Free Labor?

paying-college-football-players-300x199

The last saturday in August could arguably be the most anticipated day of the year, Why? It’s the first weekend of the college football season. College football is a multi- billion dollar establishment that has 125 Division-1 football programs who compete every Saturday. These are some of the best athletes in the country putting their bodies on the line each and every week for the greater good of their team and the satisfaction of winning the game. This barbaric and violent sport is filled with collision that grasps the attention and excitement of die hard college football fans every weekend. These athletes put their bodies on the line and usually become public and national figures, where their faces seem to be everywhere. The universities sell their jerseys, put their names and faces on billboards and ticket stubs, but won’t allow their student athletes to receive compensation for their likeness. The university makes millions of dollars off their students athletes, but won’t share the wealth with the ones who bring in the wealth. If the athletes are being treated and exposed like a professional why aren’t they being paid like one?

In Eric Dunning’s “Dynamics of Modern Sports,” he gives a reason as to why athletes compete. Most will say because they want to be win and be champions, which is very true but there are three reasons that stood out from Dunning’s piece; he said money, fame & recognition, and opportunities. Dunning explains how the idea of professionalism emerged in the 19th century. He uses the example of how surgeons were not seen as doctors, they were low ranked because the competitiveness for the job was not that serious until the 19th century. Since the need for surgeons increased the competitiveness for the job increased also, so professional regulations needed to be established. Dunning explains that professionalism is a trajectory, between competitiveness and seriousness. As competitiveness increases, seriousness increases, so as the competitive aspect emerges, the amateur ethos emerges. Similar to surgeons, college athletes are becoming professional because the high competition level, demand for entertainment, and the revenue they generate every weekend. College football is no longer an ametur sport like it was back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but they are still being defined and treated like they are.

The idea of college amateurism has been debated since the late 19th century. Charlie Mitchell, Heavyweight boxer (1886) said, “In fact I should like to hypothesize the amateur ethos was articulated as an ideology in opposition to the trend towards growing seriousness and that it received its most explicit and detailed formulation when, as part of the trend, the modern forms of professionalism sports began to emerge’’ (LaVaque-Manty). So, he supports Dunning’s idea that as the competitiveness and seriousness increase the professionalism aspect will then emerge. Athletes recognize this issue but the ones who control the money have not (the colleges).

Division 1 colleges across the country

Division 1 colleges across the country

College institutions need to adapt to the idea of Dunning’s philosophy and apply that to their student athletes. Division-1 competition is the highest caliber of competition the United States’ universities have to offer. The best athletes from around the world are all put on one team and are expected to compete and perform at a high level against the world’s best. College sports, especially college football attracts the national spotlight. Millions of people watch while thousands attend them and the universities are making a significant amount of money off of everyone. It is unjust for universities to be selfish and not share the wealth with their athletes who are becoming professionals.

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Respect Me! Man.

Women Athletes

If you were given tickets to attend a men’s college basketball game or a women’s college basketball game, where would you go? Before you choose, think about what type of sporting event you would be attending. If you go to the men’s game you would most likely see a fast paced, sporadic style of basketball. There would be a lot of isolated one-on-one basketball between opponents trying to out do their teammate or the man guarding them that night. There may be few offensive sets that involve each member on the floor touching the ball before someone shoots the ball and fundamentals may not be a major emphases but you’re almost guaranteed to see a couple dunks and nice ball handling  throughout the game. The game will be played at a very fast, athletic and skillful level. If the teams are good the atmosphere will be wonderful with a sold out arena and loud crazy cheering fans with a packed a energetic student section. Now, If you attend the women’s game there may be a few differences from the men’s game. The game will be very fundamental with a lot of passing and team play. The game tempo will be slowed down, not being nearly as fast as the men’s game and the athletic and skill showcase may not be as high. You’re almost guaranteed to not see any dunks unless Brittney Griner goes back to college and just so happens to be playing that night. The atmosphere may not be as loud and electric as the boys game and sad to say a student section may be non existent. The arena may not even be half full, depending on how good the teams are that are playing. Now that you have a good idea of what both games typically consist of because there are occasions where the two game conditions will be completely different but if we’re talking about a stereotypical game, which game would you attend?

A half full Arena at a Michigan Women's basketball game

A half full Arena at a Michigan Women’s basketball game

Women gained the right to participate in sports when Title IX (Title 9) was passed. Title IX was included in the Education Amendments of 1972 that required schools that receive federal funds to provide girls and women with equal opportunity to compete in sports. Although women gained the right to compete, the sad truth about women’s athletics is that they have always been looked down upon when compared to men’s athletics. Genetically, men and women are created differently. From an athletic standpoint, there are many advantages and disadvantages that men and women have over each other. But, I don’t think it’s fair to automatically and consistently  dismiss and look down on women’s athletics. Regardless of gender, I think that all athletes are gifted in their specific sport and put in a lot of work to be a good player. The amount of support and respect that athletes and their respective sports receive should be based on success and not gender preferences.

In Professor Manty’s “The Playing Fields of Eton” he says that, equality requires eliminating the “arbitrary” effects of agent-independent factors for how a person’s life turns out, but it doesn’t require compensation for the opportunities she herself has squandered. After reading that excerpt I was able to apply that to women and athletics. Just as men athletes, women have to work just as hard if not harder for the opportunities and successes in her life. Women just like anyone in the world, has the ability to do and achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. Women athletes should receive more recognition, support, and credit for their sports.

Safety or Softy?

Football is arguably the most dangerous sport known to man. Football is a collision sport that physically damages the bodies of every man that steps on the football field. Football players are becoming faster, stronger and all around more athletic than ever before, while kids are being trained younger and younger, preparing to be physically ahead of their competition and age group. The game of football has always been a physical game but throughout its existence the sport has consistently made strides to make the game safer. Dating back to when football was first established in the 17th century and they didn’t have any protective gear. The game then evolved to shoulder pads and cleats in the 19th century but still no protective head gear. Then, in the 20th century the game introduced helmets which were meant to protect the athletes from brain damage and head trauma. Although the equipment has evolved since the 17th century the game has not gotten any safer, if anything it’s gotten more dangerous throughout the years. Although the gear has been implemented as more protective it only gave the athletes leeway to become more destructive. Recently concussions and head trauma has been a big concern in the game of football and the question, “is football too dangerous?” has been asked many times. The NFL has taken strides to make the game safer with changing the rules but how much can they change until football becomes soft and the barbaric nature is no longer a factor?

In Marc Tracy’s article, “NFL rules changes: When is football no longer football?” he explains the rule changes that the NFL has implemented to make the game safer. For example ball-carriers can longer lower their helmets into oncoming defenders in an attempt to break tackles.The NFL also said the all star game, formerly known as the Pro Bowl will no longer have kick-offs. So, who are affected by these rule changes? Well, running backs, who can no longer gain extra yardage by lowering their helmets; kick-returners, whose jobs are now  less prestigious and the possibility for special teams players to be selected to the pro bowl has become somewhat impossible; and defensive players have to focus on form tackling or technique tackling so they don’t get called for any unsportsmanlike conduct penalties due to their hitting forms. (cite) With these rule changes people think the game is going to become an offensive showcase because the defense is so limited in what they can and cannot do. NFL players have mixed feelings about the rule changes, like Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, when asked how he feels about the rule changes he said, There’s a lot of stuff that’s getting called now that wouldn’t have been called when I first started playing, or when Lance (Briggs, Bears LB) started playing. It’s really hard to play defense. You’re talking about split-second decisions they’ve got to make on the move, two guys running in opposite directions and they’ve got to hit a target that’s about this big, and if they miss, they’re going to get fined and tacked with a penalty. Offensive numbers are going to go up. You like to see it as an offensive guy because it makes our lives easier. I wouldn’t want to play defense. I’ll say that. Is it good for the sport? There’s a big emphasis on protecting players, but at the same time we signed up for this stuff and it’s a contact game.”  While Michael Griffin, safety for the Tennessee Titans said, When I first came into the league, you rarely saw any flags for unnecessary roughness. Now there’s too much thinking. When you’re going in for a tackle, you’re thinking in the back of your mind how much you’re going to get fined or if you’ll be suspended. Now the flag is thrown on almost everything that looks like it could hurt somebody. I don’t think there’s a way to solve the concussion problem. You’re telling us to go low, and now you’re getting defensive players with head injuries. When you go low, you duck your head and you don’t see exactly what you’re hitting, because in order to go low, your head must take you low first. Now you’re getting kneed in the head.” You see there are mixed feelings about the rule changes and it seems to be based off players being on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.

Giamatti’s article, “Take Time For Paradise” explains the idea that people play sports to achieve a lost “paradise”. There aren’t many paradises that run off rules. I’m not saying that the NFL should implement a no rule policy but when is enough, enough? The NFL should carefully change the rules without making it impossible for players to continue to play the way they have their entire life.  If the NFL changes the rules to the point the game is affected the paradise that NFL players play for every sunday will vastly become non existent and become nothing but a lost entity of the game.

Football will always be a dangerous sport. I respect the NFL for making attempts at making the game safer for the players. But, there is a fine line between making the game safe and soft. Like Jay Cutler said, athletes who decide to play football, they know exactly what they are signing up for. Football is not a game that can be played with fear but the game needs to be played with confidence. Players can’t worry about getting hurt or injured but they have to play at full speed trying to out challenge and out compete the man standing across from them. The NFL has to make sure they don’t forget to change the game so much that it becomes flag football rather than tackle football. Football is not a soft sport and the NFL is especially not a soft league. The NFL needs to keep those two factors and mind and make sure that while they’re making the game safer that they’re not making the game soft. I’m all for making the game safer but don’t take away the barbaric and collision aspect of the sports because that’s what makes the game of football so great and entertain to watch and most importantly play.

Where is MY Money?

Contract Pic- Poli Sci

The National Football League (NFL) is a multi-billion dollar company  that showcases the talents of the best football players in the world each week. Football is a barbaric collision sport that test the manhood of each player that steps on that football field on Sundays. These high caliber athletes put their bodies on the line each week for their families, the fans and most importantly their teammates. Football is arguably the most dangerous sport with the highest risk of injury that leaves permanent damages on the body. These courageous men play football because they love the game and it is their way of income. But unfortunately, not every player in the NFL has the satisfaction of knowing that their contracts are guaranteed. The NFL does not have guaranteed contracts like basketball, baseball and hockey, because most contracts in the NFL are based on performance. You perform well, you will be paid, if not you are in jeopardy of being cut and not receiving any compensation for your performance. Now, there are certain situations  like JJ Watt, defensive end of the Houston Texans who recently signed a 6 year $100 million dollar contract and Calvin Johnson, wide receiver of the Detroit Lions who signed a 7 year $132 million dollar extension. Even though these men are the best at their position and two of the top players in the NFL, they still aren’t guaranteed to see all of their money. If they don’t perform on the field, suffer a career threatening or ending injury and are unable to play, they will not see all of their money. Why is that the case? Because the NFL does not have guaranteed contracts. These men are literally risking their mental and physical health each week for the love of the game,  the least the owners could do is pay them for their labor?

In SOCIAL CONTRACTS Excerpts from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, John Locke, Second Treatise oGovernment, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract.” Locke disagreed with Hobbes about contracts and who they should be between. For him, it was not just an agreement among the people, but between the people and the sovereign (usually a king). Locke argued that the natural rights of individuals (life, liberty, prosperity) limited the power of the king. The king does not hold absolute power, as Hobbes had said, but acted only to enforce and protect the natural rights of the people.

So, if contacts are not only an agreement between the people but between the sovereign, what are contracts good for? Contracts are good for requiring the employee and employer to keep their end of the bargain, and most importantly understand that if they don’t respect the contract and or don’t abide by the rules of the contract in any way, shape, or form that there will be consequences. Contracts also indicate that there is lack of trust and stability between the two parties because a legal document has to be intact for both parties to stay true their word.

NFL Sunday hard hits

NFL Sunday hard hits

Locke argues that contracts don’t insure absolute powers to kings which in this case would be NFL owners but they should be able to guarantee contracts for their players. According to Austin Porter’s article, How far does a contract really go” he explains that the majority of NFL contracts are not actually legally binding to the team. Players are not guaranteed the money they are promised when signing the deal, they are only promised the money for the season they are currently playing. The most important part of NFL contracts are the signing bonuses because the player will receive all the money no matter what happens. Signing bonus are the only guaranteed part of NFL contracts. For example, when running back Chris Johnson signed his $13.4 million dollar extension with a $10 million dollar signing bonus, he was only guaranteed to see $10 million and the money for each year that he plays. So, if Johnson were to have a career ending injury or get cut from the team he would not receive his whole $56 million dollar worth of his entire contract. He would only receive his $10 million bonus along with his 2012 salary of $8 million which is only $18 million of a projected six-year, $56 million deal or 18 percent of his contract. Unlike the NBA, all the money on their contracts are guaranteed. Grant Hill signed a 7 year $93 million dollar contract with the Orlando Magic and he only played 47 games due to injury. But, over the 7 year span he eventually saw all $93 million. Not taking anything away from basketball but from a physical and mental standpoint the sport does not compare to football. NFL players take more of a beating on their body and have a higher risk of injury and permanent damage. The average career span of an NFL player is 3.5 years. There are so many factors that limit players from playing longer and competing at a high level. The human body can only take so much punishment and the fine line is different in every football player’s career. I believe NFL players deserve to have guaranteed contracts as long as they can play the game because in football, the next play is never promised. Do you?

Amateurism or Professional?

The last saturday in August could arguably be the most anticipated day of the year, Why? It’s the first weekend of the college football season. College football is a multi- billion dollar establishment that has 125 Division-1 football programs who compete every Saturday. These are some of the best athletes in the country putting their bodies on the line each and every week for the greater good of their team and the satisfaction of winning the game. This barbaric and violent sport is filled with collision that grasps the attention and excitement of die hard college football fans every weekend. These athletes put their bodies on the line and usually become public and national figures, where their faces seem to be everywhere. The universities sell their jerseys, put their names and faces on billboards and ticket stubs, but won’t allow their student athletes to receive compensation for their likeness. The university makes millions of dollars off their students athletes, but won’t share the wealth with the ones who bring in the wealth. If the athletes are being treated and exposed like a professional why aren’t they being paid like one?

In Eric Dunning’s “Dynamics of Modern Sports,” he gives a reason as to why athletes compete. Most will say because they want to be win and be champions, which is very true but there are three reasons that stood out from Dunning’s piece; he said money, fame & recognition, and opportunities. Dunning explains how the idea of professionalism emerged in the 19th century. He uses the example of how surgeons were not seen as doctors, they were low ranked because the competitiveness for the job was not that serious until the 19th century. Since the need for surgeons increased the competitiveness for the job increased also, so professional regulations needed to be established.  Dunning explains that professionalism is a trajectory, between competitiveness and seriousness. As competitiveness increases, seriousness increases, so as the competitive aspect emerges, the amateur ethos emerges. Similar to surgeons, college athletes are becoming professional because the high competition level, demand for entertainment, and the revenue they generate every weekend. College football is no longer an ametur sport like it was back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but they are still being defined and treated like they are.

The idea of college amateurism has been debated since the late 19th century. Charlie Mitchell, Heavyweight boxer (1886) said, “In fact I should like to hypothesize the amateur ethos was articulated as an ideology in opposition to the trend towards growing seriousness and that it received its most explicit and detailed formulation when, as part of the trend, the modern forms of professionalism sports began to emerge’’ (LaVaque-Manty). So, he supports Dunning’s idea that as the competitiveness and seriousness increase the professionalism aspect will then emerge. Athletes recognize this issue but the ones who control the money have not (the colleges).

College institutions need to adapt to the idea of Dunning’s philosophy and apply that to their student athletes. Division-1 competition is the highest caliber of competition the United States’ universities have to offer. The best athletes from around the world are all put on one team and are expected to compete and perform at a high level against the world’s best. College sports, especially college football attracts the national spotlight. Millions of people watch while thousands attend them and the universities are making a significant amount of money off of everyone. It is unjust for universities to be selfish and not share the wealth with their athletes who are becoming professionals.