Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time for Easter Egg Hunts!

...and this lovely rabbit will help you out.

...for those who have already forgotten, it's John Rocker, the homophobic pitcher.

Happy Easter from The Sports Nut Blogs!

[He is Risen!]


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sports and Teen Pregnancy = Sour Mix

I wrote this argument paper for my law & media ethics class over the past week. I thought it was a nice topic to share with all of you.

In sports, there are often particular “barriers” that exist, and over the course of time these barriers have been broken and have opened new opportunities for people who wish to play. However, there are small issues and discrepancies that may often ruin the privileges, and these discrepancies may be brought out into the open for the public to know. In this paper, I will be talking about a case study found in the book Ethics in Media Communications: Cases and Controversies by Louis Alvin Day. This study, called “The Pregnant Placement Kicker,” is about a teenage girl named Judith Watkins from the region known as South Platte who earns a position on the high school football team as a placement kicker. During her tenure on the team she leaves for “medical reasons,” but these reasons are later revealed by a coach and it is found that she left the team because she is pregnant. Since this particular “medical reason” was not mentioned to the local press, many people are confused as to why the girl had left the team during the course of the season and why these reasons are not mentioned. The argument in this case is because she is a minor, and that personal information should not be given to the press for informative or entertainment uses. However, since the high school football team is considered a major “religion” in the town, news like this is taken seriously and people demand to know why the kicker is out of action. The main journalist in this case, Victor Simms, believes that Watkins’ pregnancy and subsequent leaving of the team was highly newsworthy. However, I highly disagree with this statement because of the reality of the matter affecting the young girl. Although I have never been pregnant or broken a sporting barrier in my town, I have a clear woman’s standpoint in the matter and think that a girl’s misfortune should not be taken advantage of and not be blown out to be a huge media cookout.
            In Simms’ argument, he states that because Watkins was a major story in the case that she was considered to earn all-state honors, her sudden leave from the team would be a very hot story and people would want to know why she did so. Also, this leave did not occur at the very end of the season; it occurred right before their matchup with their archrivals, and her absence could play a large role in their future successes throughout the rest of the season. Another argument he brought up was the case of the coach’s mention of her leaving for “medical reasons.” His claim was that this statement was misleading, and that people could take this statement in many ways, such as believing that her grades were poor or that she was romantically/sexually involved with a teammate. In this case, Simms’ approach would be that if they “set the record straight,” people would believe the statement and would be much more informed and less confused about what actually happened to Judith Watkins. In honesty, it is a very reasonable thing to bring up; there is a great deal of ambiguity in the media today, and any sort of statement could be taken in numerous different ways. To bolster his already supportive argument, Simms mentions that since this school is in such a small town that treats their high school athletes like they are professionals due to large amounts of press coverage, this secret of pregnancy will not remain a secret for very long, and that it will only be a matter of time before people in the town find out that she ultimately left the team because she was pregnant. This is a reasonable and often common problem when it comes to any kind of pregnancy among a high school girl in a small town. Unfortunately, many news broadcasts will create mainstream headlines that reach other regions if the condition becomes all too common in the area.
            This argument made me raise my eyebrows because in this day and age, it is somewhat common for girls to break the gender barrier in high schools and play on men’s sports teams. However, in a small area known in the book as South Platte, it is only fair to assume that a concept such as letting a girl play on an all-men’s team would be heavily looked down upon until the action of letting a girl do so was carried out. Not just this, but it would also be seen as crazy especially if this girl were to be unable to keep up with the rest of the boys on the team. Regardless of whether the girl is in the running to be an all-state kicker or is just a benchwarmer, her private life should not be exposed to the rest of the region, let alone journalists who believe that shocking, out-of-the-ordinary happenings should be plastered all over the area and lead to flat-out embarrassing the young girl. The following arguments I will make will defend my claim and express my heavy disagreement against Victor Simms’ argument. In this general argument, I will focus on the fact this news story would be a invasion of privacy and affect the well-being of Judith Watkins, her family, and the football coaching staff.
            First and foremost, Judith Watkins is a minor. You should not have the rights or even the thoughts to release this private information without her permission. It does not matter that she is from a small town and that people will eventually find out—a representative mentioned in the case study that it is still an invasion of privacy and there could be court actions taken if this law is broken. It’s not worth the hassle or the time to try and pry into a minor’s private life just because people are on edge about what’s going to be happening to the football team that she used to play for. People’s priorities when it comes to this are utterly selfish and cruel, and if people really cared, they would leave Watkins in peace during her pregnancy, and they would wait for her to come back after she has her child. In this case study, it is not disclosed whether she ever did return to the team after her pregnancy; however, I am assuming that they would have allowed her to come back and she would be able to explain herself.
            Secondly, allowing a story about teen pregnancy to surface in a small region like that will only open up another can of worms for the whole area involved in the case. Issues such as teen pregnancy and the like will begin piling up and make unnecessary problems for the coaching staff and even the school if the local news stories catch the eye of national newscasts. This ultimately ties back into the concept that Watkins is a minor and that it’s an invasion of privacy. There is a major chance that general public outside of the area of South Platte would take this story the wrong way and see the story that another wayward teenage girl got pregnant and is now a poor example of a small-town school. People who might not even care about high school football might completely ignore the whole fact that she was the kicker on the men’s football team and just assume that she’s a terrible person because she had unprotected sex.
            This brings up another argument in this case: if this story were to make headlines, it would be sensationalized to the point where the whole idea of the story would lose its original context. Although the story would have the undertones that she was the kicker for the football squad, the story would have a massive spin placed on it and newscasts would be drawing conclusions that she was sexually involved with one of her teammates. It would give a bad reputation to the school district and it would also shed a bad light upon female athletes and women’s sports. The reason why women’s sports would be spoiled would be because news readers/watchers would create the stereotype that female athletes are taking advantage of their athleticism to receive fame and sex. Then this small-scale problem would make a mountain out of a molehill—ergo a large invasion of privacy and then a nationwide scandal that would ruin the face of Watkins and the school.
            Finally, where is Watkins amid all of this? If you really want to know what is going on, she should be asked herself and in private whether she would care if people were to talk about this concept anywhere in the media outlets. It’s one thing to have a story, and it’s another thing to go on with a story pitch without her knowing of the whole quandary. It is fitting for Simms to approach her himself rather than going to an assistant coach and grabbing secondhand information. It is unfair and not right for someone to get alternate stories and opinions especially if the facts may not be 100% true.
Before anything, you need to ask yourself certain questions. If you’re a male, there’s a definitive chance that you will never have to ask yourself these questions because you obviously cannot have children. Would you want a large group of people pestering you just because you’re pregnant and you needed to leave your football team because of it? I bet it would be nice to grab people’s attention with it, but I would think that you would want privacy and all the support you could possibly get instead of people shoving cameras and notepads in your face asking you why you are pregnant, why you left the team, and why you made the decision to even have sex when you have something “important” to do in school. Wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable? From a feminine standpoint, I certainly would and more. There is nothing more unnerving than having someone that is not within your personal concern in your personal business, let alone business that very few understand the reasoning and the consequences. Because it is teen pregnancy and everyone is up in arms about why it is so common and why teens aren’t more cognizant of the subject, Judith Watkins will be seen by outsiders of South Platte as a wayward young girl who doesn’t know any better. Who knows? She could have been raped, she could have been drunk; if her pregnancy had surely come up from one of these processes, journalists and other media personnel would be asking a lot more questions. In fact, this story would be a larger bombshell in the area than it already is. However, these possibilities are not in the book and therefore go more off-topic than my argument should progress toward.
            In conclusion, I feel as if my argument is very efficient in noting that Victor Simms is incorrect in believing that the story of Judith Watkins’ pregnancy should make local headlines as it is an invasion of privacy. Also, she is a minor, and her misfortune should not be taken advantage of to make a shocking story known. Even though she broke many barriers in her area by making the men’s football team, which is all she should be known for. After she has her child, her life can return to normal, and she can continue to break barriers on the football team if she so chooses to return. One misstep should not be a reason to blow things out of proportion and sensationalize everything that happens in this girl’s life. How do you think she feels? Do you think she’s proud of what happened to her? At that age, she probably isn’t, since the rest of her life could be in jeopardy. Because of that, would you want to make things worse and have her pregnancy plastered all over the area and make high school football headlines? I certainly wouldn’t think so. The problem with Simms’ argument is that it ignores the vulnerability of the youth, and a process that is completely natural in a woman’s life should not be a victim of shock value in a realm of men’s sports. The grace of the media shouldn’t be spoiled by sneaking, spelunking, and trickery. 

(Oh God, I hope this paper gets a half decent grade.)
UPDATE: I got a 26/30 on this paper, which on an Ivy League grading scale is a B. FFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE!!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The NHL 2011 Postseason Slant -- EHHH!!

I will admit, this is the first NHL slant I have ever done, and this is going to be rather difficult because I don't follow hockey as heavily as I do baseball and football teams play once a week. However, I watch ESPN enough (my younger brother often turns on the NHL Network on Sunday mornings) and I can draw conclusions about who's in and who isn't.
It's looking like a rough postseason ahead. A lot of rivalries are in this time, and interestingly enough they're being matched up in the first round. This should be a fun, hard-knocking playoff road.

Aside from the formalities...
Seriously, there are so many teams south of the border (as in the Carolina border) this year and it's really weird. I thought the NHL would be more of a northern thing, but since a lot of the Canadian teams folded we have people playing in cities such as Nashville and Phoenix. I guess you can't mess with the South, because a good amount of these teams play where it's nice and warm--a huge contrast, wouldn't you say?

Let us begin!


1. Washington Capitals (107 Pts) -- Won't lie here, people. You guys have lots of 'splainin' to do after getting your behinds handed to you last year in the first round against the 8th seed Canadiens. You managed to fight back onto the top seed after the Flyers fell apart, and now we're looking to see some revenge on your end. Against the Rangers, I'm pretty sure you can do that unless if your egos get too large again. Hey Ovetchkin, I think now's your time to lead the team into glory. If not, somebody's gotta take charge.

2. Philadelphia Flyers (106 Pts) --After last year's performance, the Flyers have kept their trend of being a major threat and have stayed atop the leaderboards throughout the whole season. However, as of late there have been major setbacks and losses from comebacks and mishaps toward the ends of games. Will they be able to return to the big dance this year and be successful in the finals? My survey says: I wish, but no. Lack of Pronger and a consistent goaltender is going to really weaken the credibility of the Flyers' defenses.

3. Boston Bruins (103 Pts) -- After being a part of embarrassment last year by dropping a 3-0 series in the conference semifinal, we're looking for pretty angry Bostoners. Tim Thomas is an absolute monster in net, and Recchi isn't showing any signs of age. Their front lines are absolute tanks, and they're about ready to scare off any team that they'll be facing in the playoffs. Have fun, Habs.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (104 Pts) -- Wow, look at these guys. After overcoming loads of injuries, suspensions, and fights, the Penguins have been able to secure yet another 4th seed. They're obviously stacked in many ways, with Mr. Marc-Andre in net, and Mr. Sidney Crosby. Even without Malkin in the lineup, things are looking quite bright. Are they doing it for the Steelers? I think so. Ha ha ha. I made a football joke in a hockey column.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning (103 Pts) -- If you really wanna know what carried the team for a little while, look at the top two guys on the team--Stamkos and St. Louis. Their front lines look really stiff, and they look like they can hold a game together. The defense...not so much. If you're looking for a heavily offensive team, here's our Hitler (as Max Bialystock would say so famously). If you're looking for a defensive team, I doubt that this would be a strong match.

6. Montreal Canadiens (96 Pts) -- Here's another team that's in it practically every year and there's no surprise about it. After blowing big teams away last year and scaring the crap out of everyone since they were an 8th seed. Now they look a little more formidable...will the story be the same this year? With a heavy shooting team high in points, we might see some tricks and turns throughout this team's journey.

7. Buffalo Sabres (96 Pts) -- Aside from my horrible love for Ryan Miller, I have to talk about this team. Problem is, they're not an all-rounded team--there are only a few players that really make some noise when absolutely possible. There have also been injury issues and the like, and they've really turned things up as of late. Do I have faith? They'll definitely give the Flyers a run for their money, and Ryan Miller will be...Ryan "awesome" Miller.

8. New York Rangers (93 Pts) -- After narrowly missing the playoffs last year resulting from a shootout loss, the Rangers fulfilled every technicality in order to get in this year. Good job, guys. The stats all around on this team aren't exactly the best around, but if they can come up in the clutch, they can certainly give people headaches with the way they play. Look at the +/- wouldn't expect all that much turmoil on a postseason team, but there you go. No offense, I don't see you guys beating the Caps.


1. Vancouver Canucks (117 Pts) -- Obviously, they're the winners of the President's Trophy. Losing less than 20 games and having beastly records on home and away ice means that they're a true force to be reckoned with. With consistent [and did I mention rather healthy?] lines, the offense and defense look equally as bulky. Let's not forget Roberto Luongo being a monster as usual in net. He'll be the key factor against the heavy shooting forces that make up the Western Conference.

2. San Jose Sharks (105 Pts) -- Hey, what's up, Antii Niemi? Here's a very well-rounded team that's glad that they probably won't be facing Chicago in the playoffs. After narrowly missing the Stanley Cup Finals last year, they're looking to take a bite out of the competition. Okay, that was a horrible pun. But at any rate, the Sharks have always been a silent threat, and despite the occasional mishaps and hits, they could be the black horse (or shark) to take it all from the President's trophy winners.

3. Detroit Red Wings (104 Pts) -- Could you call a postseason a postseason without the Red Wings somehow making it into the brackets? At first glance, they looked like they had no organization on their lines, but they have really come a long way since the beginning of the year and are really making a name for themselves. Jimmy Howard has been a great tag team partner with the eternal Chris Osgood and he's surprised the crap outta me. Oh heck, who am I kidding, everyone's doing well. Don't they have a lot of Olympic players on there to begin with? That's what it certainly feels like...

4. Anaheim Ducks (99 Pts) -- Say it with me: quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack...Oh, forget it. Here's a team that has its few achillies' heels in the injury and lack of playing area, but they've made it far enough to grab a 4th seed in the playoffs. Corey Perry is a machine, and he's going to be a burning thorn in the Preds' sides throughout the playoff round.

5. Nashville Predators (99 Pts) -- lol "Smashville." You make me want to play Super Smash Bros. Here's a mostly defensive team at work. Not one player on the team has scored over 50 points, and their goaltender Pekka Rinne has 2.12 GAA. That's quite the interesting mix. Wall much? The floods and storms are over just so you know, guys.

6. Phoenix Coyotes (99 Pts) -- Like I just said about Nashville, these guys are just as defensive with a hint of more power on offense. I don't necessarily think that they're going to make it all that far because they don't often get the job done and they may not come in the clutch at all. Scratch's more of a hot and cold kind of thing. One good thing is that just about anybody can step up to the plate and give a good effort.

7. Los Angeles Kings (98 Pts) -- Here's a team I would like to call the "I scratch your back one game, you scratch mine the next" team. They have a decent build, but I'm not exactly sure if that'll be enough to make a believable run in the playoffs. The great thing about this team is that there isn't just one or two definitive "stars" on the team--everyone pokes their stick in when needed and they can have some crazy rollercoaster-looking games.

8. Chicago Blackhawks (97 Pts) -- The Stanley Cup champs are an 8th seed. Losing a bit of their momentum as the season went on, their fate was determined in the very last game of the NHL regular season. Way to fool around with fate, boys. You have the hard-hitting Canucks in the first round, and y'all will be looking like fools if you don't bring the force that helped you win the Cup last year. After different personnel changes in the offseason, this revamped squad is going to get a rough first round.

Oh, hockey, how you make it cool to beat the crap out of people and put them on ice.
Alright, I really need to stop the puns.

Have fun watching for the next month and a half, kids.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

AZ's Slant on Sunday -- No, I Will Not Spend $4.75 for a Bottle of WATER.

This lovely post is dedicated to overpriced ballpark food.

The main culprit...

Last week, I went to Citizens' Bank Park with my family for the Phillies/Mets game. (school-sponsored) Usually on those days I practically starve myself so I can stuff my face with yummy sweet treats at the game. At this point, I'm somewhat questioning this method now. Ever since the Phillies became a dynasty, prices have gone up and the middle class has to pretty much go, "So wait, you want me to pay just as much for food as I did my ticket??"
Grant it, CBP has their "Dollar Dog Nights" which is every college student's dream: beer and unlimited hot dogs that are quickly boiled and wrapped so enough is made for all of the ramen-infested bellies that want more substance in their lives. But aside from that, some of the online food menus that I've looked at over the past day and a half is absolutely crazy, especially when it's done so that the seating prices don't have to be raised to astronomical levels. Just think, you crappy teams out there; because you guys suck, the food is penalized, and people don't eat your stuff because it's not reasonably priced.

But get this: even when the teams are doing well, the prices go up so the city gets more revenue and the organization itself gets more money to throw around for big names and other big things that I can't think of at this moment. It's a rather vicious cycle when you start thinking about it. Just using Philly as an example because I live in the city, ticket prices this season rose $2 overall, and it's not because nobody's coming to the games. Because there are so many people that come to the games day in and day out, the organization is guaranteed money because the people want to see winners and want to go often. I believe that the statistic is that over 3,000,000 people went to the ballpark last year, and the stadium has had about 115 consecutive sellouts give-or-take a few. Does that mean that the food prices have to be so ridiculously high? I say nay to that one, kids. Since the seating prices are high enough, there has to be a halfway meeting with the food.

Last week, I had a hot roast pork sandwich from Tony Luke's [which has the best cheesesteaks in the city--end of aside] and a bottle of water. Grand total of food (not including the rest of my family): $14.25. What. On Earth...? I understand why the sandwich was so much (it was $9.50, and it's Tony Luke's for God's sake) but the water...why??? I could get water from a tap with the same quality as Dasani! Anyway, although some of the prices at the park are reasonable (Chickie and Pete's crab fries are about $6.50 the last time I checked--and that's enough for about two people), the prices of drinks are rather uncalled for.

It's a real sneaky ploy, but it's somewhat unethical. To be perfectly frank (see what I did there?) about this whole thing, you actually need water more than food to survive. You shouldn't ask someone for water that costs $5 in order to either replenish thirst on a hot day or to wash down 20 under-boiled hot dogs that your body just ingested. Be thankful that we even have the money to spend during this recession to do leisurely things like sit down with family at the ballpark and eat and watch the home team be awesome and everything related to that.

I know one post about complaints isn't going to save the world of this problem. If people are hungry or thirsty, they will buy something. After all, you're usually not allowed to bring any foreign food or drink into stadiums. There's also the issue with tailgaters eating [and boozing] before the games in the parking lots so whomever doesn't have that luxury of coolers and portable grills has to find a way to stuff the face while at the stadium. I guess season ticket holders are smart enough to avoid these things every time they go to a game.

How did my inspiration turn for inanimate objects? I just expanded on a complaint about a bottle of water. Man, I guess this means I'm a crazed writer and I'll get a good job someday.