Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Fault in Our Fields

By Kaleb Page

For many playing football, lacrosse, soccer, or even field hockey it meant playing on a grass surface. With more advancements over the years synthetic turf started to take over as the better alternative to grass. For one the maintenance is relatively cheaper than a sod or natural grass field, and to the eye these fields look great. However, these fields could have a major fault in them that could have a massive impact.

Turf fields, as many would know that have played on them, have tons of small black pellets spread across the entire field.  These pellets are called “crumb rubber” because like the name states, are the leftovers from ground up tires and any other ground up rubber product that can be recycled. Seems like a good idea right? Grind up rubber and re-purpose it to have a second life instead of ending up in landfills compounding that problem we have even further in this country. It is definitely a good idea but at what price?

While it would be a mistake to automatically jump to the conclusion that synthetic turf is causing cancer; the signs are all pointing that direction. As the old adage would say “where there is smoke, there is fire.” The evidence billowing out like smoke all across the country is pointing directly to the fire, the fire so many children and professional athletes play on.

This issue is in the forefront now, but in actuality it has been a growing concern for years. In 2008 synthetic turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan, NY were found to have high levels of lead in them (eventually those fields were removed). Soccer coach Amy Griffin in an interview with NBC, said that even in 2009 she had suspicions over the black dots when two goalkeepers she was coaching were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In the video below the interview with Amy, which aired earlier this October, chronicled what she experienced along with other startling points as more people are searching for answers now.

It is surprising to look at this topic because I never thought that the playing field put in my hometown could potential be somewhat of a ‘cancer field.’ It is estimated that there are over 4,500 synthetic turf fields across the country and nobody has even let it sink in what the cost could be of playing on this type of surface. The EPA even has a list which states the chemicals that are in tires and other rubber products. What are those chemicals you ask? Well a good part of those chemicals are carcinogens which are contributors to cancer. The EPA is hesitating to make a full judgement, and they stand behind their own studies saying the effect of turf pellets are proven to be insufficient. However, they do admit that there should be more testing done.

It will be interesting to see where this develops and what else can be done to fix this problem. It cannot be ignored anymore and for all the technology we have there should be a way to find a middle ground. One that allows those who are proponents of having turf to keep their turf, while at the same time giving parents, coaches, and players the peace of mind that they aren’t playing on something which could give them cancer someday.

Who knows what the future may hold and what we could see happen. One thing is that we could find ourselves looking back on doing synthetic turf and scratch our heads in amazement. Amazement at the major fault we let go for so long, letting countless players come down with cancer before we even took any action.

Colt McCoy Pulled From the Spotlight, Literally.

By Kate Roth

Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy proved that he is more than just a third string bench warmer this Monday night as he led his team to victory over the Dallas Cowboys. McCoy, who has been the backup to RGIII and Kirk Cousins, threw for 299 yards and finally got his chance to shine, well at least on the field.

After the game McCoy had been engaging in interviews with many different reporters to discuss his performance along with the performance of the team just as any quarterback would do after a big win. While McCoy was about to answer a question from ESPN Deportes reporter John Sutcliffe he was physically yanked away by Tony Wyllie, the Redskins Senior VP of Communications.

Colt seemed to be enjoying his time in the spotlight and even looked a little confused when Wyllie pulled him away from the interview. Normally we would see communications directors try to encourage their team members to cooperate with the media and conduct these interviews, so it was a bit unexpected to say the least to see Colt being pulled away from the media when he looked very willing to talk.

Wyllie later stated that the reasoning behind his actions were that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was about to give his post game speech and he wanted Colt to be able to hear it.

I understand that Wyllie was just only doing his job, but was it necessary for him to grab McCoy by the back of jersey and yank him away from the interview unexpectedly while screaming, “NO MEANS NO” at the reports? I think the clear answer to this is no.

Yes it is important for Colt to be with his team and hear his coach’s speech after a big game, especially with the role that he had in the win, but Wyllie could have simply told him it was time to go and the interviews could hold off until after the team meeting.

Players being interviewed right after the game is something that has been going on for a long time, especially when they have a performance like Colt did on Monday Night. Wyllie has to be aware that this is part of the business and find a new way to handle situations like this instead of making a scene over such a small issue. Not only did he seem to catch the reporters off guard, but his own player he is out there to protect as well.

I must say that this ranks up there with the Richard Sherman incident as one of the most interesting post-game interviews I have every watched. I hope that Wyllie has seem the video of himself pulling Colt away and realizes that he needs to find another way to handle this type of situation without causing such a scene. And even next time maybe just let the guy have his moment in the spotlight, after all he deserves it.

Derrick Rose: The Comeback Kid?

By Ellen Chlumecky

On Wednesday, October 29th, Derrick Rose was finally cleared to play again. The long-awaited return of Chicago Bull Derrick Rose to the United Center has finally been answered. However, Derrick Rose’s return to the court so far has not been met with entirely positive opinions. While there will always be haters of Derrick Rose, some media has doubts about whether or not Derrick Rose can make a comeback.

For the most part, Chicago fans are ecstatic to have their prince of basketball return to center stage. While there are some disbelievers, the city of Chicago cannot wait to see Rose prove himself on the court once again. Chicago Bulls fans are a long-suffering community since the Michael Jordan era. Don’t get me wrong, they have had glimmers of hope since their last 1998 Championship but Derrick Rose was truly their new beacon of light and with his teammates Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson, they seemed unstoppable. On April 28, 2012 Derrick Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee and all of Chicago’s glimmer of hope was shut down once again. Now that he has once again returned, Chicago is wary of his return just because of the injury and worried how long the prince’s reign will last this time.

His teammates and coaches have shown nothing but positive praise for Rose as he worked in the past few months during the preseason. He is working tirelessly to perform at his best. Rose wants to play at his best level for his teammates and coaches. His teammates and coaches know that his main priority is always to improve the whole of the team. His teammates comment on how he is a team player and have complete faith that he will be at 100% this season. Very few players lead the team with such passion such as Rose. His teammates look up to him and wish for nothing but a successful return.

However, several different media sources like the New York Times, have some doubt about whether or not Derrick Rose still has what it takes to remain a legacy. While they had some high praise to say about Rose, they still have some doubts about his progress and if he can be the same player that he was before his injury. They have been calling Derrick Rose a question mark, not in his talent, but in his health.

It seems that the people who have the most faith in his ability to come back are competitors. LeBron James has stated several times how he believes the Chicago Bulls have a shot at a playoff run this year. He stated, “The Bulls are a team that’s much better than us right now.” He has stated that with Rose back in top health and the team he has behind, there is no doubt it’ll be a successful season for them. Even Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks had only positive things to say about Rose. He commented, “He’s a franchise player and the reason he needs more time to recover than me is because his main goal for him when he comes back is to be M.V.P. right away.” Players in the NBA know what he’s capable of and seem to have no doubt in their minds that he’ll be back in action this season.

As a Chicago Bulls and a Derrick Rose fan myself, I am more than excited to see what he has up his sleeve this year. He has worked his tail off during the preseason to be stronger, faster, and a better teammate. I have no doubt in my mind that Rose will make the doubters eat their words this season.

College Football Playoff Committee: Lose-Lose Situation

By Kaleb Page

This Tuesday night the College Football Playoff Committee releases their highly anticipated playoff rankings (to this point). These rankings will be the first set of the year done by this class of committee members. With these rankings however there is certain to be a high amount of scrutiny, and it is only the first one.

That is why I beg the question: Is this committee in a lose-lose situation? Already I am reading an article with the headline “What the College Football Playoff Committee is already getting wrong.” To think the BCS had people going bonkers, could pale in comparison to what people might do after Tuesday nights reveal and even later on when the final four is set in place.

To some and to Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports who wrote the article above, a committee releasing rankings at this point is a bad idea. I think that rankings should not be released anywhere in the beginning of the season even for the AP Poll or the Coach’s Poll. Seems ridiculous to me to make out where you see a team ranked even before they hit the field. However, I think that right now in this point of the season you know what you are getting from teams, and a good barometer of where you stand in the playoff hunt is a good thing to know. This may be one small victory in my mind for the College Playoff Committee, in waiting awhile to get a sense of the whole picture before making a judgement.

When it all comes down to it though, this committee of 12 individuals is probably fighting a battle they can’t win. They can try to justify their procedures and processes for seeding and eventual selection for the playoff, but they will never be right.

Right now if you take a look at the landscape of college football you probably could not tell me one team that is complete, lock-down, or dominate on both sides of the ball. Yeah we may have two undefeated teams in Mississippi St. and Florida St., but they are not untouchable by any means and could topple over in coming weeks. When looking at the records of the top 25 at the moment, there are 15 teams out of the 25 with only one loss and a legitimate chance of becoming an option to be in the playoff. Then by the end of the year there could be no undefeated teams which makes things even harder. Then when looking at how the SEC and PAC-12 are valued higher, what happens when a two loss team in either conference has an impressive resume and is still sitting behind a one-loss Ohio State or Michigan St.; what will they do then?

Think about that or better yet place yourself in the board room right now as the committee. Feel the pressure? Knowing that you have to somehow dwindle down a list as long as Santa’s to just a mere four teams. Oh and I forgot no matter what you pick to have in your playoff, you will have somebody (or fan-base) out there screaming for your head on a platter.

This group of members has a lot of homework to do and will obviously have a lot of explaining after their release Tuesday night. With this little sample being thrown our way, it will have (for me at least) a big deal of excitement. This will ultimately have me on the edge of my seat even more as this college football season starts to wind down toward the playoff.

As for the teams with a one out of a million shot to make it in the playoff like East Carolina, Marshall, and Duke; keep the mindset of a wise guy by the name of Lloyd Christmas and say, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!” Maybe just maybe this committee will select you guys to join the party at the end of the year.

Either way, have fun College Football Playoff Committee becoming the new BCS and something a majority of people love to hate.

Tampa Bay Rays Moving to Montreal?

By Alex O’Connor

Last Saturday, New York Daily News writer Bill Madden explained in a column that Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg had discussions with “wealthy Wall Street associates” about the possible moving to Montreal. This would seem like a sensible move for an owner, given the lack of attendance and a slightly older system in Tampa Bay. In addition to manager Joe Maddon’s recent departure, this could have an effect on the teams current stance. However, Commissioner Bud Selig noted that Sternberg had not informed him about any plans to move the team.

Amidst the reports regarding Tampa Bay’s shaky future, Sternberg came out with a statement to calm the rumors. “We are committed to making baseball work in the Tampa Bay region. We will do everything we can to make that happen.” For now, this calms the reports from Madden. However, the most important part of Sternberg’s statement is “We have not spoken to Montreal – or any other city, including Tampa – about relocation at any point.” Sternberg’s situation is similar to that of Florida Panthers co-owners Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu. Like the Rays, the Panthers are struggling to attract fans with the lowest attendance mark in the NHL. There have also been financial issues, and a move out of Florida may not be out of question in the future.

Last year, the Rays finished the season at 77-85 and their average game attendance was 17,857, which was the lowest mark in all of MLB. These are all factors working against them in regards to moving. In addition to these factors, General Manager Andrew Friedman left Tampa Bay to take the same job with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Friedman has made several successful player acquisitions and led the team to the teams most successful seasons in team history. The Rays have now lost two key pieces that had a large hand in their team’s success. These factors may have influenced Madden’s column post, as poor play, poor attendance and changes in the front office are breeding grounds for losing teams out of their current location.

It makes sense that Bill Madden published a column about potential rumors of moving the team to Montreal. The aforementioned factors above and the financial constraints of the organization complements his claims. However, Sternberg’s quick response and confidence in the Rays may seem to convey that they will be staying put in the near future. In addition, the Rays are locked into their lease with Tropicana Field until 2027. These factors plus the vote of confidence with Sternberg signals that the Rays will indeed be staying in Tampa Bay.

World Series Goes Unnoticed

By McKenzie Whiteman

You don’t have to be an avid baseball or even sports fan to know about the highs and lows of the World Series. However, this year it seems as if there’s literally no interest in the battle between the San Francisco and Kansas City.

Low ratings prove that the 2014 World Series may be the worst ratings in World Series history since it’s been made a regular television feature. Some attribute this to the competition the Series faces with the always increasingly popular NFL games. Others seem to think the lack of big name teams (such as the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox) limit the audience of the MLB. Some simply think that because the long baseball season is ending during the high point of the NFL and sometimes opening nights for the NBA, that the timing is becoming the cause of the ratings.

Whatever the reason may be, the World Series is gaining less viewers than some NFL match-ups receive in one night. FOX executives and MLB commissioners need to find some way to increase the popularity of the historical Series and preserve the loyal fans that it does have during the regular season.

Possibly the best solution is the Game 7 that ultimately did result from Kansas City’s 10-0 win. The Royals, who haven’t seen the World Series playoffs in 29 years, have earned the advantage of playing the deciding game on their home turf. This could be the answer FOX executives have dreamed for. A Game 7, on the underdog’s home turf, on a night that hosts no football…there couldn’t be a better setting.

This season’s series needs to be an example for the future. FOX needs to be prepared for future series where the two competitors don’t include big name teams. Marketing and public relations strategies need to be reexamined so that regular season baseball fans see the importance of watching the post season, even when their favorite team may have not clinched. In addition, MLB executives need to constantly be evaluating the fluctuating audience. Baseball’s beginning to take a backseat to the hype of the NFL’s increase in criminal interests and even NCAA rivalries.

Ratings have the potential to completely change with Game 7 tomorrow night. However, involved parties with the World Series, no matter how big or small, need to examine their strengths and weaknesses in the series’ previous games. Whether it be a marketing or promotion effort, alterations in broadcasting, or simply the way the Series is advertised, the World Series has to find some way to compete with conflicting pro-sport schedules. If adjustments are not made, ratings will continue to struggle even with the luxury of big name teams competing.

Michael Jordan Gives Rare Exclusive Interview to Darren Rovell

By Matt Rogers

As a player, Michael Jordan is regarded by many as the best basketball player to ever play the game. As an NBA executive for the Charlotte Hornets, formerly the Bobcats, he is not regarded as highly. What Michael Jordan the player and Michael Jordan the owner have in common is the standoffish attitude toward the media in order to have control of his image.

This sense of image control and attitude toward the media have followed Jordan throughout his evolution from player into owner of an NBA franchise. In a recent interview with Darrell Rovell of ESPN, Jordan gave the reporter and viewers of ESPN a look inside the locker room of the Charlotte Hornets. He also gave insight on the team’s off-season acquisition of shooting guard Lance Stephenson, formerly of the Indiana Pacers. When asked how he managed to recruit Stephenson away from the Pacers and to the Hornets, Jordan said he told Stephenson that “we [the Hornets] need someone that could compete against LeBron, simple as that.”

This type of response from Jordan is not surprising given that he won 6 NBA titles in his career as an NBA player for the Chicago Bulls. It also is not surprising because it shows that Jordan understands and respects the caliber of player that LeBron James has grown into over his career, one that many media personalities and fans compare to Michael Jordan. This comment also shows that Jordan may see more in Stephenson as a player than just the antics that most casual viewers of the NBA witnessed during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series last year against LeBron and the Miami Heat.

Not only has Jordan seemingly ventured away from his perceived comfort zone and given an exclusive, all-access interview with Rovell, he has also tried his hand in social media in recent days. This is substantial because Jordan has been anything but an advocate for social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. It seem as though Jordan is retracting from this stance though because he has been using the Hornets’ official Twitter account to make announcements about the team. One thing that has caught the media’s eye that Jordan used the Hornets’ account to post is a response to a post from PGA tour golfer Keegan Bradley. Bradley posted “MJ how does it feel to get beat by me everyday at bears club?! .” Jordan responded by posting “Last time I looked, you were wearing MY shoes. You don’t see me wearing Air Keegans…”

These types of fun social media posts and exclusive interviews are a rarity from Michael Jordan. He will probably remain the guy that keeps most of his inner thoughts close to his chest because that is the way he has always been, as a player, and so far, as an owner.