"The International 2014" by Jacob Wells is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Via Wikimedia Commons)

On August 7-12, the Dota 2 Championships are taking place in Seattle, Washington. Eighteen qualifying teams will compete for a combined prize pool currently estimated at $23.8 million. The large prize pools, and high participation and viewership, make Dota 2 rival more traditional sports: the International’s first prize last year was comparable to cash rewards in sports like tennis, cricket, and golf, out-pacing them all in terms of grand prize. Thus, though Dota 2 isn’t competing with the most lucrative sports like football, there is a real sense that eSports are rivaling the traditional, physical sports. Since 2014, more people watched the League of Legends world championships than the NBA finals.

"Tulane Green Wave Football Helmet (during game)" by Vegasjon is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)/a>

On July 25, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on the correlation between a distinctive brain damage (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE) and playing football professionally. The study included 202 brains of individuals who played football at some point in life, 111 of which were of former NFL players. They found that only one of the professional football players didn’t have CTE.

"UT Cheerleaders San Diego" by Johntext is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

It is not uncommon to see cheerleaders at every professional sports game. They usually comprise young, mostly white women who have a profession outside their cheerleading careers. A game pamphlet typically has information about the team’s cheerleaders – not only their names and pictures, but also their occupation and age are made public.

"Super Bowl XLVIII" by Anthony Quintano is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

Nearly 112 million people in the United States watched the Super Bowl last year. Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 was, per NPR, the most watched show in the history of television.  Clearly, professional sports are highly esteemed in America. In the run-up to what is sure to be another highly anticipated Super Bowl, it is a good occasion to consider the moral value, if any, of athletic competition. To do so, I want to draw your attention to a curious occurrence that happened several years ago in a much less popular sport, badminton.

"football" by ljv via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

When conjuring up the perfect image of masculinity in your mind, most people imagine the typical high school jock. He plays football, basketball, ice hockey, or a similar hypermasculine activity. Rarely does a runner, swimmer, or this sort of “second tier” of masculinity in sports arise. By assigning masculinized predispositions to certain sports, could the conversation surrounding masculinity become skewed from a young age? If so, this would certainly create a problematic discourse around certain sports and limit a conversation for LGBTQ+ communities to have a voice within this realm.

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"Colin Kaepernick | San Francisco 49ers" by Football Schedule via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

During a preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers on August 26th, people finally noticed what 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been doing all season: sitting during the national anthem and presentation of the flag. In a press conference with the media, he proclaimed, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

"A Barra também será a casa dos atletas, com os 31 prédios da Vila Olímpico" by Gabriel Heusi is licensed under CC BY 3.0 br (via Wikimedia Commons)

Early in his classic Being Peace, Thich Naht Hanh says the following:

Meditation is to be aware of what is going on-in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects.

Women's Soccer by Joel Soloman via flickr (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a medical term for a condition young athletes know all too well: concussions by head trauma. C.T.E. made headlines again earlier this month, when retired soccer star Brandi Chastain signed off the main organ in the central nervous system, the brain, to scientific research after her death. It is her hope that her brain will add substantial findings to an already small pool of women’s brains.

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Olympic Rings by The Department of Media, Culture and Sport, CC 2.0 (via flickr)

With the increased prominence of LGBTQ issues and the implications of former Olympic superstar Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner transitioning from male to female this year, it comes as no surprise that the International Olympic Committee has turned a fresh eye to its regulations and practices. An announcement was made January 24th indicating that new guidelines had been released, and would be in effect for this year’s Olympics in Rio.