Activism From Professional Athletes

Where Are the Jocks for Justice” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier took a look into Adonal Foyle’s battle to change the current political system. When most athletes were spending money to rebuild playgrounds or schools, or visiting sick children in the hospital, Foyle was running a grassroots group called Democracy Matters. Democracy Matters wanted to educate children about politics, push them to vote, and bring pressure to change the current political system. Foyle clearly wanted to make a change in society and earned a lot of praise for his battle against the political system. However, not all professional athletes have been given the same praise. Continue reading

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Consequences of Actions from Professional Athletes

Where Are the Jocks for Justice” by Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier took a look into Adonal Foyle’s battle to change the current political system. When most athletes were spending money to rebuild playgrounds or schools, or visiting sick children in the hospital, Foyle was running a grassroots group called Democracy Matters. Democracy Matters wanted to educate children about politics, push them to vote, and bring pressure to change the current political system. Foyle clearly wanted to make a change in society and earned a lot of praise for his battle against the political system. However, not all professional athletes have been given the same praise. Continue reading

War and Hobbes

“If there be a common power set over them both [parties in a contract], with right and force sufficient to compel performance, the [contract] is not void” – Thomas Hobbes, 17th Century philosopher and author of Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan

This quote from Leviathan is about social contracts and the state of nature as Hobbes sees it. He discusses the promises we make and specifically how when we enter into a contract with another party, there must be motivation to prevent us from breaking the contract.  Most of the time this “motivation” is going to be punishment, which must be worse than the benefit we would gain from breaking the contract.

Another important aspect in Hobbes’ theories are that a state of nature and a state of war are synonymous. It is my belief that no one truly lives in nature anymore.  Sure, there are some tribes in the amazon jungle that could be considered in nature, but in our civilized society, with iPhones, social media and other technologies it is impossible for us to live in nature. So then how can we see Hobbes’ social contracts in work? By looking at war.

There are many similarities between the United States’ military and Hobbes’ Social contract theory but I will only be

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, prisoner of war for five years (via wikimedia)

focusing on the aspect of motivation. It is hard to think about someone being punished in war because it’s almost impossible to top the trauma they’re already experiencing. As I began thinking about punishment I thought about the recent occurrences with Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was serving in the US army in Afghanistan when walked away from his unit, or went AWOL (absent without leave). In doing so he broke the contract he had with the military, an action that Hobbes would no doubt disprove of.  He was then captured and held by the Taliban for five years. In May, 2014 the United States traded five Taliban members in exchange for Bergdahl. Many believed that the United States shouldn’t have traded for him because he abandoned his post and deserted.  I did some research and found out that desertion during a time of war is a crime punishable by death (although it is mostly handled with persecution).

A person would only go AWOL if they believed they were going to die or be severely wounded, so at first I wondered what the point in killing someone who walked away was.  But then I realized that the military is employing Hobbes’ philosophy that the punishment must force the parties to remain in their contract. So the punishment of death gives a possible deserter two choices 1) a consequence that they understood was a possibility or 2) die as a coward who is putting all the other brave soldiers in jeopardy. Any rational soldier would chose the first option which is exactly how a Hobbesian contract is supposed to work.

(via wikimedia)

I understand that this sounds harsh, but we live in a time where there is no draft.  Every soldier in our army is fighting voluntarily and knows that there are potential consequences of their service.  So once a soldier is actually facing possible death, they cannot back out at the last moment and decide that they would prefer not to fight. Imagine if all soldiers abandoned their post as soon as danger was imminent.

Hobbesian contracts are best exemplified in nature, but seeing as that is something that is nearly impossible to find in today’s world, war is the next best option.

The Regal Coaches

(Public Domain Image)

____________ Ball used in Football (NFL size Football) – [1] ___________ [public domain image – credit: wikimedia]

Football is the quintessential American sport. Like all other sports, it has coaches. In fact, professional (NFL) and college football (NCAA) teams usually have coaches for every position in the offense and the defense. To those of you who are unfamiliar with football, coaches related to the offense (wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, etc.) adhere to the principles and methods of the offensive coordinator. Similarly, all coaches related to the defense (corners coach, safeties coach, etc.) follow the strategy given by the defensive coordinator. Above this hierarchical structure is the head coach position. Both the offensive and defensive coordinators, who are usually selected by the head coach, implement their strategies while adhering to the general principles of the head coach. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the success of his team as well as its failures. Since every year counts, failure to produce results with players often leads to a head coach being fired. Additionally, loss of support from players is another cause for head coach dismissal. These reasons explain why many head coaches have had (and lost) several jobs in different teams or universities over their career. There are, however, ways to ensure tenure in a head coach position.

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The Timeless Relation between Games and Diplomacy

World Diplomacy – Picture Credit: Have a Cookie

Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people or countries in a sensitive and efficient way. Its importance and value has been respected since ancient times. In fact, the Chinese General Sun Tzu once wrote in his book The Art of War, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” His understanding on how diplomacy can single-handedly ended wars has been repeatedly proven in history through the centuries since his time.  Although not all diplomacy is related to war and peace, it is about making negotiations, building relations, and maintaining relations even in the presence of conflicts. Games and sports are a notable facet in history through which countries and people have applied diplomacy.

In Homer’s Illiad, the chapter on the funeral games for Patroclus is a prime example of diplomacy within a group through games. Achilles, the leader of the group, uses the games as a means to honor a fallen warrior, distribute the spoils of war, respect elderly soldiers, and as a way to keep his soldiers happy. His actions helped him maintain good relations with all his fellow soldiers. In addition, his abstinence from the Chariot Race (which he could have easily won) shows that he is willing to concede so that others have a chance in the race. Achilles, by his actions, displayed diplomacy on an individual level through the funeral games.

The funeral games from Homer’s poem bear a resemblance to a modern day games that also involve diplomacy: the Olympics. Although it may not seem so obvious at first, Olympics are one of best places to practice diplomacy.  One way countries can express their views is by choosing to participate or abstain from Olympics. One example of this use is the US boycott and attempts to convince others to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Although not effective in changing Russia’s views, it did inform them peacefully of U.S. disapproval. Another way countries have practiced diplomacy during the Olympics is through the simple act of attending. By setting aside any differences and attending to celebrate games, an opportunity presents itself for feuding countries to reconcile. The Olympic Truce, an idea taken from history and has been recently promoted to the spotlight, has been a major diplomatic movement that aims to temporarily pause all wars around the world during the Olympic games to perhaps pave the way for new relations. Although the idea has only recently been promoted, it has already shown major promise in the United Nations when all 193 member countries voted to approve the truce in 2011.  These ideas and actions entwine games and diplomacy through a timeless relation for the betterment of the world.

Image Credit: Using public domain images (1 and 2)