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.
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
On July 12, 2007, in the midst of cries from politicians to remove troops from Iraq, President George W. Bush issued a warning of the daunting terror threat to come in the future if he decided to take boots off the ground.
Putting aside your opinion of President Bush and his policies, his assessment was very accurate. After President Obama withdrew American troops from Iraq, despite the advice of our military commanders to keep them stationed there, terrorist organizations were allowed to regain a stronghold in Iraq and begin recruiting terrorists from other regions, such as Syria. With the absence of the United States in Iraq, ISIS has become a major terror threat worldwide. They have proven they aren’t the “JV team” that President Obama once referred to them as. ISIS has beheaded two American journalists and a French hostage, has been linked to a plot to behead people in the streets of Australia, and has killed many women and children in Iraq. The current news surrounding ISIS has reminded me of the 3 reasons why we fight according to Thucydides: fear, honor, and interest. All of these reasons can be applied to why the United States is going to war with ISIS. Continue reading
Shaun White competing in the Men’s Snowboard SuperPipe at the X Games.
Those of us who have seen Shaun White do a Double McTwist 1260, his signature snowboarding tick, have thought to ourselves, “This guy is crazy!” Ironically, the next thought that comes to mind is “I want to do that!” However, because of the danger associated with the Snowboard SuperPipe at the X Games, many people wisely decide it’s much safer to stand on the sidelines and watch in awe as White, nicknamed The Flying Tomato, attempts a series of flips and turns that can possibly result in serious injury. This danger isn’t exclusive to just snowboarding; it is central to any sport in the X Games, which is likely the reason why it is has become so popular. With other sports like skateboarding, surfing, skiing, BMX, motocross, and snowmobiling, the X Games are enough to please any adrenaline junkie. Continue reading
The entrance of Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.
“More power! More power! More power! Ease off the gas, break, find the apex, look at your exit, more power, more power!” my instructor Rob yelled over the roar of the Corvette zo6. I had just completed a turn on the racetrack on a chilly December morning at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Arizona last year. I have never been much of a racing enthusiast; I have always found it more interesting to play soccer, football, or basketball despite my dad’s urges to discover the beauty of racing. When my dad signed me up for a 2-day course driving a stick shift Corvette zo6 at Bondurant last year, I knew I was in for a treat. I admit I wasn’t thrilled to be going to Bondurant; I just learned how to drive stick shift and wasn’t very confident in my ability to drive a car with a manual transmission. Instead of trying to convince my dad to get me out of the course, I held my tongue because I knew it was extremely important to him that I do this. Although I was initially told this trip was meant to make me a more skilled driver, in retrospect, it might have also been my dad’s way of showing me how difficult it is to be a racecar driver and instill in me respect for the sport.
Racing a Corvette zo6 at Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in December 2013.
It’s all about “style”. Not the kind of style that you wear: It’s your ethics and decision-making. In “Games Climbers Play” by Lito Tejada-Flores, the concept of “style” is developed through rock climbing. If a climber chooses to follow the accepted rules of a climbing game, then he is climbing ethically and, therefore, has good “style”. On the other hand, a climber can have bad “style” or unethical climbing by following the rules of a simpler climbing game. For example, alpine climbing with expedition style would be considered bad “style.” Bad “style” destroys the game of climbing because the purpose of the game structure is to ensure that each participant has a “similar feeling of accomplishment” as other ethical players after attempting the same game. The idea of “style” in rock climbing got me thinking about other sports where participants can be prone to unethical play, and baseball immediately came to mind. Continue reading