What Kind of World Do Sports Fall Under?

Crisler Center on a basketball game day

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.

Players warm up before the Michigan-Oregon volleyball match in 2013

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.

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Are Youth Sports Becoming Too Competitive? (Edit)

Pol Sci 101 In-Class Activity

Pol Sci 101 In-Class Activity

Last week in my PolSci 101 lecture, we talked about sport and competitiveness.   We talked about why we compete and discussed Eric Dunnings “The Dynamics of Modern Sport”.  In a class activity, we concluded that Dunning believed that modern sports are serious and competitive, as opposed to non-serious and fun (see the chart on the left).  This got me thinking about modern sports, specifically youth sports and the growing competitiveness of it. Continue reading

Are Athletes Becoming More or Less Vocal?

The “St. Louis Five” who showed support for Michael Brown before their game this past weekend

For today’s PolSci 101 Lecture, we had to read an article titled “Where Are the Jocks for Justice?” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier.  According to the article, the general trend for athletes today is to not speak out about political issues that they feel passionate about because it is not good for publicity or marketing.  Our reading quiz last night asked “Can you think of any recent examples (not ones mentioned by the article) that would be an exception to the general trend discussed?”  The first example that came to mind was this past weekend when the St. Louis Rams players came out of the team’s tunnel when they were being announced with their hands raised in support of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” campaign for the shooting death of Michael Brown.  Beyond that, I couldn’t think of many examples off the top of my head, so I began doing some research on current athletes speaking out for what they believe in. Continue reading

Social Contracts in Interstellar

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

I recently went and saw the film Interstellar, partly because it looked like an interesting film, and partly for an assignment for another class.  Let me start off by saying that it was fantastic and I would highly recommend it, no matter your interest in the field of astronomy.  If you have seen it already or have no interest in seeing it but still would like to read a blog post relating it to the class, feel free to read the whole post.  If you have not seen it but want to see it without seeing any spoilers, I recommend you stop reading right here until you have seen the film. Continue reading

A Hobbesian World

We did an activity today in our discussion section where we broke up into groups of five and each person in the group was given a role.  The scenario was that we were stranded on island and each person’s role had some impact on our survival.  The roles were cook, medic, hunter, fisherman, and woodworker.  Each of us had also contracted a deadly disease which gave us about 2 weeks to live with proper medication.  The medic was in charge of the medication, the cook would cook the food that was obtained by the hunter, the woodworker had the ability to make a boat and build weapons, and the fisherman is self-explanatory.  Each group in the class was given a different philosopher and had to base their decisions for survival on their philosophy. Continue reading

Are Youth Sports Too Competitive?

Pol Sci 101 In-Class Activity

Pol Sci 101 In-Class Activity

Last week in my PolSci 101 lecture, we talked about sport and competitiveness.   We talked about why we compete and discussed Eric Dunnings “The Dynamics of Modern Sport”.  In a class activity, we concluded that Dunning believed that modern sports are serious and competitive, as opposed to non-serious and fun (see the chart on the left).  This got me thinking about modern sports, specifically youth sports and the growing competitiveness of it. Continue reading