Is There Still A Dream To Be Dreamed?

Throughout history people have always fought for rights, liberties, equity, and many other things throughout the world. The United States regardless of its background is considered to be a country that prides itself on liberty and just for all. Even though that may be we still have our flaws. Within the last couple years it seems as though we are moving back in time. Increase of injustices against blacks in America are causing concern about whether or not Blacks are being treated fairly and if their lives matter. Situations like Troy Davis, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, and most recently Mike Brown which many believe are race based are causing outrage in the black communities.

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Jocks For Justice

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With the recent events in in New York and in Ferguson Missouri, there has been a lot of outrage in society. There has been no shortage of it when it comes to athletes too. This would have to definitely gone against what Kelly Candele and Peter Dreier wrote about in their article, “Where Are the Jocks for Justice?”. The article talks about the lack of athlete involvement when it comes to social justice issues. They give one example, Adonal Foyle, who started the “Democracy Matters” group to educate young people about politics and encourage them to vote. They then go on to talk about Steve Nash’s resistance to the Iraqi invasion, and how he wore a shirt that says, “No war, shoot for peace.” The article is a little outdated though, from 2004, and times have changed.

As I stated before, there is no shortage of athletes nowadays who are willing to take stances on social justice issues. This is especially apparent when it comes to the the very recent issue of the events in Ferguson, Missouri. I personally believe a big reason for this is for the advent of social media. The social media outlets of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have allowed all people, not just athletes to voice their opinion.

There have been many recent examples of this, with Lebron James posting this picture on Instagram, in protest of both the Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin incidents.

mike brown lbj

Magic Johnson, vented his disbelief and anger through twitter posting this tweet.

Magic-Johnson-Tweets-about-Ferguson

Serena Williams took to twitter to voice her opinion in this tweet.

serena williams pic

In the end, the “Where are the Jocks For Justice?” article in my opinion is obsolete nowadays. At the time that the article was written the biggest form of media was the television and the news, so although I’m sure athletes wanted to take certain stances on social justice issues, they really couldn’t, or just did not care to because the effort to do so was too hard. In current times, through the use of social media, we can see that athletes are very much so aware of social issues and do take stances on what they believe is wrong. So through the Ferguson case, we can see almost a sort of case study into how over just about 10 years times have changed, and now more than ever athletes and standing up for what they believe to be right, taking a stance, and voicing their opinions.

Why Sports Love Upsets

When it comes down to it, people love to see David defeat Goliath. There is a certain aspect of excitement that comes with the underdog knocking off the unbeatable. People like to see things that aren’t supposed to be done happen. Especially when it comes to sporting events, people become thrilled when the favored team gets taken down. A specific example would include the NCAA college basketball tournament, one of the most popular sporting events in the country that feeds off of the excitement of potential upsets. In recent times, teams such as George Mason, VCU, and Butler have taken the country by storm and made headlines with their runs.

The 2010 Butler team shocked the country by making it to the final four

The 2010 Butler team shocked the country by making it to the final four

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How Gender Impacts “Revenue Sports”

In any Division 1 athletic powerhouse, like the University of Michigan, there are 3 sports that are predominantly popular: football, basketball, and hockey. These sports are considered “revenue sports” because the funds generated from them are greater than the cost of operating their athletic program. It’s great that there is so much enthusiasm at the collegiate level surrounding these 3 sports, but what happens to the others? There doesn’t seem to be much fervor surrounding the less popular sports, such as rowing, soccer, tennis, wrestling, golf, track and field, etc. When I hear about all of these neglected sports, I feel bad because most of these athletes’ hard work and success goes unnoticed to the student population. Ironically, I never made an effort to go support these athletes either because I didn’t have much interest in their sports. I have always been used to spectating the most popular games. However, I recently took a trip to East Lansing to support my sister and the Michigan women’s novice rowing team as they scrimmaged against Michigan State University. This experience really demonstrated to me the enormous gap in popularity between the revenue sports and the rest of the University of Michigan athletic program and reminded me of the disparity between men and women’s sports that Mika LaVaque-Manty discusses in Being a Woman and Other Disabilities. Continue reading

Both Basketballs

In my year and half here at the University of Michigan I have been lucky enough to taste the excitement and tradition of many of our sports. This year I attendened the University of Michigan’s mens Basketball game that opened their season. I was also in attendance for the Women’s opening basketball game.They were both very fun and up beat games that were great games to take in as a spectator and as a former basketball player who appreciates the game. As I sat And took in the games at Crisler Arena I began to notice a big difference between the two games.

The mens basketball game had a substantially more large crowd at their game in comparison to the women’s game. This led to ask the simple question, why? As I saw the games I could not see any difference in the way the game was played or what was going on on the court itself. As i watched the women’s game the only thing that was different was that they were not “Dunking” the ball. The “Dunk” Came of age with Bob Kurland a seven foot olympic gold medalist who was dunking in the mid 1940’s. Since then the dunk has been a mainstay of basketball and an attraction for many fans. Now there are so many tremendous athletes playing basketball that dunks are no longer mundane and simple. They have evolved into high flying and complicated motions that dazzle the crowds and in my opinion bring many fans to games.

Bob Kurland(Bob Kurland)

On the other side of this today in women basketball there are a couple females who can dunk. One of which is a woman named Brittney Griner, this 6’8 super star dominated in Womens college basketball and also now in the WNBA (Womens national basketball association.) As word spread about this female dunker ticket sales for Baylor university women’s basketball games sky rocketed.  This is because people enjoy seeing that type of talent.

Griner-Brittney-Dunk(Brittney Griner Dunking)

In class we talked about women and men in sports and at the University of Michigan there are amazing athletes in women and mens sports. The difference between men and women’s basketball is nothing but one simple move, the Dunk. I believe that if women’s basketball team had a girl who could dunk on their team then there would be a substantial change in attendance. These two sports are the same no matter who is playing them yet a simple move can change the whole dynamic of this game.

Do Sports Evolve?

Every sport has a specific set of rules, and in general, these rules are not supposed to change. Sports and games are considered to be constant. No matter where or when you are playing the game, it is supposed to be the same set of rules. But as society and culture evolve over the years, do the sports we play change with it? In his article in The New Republic, Marc Tracy discusses the recent rule changes in the NFL and explores whether or not they affect the integrity of the sport of football. However, I believe Tracy overlooks that almost all sports have been altered and changed since their creation.

In his article Tracy suggests that if a game changes too much, it is no longer considered the “same” game. He points specifically to three rule changes in the NFL, all of which are designed to increase player safety. But Tracy argues that if we go too far in that direction, we might lose the core foundation of what makes football football. But Tracy writes the article under the assumption that sports are not supposed to change. He recognizes that while these few changes alone may not jeopardize the sport, if changes like this continue, football may lose its core definition.

I would argue that these changes don’t jeopardize the sport, because it is natural for sports to change with time. If we look at any sport that has been around for more than one hundred years, we can see a vast difference between how the sport is played now versus how it was played when it was first created. For example, Major League Baseball has undergone a number of rule changes since its creation in 1869. Throughout its existence, MLB has altered the rules of the game to better suit the interest of the fan base. The period from around 1900 to 1919 was considered the “dead-ball era” in baseball because games were extremely low-scoring. Because the games were so low-scoring, interest in baseball declined because it was considered boring when no one scored. Major League Baseball reacted to this by changing a number of rules to favor hitters and allow for more runs to be scored. For example pitchers were no longer allowed to spit on the ball to make it harder to hit, and baseballs were changed more often so that they stayed harder and were easier to hit farther. Another important rule change in baseball was the addition of the designated hitter. In 1973, the American League allowed pitchers to substitute a hitter so that they didn’t have to hit. Because pitchers are generally worse at hitting, this was another rule that was meant to encourage more scoring. However, some of these rules seem like they jeopardize the integrity of baseball. Hitting is perhaps the most defining quality of the sport, and the designated hitter rule allows a player to participate in the sport without ever having to pick up a bat. But just because the rules are different doesn’t mean it is a different sport, it just means the sport is evolving.

Sports can evolve for a number of different reasons. Baseball decided to change the rules because they were losing fans and wanted to increase scoring. In the NFL, player safety has become a hot topic that has determined many rule changes. Some sports don’t even have to change rules for the sport to evolve. Sports like golf and tennis have changed dramatically simply from the changing technology in equipment. Tennis racquets have changed dramatically over the past several decades which has changed the nature of the sport. Tennis players can now hit the ball much faster. The 10 fastest serves ever recorded have all occurred in the last four years. Golf has experienced a similar change as golf equipment has gotten more advanced. Nike’s new golf commercial shows how much golf ball technology has changed over the years.

Perhaps sports simply change naturally with time. There is no “right” way to play football. It has changed continually since its creation, and it will continue to change as our society changes. Today we are more aware of the problems with player safety in sports, especially with full-contact sports like football, so we act accordingly. I don’t think anyone would argue that it’s bad to change the rules of football in order to protect the long term health of its players, and that’s exactly what has happened. It is natural for sports to evolve, and it doesn’t hurt the integrity of the sport.