy wrote the article, “NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football?” on August 2, 2013 for the New Republic. Tracy focused on the new rules adopted by the Competition Committee of the NFL in 2013. In order for football to be safer for players, the committee discontinued kick-offs at the Pro-Bowl, the tuck rule, and players lowering their helmet. Continue reading

The Change in Football

American football, surly thought as America’s game because of its exclusiveness to North America and its people. This is a game in which there injuries to the head, neck and spine can be very dangerous and in some extreme cases deadly. Football started in 1869 in Rutgers stadium when they played Princeton. Football back then was a shell of the game that we all know today.

Back when the first game was played the forward pass was not a thing and the football was more like a basketball. As the years went bye the game became more violent. With the invention of the facemask, which was first used in the late 50’s, people now had protection for their face. This means now you can lead with your head when making a tackle, this is when many of the injuries started to come to fruition. Over the years following that helmets, shoulder pads, and other protective measures got better and better. However, even today with the equipment at its very best and most technologically advanced we still have more injuries then ever. Why is this?

The answer to this is simple; the players are bigger, stronger, and faster then ever before. From young ages kids are working out and conditioning to be great football players, I know this from experience. From drinking protein shakes when I was very young to work out sessions during grade school and even running wind sprints at recess to better myself football players at higher levels have dedicated heir lives to this sport. So naturally, when you and all your opponents are “bred” to play this sport you make athletes who are so big, strong, and fast that when they hit each other the energy they are exerting on each other is so vast that you are likely to have injuries.

The way to prevent this is changing the rules of the padding in football. In football you have a helmet and shoulder pads but your head is still vulnerable to “whip lash” injuries because your neck allows you your head to move freely. There is equipment used to help prevent this called “Cowboy Collars.”

collar football (Football player wearing a Cowboy Collar)

Cowboy Collars come in all shapes and sizes but they all do generally the same thing, which is restrict the head from whipping back and forth. I believe if we make a rule mandating wearing Cowboy Collar collars then it would make football a safer sport. Not only would this benefit the players it would not change how football is played. This simple rule would not only make football a safer sport to watch, it would also not change football and how this great game is played.

United Nations and Social Contracts

United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 after the greatest war in human history. After hundreds or even thousands years of chaos and disputes, mankind finally got together and started to find a way to keep long-term peace and development. The purpose of the United Nations seems to be easy to understand – just like citizens in a country need to have a government, countries need to have “a government of countries” to ensure peace and prevent wars among nations. However, is the role of the UN among countries really the same as that of a government for its citizens? In my opinion, the short answer here is NO. In order to more closely examine this issue, I will use the theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau to compare UN with a common “country” in their different ways to keep “Social Contracts”.

UN General Assembly Hall – The hall that holds the main deliberative assembly of the United Nations (Link)

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