Machiavelli on Ice

When I saw that North Quad was screening Miracle as a part of the Sports at the University semester, I had to go see it. I have loved that movie since I first saw it years ago as a kid. Even if the story happened before I was born, the message is immortal. It communicates inspiration, teamwork, cooperation, hard work, and more. Before the movie began, Professor John Bacon spoke about his experience with Herb Brooks, the coach of the 1980 Olympic hockey team. He told the audience that one thing that made Brooks such an effective coach was the fact that he was a psychology major. This lead me to think about the qualities of an effective leader in a high stakes competition.  Continue reading

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Are the X Games Too Extreme?

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

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?

Change For the Better

Football is a dangerous sport, but hopefully new rules will help to make it safer.

Football is a dangerous sport, but hopefully new rules will help to make it safer.

I recently wrote a blog post where I tried to examine the reasons why football players play such a violent and risky sport. One thing that I mentioned in the blog post was the leagues effort to make the game safer. Shortly after writing my blog I read an article called NFL Rules Changes: When football is no longer football?, by Marc Tracey. In his article Tracey talks about many of the newly implemented rules that the NFL has put in place to make the game safer. After discussing the new rules Tracy raises the question of if all the new rules change the game so much that it is no longer American football. After analyzing the rule changes Tracey does not give the reader a definite answer to his question, but he seems to be leaning toward the thought that the new rule changes are not good for the game and that the NFL must be careful as it creates new rules in order to not change the game so much that it is no longer football. Continue reading

In the Hands of the NFL

After reading the article NFL Rules Changes: When is Football No Longer Football?, I now question whether football will lose its power of becoming a paradise for the players and the spectators. The National Football League is starting to make significant changes in the interest of safety that will start to change the game in a large way. For starters, they decided to ban ball-carriers from lowering their helmets into oncoming defenders in an attempt to break free of the tackle. Other major changes include the elimination of the “Tuck Rule” and no more kick-offs in the Pro Bowl. In addition, they have even taken tackling out of preseason camps. All of these changes are designed to make the game safer for the players. Football is a very dangerous sport because you are making contact with your opponent at full speed with great force. However, I wonder whether or not the game will remain the same after all of these modifications.

A hard hit

A dangerously hard hit

In Giamatti’s Take Time for Paradise, he states, “In that moment of vision, of sensation compounded of sight and inside, everyone – participant and spectator – is centered” (24). The players and spectators are consumed by the world of the game. They are not focused on anything else but the competition in front of them. Giamatti explains that people play sports because they want to achieve a paradise that we have lost. This paradise is considered better than our actual lives. If many changes occur in the sport of football, will this paradise be lost?

With these changes, I believe the game would not be the same, as there would be “no more dramatic returns for touchdowns. No more advantage or disadvantage to be won or lost by improving field position. No more exciting, surprising, game-changing onside kicks.” (Tracy). These are all important aspects of the game because they keep the audience and the players guessing who will win the game. The surprises within the games keep the players going hard throughout the entire game, fighting for the win. I also agree with Marc Tracy that football would not be football without tackling.

Not only would the game change for the players, as they would have to learn new rules, but also this would change the intensity for the spectators. The loss of these aspects of the game would definitely cause the spectators and players to lose the paradise that was once created by football. As stated by Giamatti, “the spectator, seeing something he has only imagined, or, more astonishingly, had not yet or would never have imagined possible, because the precise random moments had never before come together in this form to challenge the players” (27). This means that the spectator goes to football games in order to experience something they cannot on their own.

A packed Giants stadium, full of fans awaiting the start of an intense game.

A packed Giants stadium, full of fans awaiting the start of an intense game.

The NFL wants to keep the sport of football as safe as possible but when do they draw the line before ruining the sport completely? Football will never be completely safe because then it just would not be football anymore. As stated in the article, “would football without kick-offs still be football?” (Tracy). “the National Football League needs to figure out what football is”. They have the ability to uphold the tradition of the game or to create a completely new one, it’s all in their hands.

Giamatti, A. Bartlett. 1989. Take time for paradise: Americans and their games. New York: Summit Books.

Tracy, Marc. “NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football?” New Republic. N.p., 2 Aug. 2013. Web.

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Could the Apocalypse Bring About a State of Nature?

It really seems like it could, doesn’t it? Well I’m not here to argue whether or not it actually could but rather, if, in a situation where you’re thrust into and open world, alone, unarmed, and surrounded by an imminent threat, the “State of Nature,” whether Locke’s or Hobbes’ would take hold. Some clarification first though – you’re not really alone, you’re in front of a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you could technically leave at any moment. That’s right, you’re playing a video game and that game is called DayZ. DayZ is a zombie survival game set in the post-Soviet state of Chernarus. A virus has turned a majority of the citizens into flesh craving zombies and you’re only goal is survival. What makes the game so fantastic is the fact that it’s online and there are other players out in the 225 kilometers-squared map you can roam around. Voice and text communication is possible which makes any player interaction unique. Maybe you’re gathering food, hear gunshots in the distance and decide to scurry off before the next bullet in that clip is deep in your chest, or perhaps you run into a player that has so much gear on them that they decide to make a gracious donation to you before running off into the wilderness. Anything is possible in such a world, but with the complete collapse of any pre-virus government and complete anonymity over the internet, what keeps the game from being a complete kill-fest? Maybe these states of nature can give us an idea.

Continue reading

Hobbes’ Laws and Doping

Performance enhancing drugs have been a problem in professional sports for decades. But perhaps no sport has suffered more from PEDs than cycling. Most notably, Lance Armstrong, who served as the face of professional cycling for many years, was found to have used PEDs and was stripped of his 7 Tour de France wins. But Armstrong was not alone. Over the past several years, dozens of cyclists have been disqualified from races. In a sport where PEDs are used with such regularity, we have to question why they are even banned in the first place. I mean, why prevent athletes from performing their best? In his book Leviathan, philosopher Thomas Hobbes defines the laws of nature. He argues that for life to be most comfortable, we must form agreements with groups of people in which we forfeit some of our individual rights for the benefit of the group as a whole. This idea of forfeiting rights as a group resonates with the rules of sports, especially with PEDs and cycling.

In cycling, the participants have agreed to not use PEDs to enhance their performance, because this helps the sport of cycling as well as all of the participants. Many of the most common performance enhancing drugs in professional sports have extremely negative side-effects and can greatly shorten one’s life. So, as a group, cyclists have decided to ban the use of these drugs for the common good. This agreement, which Hobbes calls a covenant, is vital for humans to survive in nature. However, these agreements can be very problematic when some decide to break the covenant for personal benefit, which is exactly what has happened in professional cycling.

Lance Armstrong, after finally admitting to doping for a number of years, was stripped of all of his Tour de France medals as well as banned from professional cycling for life. Lance was one of the first participants to break the covenant of cycling by using these illegal drugs. Because he was so popular in the world of sports, as well as his history with cancer and his LIVESTRONG Foundation, he was able to avoid being caught for so many years. But his actions involving PEDs did not only affect his career, but also the sport of cycling as a whole.

Lance wasn’t the only one doping during these years. In fact, because so many of the medaling cyclists during this time had been linked to doping, no winner has been awarded for the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. Lance’s actions changed cycling, because once one cyclist uses these drugs, it is no longer in each individual’s interest to not use them. Hobbes suggests that these covenants are in place to protect the greater good, and they are. But in the case of cycling, all it took was a couple cyclists to abuse these rules for their own benefit to change the dynamic of the sport. Hobbes argues that no one man can survive without a covenant, because the world is harsh, and we need others we can trust to survive. While at first it seems like Armstrong was able to thrive by breaking his covenant with cycling, in the end, Hobbes’ law of nature held true. He was eventually punished for his actions, and his career as a cyclist is forever tainted.