Weapons in America

Its a pun, get it??

“ I have a right to bear arms” seems like a quote from a Texan ranch owner or Kentucky mountain person, but I believe has a place in this country. Debates over the proper restrictiveness of gun control laws are ongoing, with both sides making concrete  reasoning behind why guns should or should not be available to the public. With the amount of public shootings, be them in schools, malls, or any other numerous locations give good reason to be afraid of firearms. But for each horror story I have heard ones of a man with a gun stopping a shooting, saving multiple peoples lives. The truth I believe lies somewhere in between.

Balance is the hardest thing for humans to maintain in their lives. Be that eating correctly, exercising, and getting enough sleep. These flaws in humanity reach over to politics. With weapons and public use of them people want the whole hog or none of it. As citizens of a liberal democracy it goes against us fundamentally to deny something, that in good faith and with responsibility, can be a constructive tool.  In John Stuart Mills novel On Liberty he discusses the idea of what is in the bounds of actions of a man. “men should be free to act upon their opinions—to carry these out in their lives, without hindrance, either physical or moral, from their fellow-men, so long as it is at their own risk and peril.”(Chpt 3, Mill). Men are free to carry a weapon on them, they take responsibility for the weapon and everything that comes from it once in their

Does this scare you? Good.

possession. No single person has the right to impede someone else of that ability, but, their is a catch. If the responsibilities of a weapon are taken upon by someone there needs to be a sense of discipline, with its use and upkeep for “ It may be better to be a John Knox than an Alcibiades, but it is better to be a Pericles than either; nor would a Pericles, if we had one in these days, be without anything good which belonged to John Knox.” (Chpt 3, Mill). Basically in layman’s terms he is saying that it is better to be self disciplined and self sacrificing, not own a gun or think about it(John Knox), then to have a gun and be irresponsible with it(Alcibiades). But the best option would to be a Pericles, this would be someone who wants a gun even with the pressures of how terrible they are, and is responsible for it. Here is where the government begins to play a role. Liberalism plays a huge role in Mills writing, and would seem to be a solution to this gun problem. This line of thought gives enough birth to allow people of sound mind and good intention to own a weapon, but should stop those who would use them for harm. Be that background checks and a cool of period, guns should stay out of the hands that are a danger, but if someone wants large rounds, or high powered rifles for their own use, or to get certified to carry a weapon with them and is responsible they should be able to. It is there right, nd it should be upheld.

Weapons are a dangerous topic. People want to protect their families from them, and others want to with them. Both sides should have needs meant. With proper balance and control, guns should be allowed into the streets and hands of responsible citizens willing to bare the weight that comes with owning a firearm.

There is no right or wrong on this topic, but maybe one day we can all love each other!

Men’s and Women’s Basketball

The Michigan men's basketball team plays in front of a packed arena.

The Michigan men’s basketball team plays in front of a packed arena.

I am an avid sports fan and during my first semester at the University of Michigan I attended several men’s basketball games including the Hillsdale game and the Syracuse game. I also attended a woman’s basketball game against Cornell. My experience at the men’s games versus the women’s game was very different. On a Tuesday night for the Syracuse game the arena was packed and the crowd was electric the entire game. The student section, known as the Maize Rage, cheered, jumped and chanted almost the entire game. Students had lined up hours in advance of the game in freezing cold temperatures to ensure that they got a seat on the bleachers of the student section. The entire crowd would roar almost deafeningly loud during big plays, especially toward the end of the game as Michigan sealed the victory over a very talented Syracuse team. After the game I could relate to Bartlett Giamatti’s description of a spectators experience from his book Take Time for Paradise. He explains how spectators are intrigued and excited by sports because they create a series of events that has never been put together before, which can lead to an exciting ending. I left the game feeling excited after cheering on the wolverines to victory. Continue reading

When Will Amateurism Die at the College Level?

Recently, while reading the article, “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” I got to thinking, how much longer will amateurism last in college athletics? While thinking this I couldn’t help but link the course material reading for our PolySci class to a very similar topic which was discussed in a Sports Sociology class I took this semester.

In the article, “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” they talked about Ed O’Bannon and his ongoing trial with the NCAA over the right to his name and likeness used in NCAA basketball video game. Ironically, in the video, “Schooled” they talked about the same trial. We watched this video for the sociology class I was taking and they talked about many interesting points, which relate to the, “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” article.

ed obannon

Ed O’Bannon on the cover of SI

Throughout the video the topic of athlete’s rights were discussed and whether or not these were being violated. Many people believed they were, and that athletes are performing for their universities, and bringing in huge profits, especially with football and basketball. In the video they also talk about how the NCAA cannot stay together forever operating under this “amateurism” code. Walter Byers, the man who invented the term “amateurism” and the athletic scholarship for the NCAA even was quoted towards the end of his life saying, “…the system cannot be upheld forever, today’s college athletic’s have become far too commercialized.” So this is the main problem here. The athletes are being cheated out of money for their performance, as well as their likeness, image, and name, as is the case with Ed O’Bannon.

NCAA

How much longer can the NCAA operate under the amateurism code?

The NCAA is crumbling and the Ed O’Bannon case may be the start of the downfall. In the article, “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” they go on to talk about how things are not looking good for the NCAA due to the fact of that the judge, Claudia Wilken, will most likely not side with NCAA. She is not caught up in the politics of the NCAA and the connections that the commercial world has to the NCAA. She also just not very caught up in the sports world as well, being described in the article as “…not knowing all that much generally about sports.” So the sympathy for the NCAA is not there.

judge wilken

Judge Wilken

Overall, the takeaway which I get from both this article and movie is that amateurism in the NCAA is a dying concept. It was created at a time where NCAA sports were not heavily entrenched with commercialistic undertones, taking advantage of student-athletes while making huge profits for themselves. In the end it is just a matter of time until student-athletes will be paid, in my opinion and according to the article and movie which I have described, it may be sooner than later.

Political Activism Still Not in Sight

Derrick Rose wears “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warm-ups.

In light of the recent political protests by professional athletes, many bloggers have declared that political activism has finally made its way back into the realm of professional athletics. With the St. Louis Rams’ protest of the decision in the Michael Brown case and Derrick Rose wearing a warm-up shirt that says “I Can’t Breathe” in protest of the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death, professional athletes are finally starting to become political activists, right? Wrong. It’s important to understand the distinction between a political statement and political activism when analyzing the actions of professional athletes.

A political statement is a single effort to promote political change that doesn’t necessarily mean the person has a long-term commitment to the cause. Political activism, on the other hand, consists of constant efforts to advocate political change over the long-term. While any political involvement by professional athletes is great, I argue that these particular instances are political statements instead of political activism.

Continue reading

Men’s Basketball v. Women’s Gymnastics

Last week, I was able to attend the men’s basketball game against the Syracuse Orange. Throughout the entire game, the two teams were basically neck in neck and it was anyone’s game. Vibrant electricity was pulsing through the crowd and the cheering for the Wolverines was making the ground quake; specifically, the noise from the student section stood out immensely. The student cheering section for men’s basketball games in the Chrisler Arena is commonly known as the “maize rage.” Through the encouragement of the maize rage, with less than a minute remaining, Michigan’s Spike Albrecht managed to break the tie by scoring a 3-pointer, thus putting the Wolverines back in the lead. The maize rage went crazy in wild cheers and song supporting their team. It was truly an incredible feeling to be apart of. Just as Giamatti writes in his Take Time for Paradise, I can attest that “The spectator, seeing something he had only imagined, or, more astonishingly, had not yet or would have never imagined possible, because the precise random moments had never before come together in this form to challenge the players, is privy to the realized act of imagination an assents, is mastered, and in that instant, bettered.” The ability to be apart of the maize rage was something that allowed for a bond to form not just among the spectators, but also between the spectators and the team. Through our cheering on the team, we formed a bond with them that motivated them to push themselves harder and eventually resulting in a Wolverine victory. Continue reading

Finals Week: Who Will You Be?

It’s the official start of finals week.Your schedule seems like it couldn’t be busier, your classes seem to have assignments popping out of nowhere, and your bed seems like it’s always empty. With this chaotic week beginning, there are many different ways that students handle their stress and time. Some classes offer study sessions (one GSI even held a 12-hour review session this past weekend) where students can work with their peers to help understand the material, while other students prefer the quiet individual studying in their room or a library. Either way, this week is all about time management. When and how you study contributes to your success. So, when my friend texted me the other day asking for my help on one of her assignments, I told her “no” because it didn’t benefit me and my studying. Which got me thinking, “Who would help her in this situation?”

There are two separate options in this example: The friend that helps and the friend that says no, like me. These two different types of people represent the views of two very different philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. One would help the friend in a heartbeat, arguing that everyone’s best interest is the most beneficial way to life in this society, where the other would undoubtedly protect their own self interest, with the belief that every man should live for himself. So, during this upcoming week, who will you be?

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes

Hobbes believed that human beings were sophisticated machines and, as a result, all functions and activities could be explained in purely mechanistic terms. However, he also acknowledged the animal nature within human nature, and believed that everyone acted in their own self-interest. They are content with their success, no matter the state of others around them. He emphasizes in his piece, the Leviathan, that people are focused on “competition of riches, honor command, or other power, inclineth to contention, enmity, and war.” A student who follows the Hobbesean ideals would thrive on other’s failures, therefore not looking out for the friend who asks for help when studying.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau, on the other hand, believed in human kindness and pity. He argued the importance of not having a sovereign within society, and that looking out for everyone’s self-interest is the most beneficial to a successful community. He states in his work, On the Social Contract“At once, in place of the individual person of each contracting party, this act of association produces a moral and collective body composed of as many members as there are voices in the assembly, which receives from this same act its unity, its common self, its life and its will.” If a student supports this idea, then they would’ve responded immediately and offered their help to the friend, rationalizing that if everyone looks out for each other, then the entirety of the class would benefit.

The viewpoints are on different sides of the spectrum, but seem to fit the general uncertainty of how to study for finals. Personally, I think that both strategies can form success, it just depends on the person. Either way, here’s to wishing students the best of luck on their finals, and hoping that, as according to Hobbes, their exams don’t result in a “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” life afterwards.

Dividing Sports

One of the biggest company to televise sports in the nation.

With over 400,000 NCAA collegiate athletes from all divisions, millions of people running local 5 ks every year, and  the NFL grossing around 9 billion dollars in 2013, it is safe to say we live in a competitive culture. Such a heavy focus on athletics and competition probably brings to many of these contestants minds ” What is fair?”. Where skill level and ability come in as much variety as the people who partake in such events, it can’t be expected that everyone should be measured using the same tape. But debate in recent years have been how to make distinctions between deciding who gets an award for being in a special “league”. Should there be  separation based on age? Race? Gender? Disability? Some claim that even weight should have its own category in such things as 5ks, and earn their own awards.

I believe that sports should not be divided by god given talent alone,  but the ability to progress in a chosen area, to improve oneself and go beyond what believed was possible. For this purpose no one should be segregated by a situation they cannot control directly. Such things as one’s race they are born with. Cultural ties with ethnicity should be something perpetuated and celebrated, when different countries compete together in the same stadium, rink, track, etc, its helps build a global community where races are not just recognized, but differences are championed and accepted.  Debates over

1900’s women in the traditional tennis outfit.

what people “deserve” in sports has been at the forefront of many competitors minds, especially in collegiate athletics. In many cases acknowledgement of differences are a truer form of equality, such as in gender. Most women will agree, that on a whole, competing against men in any given sport would be unfair. Science has shown men on average have a larger muscle mass and cardiovascular capacity, giving a huge advantage in an taxing physical activity. With the enactment of Title IX in 1972 many believe it to be ” women’s lack of interest in competitive sports as a reason why strictly proportional equity in college sports” (Mika, 1) as an excuse to not provide women with proper funding and ability to excel in their chosen sport. Societal norms have stigmatized womens involvement in competition for hundreds of years, and without  media support  have had little to no chance to grow as an institution. For most cases “The history of the politics of women’s sports has been written competently by others.”(Mika,4). Unable to be directly involved in commemorating their own history causes an inability for one to influence the future because the past is not their own. With the old aphorism of “History repeating itself” ringing in many female athletes ears they must push on, hurdling the numerous obstacles blocking their path. Societal blockades to those in a minority are all harmful, but I do believe they most influential on those who are disabled.

World record holder for the wheelchair marathon was set in 2012 at Boston by Ernst Van Dyk in an hour eighteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds.  I am a runner, and being able to move yourself twenty six miles in that amount of time is far from “disabled”. The NYC marathon recently incurred much controversy over its treatment of disabled runners. “the police

routinely but randomly stopped wheelchair participants—sometimes for up to forty minutes—so that elite runners could pass.”(Mika,135)

Ernest Van Dyke, world record holder n the wheelchair marathon.

. These actions undermine the pursuit of excellence these runners are trying to achieve, by putting the race of athletes not in a wheelchair as precedence to those in one. In such a case the question of equality or justice never really arose because of many question surrounding the definitive answer of what is “disabled”. What sports would those with disabilities be allowed to play? Who determines if someone is “disabled enough” to qualify for a specific league? No matter the answer some group will feel ostracized, giving a tricking definition for true equality among athletes. Despite the difficulties, society should strive as a whole to make everyones dreams possible, acutely summarized by the following quote :“ a liberal democratic state ensures that you have a right to pursue a job (external good) but no entitlement to one (internal good)”(Mika,136). Having the ability to have ones excellence recognized, wheelchair or not, is an external good that should be instituted by a democratic state. Every citizen not disabled has the this, so when you deny something to the minority that is available to the majority is undeniable against the fundamentals of this country and needs to be changed.

Millions of hours are put into training, preparing, and honing a skill that can only be demonstrated in the midst of competition. Pushing one’s physical realms to their outer realms and even beyond has been a celebrated pastime even to ancient Greece, and denying someone that privilege, the rush of victory, and bitterness is against the very spirit of competition itself. Athletes should be put into fair competition where hard work and commitment should be the only determining factors, and when emerging a winner, be recognized to its fullest extent.