Witnessing Play

Michigan Hockey (via wikimedia)

“Ahh!” screamed the player as he fell to the ice in pain.  I gritted my teeth and watched in morbid curiosity, a player for the opposing team had just been hit in the neck by a slap shot. I sat in the spectator section at the Michigan versus Wilfred Laurie hockey game and to my astonishment the player quickly recovered and continued to play. Only a moment before he laid on the ice gripping his neck.  The student section continued to scream and cheer on as if nothing had happened.  I was also surprised at the chants I was hearing, most were fun, some were a little strange and then a couple were quite vulgar. Never had I seen a group of people yelling and screaming in such a manner, football is one thing but hockey was on a different level.

I had a similar feeling while I was at the Michigan versus Maryland girls’ field hockey game.  I was surrounded by parents of opposing players and they too were getting very caught up in the game.  They were screaming at the referees and players as loud as they could.  At times I almost felt embarrassed for these parents.  But I realized that this is exactly what A Bartlett Giamatti was writing about in his book Take Time for Paradise.  These parents and students were living through these players.

via wikimedia

The students at the hockey game and the parents in the stands cannot compete on the level of those in the game so they instead chose to play vicariously through the players.  And to them that’s what they were watching- play.  But it was most certainly not play for those in the game, as they were competing not playing.  In Johan Huizinga’s 1938 book Homo Ludens, he defines what play truly is.  One part of his definition is that play is contained, it does not spill over into the real world and does not have any consequences. For those competing this is most udoubtedly not the case.  If that hockey player doesn’t get up after getting hit in the neck and is then unable to play, he is cut from the team and he loses his scholarship and can no longer afford an education. If those on the ice or field do not play well or make too many mistakes then they are benched, they can be cut by the team and they too may lose their ability to afford an education.  There is no situation in which something as serious as what I have just mentioned can occur for those in the stands.

In my political science 101 class we talked about things that we consider play that do not fit into Huizinga’s definition.  One student came up with the games that the Ancient Aztecs played in which the losing side would be sacrificed to the gods.  Similar to the ice and field hockey game, the presence of such a consequence transforms what was once play into competition.

These players have extra stress put on them to play well.  The fans do not have such stress so, as Giamatti writes, these people are living in utopia, or a world without work, stress, or any other worries. They don’t have to worry about their scholarship or the physical labor of playing the sport and can thus become completely enthralled with the play aspect of the competition. The spectators are in a state of perfect bliss and enjoyment. So when that puck hit the player’s neck, there were an infinite amount of terrible things that could have resulted from it, but we fans just kept on cheering.

(Video Game) Play and Nature

Video games are very popular in today’s society. While they are often blamed for being one of the reasons America’s youth is obese, and causes of violence—there are many positives to video games .

Last semester, I took a class here at the University of Michigan called EDUC 222. This class focused on the educational elements often implemented in games—sometimes without gamers even knowing. At the beginning of the semester, we each had to pick a game to play and study over the course of the semester. I chose a game that appeared rather simple, seeing as I am not a very experienced gamer. Continue reading

It’s On Us

With the first semester of my freshman year coming to a close, I have learned a lot about myself and what holds true in life. I can confidently say the me that stepped foot on campus in August is different from the modern day me that is traveling back home. College is a once in a life time experience that, we as students are privileged to have. No parents, freedom with our life, and interacting interacting with other intelligent, interesting people what more could one ask for? However with this new stage in our lives, there comes a greater responsibility and accountability for one another. At Michigan, we are a family that supports one another. We all love Michigan and want one another to succeed to give Michigan the reputation it deserves. Therefore we all must try to make each of our experiences the best possible by acting in the standard that Michigan students are held to.

Recently an article in the RollingStone magazine was published about a horrific scene of a freshman girl being sexually assaulted by multiple fraternity boys. In the article it describes how the girl, who went by the name of Jackie, was pressured to keep quite about her assault due to peer pressure to keep the university’s reputation clean. Greek life is a big social aspect at the University of Virginia and this girl felt as if she would be doing a disservice to the school for speaking out about the horrors that took place in a Greek life setting. The article goes into how Virginia has a high regard when it comes to honor, “UVA’s emphasis on honor is so pronounced that since 1998, 183 people have been expelled for honor-code violations such as cheating on exams.” However not one student in the history of the school has been expelled for sexual assault. (http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119#ixzz3KItXu0Ch) Due to this article, Virginia is now one of 86 school under federal investigation due to possible allocations of sexual assault. However Virginia’s case is much more serious with their case being labeled under, “compliance review,” which is “a proactive probe launched by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights itself, triggered by concerns about deep-rooted issues.” The President of the university, Teresa A. Sullivan, has now suspended all Greek life activities for the remained of the semester. However this far from the first time that the University of Virginia has been in the lime light for negative news. A couple years ago there was an incident involving male and female lacrosse player. The two were dating, and one night due to uncontrollable jealousy and alcohol the boyfriend ended up beating Yeardley Love to death.

Throughout our Political Science class we have discussed the importance of social contracts. Whether these contracts are physical or made up through a series of guidelines, they hold importance to both parties that are made to follow it. They hold people accountable to act and behave in a certain manner. Now some relationships it is unnatural to have a written contract in order to attain a stable relationship. But those are relationships that have no place for contracts, but rather have guidelines develop in a more natural series of experiences.

Recently I took the pledge to the, “It’s On Us,” campaign which promotes awareness and communal promise to protect against sexual assault. After discussing social contracts and viewing this article from RollingStone, I realized I had created a social contract through signing up for this campaign. I now realize that through this I have a obligation to uphold for those who I promised my word to. If i fail to uphold the guidelines that this campaign has set than I will be letting down the party on the other end of this contract. The “It’s On Us,” movement has begun to catch national attention with the support of partners such as bing, the Big 10, and other high end organizations the word has been spread. This has become a nationally available contract for any person to become apart. It is for a good cause that can help put an end to terrible events like those that have taken place at the University of Virginia. To sign up and take the pledge visit http://itsonus.org/, every name on the list helps stop sexual assault. Help make Michigan a place where one doesn’t have to worry about assault. For Michigan should be a safe place and home for whoever wears the block M on their chest.

Sports Through Collective Action

college_football_union_ap_img_0

Collective action is commonly defined as, “Any action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective.”

College sports are often more popular then professional sports in America, and have gained tremendous respect due to the student-athletes participating on them. Student athletes play for their team. In an excerpt from Bo Schembechler’s famous “The Team” speech, he said, “You can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team.” Bo is very right. College athletes play for their school and their team—not money, not a contract, not fame.

Last winter, Student athletes at Northwestern University have taken a bold stance, asking to be represented by a labor union. Northwestern football players, who are pushing to be thought of as “employees” rather than “student-athletes.” This push started with Northwestern quarterback, Kain Colter. He and many of his teammates believe that college athletes deserve and equal voice when it comes to their protections, whether it be physically, academically, or financially. Colter made it very clear that this movement is not due to any particular mistreatment at Northwestern, “We love Northwestern. The school is just playing by the rules of their governing body, the NCAA. We’re interested in trying to help all players — at USC, Stanford, Oklahoma State, everywhere. It’s about protecting them and future generations to come.”

ncaa-logo1

Walter Hobbes had a rather simple solution to collective action problems. Hobbes believed that you should seek peace, and follow it. In Hobbes’ excerpt about the fool, he said to break the covenant, because there really is no reason not to break the covenant if it’s in your best interest. However, it sometimes does make sense to do those things that are in a covenant. With the current NCAA agreements and rules, student-athletes are often not protected as much as they should be—especially football players, physically. “It’s become clear that relying on the NCAA policymakers won’t work, that they are never going to protect college athletes, and you can see that with their actions over the past decade. Look at their position on concussions.” Ramogi Huma, NCPA president, clearly sees the points being made by the Northwestern football players.

Depending on your view, the NCAA could be seen as the fool, but so could the student-athletes fighting for change. Whatever your view may be, Hobbes believes that both parties of the argument should seek and follow peace. Kain Colter and his teammates are still fighting for athlete representation to improve the conditions that they play under in the NCAA.

Athlete and Coach Contract?

What good are contracts for? What relationships use contracts? Are contracts really beneficial in the long run?

A coach will always expect a lot out of his athletes

A coach will always expect a lot out of his athletes

Contracts are great for all sorts of things. Many use them for business relationships, landlord and tenant relationships, employer and employee relationships, teacher and student relationships, and so on.

On the other hand, there are plenty of relationships that do not use contracts. Some of these include family relationships, friendships, and dating/romantic/marriage relationships.

In my life, one of the most important relationships that I have is with my coach. The relationship between an athlete and a coach is very special. There are actually many similarities to an employer and employee relationship. While my coach “owns” me in some sense, I work for him to the best of my ability to bring success to my team (or company, in the comparison). Having a contract between a employer and an employee is very important, because as an employer, you need to know that your employee will work their tail off at all times, will be trustworthy, respectful, and responsible.

Another relationship that can be compared with a coach and an athlete is a family relationship. In our gym, our coaches are almost seen as parental figures in our life. Being away on our own, we each (my teammates and I) lack the guidance that our parents once gave us. This, however, is nothing new to the college student. College is a time to find out who you truly are and make decisions for yourself. But, with the extra responsibilities as a student-athlete, it has made all the difference to have them supporting us each and every day. The relationship between family members normally does not have a contract—only in cases such as divorce or adoption, perhaps.

So where exactly does the relationship between an athlete and their coach fall? Should there be a contract, similar to the one in an employer/employee relationship? Or would a contract be unnecessary, like in any family relationship?

While these are all good questions, I turned to the experts on social contracts. Others (Hobbes, Locke) have looked at social contracts and exposed their findings/opinions, but I specifically looked at Jean Jacques Rousseau’s State of Nature and Critique of Civilization.

Rousseau

Rousseau

His anthropological theory states that in the state of nature, we are born free and people were by themselves—we were happy, not rational. Rousseau made it clear that once we started thinking, everything will begin to go to hell if we start comparing to one another, and if we are dependent on others’ opinions. Out of that, the part that stuck out most to me regarding the athlete/coach relationship was being dependent on others’ opinions. As an athlete, if I am dependent on my coaches’ opinion, I will never be satisfied. They will always want and expect more, because they can see the potential that I can’t.

This is why I believe that the coach/athlete relationship should remain without a contract.

Thinking about your life, what relationships would you like to use a contract for?

Citius, Altius, Fortius.

Citius, Altius, Fortius; Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Olympic_rings_without_rims.svg

These three Latin words officially became the slogan of the Olympic movement in 1894, long before women were competitors athletically. This Olympic motto has created quite a stir over the years, seeing as men are generally dominant over women in all three of those categories. Instead, the Olympic Creed has been favored by many more people, encouraging everyone to do their best; “The most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight ; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” Together, the two of these are heavily promoted so that we apply them in our everyday life, not just sports. Continue reading

Rights in School

You spent multiple years in elementary, middle, high school, and even college learning about the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution. Students understand why the United States declared their independence from Great Britain. Students understand the issues with the Articles of Confederation and why we wrote the Constitution. Students understand the bill of rights and there rights under the constitution. It seems imperative that all students in the United States learn about their freedoms or rights. Continue reading