Is Gardner a Machiavellian Prince?

Rivalry week is the week in college football that everyone looks forward too. This past weekend we saw two of the greatest rivalries games in college football: Alabama vs. Auburn, and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Rivalries happen because of tradition and past events. For example, the reason the Alabama vs. Auburn game was so talked up was because of the punt return by Auburn in the last seconds of the game against Alabama last season that sent them to the championship game. For Michigan and Ohio State, the tradition goes much farther back. Michigan and Ohio have been known to despise each other on and off the field. Last year Ohio State player Marcus Hall flipped off the Michigan crowd after a fight and “violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy”. This was not forgotten by the Wolverines so they were very ready to get redemption this weekend regardless of our record.

Iowa v Michigan

While the score was tied after the first half, Ohio State sadly pulled away at the end of the game to win 42-28. While we beating the spread was impressive, I think what was more amazing was the sportsmanship that Devin Gardner showed after J.T. Barrett injured his ankle in the fourth quarter. Barrett, the key to Ohio State’s offense, went down with a season ending ankle injury Devin “showed an admirable display of support for rival Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett when Barrett went down with a season-ending ankle injury on Saturday.” I think this shows that there is more to sports than rivalry and competition. Devin could have remembered what Hall did to them the year before and been happy that the opposing teams star was out of the game. Instead I think Devin showed a remarkable sense of camaraderie that could show the world that he is a Machiavellian Prince. Here is a quick video that talks about this incident.

Barrett gets carted off after season ending injury.

Barrett gets carted off after season ending injury.

Although being a prince doesn’t directly relate to the Michigan Wolverines, I think to be a great leader you need to acquire some of the traits. I think Devin, although he did not have his best season, displayed his character during that moment. Machiavelli said that in order to be a prince “you must set unusual examples.” That is exactly what Devin did when he went to console J.T. Barrett. It was very unusual to have a Michigan quarterback during the Ohio State game give kind words to an Ohio State player. Machiavelli also says that it is better to be feared than loved. However, when applied to an athletic captain, I believe you must be both. I know Devin is very well respected by his teammates and coaches and by this remarkable act of sportsmanship, I believe Gardner will never be forgotten as a Michigan quarterback. Even the Ohio State community now loves him and in order to make it through history as a quarterback you must do something extraordinary in the Ohio State rivalry game; what Devin did was truly amazing.

Did you agree that people will remember Devin because of this act of sportsmanship, not just how he performed this season?

Is Trading Fair

In professional sports, trading is part of the game. Players are traded for other players, draft picks, and sometimes just for money. Many times the players ask to be traded due to a poor relationship with teammates or coaching staff; however, occasionally the organization will simply make the decision and ship off the player without very much notice at all.

Mankin blocks for quarterback Tom Brady

Mankin blocks for quarterback Tom Brady

When organizations decide to trade players without asking the opinion of the team, they are acting in their own self-interest. A great example of this is when Logan Mankins was traded from the Patriots this past year. The Washington Post wrote and article about Tom Brady’s reactions and said “Brady had a very emotional reaction when he heard about the trade, and said he was not happy with this move”. This shows that the Patriots organization made the decision to trade Mankin without the support of the team. Although they are doing well this season, I think the team should have some say in the fate of their friends and teammates. Michael Smith discusses the trade in this short video.

Former teammate, MIlan Lucic, levels Boychuk

Former teammate, MIlan Lucic, levels Boychuk

The same situation occurred this past year with the Boston Bruins. The Boston Globe said, “Johnny Boychuk, a 6-year superstar defenseman for the Bruins, was traded to the New York Islanders for two second round picks”. I have grown up as a Boston Bruins fan and was devastated when I heard he was leaving. When I did some further reading, I found that Johnny did not want to leave Boston, and his teammates did not want him to go. Chiarelli said, “This is a tough trade, we all like Johnny. This was really hard to do, but there’s an element of business to it, an element of hockey”. I don’t think trading a player who wanted to stay on his team is hockey. I don’t think business has anything to do with hockey. Hockey is playing the game because you love the game; it has nothing to do with money and salaries.

I think these two trades show that the organizations in charge of professional teams make the decisions based on their own interest without considering the pain the player and his family/friends will go through. In Leviathan Thomas Hobbes says, “if there be no power erected, or not great enough for our security; every man will, and may lawfully rely on his own strength”. What he means by this is that men act in their own self-interest just as the organizations in professional sports do. Man will do what they need to do for themselves regardless of pain they may cause others. Hobbes goes on to say that the only way to work together is to “to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will”. This means that the group of people will elect a Sovereign to make the choices for the good of the entire group. This is exactly what happens in professional sports. The organization and owners of the teams are the Sovereign and will make decisions for the good of the program. They don’t care what everyone on the team thinks; they only care about what will make the team better.

Do you think it is fair for the organizations to have all that power?

Climate Negotiation

Climate change has been an ongoing debate for many years now. Beginning in 1997 the first protocol, the Kyoto Protocol, was introduced. This protocol is an international agreement that sets emission reduction targets that countries are supposed to try and meet. This was seen as the first step to global emission reduction. Furthermore the Cancun agreements, also set to limit greenhouse gas emissions, were set in 2010. There have been many other conventions to try and come up with ways to reduce emissions, but does it really seem like we are taking the necessary steps to reduce them.

Polar Bear Habitat Struggles

Polar Bear Habitat Struggles

Despite all of these negotiations, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase through the world. Here is a short clip which discusses climate change and its impact. Why have emissions increased when we are trying so hard to reduce them? The article by Nunes states two main points which make agreements to reduce emissions so hard. First, is the legal aspect of the agreements. No country wants to get themselves into a position that does not better themselves. Nunes goes on to say that the negotiations “reveal very specific national interests”. Countries are making agreements with their own best interest in mind, which takes away from the actual climate change issue. The second issue is language barriers. It becomes difficult for cooperation to take place between countries that cannot fully understand each other, or the process takes longer than intended.

climate

I think that although we have tried to negotiate in the past, the only way to truly make progress to a cleaner earth is by adopting Hobbes logic. Hobbes believes that in order to succeed you need a sovereign, or someone who ultimately calls the shots. He states,“the only way to erect such a common power is to confer all power and strength upon one man, or assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will”. In the case of climate change this could be the UN or the security council. Furthermore, Hobbes suggest that “covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all”. This explains how, without contracts that specifically say how much each country will reduce their emissions, and without punishment for failure to reach those goals, the agreements becomes pledges that the countries will forgo. As Nunes says, “there are too many conflicting interests”. The countries need to give up their power and comply to a single power like the UN in order to save this planet. Without cooperation, self-interest will destroy us.

Illegitimate Burma

In Politics as a Vacation Weber says, “we must say that the state is a form of human community that (successfully) lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a particular territory” (Weber).

Now, I agree that a state uses physical violence or force within its territory to achieve its goals. There are times when this use of force is necessary to keep peace and done in the most ideal way, therefore legitimate. However, more often than not the use of force is abused and used under illegitimate circumstances. This can lead to power struggles, internal conflict, and an increasing use of illegitimate violence. I think the conflict in Burma is a great example of how the power of force can be abused.

Monks protest military coup in Burma

Monks protest military coup in Burma

The Burma conflict began when a military coup took power over the government and began to implement its own rules and values. If you didn’t obey them, you were harshly punished. Although protest have been going on for many years, they did not receive international attention until the 2007 Saffron protest. An article about the Saffron Protests said, “the monks began large peaceful demonstrations all over Burma after the junta raised gas and diesel oil prices by 500%”. While the monks were completely non-violent, the government began to imprison any protesters. In the same article it was estimated that “between 3,000 and 4,000 citizens were detained in connection with these protests”. Here is a video that discusses the Saffron protest and the violence these peaceful protest received.

Civil rights protest

Civil rights protest

This incident in Burma reminded me of our civil rights struggles in the 60’s. While the African Americans were strictly non-violent protests, our government and people in charge, used what they thought was “legitimate” physical violence to discriminate and hurt innocent citizens. This is an almost identical situation to that of Burma. The difference being that our government has not been run by a military coup. However, both protest were peaceful and non-violent, and both were put down by imprisonment and harsh, violent responses. This is why I believe giving a state or individual the power to use violence will always lead to corruption. Weber also states that, “whoever is active in politics strives for power” (Weber).  No matter what a government is trying to accomplish using violence, people are still going to be hurt and many times killed.

This has been proven over and over again. If the individuals calling the shots are always striving for power as Weber suggest they will be influenced to abuse that power and make selfish, unnecessary choices, which the military in Burma did and the United States did during the civil rights protests.

Should Hockey Fights Be Banned?

As we all know, fighting in sports is a common phenomenon. Fighting can happen in all sports, but I am going to focus my viewpoint on hockey. Hockey is considered one of the most “manly” games out there and for good reason. One on one fights between players occurs almost every hockey night, and with all the recent emphasis on player safety, many critics are lobbying for fighting to be banned for good. Their biggest argument against fighting is that there is no place for it in hockey. Fighting only introduces more concussions. A recent  New York Times article, stated that “fighting caused 10 percent of all concussions in hockey — a significant number.” Although there is not direct proof that fighting causes concussions, critics belief is that the NHL should do everything in their power to take a dangerous, unnecessary element out of the game.

Horton suffers sever concussion

Horton suffers sever concussion

I believe that fighting does have a place in hockey. Hockey fans are known to be tough, working class people who are known to get in “scraps” once in a while themselves. To them, fighting is a huge part of the game. If you have had the pleasure to witness a hockey fight first hand you would understand the sense of pride it brings to the fans. I think Giamatti would agree with me. In Giamatti’s book, Take Time for Paradise, he argues that the fans watch sporting events with “aspirations to be taken out of the self” (Giamatti). By this he means that fans want to be the players, feel what they are feeling in specific “intense” moments. Fans want to “Feel what they saw. Become what the believed” (Giamatti). Fighting is part of hockey, the fans need it to feel part of the game. In addition, fans can escape the “real” world through hockey and fighting is one of the times they can do this. The only thing that matters to the spectator during the intense moment of the fight is the two player circling each other on the ice; all other stresses are forgotten.

Lucic of Bruins pummels Anaheim Duck

Lucic of Bruins pummels Anaheim Duck

In addition to the fans loving fighting, the players also love it. They are not forced to get into fights, it is a voluntary decision made by two players on opposing teams. You could even say they are “playing” according to Huizenga’s definition of play. Fighting is voluntary, it is limited in time and space, it is enjoyable (for at least one participant), and it has a book full of unwritten rules all players follow. Players often times ask other players to fight. Not because they are angry, but because it is part of the game. They are getting paid to be an enforcer on the ice, something that a true hockey fan will always be jealous of. The following clip shows this very well. George Laraque asks for fight, wishes good luck.

All in all, the fans are the ones who show up to watch the hockey game. They are the ones who truly enjoy seeing a battle between two players representing their team. If fighting were taken out of hockey, the experience of watching the game would greatly decrease and the spectators would feel much less “part of the game”. Fighting enhances the game and attracts the fan base the NHL needs to survive.

Not So Loyal Fans

As most of us already know, the University of Michigan students have expressed hatred and disgust towards our Athletic Department and its director, Dave Brandon. People are saying that Brandon has made our athletic department all about money. That he is making the department into a business and feeding off the students to do that. The incident in last Saturdays game with Shane Morris has also brought concern to the Michigan fans.

By0BgtbIEAAB0ni.0.0_standard_400.0

http://www.jerseydemic.com/michigan-fan-wears-ohio-state-hoodie-to-fire-dave-brandon-rally/

I agree that no player should ever be put on the field with a concussion. I understand where the disgust is coming from. Our football team is 2-4 and has continuously been dropping in performance since Hoke took the reins. Michigan students and alumni want to see our football program succeed and are frustrated with our performance so far this season. Fans are blaming the coaches and the athletic department for this, however, what they don’t understand is the players are taking the hit and it is effecting their “play”.

In class we have talked a lot about “play”. As a student athlete I believe every athlete at Michigan should enjoy their sport and love playing it. Huizenga believes play must be “distinct from ordinary life” and “play is voluntary and free” (Huizenga). Play is a place where you can escape the stresses of life for a limited amount of time and focus on something different. I believe Brandon is trying to give us that opportunity here at Michigan. However, with the lack of support for Brandon and our football program, the football players are no longer “playing” football.

In addition, I would normally agree with Giamatti’s argument that “sports are an opiate to the masses” (Giamatti). Sports are supposed to control fans and calm them from ordinary stresses. However, this protest and bitterness has caused more stress, not only for fans, but also for players. Football at Michigan should be an opiate for the entire University but it is not. It is becoming a source for bitter energy.

The amount of stress and pressure that has been put on OUR football program by OUR students is appalling. They are putting in 20+ hours of practice every week to try and be successful. While putting in the effort to succeed they know that their own fans have abandoned them. They know that their own fans are wearing Ohio State sweatshirts to protest because they are not winning games. They are trying to prove themselves to everyone; they are not playing. All the media attention and unrest from the students has brought Huizenga’s “ordinary world” into the football players world.

Now, I know everybody has their doubts about our Athletic Department and who may be running it and that is perfectly okay. They can handle your remarks; they will still support Michigan athletics to the fullest, creating leaders and the best no matter what popular demand may say. All 931 student athletes will continue to support our family, and will never turn our backs on OUR 31 D1 programs. We know the effort our football team puts in for this school and the response they are receiving from “loyal” fans for losing is incredibly disappointing. I urge you to rethink your position as a U of M football fan. No one at Michigan who calls themselves a true fan should ever wear an Ohio State sweatshirt.