College sports fans probably weren’t surprised to learn that the University of North Carolina (UNC) had been engaged in academic fraud for decades. In this particular instance, students, predominately varsity athletes, were enrolled in classes with few (if any) academic requirements. They almost always received high grades.
The UNC scandal is just one of many recent examples where universities have prioritized athletic prowess over academic integrity.
CrossFit, the popular group fitness regimen that members half-jokingly call a “cult,” is much more than the latest get-ripped-quick fad, according to a recent study my colleague Ted Butryn and I conducted out of San José State University. CrossFit’s massive growth from one gym in Northern California in the early 2000s to over 13,000 worldwide in 2017 has sparked fierce debate about the program’s safety and efficacy, and disrupted an industry that has for decades been built on selling the superficial aestheticism of bodybuilding and aerobics. Instead of wading into the ongoing debate about CrossFit’s methods, our study sought to understand the social significance of CrossFit in a moment when work is becoming increasingly sedentary and technologically dependent, especially in the Silicon Valley area where I spent five months as an ethnographer in two CrossFit gyms. Our results showed that CrossFit portends a deeper angst about the purpose of physical bodies in a world that is rapidly devaluing physical labor, particularly for a well-educated white-collar workforce.
On October 5, The New York Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (NHL) announced a partnership. While the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) has made several of these cross-league partnerships with the NHL in the last few years (Montreal Canadiennes – Montreal Canadians, Toronto Furies – Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Inferno – Calgary Flames), this is the first such partnership for a team in the NWHL. In recent years, there have been suggestions that the two women’s leagues need to build partnerships with the NHL and its affiliated teams in order to gain legitimacy and maintain a stable league. From that perspective, this partnership is a step in the right direction and, at face value, is a huge asset to the Riveters, because it provides them with increased marketing and promotional resources and reach, a state of the art facility, and support for local grassroots programming for girls and women’s hockey. Despite these benefits, there are also reasons to be concerned about the NHL being associated with and having a say in the development of professional women’s hockey.
David beating Goliath is very exciting – unless you’re a fan of Goliath.
The United States has 330 million people and a massive youth soccer system, yet its men’s national soccer team just got bushwhacked by a team from Trinidad and Tobago, a country with 1.3 million residents.
As we enter the heart of another college football season in the U.S., millions of fans flock to stadiums and gather around televisions each Saturday. Sometimes forgotten in the hype and excitement that surrounds the sport is the fact that the players on the field not only are athletes, but also students who must devote a substantial portion of their time throughout the week to academics. As stated in the tagline of a memorable National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) branding campaign, “there are over 380,000 student-athletes, and most of us go pro in something other than sports.” In football, only about 1.5% of college players will go on to the NFL. Given this reality, it’s important for college athletes to gain meaningful value from their education to help them succeed in careers beyond sport. In fact, the NCAA’s rhetoric often reinforces the idea that the academic experience is of first and foremost importance for college athletes.
Lourdes Turconi, Sally Shaw, and Mark Falcous on October 5, 2017
To a legion of Harry Potter fans, quidditch is a magical sport involving flying wizards and witches, fierce competition, friendship, and fun. Following this spirit, a modified version of the game (minus magic) emerged at a U.S. college in 2005 and is now practiced in more than 25 countries on 6 continents. In its real-life version, quidditch is a 7v7 mixed contact sport with elements from rugby, dodgeball, and tag. True to its origins, it features terminology such as “bludgers” (dodgeballs), “quaffles” (deflated volleyballs), and “snitches” (humans draped in yellow clothing with a tennis ball hanging from a belt), along with the mandatory rule of running with a broom between one’s legs at all times (learn more about quidditch’s gameplay here).
Beth Mowins became only the second woman to serve as a play-by-play announcer for a regular season National Football League (NFL) game when she called the Monday Night Football (MNF) broadcast of the Chargers-Broncos game on Sept. 11, 2017. Mowins has called games for ESPN since 1994, and her repertoire spans college football, college basketball, and, for 23 years, the softball world series. As Chris Finn noted on boston.com, “[Mowins] confirmed again to little surprise that she’s a steady and often superb broadcasting pro, no pronoun qualifier necessary.” However, that Finn even needed the pronoun reference indicates why Mowins is significant for the proverbial hill she climbed to reach the MNF booth despite having the credentials to merit the opportunity years before.
I am golfer, and people often ask, “since when?,” or “for how long?” I can’t answer that accurately, and my response is generally, “since my aunt took me out on early summer mornings when I was a youngster.” Seven years old? Maybe nine or ten—I’m not sure. But I do recall my Red Ball Jets being thoroughly saturated by the morning dew. My aunt loved to play, and I loved it too. The etiquette, she reminded me often, was what really mattered. Little did I realize back then just how much that etiquette, especially as it relates to being a “lady,” would speak to my place in the larger world.
By announcing Paris and Los Angeles as the hosts of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games, respectively, the International Olympic Committee confirmed at their congress in Lima what many Olympic aficionados had known for a long time. Unlike the heart-stopping moments of brilliance we associate with the Olympics, there was no competition. Paris and Los Angeles had survived longest in a bidding process that had seen numerous cities pull out of the process following pressure from grassroots opponents of Olympic bids. With so few potential candidates for the 2024 Games, the IOC decided to pin Los Angeles down to hosting the 2028 Games to save the potential embarrassment of not having a host.
The racist and historically problematic myth of the “savage” lives on within contemporary North American discourse. A prominent example of this is found in the rising popularity of adventure races, such as Savage Race, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash, in which sporting companies reproduce traditional notions of masculinity and comradery through environmental and obstacle conquest. In at least one of the events, a historically racist term like “savage” is frequently employed to sell customers an opportunity to push themselves to their physical, mental, and emotional limits by running a purposefully rural, physically-taxing course filled with predesigned obstacles and stressful natural environments (running through mud and near dangerous elements like fire and barbed wire, for example). It is symptomatic of the enduring ubiquity of racial ideals within American society that, through a company like Savage Race, customers pay for a chance to be physically active, have fun and “get savage.”