The University of Michigan provides many opportunities for its students and for people around the area to come and watch their varsity athletic teams compete at the highest level. When choosing schools, I saw this as a huge positive for the University of Michigan and I have taken advantage of these opportunities throughout the semester. In the past few weeks, I have gone to various football, basketball, and women’s volleyball games. For the purpose of this blog post, I am going to focus on basketball and women’s volleyball.
One thing that we have been focusing on in Pol Sci 101 is the theory of the philosophers Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. For the purpose of this blog, we will be focusing on their “ideal worlds”. To save some time for those of you who are unfamiliar with the topic, Hobbes believes that commonwealths should be run by powerful sovereign who makes the decisions. Locke believes that the power should be left to the people and that decisions should be made through majority rules. Rousseau believes that people should live together in unity through contracts made between parties.
As I was watching these various sporting events, I began thinking about how these theories could apply to the respective sports. I decided that in order to have a successful sports team, you must combine the three worlds.
Hobbes says that commonwealths should be run by a powerful sovereign. In the world of sports, that’s called a coach. The men’s basketball coach is John Beilein and the women’s volleyball coach is Mark Rosen. Throughout the game, these coaches make decisions such as which players to player and when and what strategy to use in the game. They are necessary for the team to thrive and succeed.
Locke says that the power should be left to the people, or in this case, the players and in many ways it is. While coaches can make decisions that can impact the game, the ultimate result of the game is up to the players. They have the power to try their best and leave it all out on the court, or they can choose that they aren’t interested and not try. Often they decide which plays to run in the game, and the decisions they make directly impact the outcome of the game. Some players that stood out to me were Caris LeVert from men’s basketball and Abby Cole from women’s volleyball.
Rousseau says that there should be contracts between parties. There are plenty of contracts in sports, even though they might not be in the legal sense. There must be a contract between players and coaches that says that the players will give 100% even time they are in the game and the coaches will show them respect. There must be contracts between players so there is trust and mutual respect between players. Without these contracts, there can’t be team chemistry or trust on the team, which is necessary to be successful. Some examples of what might be in an “unwritten contract” for a sports team can be found in the actual youth soccer contract.
It was very interesting to me to go to a sporting event, a place where I thought I would forget about all my schoolwork, and be able to apply what I have learned to the event. It made it both an educational and enjoyable event. This first semester of college has really changed how I experience things outside of the classroom.