In any Division 1 athletic powerhouse, like the University of Michigan, there are 3 sports that are predominantly popular: football, basketball, and hockey. These sports are considered “revenue sports” because the funds generated from them are greater than the cost of operating their athletic program. It’s great that there is so much enthusiasm at the collegiate level surrounding these 3 sports, but what happens to the others? There doesn’t seem to be much fervor surrounding the less popular sports, such as rowing, soccer, tennis, wrestling, golf, track and field, etc. When I hear about all of these neglected sports, I feel bad because most of these athletes’ hard work and success goes unnoticed to the student population. Ironically, I never made an effort to go support these athletes either because I didn’t have much interest in their sports. I have always been used to spectating the most popular games. However, I recently took a trip to East Lansing to support my sister and the Michigan women’s novice rowing team as they scrimmaged against Michigan State University. This experience really demonstrated to me the enormous gap in popularity between the revenue sports and the rest of the University of Michigan athletic program and reminded me of the disparity between men and women’s sports that Mika LaVaque-Manty discusses in Being a Woman and Other Disabilities. Continue reading
Evolution is defined as the process that allows changes to happen in plants and animals over time. However, it can also be defined as a process of slow change and development. When looking at sports through time, most sporting fans can clearly see the changes that have occurred in light of more crowds, new technology (instant replay), medical advancements (PEDs), and new game strategies. Some of these changes have been for the better while others have not. Despite some possible negatives, most sports fans would agree that sports need to evolve, just like the world, to stay with the times.
One important aspect of sports that may need evolution is the way we divide our sports. Divisions and recognition in sports have led to many conflicts and changes through the years. One example of this issue was brought up in Mika LaVaque-Manty’s book The Playing Fields of Eton where wheelchair athletes felt that they were being treated unfairly in the New York City Marathon. They argued that they should not be stopped during a marathon (just like any other runner) and should be given a division to recognize people in similar situations. In the court proceedings, their argument won the case, as it was a matter of granting athletes with disabilities equal recognition and fair competition (no stopping during the race). Although LaVaque-Manty brings up this case, later on he warns against too much separation of groups. While divisions do exist in sports to allow fair competition among people with similar abilities, it can sometimes hinder overall equality. A major division that should be examined is the gender division within sports. To understand the background of this division, we need to step back in history.