Student Athletes on Political Activism

KOUSHA MODANLOU • APRIL 24, 2018

College student athletes are often apprehensive when it comes to demonstrating political activism, especially in the form of protest. These individuals are often restricted by a “burden of representation” which prevents them from speaking out against the school because they must speak for the school and have to portray a positive self-image for the institution. Being a student athlete at UC Berkeley causes even greater pressure when considering that the school is hailed with the prestigious reputation of the number one public school in the globe. The organization of NCAA, which Cal Sports participate in, is an institution which robs the student athletes of their individual rights under the guise of team oriented values when in reality the NCAA seeks to profiteer greatly from these athletes. Moreover, these student athletes are mostly left defenseless because in order to play on the athletic team and receive a scholarship to the university, they have to practically sign their fervently abiding obedience to the system. There exists a suppressive culture of expression for the student athletes, which is a polar opposite of the mainstream UC Berkeley culture of protest and resistance, when it comes to social media broadcasting, as UC Berkeley student athletes are even provided with a mandatory presentation which heavily discourages posting about political controversial material on social media. Furthermore, the student athletes are usually already so exhausted and deprived of time to be involved in political affairs during their semesters which can become incredibly busy with classes, practices, and competitions in addition to days which begin at the crack of dawn and last until the very late night. For this reason, the experiences of student athletes and their counterparts can be worlds apart. Yet, the coaches and the athletic department are invested with the power to be able to make a difference in this order if they so choose. While some coaches mainly want their players attention focused solely on their upcoming game during the middle of political intensity, others such as the head coach of the Cal Women’s basketball team during December of 2014, gave permission to her players to wear t-shirts that honored African American victims of tragic police shootings and illustrate visual symbols for the racial oppression during the national anthem ceremony. Louisiana State University however took a drastically different approach to a similar matter by requesting its student athletes not to wear any of the school’s brand gear if they were going to express upset over an African American shot unjustly by the police. Actions such as this therefore further internalize the general societal norm that sports are not an arena which is appropriate for political agenda, while also sparking a significant discourse about the rights of student athletes.

ESPORTS

KOUSHA MODANLOU • MARCH 23, 2018

The classification of eSports, or competitive video gaming with established rules to distinguish the winner in which participants move a virtual object or virtual person, as true sports is often a topic of much debate. There are enormous cash prizes given to the winners of the most top-notch eSports tournaments, and even has ESPN2 covered a tournament on its station before. Even though eSports came under much scrutiny from followers of ESPN, there are several avenues which empower the quest of many eSportees to have the pastime recognized as a real sport. The University of Illinois even began dealing out athletic scholarships to its students involved in the scholastic League of Legends online multiplayer eSports team, giving these people the financial recognition that many of the institution’s other traditional sport athletes receive even if these individuals may not necessarily have fit bodies or a well-built physique like the traditional athlete does. The federal agency responsible for issuing student visas also plays an instrumental role in giving the credibility to be known as athletes to collegiate students who come to the United States from foreign nations and participate in eSports. When the University deems competition in a popular electronic game as a Varsity team sport, there is sufficient proof to support the distribution of athlete visas, or P1A exemptions, by the State Department to these international students. In a similar move to the University of Illinois, UC Berkeley incorporated eSports into one of the official programs offered by the Cal Recreational Sports Division, thus admitting eSports into programs associated with athletic prowess and acknowledging its presence into its microcosm of a sporting community.

ARGUMENTS & COUNTERARGUMENTS FOR CHEERLEADING BEING A SPORT

KOUSHA MODANLOU • MARCH 9, 2018

Because of its feminine nature, cheerleading often faces much difficulty in being considered an actual sport. Basketball and football are two of the most watched and beloved American sports because of their masculine nature which emphasize heteronormativity in sports. Gender roles of women being spirited supporters for dominant professional male athletes weaken the seriousness that cheerleading aims to have as an athletic competition, especially when taking into account that beauty and sensuality are such integral traits for cheerleaders to possess. For cheerleaders to make compelling propositions for their status as athletes, they have to stress the act of competitive cheerleading in which there is an intense physical training regimine needed to beat out other rival cheerleaders’ stunts. The concept of hegemonic masculinity, which is predominant in sports especially, is at the root of prodigious drawback which might ensue if cheerleading was to gain widespread acceptance as a true sport. Males might be further intimidated to partake in athletic events such as gymnastics and figure skating because those activities are already considered feminine and the acknowledgement of cheerleading as a sport would only reinforce beliefs about females being weaker, delicate, graceful and flexible. Recognizing cheerleading as a sport may possibly relegating women to a more subordinate status in society since it is an associated with negative stereotypes of vanity because appearance is not valued in the results of sports such as soccer in which females are considered real athletes.

Do Women Simply Like Sports Less?

KOUSHA MODANLOU •  MARCH 3, 2017 

The notion that women simply like sports less than men do because there are less females who play popular sports is heavily pervasive throughout society. Discussion of sports is often a common pastime for many men throughout the United States, but noticeably less so for women. For a sport to be conventionally popular, there still needs to be a hegemonic culture in which a large audience of fans is consumed with following along. Sports that are popular in one country are not always popular in another, yet in whatever country that a certain sport does happen to be popular there is usually a cultural resistance to women; essentially, popular sports are defined by a subordination of women. Soccer is the most popular sport in most of Europe, but it is not nearly as popular in the United States, yet the female players in the United States have been able to blossom such that they are ranked number one in the world-- a feat the U.S. men’s team is astronomically far from. Thus, in fact women do have the passion to play sports which are considered extremely popular in certain parts of the world and they also have the ability to be extremely successful in their endeavors. In the hegemonic power display of sports, women’s participation in a popular sport encroaches upon the sanctity of the masculine regime and influences men to find the activity less desirable. Men may just prefer to talk about popular sports more with one another in order to preserve the self-image of toughness they hope to convey in their masculinity, but that by no way means that women like sports less.  With this line of thinking in mind American men have established baseball as an exclusive sport, leaving women who are interested in playing with nothing more than the watered-down version--softball-- which even has an undignified name in comparison to its male counterpart. Consequently, consumer interest in this activity is minimal in comparison as the female iteration has substantially reduced seriousness and difficulty.


Welcome To The Blog!

Salutations!

Welcome to the official blog for the Sports Analytics Group here at UC Berkeley! We are starting off the Spring 2018 Semester by launching this forum to keep all our members, supporters, and true believers in the loop of our affairs. This will be our first semester incorporating a regular blog in which we will cover internal events of the organization, members of the week, the professional sports affiliated speakers who come out and show love to our team, progress in intramural sports that our group participates in, and small tidbits of interesting discourse in the wide world of sports

We kicked off our exciting season with an all member get together in the underground dwellings of the Moffit Library. Our team coordinated quite an array of activities in order to effectively mingle our 80 plus members. While we savored some scrumptious Chips Ahoy Cookies and Double Stuffed Oreos, we had everyone break off into their groups of Data Journalism, Business, and Advanced Projects in order to discuss introductory protocol and operations. A great test of sports knowledge was brought forth during a Heads Up style game our board members crafted in which one person had a card with a word related to sports held over his head and could only ask other friends yes or no question in order to discern the answer. Then finally we played a team-building game in which three groups passed around a spoon with a tennis ball as many times as possible in order to see which team could make the most passes without failure in a minute. The winning team was awarded the last double stuffed oreo! All in all, it was a great transition into the sporting season.