Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This I Believe

To many, a sport is just a game. It is just a bunch of men and women throwing, kicking, hitting, kicking, or catching some type of ball around and scoring points. What many do not see is the hard work that these athletes put in. They don’t understand the competition, the pride, the leadership, the struggles and the success that comes from these games. To athletes this is more then a game. They acquire many skills and concepts that they will use in their personal life and in their careers. The one concept that I got most from sports and will carry on into my career is that of community.
Community: “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” In sports you create a new community with your team. You come together with a common goal of winning the championship as well as creating goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Many see this sports community as just the team, but there is much more then just the players. There are parents, coaches, fellow students, alumni, team doctors, and in some cases even you opponents.
I was able to really get an understanding for this concept of community through sports and specifically with one particular memory. In 2001 I got the opportunity to be on a football team that reached its goal of playing for a championship. I was a member of the Ventura High School football team and we had to travel to Arroyo Grande High School to play for the Southern Section CIF division four championship. As usually we had our normal fans attend the game but what we didn’t expect was that most of the town of Ventura decided to take the three hour drive and join our normal crowd. Many of which were previous opponents whom we had beat. They all came to cheer us on to victory. They wanted us to bring the title to Ventura County. We would go on to win the game 34-14 to give Ventura High School its first and only championship to date. After the game most of the fans rushed the field to show their excitement for our victory, they were just as excited as we were. The next day our local paper was filled with headlines and stories about our game. I wore my championship shirt that day and while walking around town I was congratulated about the championship and my personal performance.
I looked at our team as a community. We fit the definition of community. We had the support of our larger community and I feel that without this larger community we would have never achieved our goal. Our team started with a goal and it then became the goal of our parents as well as our school community and then our town. By the larger community giving us their support we felt like we should give something back in return.
The goal for my career is to become a physical therapist. My ultimate goal would be a physical therapist for a sports team. I can take what I learned from my football experience and use it toward my career. The people in the community that I help will be looking at me to get them back to their community or team. I feel like I will then become part of their community. I will not only have a self sense of satisfaction, I will also earn the trust of members of that community and therefore cause my business to grow and create a community of my own. I never felt like a game could bring a town together and I got to experience this first hand. I realized that having the trust and support of your community can lead to such good things. It is for these reasons for why I believe in community.

Monday, March 5, 2007

"A Time Honored Tradition"

A Fox News Story Reports: “In New York State, Mepham High School's football season was canceled this year before it even began. Three players were charged with sexually brutalizing younger teammates with a stick, pine cones and golf balls over the summer at a Pennsylvania training camp...” Hazing has become a right of passage for many new athletes at all the levels from high school all the way up to the professional level. Everything from trash, to broomsticks, to being tied to a goal post is all parts of hazing. So what is hazing? According to the Sport Journal, “…hazing is a broad term encompassing any action or activity which does not contribute to the positive development of a person; which inflicts or intends to cause physical or mental harm or anxieties; which may demean, degrade or disgrace any person regardless of location, intent or consent of participants…any action or situation which intentionally or unintentionally endangers a student for admission into or affiliation with any student organization.” Hazing is seen in th owrld of sports as a way to help build a relationship with the new team members when it in fact causes a divided team. We have had incidents where athletes have been physically harmed and mentally harmed and in some severe cases deaths have occurred.

Hazing is seen at all levels of athletics but it has been seen as more at the college athletic level then any other level of sports. Hazing has been around for many years. Each year numerous athletes are being introduced to this “time honored tradition” of hazing. A study conducted by ESPN found that almost 80% of all athletes have undergone some type of hazing and only 7% of these cases were reported. Why such the low number of reported cases? Many feel embarrassed to come out and talk about the things that were done to them, there is also a fear that there teammates will retaliate. Hazing has been shown to have severe emotional effects on the athlete. Loss of self-esteem, friendship, and trust are just a few of the consequences, as well as a loss in team unity. There have been numerous cases and arrests of teams taking these jokes or traditions to far and while there have been numerous reports of hazing in schools many coaches and athletic directors deny any cases of this going on in athletic programs.

Due to the increasing numbers of hazing cases throughout the years, many organizations and rules have been formed to help stop hazing in athletics. One of these organizations is the Mothers Against School Hazing which is extremely concerned with stopping hazing in schools. They are also involved in dealing with the effects that it plays on not just the athlete, but also students who are victims of hazing from athletics to fraternities and sororities and all other levels where it occurs. Many organizations have banned hazing in there sport. The NCAA banned hazing as well as most professional sports organizations.

Many of us who have played sports, or even joined a fraternity or sorority have been a victim to hazing. Many people become permanently scared and emotionally hurt. Hazing creates enemies instead of building friendships. Howdoes humiliating someone, make them want to join a team or organization? How does physically abusing somebody make them feel welcome into a new community?Athletics are supposed to be fun and hazing takes away the fun. There have been too many lines crossed and people have died and for the reason that people are dieing it needs to be completely abolished.