Just Stick to #Sports

If we backtracked to the root of the issue at hand we might land in Jamestown, Virginia. The year is 1619 and the value of a human life is equal to sugar, guns and maybe a few pieces of cloth. The labor of these brown lives is necessary for the cultivation of this “new” land.m 

How about July 4, 1776? A group of men in Philadelphia decreed,”We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Yes all men, but it’s still unclear exactly what kind of men they were we talking about?

89 years later, Dec. 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution was ratified. This addendum banned slavery in the United States, but just like plants, when a weed has taken root, any drop of water or ray of light will aid in its continued growth. The residue of hate would continue to flourish.

Present Day:

This year, in the month of June, we lost legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali was a fighter both in and out of the ring. Where justice was absent, Ali’s voice filled the void and called for change. Americans will never forget his 1990 trip to Iraq when he aided in the release of 15 U.S. hostages.

Years earlier, Ali would refuse to enlist in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War despite the consequence of being banned from the sport he loved. His mentality was, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

Boston Celtics legend, Bill Russell expressed his envy of Ali’s boldness:

“He has something I have never been able to attain and something very few people possess: He has absolute and sincere faith. I’m not worried about Muhammad Ali. He is better equipped than anyone I know to withstand the trials in store for him. What I’m worried about is the rest of us.”

Jim Brown presides over a meeting of top African-American athletes on June 4, 1967, to show support for boxer Muhammad Ali's refusal to fight in Vietn...

Front: (L-R) Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul Jabbar). These men along with other notable athletes of that era met to question Ali and decide whether they would suppot his cause. (AP Images)

In June of 1967 the “Ali Summit” was held in Ohio. This meeting-turned-news conference was organized by Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown in collaboration with the offices of the Negro Industrial Economic Union. After thoroughly evaluating his intentions, the most prominent Black athletes of that era chose to stand in solidarity with Ali and his decision to boycott the Vietnam War.

A year later, at the Olympics in Mexico City, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists during the United States national anthem. Though the balled fist has been commonly associated with the “Black Power” symbol. Smith later explained that the iconic image was meant to speak for human rights as a whole.

Men’s 200m finalists, Tommie Smith (middle) and John Carlos (right) raise fists, on the podium of the 1968 Olympics. This image serves as an international symbol for human rights in the 20th century. (AP Images)

A lot has changed in the last 50 years. We use these things called cell phones to communicate with the world. Who knew that such a small piece of technology would have so much influence on our lives. We live in an age where a video can be shared around the world faster than you can tweet #AllLivesMatter. Activism as we know it has turned into hashtag activism; Less commitment, less drama. 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 9:  The Minnesota Lynx huddle before the game against the Dallas Wings during a WNBA game on July 9, 2016 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

WNBA players of the Minnesota Lynx huddle before a game against the Dallas Wings, bearing the names of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on their backs. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

 

On July 5 #AltonSterling was trending online, followed by video of him being fatally shot by two Baton Rouge police officers. Less than 24 hours later, another hashtag, #PhilandoCastile

His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, took to Facebook Live as her only alibi, sharing her own version of the events that had just occurred. The social media world watched, along with Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter as Castile passed away that night.

Two days later, in Texas, five Dallas police officers were killed after a former U.S. army reservist decided to avenge the deaths of Castile and Sterling.

As cliche as it may seem, Martin Luther King Junior’s words still ring true, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The murder of those officers did not create closure but rather created more division among us.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony posted the iconic photo from the “Ali Summit” with the following caption:

First off let me start off by saying ” All Praise Due To The Most High.” Secondly, I’m all about rallying, protesting, fighting for OUR people. Look I’ll even lead the charge, By Any Means Necessary. We have to be smart about what we are doing though. We need to steer our anger in the right direction. The system is Broken. Point blank period. It has been this way forever. Martin Luther King marched. Malcolm X rebelled. Muhammad Ali literally fought for US. Our anger should be towards the system. If the system doesn’t change we will continue to turn on the TVs and see the same thing. We have to put the pressure on the people in charge in order to get this thing we call JUSTICE right. A march doesn’t work. We tried that. I’ve tried that. A couple social media post/tweet doesn’t work. We’ve all tried that. That didn’t work. Shooting 11 cops and killing 5 WILL NOT work. While I don’t have a solution, and I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t have a solution, we need to come together more than anything at this time. We need each other. These politicians have to step up and fight for change. I’m calling for all my fellow ATHLETES to step up and take charge. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblymen/assemblywoman and demand change. There’s NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge. We can’t worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or whose going to look at us crazy. I need your voices to be heard. We can demand change. We just have to be willing to. THE TIME IS NOW. IM all in. Take Charge. Take Action. DEMAND CHANGE. Peace7 #StayMe7o

Anthony used his post to address the flawed “system”and demand action from those who have been allowed the same platform as he. This same system that declared the equality of all men, has repeatedly neglected to serve justice.

A library could be filled with stories of lives lost due to dark colored skin, but the message is simple:

History has repeated itself leaving a community broken, hurt, confused and fed up. Once again, “guns” and “human lives” are being bartered, but the exchange has left more debt than profit. Fans will ride or die for their favorite team, but once their quarterback starts addressing social issues the mood shifts and the trolls come out of the woodwork.

#BlackLivesMatter because almost 400 years of history has programmed the subconscious to believe that dark skin is a threat to our lives. From DeMarcus Ware to Serena Williams to  LeBron James to Chiney Ogwumike, athletes across the country sent their 140 characters to mourn the lives that were loss last week. But was that enough?

The most influential men and women in these United States, tie up their laces on any given day to perform for a sports craved society. There is no show without the star, so how many athletes will it take to put the show on hold?

Hashtags only last until the next story trends on the Twitter. So no, don’t “stick to sports.” Stick to your gut and stand up for what is right despite what endorsements you may lose. Material goods come and go but lost lives can’t be brought back.

Trust, Monday Night football is not as fun when “Bloody Sunday” was the day before.

 

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The Perfect Perspective

You’ve heard the question asked before, but most college sports fans have given no thought to the question: Should student- athletes receive compensation for participating in division one athletics? Below you will find the show that I produced for my television studio class this semester in which this debate was the central debate of the segment.

The guests on the show are student-athletes at Boston College and the views they expressed were solely for the sake of my show, but I believe the question should be once again asked.

This past January the verdict was decided; BC would not be paying their players. This argument is generally approached through the lens of all NCAA schools as a whole, but each school should be zoom into and be examined individually.

I am not here to influence your thoughts on the subject, but rather help you form a more well-rounded opinion.

Out of the 80 schools that voted at the NCAA’s convention earlier this year, Boston College was the sole contrarian in attendance. The vote decided that the athletic scholarships of the universities in attendance would not only cover the traditional room, board and book costs but would also include additional monetary support for these student-athletes.

There are various reason why one could see Boston College’s decision as wrong or right, but there are a few points that need to be accounted for in order to be an informed decision maker.

Amateur: (noun) is derived from the latin words “amātor” or “amare” which mean “lover” or “to love”. Blah, blah, you don’t care, but here’s why you should. The NCAA defines amateurism as the “bedrock principle of college athletics” and its organization. Students play sports in high school mainly because they enjoy doing so and if they’re skilled enough they are given the opportunity to do so in college. When these 17 or 18-year- old students sign their contracts on signing day, they understand the terms of the agreement: They play, and the school will pay.. for their education. That is all. There is nothing wrong with this, but it can be argued that playing for a $65 thousand education already negates the argument of amateurism. In theory they are getting paid, but is it enough?

The “Andre Williams” factor: On the ACC online shop Andre Williams’ Boston College jersey is currently on sale for $124.95. The 2014 fourth round draft pick was chosen by the Giants due to his outstanding career at Boston College. Now two opinions can evolve from this fact. One. Boston College gave Williams a platform to become a great player (as an amateur of course), and thus make a career out of football. As a result, the ends justified him not getting paid during his collegiate years. On the other end of the spectrum, whether drafted or not, BC was able to make a profit off of their first Heisman candidate since Matt Ryan’s eligibility in 2007. Between the television appearances and the #Andre44Heisman campaign, the 2013 Doak Walker recipient gave BC football a lot of exposure and undoubtedly a big paycheck with it. As of June of 2014, the Jesuit university is worth 2.2 billion dollars, in addition to having over 90 scholarships dedicated solely to athletics. A devil’s advocate could argue that paying solely for Williams’ tuition cheated the running back out of what he was worth. Williams merely serves as a recent example, but this point appears to be the core of the debate. Universities make millions, if not billions off of their teams and individuals, while their players get ripped off. In return these athletes receive something 6% of the world has, a college degree.

Recruiting:  Why do student- athletes commit to Boston College? Is it the fresh carpet of grass every season that brightens the beautiful Heights, or could it be simply the Power Five Conference categorization? It could also be the fact that we are currently ranked No. 31 according to the U.S. News and World Report, and some want to take advantage of a good education. There are many reasons why a student chooses one institution over another, but the real question is whether the failure to compensate these athletes will hurt the school’s options. Though we are a highly ranked academic school, there is no doubt that we want to be just as successful in the context of sports. Will a five start recruit choose Boston College over their “Holy War” rival, Notre Dame for example, simply because of a check?

These points are merely surface level to the argument, but brings us back to the bigger picture. Although college athletes may or may not want to be compensated there are many complex factors to a university, Boston College, deciding on whether their student-athletes will be taking a trip to the bank. This debate is a sloppy one and can hardly be anything more. Maybe I sparked your interest or maybe you still don’t care but every college sports fan should be aware of this issue. Now you have the chance to pick a side and just know this, Whatever position you choose is the right one.

Feel free to share below.

p.s. I think we should just pay them, but what do I know?

Come Children Gather ‘Round

Bob Ryan is the only sportswriter to have made an NBA substitution. In his 2014 book Scribe he shared this along with many other vignettes. Though no one can verify, “or deny” these happenings, the story was told as follows:

I was sitting in my usual road press seat, next to the Celtics bench. During a time- out I said to Heinsohn, ‘Tommy, Nellie only needs two for ten thousand. He’s not going to get it at home. Why don’t you put him back in to get the two points today?’ So help me God, Heinsohn summoned Nelson. They ran a play for him, he nailed his jumper, he came out.

When asked how a modern day journalists could create that kind of relationship with their writing subjects, he frankly explained that it is close to impossible. In Ryan’s era of sports coverage there was only one person that could be found covering a team in contrast to today where “everyone” is a journalist. Demand is high, and supply is limited; There aren’t enough coaches or players per journalist and there surely is not enough time to foster these kinds of relationships. The internet has not only made our world smaller, but has made it so that people want new information as quickly as possible. When consumers refresh their feed they want to know what their favorite players are doing and as a result the reporters h

In an earlier post I established that no two journalists will have the same journey, but I must further mention that the rapid changes in media further solidifies this theory. There are so many forms of journalism that it not possible to equitably compare sports reporters. Furthermore, Mr. Ryan’s success and sports journalism, cannot be compared to that of a reporter today because the mediums that they used continue to change.

When I first read Mr. Ryan’s book I was inspired by his easy quest to the world of sports writing, but was then discouraged knowing there was not much I could take from his personal experiences. I can model his work ethic and determination to succeed, in addition to his example of networking with other, but it seems as those this story is no “happily ever after” for those looking to follow his lead.

It is always wise to listen to the experiences of those before us in order than we may learn from their mistakes, and yet there are bound to be challenges that we will experience on our own. Mr. Ryan’s career ended well, but as an aspiring journalist in today’s society I realize that I should just take what I need from his experience. The greatest takeaway I have from Mr. Ryan’s  career to aspire to stand out among the rest of my peers, just as he did in his era.

How the Media Handles the New Guy

Breaking news at Red Sox spring training: A snake appears to have sneaked into the locker room. This is probably not the kind of news you would expect to hear about this Major League baseball team, but that is what Sports Illustrated reported this past Monday.

There are few things that are funnier than 200 pound professional athletes jumping on chairs or tables because of a reptile, but the true Red Sox fan would still wonder; What else happened at spring training on that day?

The author of the short SI piece was labeled as “Extra Mustard” to show that this was one of their many “bizarre and hilarious stories”. The sources of the news was the following tweet from Pete Abraham, the Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe.

While SI was “busy” covering the amusing stories, Abraham was in Fort Meyers covering every movement of the Sox, but more specifically baseball related movement: Joe Kelly’s sore muscles, the Red Sox losing to the Blue Jays, how well Mookie has been playing, and of course how the new guy from Arizona was holding up. From the starting rotation to the early season cuts, there are updates at least once a day. The articles range from analyzing an individual player to looking at the team as a unit.

On the first day of spring training Abraham reported the results of the Red Sox match-up versus the Minnesota Twins. This report was brief and included the score, strengths and weaknesses of the Sox, injured players, and the next game. A longer article followed in the same section and from that day on he has posted multiple articles from different perspectives. There are some days where there was no articles at all, but Abraham has been consistent with giving the general Red Sox fan all the information they need.

The wonderful thing about journalism in this age of digital media is that content can be distributed to anywhere; You can find Abraham on twitter in addition to his publications on the Globe site. His reporting is not limited to print, but can include social media, radio, and even television.

When someone searches for “Red Sox Spring Training” online they will most likely read the articles in the order of which publisher names sound familiar. For this most recent search those names might include: MLB.com, Sports Illustrated, CBS Boston, NESN, the Boston Globe,and maybe the Herald. All of these sources have some kind of coverage, but the Globe, Herald, and even NESN.com have individuals who primarily focus on the Red Sox.

My initial theory was that bigger companies like SI and ESPN would only cover the attention grabbing stories, but this is not the case. Even though SI did just write that 100 word post, ESPN does in fact, have a blogger that has been covering the Sox on a daily basis. The only other extensive coverage you can find on these teams will be from the local news outlets. Even though the team is currently in Florida, the only time another local outlets will pick up the story is if their local team is playing. Overall, smaller news outlets are able to give more material since their range of focus tends to be a little smaller.

I know you only read through this whole post to know what’s really going on at spring training so I won’t delay any further. According to Abraham, Wade Miley safely secure the reptile and transported it back to its natural habitat.

The new pitcher saved the day, but due to his performance at spring training the Red Sox fans are not yet impressed.