Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Football players have brains too.

So, if you read this blog, you probably know that, when I taught at the University of Michigan, I taught a certain NFL quarterback whose name I can't mention because my brother the lawyer tells me it would violate FERPA.  Let's just say the guy's name sounds a lot like "I'm Shady".

Other than former students, I try to be realistic about my athletes and realize that they are human and they have flaws and don't get attached because it's a business not a game and all that stuff.  
That said, Connor Barwin is probably my favorite Philadelphia Eagle.  I love a guy who bikes to work.  And now, after each game, Barwin is doing a Civic Engagement contest between Philadelphia and their opponent.  This week Philadelphia lost to Atlanta in both the football game and in the Civic Engagement game.  It's a pretty cool concept, but I have one serious nit to pick.  There's a category called "%moved to city in past year."  The higher the percentage, the more engaged your city is supposed to be.  But, this is a lousy state for a couple of reasons.

1) It's easier to win for smaller market teams. 

2)  As a measure of civic engagement it's lousy.  I'm not aware of any studies that show that recent migrants to city tend to be more engaged than long time residents.  My study on uranium miners showed that this highly mobile population was less likely to be engaged because they didn't consider their new locales "home." 

3)  Stability in cities and neighborhoods is important.  Neighborhoods with low population turnover and long time residency tend to be more prosperous and stable.  High turnover indicates either rapid gentrification or mass flight.  Neither reflects civic engagement. 

There are other problems there too, (why are college graduation rates a measure of civic engagement?) but this seemed the most obviously glaring. 

And quite frankly, Barwin seems like the kind of guy who would be interested in the feedback.  I heard him on the radio today and after he used the phrase "shit hit the fan" which nobody beeped, he kept trying to ask how the FCC fining process worked.  It was way more interesting than Howard Eskine's analysis of the game.  

If anybody knows Barwin, I'd love to get him to talk to my US History class about cities this spring or my Environmental History class next year. 

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