Firsts for the Sports World


The recent coming out of Michael Sam, a highly touted football player from Missouri captivated sports news a few weeks ago.  The talented defensive end admitted to have been gay for some time, but felt that he should make his sexual orientation public before entering the NFL draft.

The ensuing reaction from the media was all positive (as it should be) but I wonder if all the attention to stories like this are confer-intuitive to the progression of homosexuals in general.  NBA basketball player Jason Collins made his coming out public last spring and until today he had not played a game since.  The Brooklyn Nets offered Collins a contract today and he took to the court against the Lakers in L.A. tonight.

I think it’s great that the media recognizes milestones such as this, but the amount of attention given to these announcements may be a bit much.  It makes coming out seem like much more of a big deal than it should be.  I don’t mean to be inconsiderate of the people who have built up the courage to make their homosexuality public, but I do believe the media has successfully blown it out of proportion.

I wish the best to both Michael Sam and Jason Collins in their respective careers.  I just hope they make headlines in sports for something other than their sexual orientation.


jason collins

*images obtained from Google images


The Digital Third-Wheel

These days you can relive an entire night the next morning.  Even before you get out of bed or scramble around for a few advil, you probably reach for your phone.  With the help of Instagram and snapchat you can look back into last night over and over again through the lens of your friends cell phone.

Some nights are bound to produce a lot of content.  Last Thursday was one of those nights in Chapel Hill.  The heels won and the celebration began.  Everyone at the game rushed to Franklin Street, but before they did, they whipped out their phone to take a video of the students storming the court.  Then maybe they stormed the court and got their phone out again to make sure all of their friends saw that they stormed the court.

I went to the game with my cousin Earl, who flew down from New York city a few hours before the game and flew back the next day.  I only get to see Earl a few times a year now that he’s in the working world, so I was excited to go to the game with him.  We had a great time, it would be hard not to at a game like that, but Earl’s phone was there.

Whenever we made a big play and the crowd started to get really loud Earl tried to catch it on camera.  I might be using some selective memory here, but every time Earl tried to take a video we turned the ball over, or missed a big shot, or Coach K called a timeout to talk to the refs.

I let this happen a couple of times, but eventually I had to say something.  I wasn’t about to let Earl’s phone lose the game for us.

“Put that damn phone away dude.”

“You’re right.  Fuck it, I’m done with the phone.”

He put the phone back in his pocket, we made a little run, then we tied the game.  The Dean Dome erupted, the stands started rocking, and Earl reached for his phone again.  I didn’t care enough to give him shit for it.  I was way too into the game.

Now more than ever there is an apparent need to document what’s going on in front of you.  Earl’s not the only fan that tried to capture a bit of the insanity that went on in Chapel Hill last Thursday.  We’re all guilty of letting our phones get in the way of enjoying the moment.  Whether that’s at a concert, or a basketball game, or your average night around town, chances are somebody will take a video or a picture to share with the world.  So don’t worry about missing out on anything, you’ll be able to watch what happened tomorrow morning.  But if you were lucky enough to be there, in the moment, someone’s phone was too.


Netflix and the Bechdel Test


Colin Stokes discovered a pertinent issue in the movies of today while re-watching some of his old favorites with his two young children.  One of the movies was The Wizard of Oz–the other, Star Wars.  Stokes explored the differences of these two classics in a Ted Talks he did in November 2012.

In The Wizard of Oz, “all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female”, Stokes points out.  Star Wars (on the other hand) has only two female characters, Princess Leia and Aunt Beru.  The main character in Star WarsLuke Skywalker, joins an army to help overthrow the government and save the universe.  Dorothy’s character in The Wizard of Oz makes friends and becomes a leader among the friends she makes.


Stokes would rather raise his kids in the land of Oz instead of “the world of dudes fighting”.  He asks why there is so much fighting in the “movies we have for our kids and so little yellow brick road?”

The movies of today are “doing  a phenomenal job of teaching girls how to defend against the patriarchy, but they are not necessarily showing boys how they’re supposed to defend against the patriarchy.  There are no models for them,” Stokes admits.  He sites Hermione of the Harry Potter movies, Katniss of the Hunger Games, as well as Pixar’s Brave which exemplify great role models for young women.  However, none of these movies pass the Bechdel Test.


Allison Bechdel, a comic book artist, developed the Bechdel Test to assess the movies she watched.  The test only requires three questions:

1. Is there more than one female character?  2. Do these characters talk to each other?  3. Do they talk about anything other than the guy they both like?

Stokes drew attention to two statistics in his talk.  The first was that only 11 of the top 100 movies in 2011 had female protagonists.  The second statistic was that one out of five women in America claim to have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life.  Stokes doesn’t blame the movies our kids watch for this statistic, but calls into question what our young boys are learning from male-dominated movies.

“We have got to show our sons a new definition of manhood,” Stokes says.  “We really have to show them and model for them how a real man is someone who trusts his sisters, and respects them, and wants to be on their team.”  A real man stands up to the bad guys who want to abuse women.

Stokes believes we can accomplish this definition of manhood through the Netflix que.  He urges parents to “look out for those movies that pass the Bechdel Test” and “nudge our sons to identify with those heroins”.  The boys need to learn to pull for the girl in the movies, because they will need to know how to pull for the girls in real life.  They will need to be comfortable with joining their team, rather than fighting alone.


*All images obtained from google images

Guilt Me Into What?


photo obtained from google images

I question the tactics of some activist’s and organization’s attempts to guilt me into doing something for their cause. Too many times I have been enjoying a show or sporting event only to have my mood ruined by an anti-smoking commercial. Their attempts usually lead me to turn my TV off or at least turn it to mute and ignore the message completely.

If it’s my emotions they’re after, they best take a lighter approach.  And they should avoid leaving me with an unexpected amount of guilt that I did not ask for when I turned the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on.

They intentionally throw viewers out of their comfort zone and tug as hard as they can at their heartstrings.  A sad song plays, pictures of abused dogs and cats slowly fade in and out on the screen, the viewer might be moved to tears.  The end of the commercial will undoubtedly urge you to donate and encourage you to take a stand on the issue; placing a responsibility on your shoulders that you didn’t ask for.

The anti-smoking ads trouble me the most because every person talking through a voice box made a decision to start smoking.  They weren’t born with a birth defect and they didn’t contract a horrific disease.  Someone who doesn’t smoke, like myself doesn’t need to see that.  I bet nobody will even click the link, the smokers don’t want to see it anymore than we do.

These type of ads are unfair to the viewer.  Although they are fighting for an admirable cause, they should not accomplish it by forcing guilt on their audience.  I don’t mean to sound cold-hearted or insensitive to the causes that drive these ads, I simply believe they should take a different approach to achieve their goal.



Internet-Induced Anxiety


I, like many other people I know, have a growing fear of how much information the internet can gather from my day to day browsing habits.  The more I read about it, the stronger the fear grows.  I’d like to be able to shake this fear off, thinking to myself, “I have nothing to hide”, but maybe I do? I don’t remember, but the internet probably does.

This fear I have has prevented me from doing countless things that are mostly incorporated to make life easier.  For instance, I don’t have online banking.  I know my bank can be trusted, but I would rather drive to the bank or an ATM to manage my account than lose my phone and have someone clean me out.  I never click the save password option on a website for fear that someone will log in to one of my many online profiles and do god knows what with them.  I have also never saved a credit card when making an online purchase.  I can’t believe it’s even an option.  It’s gotten to the point where I pretty much ignore any of the shortcuts that websites offer me.

I know my fear will continue to be tested when the “internet of things” comes to life.  The internet of things will allow us to control everything in our homes from the smart phone in our pocket.  These capabilities already exist for some things.  People now have security systems that can be completely operated from the phone.  They can lock their house, turn off the lights, and you can even watch what’s going on at your house while your gone.  My parents are looking into getting a system like this.  They say it will make them feel more comfortable when they leave town.  And I’m over here thinking all you have to do is lose your phone and everything’s gone.

I guess I should start getting used to this internet-induced fear, cause it’s sure as hell not going anywhere.


*All images obtained from google images


Watch the Media Work


Being the House of Cards addict that Netflix made me into, I am now re-watching the first season before they release the second next week.  So, I’m pretty much rattling off five episodes a night.  I’ll probably be done with the second season by next week.

While re-watching the second episode, I noticed a classic example of the media not telling people what to think, but what to think about.  Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, strategically delivers bits of information to reporter Zoe Barnes who in turn tells the people what Frank wants them to know.

In this particular episode, Frank seeks to remove Secretary of State Michael Kern.  He gets Zoe to write an article to bring Kern down (which it does), then gets Zoe to release a statement that Catherine Durant will be filling the position.  Before Frank made a move, Durant wasn’t in the cards.  But after Zoe releases the statement saying Durant is the favorite, the rest of the media follows suit.

This happens continually throughout the season.  Frank leaks a rumor or prediction to Zoe and the media follows the leader.  All Frank has to do is place a notion into Zoe’s hands.  The rumor then flies around and sways the public all the way up to the President.

I’m not very well-versed in politics, but if this type of influence actually occurs, it’s terrifying.  I knew the media was involved in politics, but not at this level.  I’m fairly certain it’s an exaggeration, but it sure as hell makes for an interesting TV series.


*All images obtained from google images