Violence in Sports

For this last post, I would like to take a look at violence in sports settings.  Specifically, in MMA, and how it affects different aspects of multiple facets in life.  I want to take a look at these different aspects, how it negatively and positively affects certain things, and propose a solution to the argument of whether or not MMA and really any fighting sport should be banned.


MMA Fighters grappling

MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, has been around since the early 80’s and has been reveled by young and old as one of the greatest sports of our time.  Two fighters are put into a hexagonal ring, or cage, and duke it out until one gives up, the round is over, or one isn’t standing anymore.  There are few rules to this sport, mainly prohibiting cheap shots and hits that would be potentially extremely damaging to the person on the receiving end of such a blow.

There is also a fairly obvious argument as to why people would want MMA banned;  it’s dangerous.  There have been a few cases in which professionally trained MMA fighters have suffered what have proved to be fatal blows.  There have been 7 reported deaths in “sanctioned” fights that have occurred since 2007 alone.  Some might argue that the sport of MMA itself is a question of ethics.  Theses people would argue that the sport is too violent, and goes against “how people ought to live, …preferred values and behavior” ( Kretchmar, 2005)

There is also an argument that because of the publicity the MMA events receive, and attention given to the sport by fans and onlookers, this will cause and encourage real violence among today’s youth and adults alike.  The argument states that people watching the MMA fights on tv, and those that hold it in high regard, will perceive the aggressive acts within the match as normal, acceptable, and even good.  The winner of the fight is celebrated, only after pummeling his opponent to the ground and beating him senseless.  This is one of the reasons so many people want MMA banned.  This argument is very paternalistic in nature.  It also states that because it may have detrimental effects on society as a whole, MMA should be banned; to benefit the greater amount of people by not being exposing them to this type of violence, yet “sacrificing” the choice and happiness of the fighters

So how does such a violent sport remain legal and regarded as “sport”?  And where do we draw the line of how much violence is too much violence?  Let’s look at a few different concepts.

One of the concepts we can look at is that participation in the sport is solely a choice made directly by the athletes participating in them.  They are not being thrown in a cage and forced to fight each other, they want to be there.  The athletes take into account all the dangers and risks that are associated with stepping into the cage, and do it anyway.  The danger aspect of the paternalistic argument of saving the fighters from injuring themselves is worthless.  I would be absolutely livid if someone came up to me and told me I couldn’t snowboard because it’ too dangerous.  I understand it is for protection and safety, but ultimately the decision is mine.  We can also look to the Mill’s Harm Principle to criticize the paternalistic argument.  It states that the only reason why we should interfere paternalistically is for the protection of others.  In this case, we can argue that the only one’s being “harmed” in MMA are the athletes, who choose to do so. 

One of the best things, I think, is detach the acts performed in sport Another of the concepts of why MMA should remain in tact, is that the sport itself has so many fans that are willing to spend money on tickets, hotel rooms, etc. to watch fights and root for their favorite fighters, brings in a lot of money to the corporations and even the cities these events are held in.  If the athletes are going to choose to participate in the sport, and the fights are sanctioned, this can put a lot of money in to the local economy.

Despite what skeptics might think about the aspect of MMA that is pure brute strength, and that the athletes are just out to demolish the other fighter, I propose this video:

“The culture of this sport is not one of violence but a culture of personal growth. Furthermore this is not only personal growth in the purely physical or psychological sense but holistic personal growth (i.e. personal growth with physical, psychological, social, spiritual and educational dimensions).”  (Attsavage, 2014)  This shows that what people might perceive as acts of violence for the sake of being violent, are false.  Which leads us to my solution.

My view on the issue is that we should not interfere with athletes that choose to participate in the sport of boxing, but rather we could detach the sport from violence, stating it is the “constrained use of force”, in this specific situation.  By doing this, the sport will not be associated with violence in real life, but rather a fight of strength and tactics to see who can best their opponent.  This would deter children from acts of violence currently associated with MMA.  By teaching them the values of sportsmanship, and that the force shown in this act is only to be demonstrated within certain constraints of this MMA fight, we are no longer putting value in the violence they see.  “If society should not glorify violence, and if violence in sports might contribute however indirectly to greater tolerance and commission of violence throughout society, or to the erosion of defensible community standards, we can be led by such considerations to freely, rationally, and autonomously choose to reduce the level of violence in sports”. (Simon, 1991)

Works Cited

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005):183-204 Print.

Simon, Robert L, “Fair Play: Sports, Values, and Society.”  Westview Press (1991) Print.

Attsavage,  “American Top Team.” Web.

If Humans didn’t need to be Active to be Healthy, Would We Still Be Active?

Imagine humans not feeling negative effects of not being physically active.  No high blood pressure, no cardiovascular disease, no obesity or even being overweight.  Would we still value sports and physical exercise the way we do today?  Let’s rephrase the question; how important to us, as humans, are sports and physical activity?  I think there are a couple of avenues we can travel down while answering this question.  I am going to propose 2 different ways of thinking, both of which I agree with and answer this question. 

The first rabbit hole we can go down is the fact that professional athletes exist.  The majority of these athletes are playing their respective sport for a few different reasons, such as the money, or the fame and recognition.  However, I’d venture to say, most professional athletes and even athletes in general, participate in the sport because they love to do it.  They find their identity in the sport and couldn’t imagine their life any other way.  “Individuals have their own resources for meaning, and deep games tend to fire the individual imagination… Such games become high-cost, high-demand, high-commitment affairs.  But the rewards are commensurable.  In such challenging activities we often say that we find ourselves (Kretchmar, 2005)  Why do we see an increased number of people participating in organized sports, whether kids or adults?  Because they love to play the game.  If these athletes were not enjoying themselves and did not love the game they played, I guarantee they would not be playing it for long. 

Michael Jordan comes to mind when I think about someone who loves the sport they are in and would do anything to play.  In high school, Michael Jordan was deemed “too short” to play basketball, and did not make the Varsity team his sophomore year.  This didn’t stop him.  His love for the game was so strong, he trained rigorously, continued to play throughout high school, making Varsity his Junior and Senior year, and eventually dominating the sport in college and for many years in the NBA.  His love of the game is what drove him to become one of the best, if not the best basketball player in history.

He was not participating in the sport for so long, giving it his blood, sweat, and tears, because he knew it made him physically fit.  He loves the game.  This is just one example of many athletes that live for the sport they’re involved in because they love it .  Anyone that goes to the Olympics to represent their country also is not doing it because they know it keeps them healthy.  The hours of training, dedication, and sacrifice is more than the fact that they know they won’t develop a disease linked to being sedentary. 

There is also a love of the competition.  “Sports give us a chance to test ourselves against Boys / wrestlingothers. What distinguishes simple recreation or physical activity from sports is “agon,” a Greek word meaning contest or struggle.” (Reed, 2013)  Competition is in our human nature.  We want to be better than everybody else.  Organized sports give us a great opportunity to prove what we’re capable of, and athletes love showing off. 

The other thought we can explore on whether humans would still be physically active or not if a cure was found for sedentary-related diseases is the fact that there are gym rats.  Gym rats are similar to professional athletes in that it’s their identity and they wouldn’t imagine their life differently, but it’s not for a competition.  I suppose if they were a professional body builder, strength-training-getting-startedthey would be participating in competition, but I’m talking about the people that work out 5, 6, 7 days a week to look ripped.  I would guess that most of these people that workout so frequently to be very muscular or very thin, don’t think about being healthy.  I have friends that “workout just to look good”, with no consideration of how healthy they are or how good it is for their body.  Even though they could look very healthy by working out so much, they might not be.  “…those who did the most strenuous daily exercise were also more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who engaged in more moderate activity.” (Firger, 2014).  All in all, these athletes would still perform these activities if there was a cure for sedentary-related diseases. 

In conclusion, we’ve looked at a couple of scenarios where I believe humans would absolutely still participate in their personal sport or physical activity, even though it’s good for them because of the physical activity.  I suppose people might think that is an added bonus.  I 100% believe that even though we would be healthy from the pill that cured such sedentary diseases, people need that sense of belonging that sports and physical activity provides, competition, and camaraderie.

Works Cited

Firger, Jessica, “Too Much Exercise may be Bad for the Heart.” (2014) Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 169. Print

Reed, Ken, “Why We Love Sports– Warts and All” (2013) Web.

How do you balance risk taking, wellbeing, and living the good life when it comes to physical activity?

My friends would say I am a bit of a dare-devil.  I’ve gone skydiving, I’ve hiked tall mountains, I regularly snowboard and surf in those sport’s respective seasons.  There’s no roller coaster I would refuse to go on.  I’ve climbed out on ledges of very high places such as the Grand Canyon, and on pillars 40 feet above the rushing Columbia river just waiting to carry me away.  I’ve gone parasailing in Mexico, zip-lining in the treetops of Costa Rican jungles, and and cliff diving 30 feet up into lakes and rivers.  These kinds of things are what excites me.  I have noticed that as I get older, and I’m sorry to say, that not a lot of things get me very excited anymore.  I suppose that’s part of being an adult.  Quality over quantity.  But through my experiences, I have also realized that what keeps me ticking is the thrill of taking risks.


Ziplining in Costa Rica

These risks, even if they might possibly compromise my health, definitely contribute to my well being.  They are what I look forward to.  When I plan a trip to do one of these activities, it’s all I can think about.  How much fun it’s going to be when I’m dangling 100 feet in the air from a parachute attached by one cable to a boat. How I can’t wait to be out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.  Try new things.  I am absolutely “Going for the Meaning” (Kretchmar, 2005), or participating in these activities because it has such an impact on my well being and my happiness.  I do these sorts of activities because they have significance in my life and I have no doubt that I will still be doing these activities for many more years to come.  However, my whole life is not one giant risk.  I actually play certain aspects very safe and am quite conservative.  But, I definitely don’t turn down an activity that has the slightest potential of being a good time because I know it will make me happy.  These activities are part of the good life because they bring value to my life.  These words of Daron Rahlves, sum up my experience.  “I’m not looking for danger. I’m in it for the challenge, my heart thumping as I finish, the feeling of being alive” (Handwerk, 2004)  This has everything to do with his well being.

Here is a link to a video that helps my argument here: (video will not embed)

In the video, he discusses how he enjoys nature, enjoys the freedom, and really enjoys the challenge.  His explanation goes hand in hand with my argument, we do these activities because we love it.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 6.09.45 PM

Parasailing in Mexico

I also participate in these activities because they do keep me healthy.  I can’t just up and decide I want to climb Mt. San Gorgonio, I have to train for it, and physically work so that my body will be in a condition to be able to handle such a task.  These activities cause me to become healthy, so that I know my will be able to handle what I have planned for it. This quote states the benefits of participating in extreme sports: “….extreme athletes are actually better off than the rest of us. They have lower anxiety, are more independent and self-assertive and have a higher sense of reality.”  (Kircher, 2013)

So how far is too far?  I suppose that question is answered differently by different people.  But for me, I know when I feel something is too dangerous, I don’t participate.  Granted there are many activities many would consider dangerous, but I know my body’s limits and I trust myself.  I think I shy away from activity when I really don’t feel up for the challenge, which isn’t often, but I do limit myself in some respect.  However, I’ve realized that the enjoyment far outweighs the risks I take in my life.  The feeling of the wind in my face as I shred down a mountain on my snowboard, there’s no other feeling like it in the world.  And yes, I have gotten stitches from mishaps while snowboarding, but has never deterred me.  I got stitches on my chin 10 years ago while snowboarding, but I can tell you some of my best snowboarding has come after that accident.  My health was affected yes, but this had no effect on my well being.

These are the risks I take, and when they pay off, my well being is that much greater.


Works Cited

Handwerk, Brian, “Fear Factor: Success and Risk in Extreme Sports.” National Geographic News (2004) Web.

Kercher, Kim, “Extreme Sports Are Good for Your Health.” (2013) Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 129. Print.

My Philosophical View of the Human Person and How it will Influence my Future Professional Behavior

People are very complex.  Each person brings his or her own experiences with them everywhere they go; constantly rifling through the pages of their life’s book, and anxious to fill each new blank page.  Each person is constantly learning, changing, growing.  And for this very reason, that each of us are different and unique, shows us that no matter how similar we can be to any other human being, we each need care that is as individual and unique as ourselves. 

When I look at a person, I contemplate how they got to this exact place at this moment in time, their experiences, their opportunities in life, their choices,  and how they all came together and formed who they are.  I like to take a Holistic view on people, and view them as one being.  Mind, body, spirit, and material, it’s all what makes up a person and why they are unique.  Let’s look at how that would influence my professional future in the medical field. 


Measurement Materialists Focus on Data

To take a Materialistic approach and assume a person is just a physical substance without any immaterial meaning, in my opinion, would be unmindful.  For example, I can see how Measurement Materialism can play a role by things like the amount of pressure put on a joint, and how big of an angle a joint can stretch. However, “Measurement Materialists underestimate how difficult it is to achieve pure objectivity” (Kretchmar, 2005).  Even with those specific measurements there is still subjectivity in what the data actually means. 

 The angle of the patient’s arm stretch mean that’s as far the patient can physically stretch under those conditions.  Perhaps there is a way to influence or manipulate the patient into stretching the arm further under different conditions, which would be their true maximal range of motion, which will in turn give the Physical Therapist a more accurate measurement and a probable outcome of the patient healing faster?  This could be by means of massage the muscles, working through the effect that pain has on a patient psychologically, or simply just giving them a better motivation.  These are all factors that can effect a patient’s well-being. 

When diagnosing and caring for a patient, we need to take into consideration everything the patient is experiencing; good, bad, and indifferent, to fully understand how to correctly diagnose and care for a patient.  Which is why I put so much value in a Holistic approach.  “The holistic approach to health differs from the conventional medical approach in that it takes into account the whole patient rather than just focusing on the symptom or the part that has the problem” (Sivasubramoney, 2011). 

I work at a children’s hospital, and there is an entire department called Child Life, to make sure the children are enjoying themselves, to the best they can that give them toys, games, crafts, and can even play musical instruments with Music Therapy.  The patients there ChildLife5actually heal faster as a direct result of being able to do what their very nature tells them to do.  Play.  Now imagine if a doctor treated a child as just a body that needed to heal from its injury.  Propped it up and made it stay in bed, simply giving it time and medication to heal.  How impactful would that be as opposed to letting the spirit of the child roam free through different ways of expressing themselves!   I have seen first-hand the meaningfulness and purposefulness this holistic method of a child healing is. 

I absolutely love how Suzan Walter sums up Holistic medicine.  “In holistic medicine, a symptom is considered a message that something needs attention. So, the symptom is used as a guide to look below the surface for the root cause. Then what really needs attention can be addressed” (Walter, 1999).  Holistic healing gets to the root of the problem, usually by unorthodox means that we’re used to at a hospital. 

My Holistic view of a person will absolutely affect my future professional behavior hands down.  I honestly can’t view my patient’s health care any other way.  It needs to be Holistic.  To actually heal a patient would be to fix the problem indefinitely, not a temporary ease of pain.  Bringing a Holist view to my professional career would cause me to bring the patient in as a partner in their own healing.  We will work together to find the best solution possible.

Works Cited

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 69. Print.

Sivasubramoney, Krishnan. “Holistic Approach to Health and Healing.”  (2011) Web.

Walter, Suzan. “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines.” Raritan (1999). The Rosen Publishing Group. Web.

Philosophy and Science in 21st Century Kinesiology

There has been a debate going on for ages, what is more important when it comes to answering questions about human life, Philosophy or Science?  Does the answer change when we look specifically at Kinesiology?  These are certainly great questions, and to find the answers, we must look to what each represent.  I propose you humor me by reading my blog as I try to uncover this relationship.


Taking the Measurement Turn

There has been a common misconception among people and that is Philosophy is difficult to trust.  Yet, throughout history, it has been recalled as the “Mother of The Sciences”(Kretchmar, 2005).  That sounds pretty trustworthy.  I suppose many think the trustworthiness of Philosophy is situational.  Yes, Science takes the Measurement Turn and records hard data and empirical evidence.  Most people would find it difficult to not trust Evidence and data.  But some questions simply cannot be answered by data. 

There are many different aspects of Kinesiology we can look at to see this illustration come into play.  Let’s look an example.  You’re on a team that is training for a triathlon.  Every Saturday morning, you get up at 6am, jump on your bike, and ride 20 miles with your team up through Silverado Canyon. We want to know if you thought it was a good bike ride this morning.  The Scientist will look at multiple physical data to answer this question.  They would probably measure the distance you rode, how fast it took you to take that ride, and so on.  They’d also look at physiological data as well.  They’d look at your heart rate to see how your cardiovascular efficiency was, they’d look at your muscles to see what kind of condition they were in, and all these different physical data that they can measure with instruments and devices.  1024px-Greek_philosopher_bustsBut let’s look at the question again, “Was it a good bike ride this morning?”  The Philosopher would take a much different approach to answering this question.  They would ask you about your experience.  No hard facts, no data, just a simple personal question to get the first-hand answer.  They take into consideration of feelings and personal thought to answer this question, and give meaning to personal experience.  Whereas data doesn’t even come close to the answer we were possibly looking for.  They completely missed the point of how it felt to be a human, riding your bike through the canyon.  This is where philosophy takes the cake.  “But I am sceptical that human behaviour could ever be explained by physics or biology alone.” (Baggini, 2012)

Consider these words from A. C. Grayling that go on to explain how although it might not seem like it, Science is an ever-changing field.  Scientists find answers to questions that produce more questions, or, through research, change those answers.  

 This leads us to believe that Science is not as reliable as once thought.  Yet, the fact remains that there is a need for both Science and Philosophy.  Consider this quote, “…Other findings call into question the very ability of the scientific method to assess accurately certain aspects of reality on a routine basis” (Bosworth, 2014).

So, then, where do the boundaries lie?  In Kinesiology, which do we rely on more?  I propose a happy medium.  In several instances, we need Science to find Empirical Evidence to measure to collect data.  In other instances, we need Philosophy to gather information about personal experience, and the intangible parts of being human.  So in conclusion I rest my head on my pillow at night, knowing there is a happy medium.  We need Philosophy to answer those questions in different aspects of Kinesiology that Science can’t. 

Works Cited

Baggini, Julian. “Philosophy v. Science, Which Can Answer the Big Questions of Life?”  The The Observer (2012) Web.

Bosworth, David. “Conscientious Thinking And The Transformation Of The Modern Sciences.” Raritan 33.3 (2014): 40-61. Academic Search Premier. Web.

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005): 3-44. Print.