Is it a pro athletes responsibility to be a child’s role model?

As scandals involving professional athletes increase in frequency I have started to wonder if sports stars are suitable role models for children. Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Vick, Dustin Johnson, Aaron Hernandez, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Rice to name a few. The aforementioned athletes have been caught cheating using performance enhancing drugs, or have been involved in illegal or immoral activity outside the sports world.

As an avid sports fan, I have grown up not just admiring professional athletes, but idolizing them. To me, professional athletes were perfect in every way and I wanted to emulate their every move. It was not until I was older that I began to understand more about who the athletes really were and the kinds of lives that often come with fame and fortune.

Steven Ortiz, a sociology professor at Oregon State has a theory for why so many gifted athletes are arrogant and self-centered:

“Spoiled-athlete syndrome begins early in sports socialization. From the time they could be picked out of a lineup because of their exceptional athletic ability, they’ve been pampered and catered to by coaches, classmates, teammates, family members and partners. As they get older, this becomes a pattern. Because they’re spoiled, they feel they aren’t accountable for their behaviors off the field. They’re so used to people looking the other way.”

Case in point: The photo to the left is of American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals (including 18 Gold’s). Phelps is the perfect embodiment of Ortiz’s theory. Along with his marijuana smoking scandal, Phelps has been arrested for multiple DUI’s and alcohol related charges. His consequences included a short-term suspension from swimming, a fine and community service hours. The Phelps case also shows that oftentimes, athletes are let off easy because of their essentialness to their sport.  Phelps was labeled the best swimmer of all time in his early twenties and his behaviour out of the pool is a direct reflection of his arrogance. He is a role model for millions of youth swimmers across the world who hope to one day participate in the Olympic Games. Phelps, along with many other athletes, must begin to take responsibly for their actions and acknowledge their status as role models in society.

The lack of accountability of professional athletes is a controversial topic that can be seen two opposing ways. On one hand, there are those that believe it is a professional athlete’s responsibility and job description to act as a role model. They believe that one of the reasons why a pro athlete is one of the highest paying jobs in the world – because of the duties that come with it.

Those in the opposing field of thought align with Charles Barkley’s point of view (As shown in the video above), where athletes are not figures that children should be emulating. His point is that it is a parents’ obligation and responsibility to be role models for their children.

After widely reading about this topic, I have come to the conclusion that the way an athlete portrays himself or herself to the media, fans, and competition matters. An athlete like Dennis Rodman presented himself as a “bad-boy” – someone who didn’t care about suspensions, fines or the rules. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, was presented as an upstanding citizen who plays one of the most prestigious, well-mannered and conservative sports. Tiger became the face of golf and had to take on all the responsibilities that came with that. It is for this reason why Tiger’s scandal was one of the largest, most shocking in history. He managed to fool his fans, the media and even his family.  The media portrayed him as something he was not, and he lost many supporters as a result.

The above pro athlete scandals can be applied to Heather Reid’s Argument Athletic Competition and Socratic Philosophy. This theory states that athletic competition is not just physical, as “To compete athletically is to struggle for a kind of perfection that encompasses the whole person.” Reid argues that pro athletes are constantly striving to be better and they never settle until they are the best. The success of an athlete is more then just physical perfection; it is about giving back to the community, children and the people who helped get them where they are today. “True athletic agōn, however, like true Socratic philosophy, aims at virtue, human excellence, aretē” (Reid, 2005).

When I was a young boy I was a die-hard Toronto Blue Jays fan. My favourite player was Roger Clemens, nicknamed “The Rocket” for his reputation of having one of the hardest fastballs in the majors. I would go down to the Sky Dome with my grandfather and watch Clemens dominate the opposing batters. He was my hero and I would try as hard as I could to be just like him. Years later, I learned that he was using performance enhancing drugs throughout his career and was now seen as a cheater. This completely changed my perception of him and made me feel as if I was also cheated. My experience is one of many that shows the major impact an athlete can have on a young impressionable child.

The simple answer to my earlier question is yes, pro athletes have a responsibility and even moral duty to act as role models for youth. Every pro athlete have themselves looked up to someone in their sport, emulated their game by them, or even used them as motivation. If an athlete truly cares about the sport they committed their life to, then it is their responsibility to help inspire the next generation of athletes.

Further Reading: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/969596-athletes-role-an-investigation-on-why-not-all-athletes-make-good-role-models

What are your thoughts?

Do you think that it is a pro athletes responsibility to be a child’s role model?

Let me know in the comments below.

Why Fighting’s Time in Hockey is Over.

Every new campaign, the question of whether it is time to ban fighting in hockey is asked and there is no shortage of answers. Hockey is notoriously known for permitting fist fighting that is often an attempt by the players to quarrel any lingering issues during the game between each team. This is vastly different then the other major sports today. Football does not permit any fist fighting at all, and any participants are often recipients of severe sanctions. Basketball follows the same path, as any players involved in altercations are ejected immediately. Baseball as well results in the ejecting of players and coaches involved. Therefore, fighting in hockey provides more negatives than positives to the game and a ban on fighting should be implemented.

Any individual unfamiliar with its rules may wonder why then does the National Hockey League allow fist fighting (with only a small penalty for taking part in the altercation rather than an ejection). For those unfamiliar with that answer, the consistent one given by those who are familiar is that fighting is a big part of the game of hockey. It acts as a way to deter players from possible intentions of hurting goalies, star players, or other important players. It is often referred to as being a part of the “culture” of hockey. An example of this culture would be, if one of your players attempts a dirty play on one of my teammates then it is encouraged and expected that I am to come to the defense of my teammate and fight you because as a “tough guy” that is what I am paid to do and how I make my living.

It is often argued that fighting in hockey can energize the fans and the players, while that is true; this energy often only lasts for a short period of time. Hence, fighting does not serve a true purpose on the outcome of a hockey game. The result of a fight does not guarantee that one team will win, nor does winning a fight garner points for a team. It does the opposite. It eliminates a player from each team for a short period of time, and also can cause injury, which potentially removes a player from their team for an extended period of time. A majority of fighting occurs in what most people understand as “garbage time.” This is when one team is significantly ahead of another and as a result the opposing team often musters up altercations for lack of purpose in the actual game itself. This again demonstrates how fighting in the game of hockey does not provide any positives to the result of the game.

Furthermore, if there is a ban on fighting in hockey, fans will see an increase in players with skill and ability and a decrease in players who contribute only to the fighting or physicality of the sport. There has already been a decrease in the employment of players who can only play tough, and an increase in players who can play tough but also possess the skills and abilities needed to contribute to team success. This will only help the game, as it will add to the speed, skill, and overall quality to each and every game.

Additionally, the encouragement of fighting promotes violence to an audience, which includes young children. Each time a game is on involving favourite household teams, families gather together to watch a hockey game and cheer on their beloved team. Children often dream of one day being on that same ice. With such a large young fan base, hockey is promoting violence through the existence of fighting. I remember being a young boy playing the sport of hockey, and in the street with friends, it always was amusing and fun to emulate fighting the way the professionals did. We have talked throughout lectures, and have read articles written about whether or not we should have young kids participating in the game of football. Less attention is made on whether young kids should be watching hockey. Fighting is in its most raw form, legalized assault within the confines of an arena and a set of rules. Do we expect young people to just ignore this type of violence and not try to emulate similar circumstances with their friends on the street? It can be understood that children will inevitably be exposed to violence during their years of adolescence, however, it seems plausible to try and focus their attention towards the work ethic and skills of the players rather than the ruthlessness and aggression that fighting entails.

Perhaps the biggest reason behind the push for the banning of fighting in hockey would be the head injuries that a fight causes. A hockey fight follows boxing in that the common goal is to punch your opponent, with the head being the primary target. In his article about violence and aggression in contemporary sport, Jim Parry makes a strong argument regarding taking the principal point of contact, the head, out of boxing saying “you can’t have boxing without the head as a target. That’s like having rugby without scrums, or the steeplechase without jumps.” (Parry 1998, 219). This demonstrates, as fighting in hockey is similar to boxing, the principal point of contact is the head, which results in severe injuries such as concussions that may keep a player out for awhile, or injuries that may not affect the player in the present, but will have ramifications in the future.

There are still those who believe that there is a place in hockey for fighting. As a former hockey player and fan of the game, I completely understand the perspective of players and some fans as to why the activity should remain. It is definitely exciting you cannot deny that. However, fighting within the confines of hockey provides more negatives than it does positives and as a  result the time to ban fighting in hockey should be implemented sooner rather than later.

There are links below to different articles, as well as statistics outlining how removing fighting from hockey would be beneficial to the game.

By: Joseph Di Pompeo

Student No. 250621122

Resources (Articles & Statistics):

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/globe-on-hockey/no-one-really-gets-hurt-in-hockey-fights-right/article9443315/

http://itsnotpartofthegame.blogspot.ca/2012/02/additional-statistics-on-impact-of.html

Bibliography:

McNamee M.J., and S.J. Parry, Ethics and Sport, (London & New York: 1998), 219.

 

 

'You never did say you were sorry.'

Sex Verification In Sports

Two years have passed since Caster Semenya had the honor of carrying South Africa’s Flag at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games located in London. Just three years prior, Caster was banned from the World Athletic Championships in Berlin after effortlessly cruising her way to winning gold in the 800m race. With a combination of physical appearance, a dominating performance, and speculations of not being a woman, Caster was subject to gender verification in order to compete again.

It is the all too common debate over the use and purpose of sex testing that has become an increasingly controversial subject in the sporting world. Although this seems to be a pressing issue within international competition, it is one that I personally have never put much thought into. I come from a background where sport actually defines who I am, and it alarms me that I had no prior knowledge on the subject, until recently I did a little bit of research. I found myself highly intrigued by the subject, predominantly because I assume most of us agree that sex-segregated sports are necessary within competition.

When looking back on the history of sports, much of it has been organized by sex or gender. This is for obvious reasons such as the genetic dispositions, in which male athletes have a superior physical advantage over female athletes. While the majority of individuals easily fit into these categories of being male or female, there is a small population of people who don’t quite fit as easily. Some individuals identify themselves as transgender or intersex, which evidently causes some confusion or uncertainty when it comes to fitting into either one of the categories. In other cases, some individuals are just questioned about their sex by those around them, especially in the event of a person winning beyond the norm such as Caster Semenya.

For quite some time, national and international committees have struggled to set a clear criterion for sex testing. This becomes a sticky situation when the question arises of what exactly is being tested? Are we speaking about testing hormones, chromosomes, or genitals? As the years go on, committees that are involved with the issue are evidently becoming more responsive of the fact that sex is not universally binary, and that sex cannot be determined by any simple or arbitrary marker.

Just recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) implemented a new rule that would ban women with naturally high testosterone levels, known as hyperandrogenism, from competing in the Olympic games. Many advocates undoubtedly agree this policy isn’t the greatest, but according to the IOC action must take place in order to prevent women who play like “men” from competing against those who are “real” women.

In addition, majority of the testing done by national and international committees are primarily testing women. This is for obvious reasons such as fraudulent males trying to pose as female athletes creating an unfair playing field. It should be noted that it is certainly very rare to see testing done in the male class to see if there are fraudulent females participating in the wrong category.

On the contrary, we have a report written by Wiesmann who questions against the procedures used by committees such as is there a right not to know one’s sex? Or the harm and discrimination associated with the procedures used. Wiesmann argues that the practices used to gather genetic data come with the potential cause of being highly invasive. For example, an individual may receive medical information beyond their gender or sex that reveals susceptibility to potential conditions they are at risk for. This creates a test that Wiesmann refers to as a curse rather than a blessing.

Furthermore, she argues that humiliation is a major factor that comes into play when athletes find out they may be the opposite sex of what they originally thought they were. For instance, female competitors who are diagnosed as having a Y-chromosome, this information undoubtedly comes with disbelief. She goes onto explain that this initiates a gender identity crisis, which is essentially the foundation of personhood. Under such circumstances, athletes can experience damage towards privacy, honor, and self-esteem. Wiesmann evidently does not agree with the testing that the IOC and other national and international committees perform for those reasons.

To conclude, the issue of sex testing and the overall purpose of it will evidently be a controversial topic for years to come. It is quite clear that committees such as the IOC are trying to unravel the issue the best they can, while trying to maintain fairness within the Olympic games and other international competitions. Nonetheless, advocates such as Wiesmann may argue otherwise with the approaches taken because they come with much scrutiny such as being highly invasive, humiliating, and potentially inaccurate. Due to sex testing being such a muddled subject, in my opinion, the subject definitely requires further action and exploration to consider the different ways of setting a clear criterion.

Check this video out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpblUehi9Dk

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. (2012). Sport in Transition: Making Sport in Canada More Responsible for Gender Inclusivity. Retrieved from http://www.cces.ca/files/pdfs/CCES-PAPER-SportInTransition-E.pdf

Women in Sports Business: Present or Absent?

403240_10150698651223998_1130698633_nIt comes to no surprise that males vastly dominate the sporting industry, specifically in the business sector. In a recent survey conducted by Sports Business Journal, 50% of professional or college level athletes have admitted to never working with female executives throughout their career. Although this percentage does not shock me, as a female who shares a passion for sports, I was disappointed. I began to research even further and noticed that almost every NHL franchise is owned by a male or has male chairman, governor, or president. This goes without mentioning that the NFL, NBA, and MLB also follow suit.

The major question now running through my mind is why? Why is that the Sports Business sector is so under-represented of women? Not only are they largely under-represented in top leadership roles, they are also under-represented in scouting roles, sports agent roles, and sports analysts roles as well. According to a similar survey conducted by Sports Business Journal, 54% of these athletes believe that women face greater challenges when progressing in the sporting industry compared to any other industry.

The next question I asked myself was: what are the challenges that prohibit women from progressing that could be wildly different from most industries? Is it the historical traditions established within the industry, the lack of recognition, or belief that women are not credible within this industry? The answer this question is subjective, however, I believe that they are all contributing factors to the under-representation of women in Sports Business.

Historically, executive positions were given to former players who have either resigned or retired within the professional industry. We can see that this holds true within the football sector for example. “It is quite hard for people in that industry to get used to the idea that women could hold those posts–because of tradition. That is how they justify their discrimination” stated Liseli Sitali, a sports commentator. This is not to say that this discrimination is intentional, it is just what everyone is accustom too. It comes down to this idea of trying to teach an old dog a new trick; it takes time to change existing habits. We have already begun to see gradual changes occurring when the number of a woman working within sports media networks increased. It ultimately comes down to slow progression beginning with baby steps.

Another set back that women face in this industry is the lack of recognition or acknowledgement following success. For example, in the National Football Post, Jack Bechta recently wrote an article surrounding the level of difficulty women face when trying to break through into the sports industry. He continued to further this discussion by recognizing the increased difficulty they face while trying to move up the ladder once they are in. A major point that he stressed was the lack of recognition women receive for their accomplishments. “Little has been written about 3rd overall pick Gerald McCoy’s selection of a female agent, Kelli Masters, to co-represent him in his professional career” reported Jack. As you can see, something as simple as not publicizing women’s accomplishments can ultimately impact their abilities to move up or into this industry, their credibility or trustworthiness, and their capabilities to change the ideals of this industry.

It is unfortunate to believe that this type of under-representation occurs in this day and age but it is the reality. It is also a reality that women are faced with the challenge of having to prove themselves as “capable” to their male counterpart. As Liseli pointed out in her article, males “have never worked with a female manager before, all their trust and all their experience of the sport comes from working with males. When women come on board it is a bit of an anomaly.” Unfortunately, because of this preinstalled belief, women are continually fighting to build their reputation in a way that demonstrates to industry executives, players, coaches, and owners that they are just as capable as their male counterparts and that they are here to stay.

By no means am I trying to allude to the idea that it is completely impossible for women to enter and succeed in this industry. In fact, there have been several women trailblazers who have noteworthy accomplishment to date. As a double major student in Business and Leadership with a desire to work in this industry, I find it necessary to understand and be aware of the potential challenges that I might face. From a sports ethics point of view, I would have to conclude that the under-representation of women in this industry is exceptionally unfair. However, I do see progressive change occurring and I look forward to seeing how this industry evolves in the future.

Author: Kendall Beselaere

Resources:

http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/10/10/Game-Changers/Intro.aspx

http://www.europeanceo.com/business-and-management/sports-industry-slowly-allows-women-into-leadership-roles/

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/The-women-of-the-NFL.html

Multiple NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB team websites

Sex Verification In Sports

Two years have passed since Caster Semenya had the honor of carrying South Africa’s Flag at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games located in London. Just three years prior, Caster was banned from the World Athletic Championships in Berlin after effortlessly cruising her way to winning gold in the 800m race. With a combination of physical appearance, a dominating performance, and speculations of not being a woman, Caster was subject to gender verification in order to compete again.

It is the all too common debate over the use and purpose of sex testing that has become an increasingly controversial subject in the sporting world. Although this seems to be a pressing issue within international competition, it is one that I personally have never put much thought into. I come from a background where sport actually defines who I am, and it alarms me that I had no prior knowledge on the subject, until recently I did a little bit of research. I found myself highly intrigued by the subject, predominantly because I assume most of us agree that sex-segregated sports are necessary within competition.

When looking back on the history of sports, much of it has been organized by sex or gender. This is for obvious reasons such as the genetic dispositions, in which male athletes have a superior physical advantage over female athletes. While the majority of individuals easily fit into these categories of being male or female, there is a small population of people who don’t quite fit as easily. Some individuals identify themselves as transgender or intersex, which evidently causes some confusion or uncertainty when it comes to fitting into either one of the categories. In other cases, some individuals are just questioned about their sex by those around them, especially in the event of a person winning beyond the norm such as Caster Semenya.

For quite some time, national and international committees have struggled to set a clear criterion for sex testing. This becomes a sticky situation when the question arises of what exactly is being tested? Are we speaking about testing hormones, chromosomes, or genitals? As the years go on, committees that are involved with the issue are evidently becoming more responsive of the fact that sex is not universally binary, and that sex cannot be determined by any simple or arbitrary marker.

Just recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) implemented a new rule that would ban women with naturally high testosterone levels, known as hyperandrogenism, from competing in the Olympic games. Many advocates undoubtedly agree this policy isn’t the greatest, but according to the IOC action must take place in order to prevent women who play like “men” from competing against those who are “real” women.

In addition, majority of the testing done by national and international committees are primarily testing women. This is for obvious reasons such as fraudulent males trying to pose as female athletes creating an unfair playing field. It should be noted that it is certainly very rare to see testing done in the male class to see if there are fraudulent females participating in the wrong category.

On the contrary, we have a report written by Wiesmann who questions against the procedures used by committees such as is there a right not to know one’s sex? Or the harm and discrimination associated with the procedures used. Wiesmann argues that the practices used to gather genetic data come with the potential cause of being highly invasive. For example, an individual may receive medical information beyond their gender or sex that reveals susceptibility to potential conditions they are at risk for. This creates a test that Wiesmann refers to as a curse rather than a blessing.

Furthermore, she argues that humiliation is a major factor that comes into play when athletes find out they may be the opposite sex of what they originally thought they were. For instance, female competitors who are diagnosed as having a Y-chromosome, this information undoubtedly comes with disbelief. She goes onto explain that this initiates a gender identity crisis, which is essentially the foundation of personhood. Under such circumstances, athletes can experience damage towards privacy, honor, and self-esteem. Wiesmann evidently does not agree with the testing that the IOC and other national and international committees perform for those reasons.

To conclude, the issue of sex testing and the overall purpose of it will evidently be a controversial topic for years to come. It is quite clear that committees such as the IOC are trying to unravel the issue the best they can, while trying to maintain fairness within the Olympic games and other international competitions. Nonetheless, advocates such as Wiesmann may argue otherwise with the approaches taken because they come with much scrutiny such as being highly invasive, humiliating, and potentially inaccurate. Due to sex testing being such a muddled subject, in my opinion, the subject definitely requires further action and exploration to consider the different ways of setting a clear criterion.

Check out this video!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpblUehi9Dk

References

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. (2012). Sport in Transition: Making Sport in Canada More Responsible for Gender Inclusivity. Retrieved from http://www.cces.ca/files/pdfs/CCES-PAPER-SportInTransition-E.pdf

Should convicted criminals be allowed to compete in professional sports?

It was a Monday morning when I found out the news.  My alarm went off as I rolled over to grab my phone.  It was early in the football season, but I needed to see how my fantasy team was doing.  I clicked the app and tried to wake myself as it slowly loaded.  My team lost for the second week in a row to start the season.  To those of you who don’t play fantasy, the first thing you do after losing a week is completely overreact over every player on your team.

However, this week was a bit different.  I saw that my first round pick Adrian Peterson earned me a whopping 0 points for the week, while all my other players did fairly well.  I was devastated, because football fans know the only thing that could hold Peterson back from getting points would be an injury.  Or so we thought.  I clicked his name on the app to see how badly he was injured and then I read that he had been suspended indefinitely by the NFL for child abuse charges.  Twitter later confirmed this for me as thousands of people were tweeting over the hottest sports scandal.  I thought to myself; Adrian Peterson belongs in the NFL, there must be a mistake.

Well there wasn’t a mistake.  After a bit of researching I had seen the gruesome and unethical photos of his son’s body post-whipping.  The child said he was being punished for pushing his brother off a bike.  This didn’t seem like punishment to me, it went above and beyond any form of punishment I received as a child.  Why would he do that to a 4-year-old, let alone his own son?  I went to television for answers, as nearly every major media outlet was covering this story.  I turned the channel to CBS, where I was able to hear both sides of the spectrum.  Radio host and CBS football analyst Boomer Esiason had this to say about Peterson:

“I don’t buy [upbringing] as an excuse. Peterson is 6’1″, 220 pounds talking about hitting his 4-year-old son with what is known as a switch. I never even heard of that until the other night. It’s a tree branch that parents use to whip kids. I found it so reprehensible. I got emotional about it and was very intense about it. It’s no excuse in my eyes.”

adrian peterson

Initially I agreed with his point.  Peterson should know how much stronger he is than a small child and be able to discipline him without scarring.  I went on about my day, talking about this recent football scandal with friends who also couldn’t believe what Peterson had done.  Some said that he should never be allowed to play football again, others said he should serve jail time and then return to the NFL like Michael Vick did in 2009.  I was leaning more towards the former than the latter.

I didn’t actually think that Peterson was done playing football.  If Vick had come back after his dog-fighting ring then Peterson would probably come back too.  What I want to discuss now is should he be allowed to comeback?  Regular people like me, would probably lose their job if their workplace found out they had been charged with child abuse, especially if the media caught wind of it.  Some people might say you deserve to lose your job for actions like this and I would not hesitate to agree.  However if you banned an athlete from playing in a sports league it becomes much larger than losing a job.  Banning Peterson from the NFL is basically banning Peterson from playing football because the NFL has a monopoly on professional football.  An accountant who is charged with child abuse may lose his job, but he wouldn’t be banned from being an accountant.  Why should athletes be treated differently?

If they were to be treated equally, Peterson would lose his job with the Vikings and face punishment from the law, but then he would be free to sign with another team if they wanted his services.  That isn’t fair to the Vikings because not only do they lose a star player, but another team would get stronger.  I think this is the biggest reason that we have to treat athletes differently.

The precedent has been set already in sports that you will face punishment from the law and from the league over any felonies you commit.  Like Vick, NHLer Todd Bertuzzi returned to professional sports after a 17 month suspension for sucker punching Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore.  He also recently settled his case in civil court with Moore.  Star athletes have too much value to their teams for the league to ban them, so instead they face harsh penalties that usually involve missing games without pay.

There’s a point that hasn’t been addressed yet and that is the intent or severity of the crime.  Every situation is a bit different, but there are some common factors that should judge whether an athlete should still be allowed to play.  Is there reason to believe that the athlete might do these actions again?  If not, then a punishment for the crime should be given and the athlete deserves a second chance.  If a player has committed multiple acts of the same crime or multiple crimes then the league needs to assess whether mental health is a problem.  I think all criminals deserve the chance to go through rehabilitation and try to turn their lives around.  If crimes are committed after this then it would be fair to ban them from playing anymore.  In terms of severity, leagues should assess whether they are putting any of their employees, including the players in any danger during the game.  Serial killers are an example of this.

The value of professional athletes is ultimately too high to disallow them from competing in professional sports.  Unless the intent or severity of the crime are putting others in danger, they deserve the right to continue playing sports because it is their profession.  Running backs like Adrian Peterson tend to have short NFL careers (about 10 years) and they need to accumulate as much money as possible while they can to provide for themselves later in life.  The punishments we are given to them are quite severe since they can lose millions of dollars just by missing a few games.  Adrian Peterson belongs in the NFL, he made a mistake and will face a fitting punishment for that mistake.  I’m on the other end of the spectrum now, like Charles Barkley who had this to say about Peterson:

I’m from the South. I understand Boomer’s rage and anger … but he’s a white guy and I’m a black guy. I don’t know where he’s from, I’m from the South. Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances…I think the question about whether Adrian Peterson went overboard … Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances.”

Kyle Gustin

Resources

Esiason, B. (2014, September 15). Esiason: ‘I Don’t Give a Damn How Peterson Grew Up’. Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/09/15/esiason-i-dont-give-a-damn-how-adrian-peterson-grew-up/

McNeal, G. (2014, September 16). Adrian Peterson’s Indefensible Abuse of a 4-Year-Old Likely Violates Texas Law. Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2014/09/16/adrian-petersons-indefensible-abuse-of-a-4-year-old-likely-violates-texas-law/

Peterson, A.  (2014, September 15).  Statement from Adrian Peterson.  Retrieved November 17, 2014, from http://www.vikings.com/news/article-1/Statement-From-Adrian-Peterson/aabb41f8-1afe-4133-8b30-71390b6a3fbf

Still believe in the “dumb-jock”?

A heart breaker but a hero, a bully but a warrior, rude but popular, dumb and athletic.

These rash generalizations of the modern day athlete seem to be appropriate in North America today, which has thus given birth to the stereotype – the “dumb-jock”. The effects that stereotyping has on an individual is often overlooked, I mean who really cares about what people think anyways right?

Wrong. But before I get into whose being affected and why, let’s talk about what it is to be a “dumb jock”.

In Western society the word “jock” is used as a form of slang more than anything else and it actually has a much different definition in the oxford dictionary. In North American the term “jock” is a way of describing an individual (usually a young-man) who is extremely enthusiastic about sport/athletics and will use this enthusiasm to empower him or herself through arrogance and physical capabilities. So essentially, a “dumb jock” matches all the qualities of a jock and uses them to hide his or her evident lack of intelligence.

Sounds like these so called “dumb jocks” deserve the stereotype, so why should we concern ourselves anyways? 

According to new research, a considerable amount of student athletes across North America are feeling the affects of this stereotype and it is showing in their grades. This study written by Stanford University Professor Thomas Dee is one of many attempting to display the social stigma surrounding student athletes and the effects that it has on these students. According to Professor Dee’s study, student-athletes who were confronted about their athletic involvement scored roughly 12 percent lower on Graduate Record Examination tests, compared to non-athlete students. When a group of individuals are being negatively affect by a specific stereotype this is known as a stereotype threat, and the stereotype threat that has generated from the “dumb jock” is very real in our North American world. Being a student in a post secondary institution is challenging in its own respect. Choosing to participate in athletics on top of schooling does not make the student athlete’s academic experience any less difficult which means they should not be treated any differently.

study

Doesn’t sound very deserving anymore does it? Especially not to the countless number of student athletes who work relentlessly in order to pursue both their academic and athletic endeavors

Don’t worry, this stereotype threat wasn’t created entirely because of our irrational accusations. Every stereotype has its reasoning and the “dumb jock” is no exception.

60% percent of the University of North Carolina’s football and basketball players read below the 8th grade level. Just over 2 years ago the same school openly admitted to giving out grades to student athletes who never attended class. In 2009 Florida State was found guilty for completing essays and giving answers to tests for over 61 of its student athletes. It’s no surprise, most individuals seeking a life in professional sports will ultimately put their athletics before their education. Becoming a professional athlete is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. It takes thousands of hours of training and dedication to the sport, and this can often lead to individuals neglecting other time consuming aspects of life such as education. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if every athlete aspiring to be a professional athlete would succeed in doing so, however that could not be farther from the truth. Out of about 460 thousand NCAA athletes that are playing today less than 2 percent of them will become professional athletes. Those stats aren’t meant to scare any aspiring athletes from pursing their dreams, but it should encourage athletes to take advantage of the academic opportunity they have been given. Even though a large number of them probably wont. To most students in North America, squandering the privilege to further ones education may be considered foolish or “dumb”.

I guess there is no surprise where the stereotype of the “dumb-jock” gets its roots. But maybe instead of passing judgement on these young individuals we should encourage their endeavors. I always thought chasing your dreams was the most important thing someone could do with their lives… maybe I was wrong?

Passing judgement on these student athletes has created a stereotype that has affected them on both a personal and academic level. We can blame the athletes for embodying the stereotype, we can blame our society for creating the stereotype, we can even blame the educational system for allowing the stereotype, but in the end of the day it doesn’t matter. The “dumb-jock” will always be around until we stop pointing fingers and come together to get rid of the issue.

students and athletes

Read more:

http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/fighting-the-dumb-jock-stereotype/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/dumb-jock-stereotype-threat-self-reinforcing-unless-coaches-expect-more-college-athletes-245188

Watch:

The Grey Area Around the Mental Aspect of Sport

As an athlete, I understand the different mental strategies and tactics used by other athletes. Firstly, strategies people use in attempt keep themselves mentally tough, and second strategies to mentally deplete opponents. The mental aspect of sport is a perspective that can only truly be understood through experience. The perspective we receive as viewers does not give us the same tension and intensity experienced by athletes in sport. Often sports played at lower levels rely on the players themselves to regulate a fair joust. This dependancy on trust in the morality of your opponent results in a large grey area. This grey area opens up a new aspect to the way sport is played. Keeping ones mental composure and attempting to hinder the stability of your opponents mentality is often the difference maker in tight match ups.

Growing up playing competitive tennis and participating as an active member on Western’s varsity tennis team, I have been sufficiently exposed to the mental aspects of sport; engaging in my own mental preservation during matches, as well as attempting to creep in to my opponents head. The prime aspect of keeping your own composure is relaxation. When an athlete is relaxed and everything is going as planned, it is easy to make good split second decisions. However, if the opposition is able to hinder your train of thought, a whole new game aspect occurs. It is almost like you are playing two games at once; the physical game and the mental game. Cheap shots, heckling, stalling, bad calls, and obnoxious behaviour towards opponents are some of the most common methods of strategic mental depletion in sports.

Abundant examples of individuals and teams implementing mental strategies exist. The ultimate aim of these mental games is to alter the overall thought process of opponents in attempts to ploy them in to making poor uncharacteristic strategic decisions. By effectively utilizing these mental strategies, athletes are able to gain an unseen upper hand over their opponents.

Regulation of tennis at the varsity level is primarily dependant on respect for your opponent, and sport etiquette. Unfortunately not all athletes hone the same beliefs and attitudes towards fair play. This is where mental toughness and mental strategy become pivotal in overall athletic performance. Years of practice and experience have allowed me to develop my own defensive coping strategies when a mental battle ensues, along with strategies I personally implement to hinder my opponents mental stability.

Cheating by making poor line calls or changing the score has been a long running irritant for my mental game. As a junior, a simple bad line call was all it took for an opponent to get in my head. I was known for very rapidly losing all rational thought on the tennis court when I felt I had been cheated. Knowing this, my opponents would deliberately plant the seed (make a poor call) in my head early in a match knowing that I would be distraught for prolonged period of time, giving them the upper hand as I attempted to mentally regroup. The time frame it would take for me to accept the circumstances was often enough to sway the match in my opponents favour. However, after more than a decade of mental stubbornness, I finally developed as an athlete and developed my own relaxation strategies, as well as strategies to combat those used against me.

From the defensive side of the mental game played (in my case in tennis) I no longer react in the way opponents want me to when cheated. I decided that out of spite for unfair play and cheeky tactics I wouldn’t allow for my opponents to get what they wanted out of me. I now implement a stern sarcastic ego centered strategy where I convince myself that I am in fact a better athlete. Rather than over reacting and engaging in argument with my opponents over a poor call, I simply question the call in a sarcastic tone, in order to inform my opponent of my disapproval of their decision, followed by a smirk and a newly sparked unrelenting desire to win. This has proven most effective for me mainly as a defensive strategy to the mental tactics of my opponents, but also as the first step in my offensive mental game. One of the worst feelings in sport is the feeling of helplessness, the feeling that what you’re doing is not fazing your opponent. This strategy in itself is sometimes enough break through the mental walls put up by opponents. Of course cheating results in a clear unfair advantage to one side and therefore cannot be viewed as a real offensive strategy, but many other strategies are available to athletes that can also give athletes an advantage within the rules of the sport.

I can honestly say that I have never deliberately cheated someone in a tennis match but I do however have two cheeky mental strategies of my own to alter the thought process of my opponents. First, my playing style. I have spent years of my life developing a playing style that most effectively deprives my opponents of what they want. Many tennis players depend on rhythm and consistency in order to effectively and comfortably hit the ball. My goal was to give them none of that right from the start. How did I go about this? Simple: having the mentality that I will not hit the exact same shot twice. The mix up of different spins, speeds and heights of the ball cause opponents to over think their own strategy as they now lack the rhythm and consistency they have depended on for their tactics. Whether they realize it or not, I am changing the way they intend to beat me by giving them unconventional shots. What that entails is a total change in their style of play to something they are not comfortable with, and as a result, I begin the match with the upper hand of playing on my terms.

The second offensive strategy I use to get in my opponents head is more cheeky and definitely frowned upon by some. I effectively pump myself up and create an intense competitive environment by reacting in positive ways to my quality shots. You may be asking what it is about boosting my own ego and creating tension in a match that actually hinders my opponents thoughts; the answer lies within the method by which I go about doing this. From starring down my opponent as I sit on the change over, to almost obnoxiously yelling and pumping my fist when I win a big point the goal of my mental strategy is intimidation. People change the way they think and act when they are intimidated. It is innate in humans to tense up when intimidated  and as I said earlier optimal performance is achieved when relaxed; so if my intimidation strategies work then I have successfully put my opponent in an uncomfortable situation where his performance will suffer.

The mental game in sports is a difficult one to understand without real life experience. Unseen and unheard strategies athletes use to hinder opponents minds will forever be a key aspect of any sport. An understanding of the games played within games has given me new perspective along with a new found respect for all athletes. 

Has PED usage in baseball ruined the sport forever?

Barry Bonds, Ryan Braun, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez. When these household baseball names are spoken about, there is only one thing that comes to mind to baseball fans. Steroids. Their spectacular achievements have never been seen before in history. It is hard to imagine that someone who has not previously taken PEDs will be able to break the records that these men have broken. During each of their MLB careers, these players were praised at one point or another for being the cream of the crop in the league. However, once their use of PEDs started to become apparent to the public, all previous accolades for these athletes were deemed invalid and they were categorized as cheaters.. Ryan Braun, league MVP in 2011 admitted to taking steroids during this season. His legacy as being one of the best players in the league is now forgotten. Barry Bonds, most well known for leading the league in homeruns in 2001 with 73, also forgotten. These players who have put themselves in the MLB record books during their steroid era have little to no credibility left.

It is hard to say if Major League Baseball will ever be respected as a sport that produces natural athletes like it has in the past. With PED use in baseball still so apparent, the MLB must do something to stop this trend before the sport is completely legitimized as a cheaters game. The only way to do this is to re-brand the way society views baseball and its recognizable use of steroids. Players that use PEDs not only see results on the diamond, but their physical stature becomes greatly elevated. Barry Bonds, in my opinion has one of the most notable body changes from pre and post steroid era.

Barry Bonds

This picture illustrates Barry in his early and late stages of his career. The difference is quite astonishing.

According to mlb.com, the policy for the use of steroids now provides a 3-tier suspension system. The first time a player is caught, he must serve an 80 game suspension. The second time he is caught, he must serve a 162-game suspension with an additional 183 days of pay suspension. The third time he is caught, he receives a permanent suspension from both the Major and Minor baseball leagues.

I strongly believe that this 3-tier system must be even stricter in order to eliminate PEDs from the game and re-vamp the MLB as a warranted sports league. The league needs to implement a zero tolerance policy regarding the use of steroids. This will do two things that will help provide a boost to the league. It will implement a strong fear in players that will have them question if taking steroids is worth their career as a professional athlete and it will aid in the re-furnishing of the league as a whole. There have been countless players who have used steroids; some have been great while others have been terrible. The risks simply do not outweigh the rewards when it comes down to a player’s reputation and future.

Another interesting factor that has changed in the MLB since the rise of PED usage is the increase of homeruns per game. As seen below, the early 1990’s shows that there was less than 1 homerun per game. As the 2000’s began to come along, that number shot up tremendously, peaking at about 1.15 homeruns per game. A statistic like this does not rise that much by chance, there has to have been an additional factor. That factor must have been the use of steroids. The game has changed from a small ball, every run and every batter matters to a more home run dominant game. Although this makes the game more amusing to watch, I strongly believe that steroid usage is the number one factor which influenced this large change.

 

homerun

Steroid usage in baseball has changed the way the game has been played and viewed by its fans. If the sport wants to change its reputation, it must act fast. Players must feel a sense of serious fear when deciding whether or not to take these drugs. After all, taking PEDs are illegal, and what nationally recognized sport wants to be linked with a drug that has only brought hardships for the leagues reputation?

References:

Ryan Braun admits to lying, says he used PEDs during 2011 MVP season (Yahoo Sports)

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ryan-braun-admits-to-ped-use-during-2011-mvp-season-003459837.html

MLB steroid use regulations

Click to access jda.pdf

Barry Bonds Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio (Major League Baseball)

http://mlb.mlb.com/team/player.jsp?player_id=111188#gameType=’R’&sectionType=CAREER&statType=1&season=2014&level=’ALL’

Examining the Culture of the NFL

jpegBy: Ashley Sethi

Recent events involving the NFL and its’ players have brought about renewed discussion about NFL discipline on players. The NFL’s Superbowl is the most popular sports event in America. The last Superbowl attracted a record breaking 111.5 million viewers. [1] The culture of the NFL has always been misogynistic and aggressive. There hasn’t been any secrecy in the media or by league members about this concept. It’s fair to assume that there will be tension in an environment where stakes are high and competitiveness and heavy physical conflict is happening. There are consequently some problems that arise through the aggressive culture that the NFL has created. Problems with homophobia and NFL players who are abusive have sparked controversy in recent years and raised questions as to whether the league conducts itself ethically or not.

When players act unethically outside the field and that behaviour is tolerated the values of the league are compromised. By-standing players and fans are uncomfortable. The environment of a sports league is supposed to be competitive but also fair and a safe space for the players. It’s important for players to feel accepted among their teammates and coaches so that the entire team can achieve a great bond. I can say this myself as a team athlete. I have found in Cheerleading that the communicating that comes along with teamwork forms strong friendships that will outlast the time that my team members and I spend competing together. The accepting and cohesive team environment is what I enjoy the most about cheerleading. I can’t imagine players on my team being bullied for being homosexual or being openly abusive. If players are bullied, for being homosexual for example, and are made to feel unwelcome in the locker and dressing room or on the field by coaches or teammates it compromises the standard of ethics that should be adhered to by all members of the league. There has been a history of this type of behaviour in the NFL. Jonathan Vilma recently publicly expressed his discomfort with taking a shower with a player who was homosexual. A former Minnesota Vikings Player named Chris Kluwe is pressing charges on the NFL that he was wrongfully discharged for publicly supporting gay marriage. Kluwe also claims he witnessed assistant coach Mike Priefer exclaim, “we should round up the gays and nuke them.” [2]This type of homophobic and violent open dialect is poisonous to the morality of the cultures. This type of behaviour creates an uncomfortable environment for players, in my opinion. As an athlete I feel if I were being discriminated against my performance would ultimately suffer as a result of feeling self conscious and nervous.

Michael Sam has recently sparked controversy as coming out as the first openly gay NFL football player. He was recently waived from the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys although coaches claim it’s nothing personal. [3]However, it’s openly known that it probably is somewhat personal. The league is still not fully comfortable with openly gay men and players and coaches struggle with the presence of gay men. It has been a well known truth that homophobia is mostly ignored by officials. Sexual orientation is taken into account when coaches are deciding whether a player is worth it or not. This creates discriminatory homophobia that seems to be ingrained in the culture of the league.

7_1117963

First openly gay NFL player

 

Ray rice has become the new poster child for domestic violence in the NFL as a result of a heavily publicized video of him knocking his wife out in an elevator. I have personally seen the video and have already read about Rice and the NFL official’s reaction. The video entitled “Ray Rice Knocks out Fiancée” posted on TMZ’s YouTube channel has10, 108,856 views as of today, November 11. Initially the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goddell, claimed that he hadn’t seen the video. CNN reported that Goddell found out about the video through a personal meeting with Rice where Rice confessed fully and told him it would never happen again. Rice was first suspended for two games. A new policy was initiated shortly after. First time offenders will now be suspended for six times and if it happens a second time players will risk being indefinitely suspended. [4]

After the video of Rice came out his coach and team stood behind him. His wife even stood behind him and publicly apologized for her role in the incident. Ravens head coach Harbaugh was also supportive. He told reporters “I stand behind Ray, he’s a heckuva guy. He’s done everything right since. He makes a mistake. He’s going to have to pay a consequences.”[5]

Ray Rice Press Conference

Ray Rice Press Conference Accompanied by his wife

Rice entered a pretrial intervention program this past May and consequently will have his aggravated assault charges expunged from his record within the year. He’s been suspended from the league. Although Rice is being heavily punished it could be easily argued that he is being used as a poster child for behaviour that has occurred behind closed doors for years and has been brushed under the rug by officials.

The answer to the question of whether the NFL league creates an accepting environment successfully does not hinge on whether these incidences occur or not but rather in the way that members of the league react to them. I think it matters if criminal behaviour is swept under the rug. I also agree with the NFL’s new notion that second time offenders should be indefinitely suspended from the league. It will be interesting to see what the follow through holds for inevitable future incidences similar to Rice’s.

These men have the privilege of being in the public eye and of also being role models for a new generation of young boys who admire them and aspire to be like them. The NFL is the most profitable sports league in existence. The owners should create a standard of ethics for players and coaches that create an environment that reflect modern day ideas of sexuality and respect for others. The last NFL season brought in 6 billion dollars in revenue. The teams will divide that number equally amongst themselves.[6]

Considering these staggering statistics I believe it is fair to say that the roles of league members bear a large responsibility. Perhaps recent events will initiate discussion about holding players and coaches to higher ethical standards than they have been in the past.

 

 

Resources:

[6] Darren Rovell. “NFL Teams Split $6B In revenue.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 10 July 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.

[5] Botelho, Greg. “Ray Rice Case: Did NFL Execs Know the Truth Earlier?” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

[4] Martinez, Michael, Jill Martin, and Greg Botelho. “NFL’s past Penalties for Domestic Violence ‘a Different Story'” CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

[3] “Michael Sam Cut by Rams as Rookie Doesn’t Survive Final Cuts.” NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

[2] Signorile, Michelangelo. “Will Michael Sam Save the NFL From Its Homophobia?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

[1] “UPDATE: Fox’s Super Bowl Scores With Record-Breaking 111.5 Million Viewers; Bruno Mars Halftime Show Shatters Madonna’s Record.” Deadline. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.