Recruiting athletes in modern media age


Every year, as the college football season comes to an end, fans switch their focus from bowl games to high school recruits. Seventeen and 18 year olds’ lives become open to public scrutiny. Every tweet, Facebook message and Instagram is analyzed.

Although many look at these young men as unfairly examined, the news and sports media are readying them for what the future holds.

We can no longer bring up young athletes at the slow pace that occurred in the past. Having back-to-back freshman Heisman Trophy winners, we salivate at what the recruits our favorite teams bring in can do.

Maturing and learning how to make independent decisions is one of the greatest tasks college students face the first time they walk onto campus. The attention these athletes are receiving is something they are going to have to continue to deal with for the rest of their lives.

With things such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, there is no longer an off-season in sports. While games may end, fans are looking for another outlet to get their sports fix.

As athletes progress in their careers, they will continue to see their tweets become more heavily debated. It is important for them to learn to monitor what they say through social media outlets at a young age.

By limiting the attention these young men get, we are only setting them up for greater social stress in the future.

News coverage of dangerous trends


In the last year, CNN has covered two dangerous trends: a game called “Knockout” and another called “Neknominate.”

Knockout is a dangerous game that CNN started covering in November 2013. It entails one individual (generally in a group of teenagers) going up to a stranger and punching them with the intention of knocking them out instantaneously.

CNN has also reported that Knockout has caused more than one death in the Northeastern states of the US. Videos of teenagers doing this generally come from security cameras on streets, and news coverage showed these videos with the intention of exposing the game and impressing upon people really how lethal and irrational the game can be.

Neknominate, on the other hand, is a drinking game that has become trendy through social media. Videos are easily accessible and abundant on the internet.  Here, an individual generally downs a hefty amount of alcohol mixed with something else, takes a video of it and, upon finishing the drink, the individual nominates a friend to out-do them within the next 24 hours.

Videos show teenagers not only downing usual mixed drinks but, in an effort to out-do their friends, players have mixed in their drink with a dead mouse, goldfish, insects, engine oil and dog food. Five people have died from playing this game, all being men under the age of 30. News coverage battles social media and the spread of this openly videoed social trend.

While players of one game generally avoid social media (for the risk involved of going to jail or juvy), players of another game use social media as a form of pressure to encourage others to play. Either way, the news reporters step in not only to report what is happening but to prevent others from participating in social trends that appeal to one’s (generally teenager’s) dangerous need to prove themselves to their friends or to the public.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the dangers of news pieces including certain social topics. In this post, however, I’d like to acknowledge how using social topics in the news can put a much needed negative spin on social trends. Of course, these social trends are newsworthy partially because the harm coming from them are not temporary but rather fatal, and most players don’t realize that.

People who watch these videos of Neknominate on Facebook might see it as an exciting challenge or other, uninvolved viewers might find it fascinating that someone would drink liquor out of a toilet or successfully drink something with a dead rat in it.

The news’ video compilation presents the same content but instead of a bunch of kids sitting around a computer oohing and aahing at a friend doing something nasty, the video shows a wider audience how Neknominating is fickle and dangerous.


Why can’t Hollywood be more original?


It seems to happen nearly every year. Movie producers in Hollywood are often doing reboots of films that were big hits.

Why can’t they just leave the original film alone? Don’t they realize that it’s a little strange to recreate movies, with new actors, when the original actors are still alive and well, able to continue their previous roles?

I can understand rebooting a film that was created 40 or more years ago. The film could’ve been terrible back then and producers want to make something big of it now.  Maybe Hollywood wants to bring a trend back, make some extra cash. I get it, it’s a business.

What really annoys me is how movies that were terrific not even more than 10 years ago are being remade into newer films with terrible reviews.

For example, I remember seeing the original Spider-Man movie in the theater in 2002. I loved it. The world loved it. Tobey Maguire played this role until 2007, ending the series with Spider-Man 3.

So why was it rebooted in 2012 and called the Amazing Spider-Man, with a new actor, Andrew Garfield?

This is strange to me and confusing. Between the original Spider-Man and the Amazing Spider-Man, there isn’t even 10 years. They could’ve just asked Tobey Maguire to come back and restart the series!

Doesn’t Hollywood hire script writers to create new material? Are there no other superheroes within the Marvel or DC Comic Universe for them to create an extensive series about?

The reason why I’m asking this question is that, today, the cast for the new Fantastic Four movie was released. The Fantastic Four movie, that I also saw in the theater, came out in 2005. The new one is slated for 2015.

Reboots for movies that aren’t at least 20 years old are unnecessary. The point of a reboot is to make something better, to bring it more to life.

Reboots are usually rated lower, have around the same CGI and have similar story lines where the audience is not at all very surprised by the ending.

When will Hollywood stop doing this?

Celebrity weight: Is it news?


There is usually a separation between “real” news and tabloid news, but in the age of online journalism, the two previously separated genres often rub shoulders. A look at the home page of Yahoo! or the Daily Mail will show a political story or a piece on uprisings in Kiev next to an article about Kim Kardashian’s derriere.

The Kardashians are a staple in American pop culture. Kim continues to be one of the most searched celebrities year after year, and the whole family’s every move is scrutinized and reported on by the media.

One of the examples of a magazine cover bashing Kim’s weight gain- something normal for people who are pregnant. Source:

While some things seem worth reporting on; her engagement to Kanye West and subsequent wedding plans being one, Kim’s weight and body shape don’t seem to be as newsworthy.

Still, multiple articles have been written about her fluctuating body. During her pregnancy, the media had a frenzy criticizing how Kim’s once toned and voluptuous figure had taken a turn towards the chunkier size.

In fact, entire magazine covers have been devoted to slamming Kim’s weight gain. One headline from the South African magazine You read “Kate the Waif vs. Kim the Whale,” (“Kate” referring to Kate Middleton, who was similarly tortured for being too skinny while pregnant.)

Now that her pregnancy is over, the news has switched from her weight gain to her rapid baby-weight loss. Kim’s back to gracing the tabloid covers, but the same amount of criticism remains. A Life and Style cover claims Kim is a “Weight Loss Cheater” who “took the easy way out with $80,000 worth of secret procedures,” and an article from the Daily Mail reports that Kim has had “fat injected into her bottom” that was taken from her stomach and thighs.

Kim, like many other celebrities, cannot catch a break when it comes to their own bodies. Body shape, and weight gain/loss is a very personal matter, and I do not believe that it is quite newsworthy. The way that media, across all platforms, exploits celebrities’ bodies for the sake of a story is despicable, as it promotes self-hatred and encourages body shaming.

Celebrities are people too, and do not deserve the amount exposure they receive for their weight. How would you feel if every time you gained a pound it was deemed “news” and reported on across the country? Out of all the the things to make news out of in terms of celebrities, I do not think weight should be one of them.

Sochi problems continue to get attention


Controversy is arising over the conditions at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. After seven years of preparing the city for the Olympics- seven years filled with corruption, debt, worker-rights controversy, etc.- is it fair that the misfortunes in Sochi are becoming a punch line?

“#SochiProblems” is a newly consuming hash tag on social media. It’s mainly pursued by journalist’s living in hotels with unfinished lobbies, toxic water, shortages of pillows and sheets, and other less than positive conditions of the hotels in Sochi.

The tweets and articles written by journalists living under these circumstances have catapulted to full on media frenzy. Crazy pictures and witty tweets have led the unpreparedness of Sochi to become the punch line of the Games.

However, this humorous and overwhelming new trend may be harming legitimate news coverage. The twitter handle “Sochi Problems” currently as more than 100,000 more followers than that of the official twitter of the Olympics.

Controversy has arisen due to complaints that this seems more like making fun of a poor classmate, than genuine, necessary reporting. After Russia took seven years to prepare for these games and sacrificed so much, is it fair to poke fun at their shortcomings?

The other side expresses their belief that Russia did in fact take seven years to prepare. Is it uncalled to poke fun after seven years of preparations, and hotel lobbies are still missing?

Either way, the main problem lays in the media attention. It is not right that the poor conditions in which the journalists are living are taking precedent in the news over actual newsworthy stories about the Games. The journalists’ need to refocus- they didn’t go to Sochi for a five star vacation, but to keep the world informed on the Games.

Future of news … Is it in our hands?


As newspaper circulation drops, more and more people are turning for the Internet for their news.

Online subscriptions to newspapers such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are on the rise, but online papers aren’t the only place news-hungry people are turning to for their information.

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly turned to for updates on the current state of affairs. With approximately 87 million tumblr blogs, one billion active monthly Facebook users and Twitter’s 20 million users that send almost 400 million tweets per day, it is abundantly clear how social media is transmitting news and information.

Many actual journalists use these tweets and Facebook updates in their stories as information, which can potentially lead to misinformation since these sources are not fact-checked and could possibly be unreliable. But, they could also be spot-on and a great asset.

The rise of social media has led to a rise of self-created journalists and journalist assistants, if you will.

The news isn’t in our hands now, but right at our fingertips.

Ugandan president signs anti-gay bill


Last week was full of proud declarations of homosexuality from prominent names and an overall positive reception from the media and society.

Early in the week, University of Missouri football lineman and potential top draft for the NFL, Michael Sam, established himself as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.

Citing Michael Sam as a “hero,” Actress Ellen Page came out as a lesbian on Valentine’s Day during a speech she gave in Las Vegas.

Both celebrities have received much support from fans and LGBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign. Social media exploded with congratulations and encouragement.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.31.36 AM

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill prohibiting homosexuality.

Homosexuality is already illegal in 78 countries around the world, including much of Africa and the Middle East. Seven of these countries punish homosexuality by the death penalty. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years in prison. Even organizations or individuals who reach out to counsel homosexual persons can face imprisonment.

President Museveni said he was persuaded to sign the bill, not out of political, but scientific, motivations. He claimed legalizing homosexuality poses “serious public health consequences” according to his scientific advisers.

Musevini’s advisers also assert that homosexuality is an “abnormal behavior” and not something a person is born with.

In the United States, the controversy of gay marriage legalization is always in the news media. It seems to be the “will-they, won’t they” issue of the century.

Whether or not same-sex marriage is legalized in our country, maybe it’s time to pause and enjoy the freedom of expression guaranteed to us by the Constitution.

Despite overwhelming support from the LGBT community, both Page and Sam undoubtedly received a backlash from certain anti-gay groups. Unfortunate though this is, at least they never have to face imprisonment, violence, or unemployment that the few openly gay Africans struggle against.

In my opinion, how a country reacts to the homosexual community demonstrates its degree of progressiveness. The support for LGBT causes is increasing in the United States today, especially with the younger generations. Although the gay marriage controversy remains murky, almost any American would at the very least agree with a person’s individual right to be gay.

Personal opinions aside, from a legal standpoint, Americans uphold all anti-discrimination rights. The matter of whether homosexuality is a choice does not even apply, because everyone is guaranteed the right to express him or herself.

President Obama said that if Uganda’s president passes the anti-gay bill, it will complicate relations with the east African nation. President Museveni decided to push through with the law, opting to uphold the country’s “morals” despite losing international allies.

How “moral” is it to alienate, penalize,and even torture a citizen for how he/she chooses to express love?

Uganda’s government’s behavior demonstrates unacceptable treatment of not just to the gay community, but any group. When this kind of expression is severely punished, it becomes an issue of human rights and dignity.

It’s too soon to tell how relations with Kenya will pan out after the bill passes. However, it seems from the outcry of international responses that most of the world is ready to defend the homosexual community and freedom of expression.

Students should be careful after robbery


Coral Gables Police are investigating an armed robbery that took place Jan. 28 at the University of Miami.

According to police reports, a female student was walking near the University Village when an African-American man aggressively took her iPhone and purse.

Reports of two prior robberies in the span of a month should make students more aware of their surroundings.

Upon hearing of the recent attacks, UM student Jordan Emanuel feels as though students need to be more aware and lack of awareness plays a role in these robberies.

“If we, as students, paid more attention to our surroundings, then we wouldn’t be as vulnerable or such easy targets to victimize,” Emanuel said.

By using electronic devices while walking on and off campus, students are less vigilant. If students would focus on their travel instead of multi-tasking, then they would be aware of potential threats.

Students are advised to call the UM Police Department at 305-284-6666 if they feel threatened in any way.

There are several options available to students to ensure their safety while on campus; options in the daytime include calling the UM Police Department to have a security guard escort them to their intended destination on campus.

Students can also call Safe Ride, a late-night service that drives students anywhere on campus and to residential areas that border UM. Safe Ride can be reached at 305-298-6128 and is available from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. on Sundays-Thursdays.

Olympics: World news or gossip?


The Olympics are at the forefront of today’s world news. However, there are moments when I question the priority of news reporters.

The other day, I went on CNN and the first thing I saw was U.S. ice skater Ashley Wagner’s face of disappointment at her score.

There are many things about the Olympics to report on that hold a lot of significance — the condition of Sochi as a city to host such a big event, human rights problems in Russia, countries’ relative numbers of medals — but, in my view, an athlete’s lack of composition in such an intense moment is not worthy of the front page of such a major world news website.

In my opinion, to place a picture of the face of disappointment as one of the ‘five favorite moments from the first weekend of the Olympics’ is a cruel joke. The article drew just as much attention to a few seconds of infuriated disappointment as it did to Russia winning its first gold medal in the games and total medals won after the first weekend.

To be fair, the article featured Jamie Anderson’s (American gold medalist) tweet about her gratitude to friends and family after her great performance. Although this is another example of social media appearing in the world news, at least it’s fitting under the category of “favorite moments.” Amy Wagner’s face was not on this list because it was endearing, it was because it was scandalous.

Do we really find scandals so important that they should be put in newspapers? Are we looking for ways to interest the public in the 2014 Olympics? Are we just fixated on having a list of five that the reporters felt inclined to place this example in with the rest?

The second question can be answered with a simple “no,” as the first sub-headline of the report, the first example, was “That face.” This was the first topic presented to the audience.

I urge reporters to at least think about the first two questions before they choose topics. When presented side-by-side, news transfer a sense of importance. An important event may elevate another’s importance, even if the latter doesn’t attract that much on its own. On the other hand, something like gossip in world news could end up downplaying an event that makes a difference.

Flappy Bird app removed, causes stir


The popular app Flappy Bird has been taken off the App Store after being the top downloaded app on the market. Now, phones with the app installed are being sold on eBay for up to $15,000.  More commonly, the phones are listed around $2,500.  Still, pretty ridiculous for a $300 phone with a free app.

The game set fire and users became addicted.  The addiction and difficulty of the game led to incredibly detailed negative reviews from users and the game quickly became known as the devils game.  Now that it can never be downloaded again, people are willing to spend thousands to get their fingers on Flappy bird.

Screenshot of search results for "Iphone with flappy bird" on

Screenshot of search results for “iPhone with Flappy Bird” on

The game has a simple task of tapping the screen to cause the little bird to ascend. The goal is to pass through canals created by two Mario-like pipes.

One green pipe hangs from the ceiling, the other grows from the floor, and the bird must continue on to the right of the screen as it is met with continuous pipes.

The game became the top downloaded game on the App Store, which gave it power in the advertising world.  Other apps with money for advertising led to a steady income for Dong Nguyen, the creator of the game.

Screenshot of Flappy Bird gameplay.

Screenshot of Flappy Bird gameplay.

Nguyen now has created Iron Pants, which sucks.  I tried it out and it was more frustrating than when somebody puts an empty bag of snacks back in the cabinet, only for a sucker like you to come along and open the empty bag.  I don’t recommend downloading it.

eBay has been taking down the iPhones, but some are still on the website.  People can always put them right back up anyway.  Personally, I would never spend $2,000 for an iPhone game.


Print journalism is still important


As with many college students who meet other college students, we say the same things like, “What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your major?”

Well, being a student enrolled in the University of Miami’s School of Communication, I proudly said, “journalism,” when asked about my major.

The girl said that being a journalism major is, “nice,” but then made a comment basically telling me that I was wasting my time because print journalism will soon be unnecessary.

I really wish people would stop saying that.

Yes, I will agree with the fact that anything print will soon be deemed unnecessary and done away with. We live in an online world. It’s faster and more efficient.

What I don’t understand is why some of the fellow college students I meet keep telling me that my major is essentially a waste. They say I should go into broadcast journalism or even media management.

Here’s my response to you all: The printed newspaper is dying. The online world is thriving.

A print journalist is one who writes for a newspaper or magazine, so if the publications are moving online, print journalists will move online as well.

Maybe universities should change the name of the major to “web” journalism, but web journalists would literally be doing the same things as print journalists. They need to know how to write quickly, cover stories, and do newsgathering.

Print journalism has adapted and is flourishing online. It is in a new dimension and will, in my opinion, do very well.

Whether in print, online, or on TV, all journalists should be respected in whatever aspect he or she chooses to do and should never be told that their choice of major is unnecessary.

NFL ready for openly gay player?


Recently Michael Sam, a former defensive end for the University of Missouri has admitted to being gay. This year, Sam was named SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year, first team all-SEC selection and a first team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Analysts noted that if he were to get signed by a NFL team, he would be the first NFL player to be openly gay.

The question is, is the NFL ready for an openly gay football player. Are players and coaches going to treat him the same and with the same respect as they do “straight” players?

Sam admits that his teammates knew of his sexuality in August, and neither of them have said anything. I think this shows a great respect to his teammates, that they had enough respect for him not only as a teammate, but a brother not to say anything.

Of course, there is no way around it. He will, in fact, be treated differently. But I think during this day and age that anybody should be able to play a sport and have their own sexuality without it being a problem.

Coke’s ad: Controversial or strategic?


The 2014 Super Bowl achieved a record of 111.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched event in the whole of the USA history.

During the event, Coca-Cola, just like any other company who has millions of dollars to spend in commercials that will last seconds, aired an ad with “America the Beautiful” sung in Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Hindi, Hebrew, Keres, French and Arabic.

If you are an open-minded, well-cultured person, you must be asking yourself: “Why is this so controversial, what is the big deal?”

But if you are heartless and emotionless, you must be infuriated at the fact that it was sung in every language but English.

Indeed, there are many things not like about Coke, but their idea that the United States is a multi-cultured nation should definitely not be of them.

The ad became so controversial, hash tags saying #fuckcoke trending on Twitter for hours.

According to the media coverage post, these were the tweets considered to be “normal responses” from the average American.



But, what if it was all a marketing strategy?

Using a weighted average of total views, subscriber growth, likeability and velocity, Touchstorm has actually worked out that the Coca-Cola ad was the most effective ad of the whole Super Bowl event.


And until today, according to E-consultancy, the Coca- Cola ad has been No. 1 for a whole consecutive week.

Whilst other brands released “sneak peaks” of their Super Bowl ad a day before its a release, Coca Cola chose not to do it.

Maybe because management feared an early revolt against it or maybe because they were just waiting for the big day. But #Americaisbeautiful ended achieving more views on its initial upload than any other ad.

So maybe the advert is not as controversial as it seems. Whilst media coverage has constantly repeating about people’s constant revolt against the ad, numbers show the message has been received more positively than what the extreme conservative politics and media has made us believe.

Do newspaper’s DUI mug shots work?


If YouTube has taught me anything, it’s that people like being in the news. And, if pretending to see a leprechaun in my neighborhood means I will get into the news, then I will tell you all about that leprechaun.


However, in Anderson County, Ky., getting in the news seemed to lose its charm when The Anderson News printed the headline, “HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR. But please don’t drink and drive and risk having your picture published.”

 The small paper from Central Kentucky was introducing a new editorial piece to be picked up at the start of 1998. The editorial would publish photos of all persons convicted of drunk driving in Anderson County as an innovative way to deter driving while under the influence.

Mug shots were first published monthly, and then weekly, and then limited only those living in Anderson County or surrounding areas reached by the newspaper.

Although the newspaper’s goal to reduce drunk driving was a noble one, there was no concrete evidence the policy was helping to achieve this goal and some believed the newspaper was taking too much of a toll on residents’ personal lives.

The photos reportedly caused teasing directed towards the kids of parents with their pictures in the newspaper and even an attempted suicide of one teenager who feared having his picture published.

The Anderson News stopped publishing mug shots of drunk drivers in 2008 under a new editor and the rational that it “adds a level of punishment, or at least embarrassment, beyond what is imposed by a judge.”

What makes The Anderson News’ content interesting is that starting and stopping publishing mug shots of drunk drivers has to do with issue of morality not legality.

Legally speaking, the newspaper had every right to publish the mug shots. It is not uncommon to see stories on criminal cases in newspapers and by drinking and driving the residents of Anderson County gave up their right to privacy.

When The Anderson News began printing mug shots they were attempting to serve their public interest of keeping the streets safe. They were reporting the truth, it was relevant to the community, and using their power of voice to prevent drunk driving appeared to be a morally correct choice.

What the newspaper learned after publishing mug shots for some time was that they may be inflicting harm to their community that was not outweighed by the benefits of their drunk driving coverage. As the coverage led to teasing in schools, embarrassment among community members and, perhaps at its worst, a teenager’s attempted suicide. Analyzing these effects are what motivated the newspaper to pull the piece from their paper.

The Anderson News drunk driving coverage reminds us that being a journalist isn’t solely about circulating information. A good journalist needs to be able to understand the authority that comes with their position and how they can best serve their community.

Journalists must remember that just because something falls in the legal realm of possibility does not mean it is acceptable to publish it.

Lastly, an important point to note is that when The Anderson News pulled its drunk driving coverage, it was under a new editor. This makes me wonder if the newspaper’s employees had seen the moral issues with printing the names and images before the regular feature was pulled, but did not voice their opinions to their editor. If so, this brings up another point that journalists need to not only have a moral compass, but that they need to also be brave enough to stand up for what their gut is telling them.

A multimillion-dollar media holiday


When most people think of Valentine’s Day, the images that come to mind are chocolates, flowers, cards, and candlelit dinners—all manufactured images by advertisers and media companies that have perfected their techniques of triggering viewers’ tear ducts into consumerism. Once the holiday approaches, people are compelled to be suddenly generous and search for the ideal gift for loved ones, and it comes at a price.

The average person spends about $130 on Valentine’s Day each year, with men spending roughly double the amount of women. “The average man plans to shell out $135.35 to impress the people in his life while women only expect to spend $72.28,” stated a survey.

Advertisements continuously promote manufactured love—filled with clichéd greeting cards and abundant heart-shaped chocolates. Many people feel obligated by these unrealistic expectations portrayed through media to buy gifts, reserve dinners at fancy restaurants, and send Valentine cards to loved ones out of pure obligation to this mainstream holiday.

The Greeting Card Association states that about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, and that does not include the millions of cards exchanged by kids as well.

Furthermore, it is the most prosperous holiday for florists, with about 224 million roses grown every year before February. Data shows that 64 percent of men and 36 percent of women buy flowers for Valentine’s Day, according to the IPOS-Insight Floral Trends Consumer Tracking Study.

These costly expectations directly and indirectly affect relationships as well.

About six million people anticipate or plan a marriage proposal on Feb. 14 every year, creating a stigma that pressures many couples into making major decisions on a deadline. Coincidently, condom sales rapidly increase right before the holiday. According to the Indo-Asian News Service, “sales of condoms increase up to 20 percent during Valentine’s week,” which coincides with the supposed $15 million spent on infertility and pregnancy tests the following weeks after, according to The Nielsen Company.

All expenses aside, the holiday’s significance in American culture, and in cultures around the world, is founded in the precious nature of relationships—whether with a significant other, family, friends, or even colleagues and classmates.  While mainstream media have created a multimillion-dollar industry out of the holiday, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to make sure the people who mean the most in your life know they are loved. Maybe advertisers and corporations do have the right idea, after all.

Risk gene tied to Olympic athletes?


With the Olympic Winter Games well under way, it seems fitting to draw comparisons with its counterpart: the Olympic Summer Games.

While the summer games boast more athletes and a greater variety of events, the winter games exhibit an uncanny amount of risk-taking.

We watch 15-year-olds being thrown feet off the ice and perform pirouettes in the air, all while placing their safety in their partners hands.

Our jaws drop as we watch 17-year-olds ski 90 miles an hour down a steep hill that spans more than four football fields in length.

Our knuckles clench and turn white as we anxiously grip the edges of our seats while watching 26-year-olds rocket down icy sheets with their faces just mere inches from the solid surface.

While watching, most people are thinking something along the lines of “Are these people crazy?” Or “I would never be able to do that.”

The risks these athletes take on a daily basis are monumental and can be fatal in many cases.

Is this need for speed inherent? Former alpine ski racer, Todd Brooker seems to think so. He thinks “it’s just part of your life. It’s something you’re born with.”

In fact, he may actually be onto something.

For the past two decades, scientists have known of the existence of a risk gene, and they say that one in five of us possess the genetic marker.

Steve Perino, the ski reporter for NBC at the Sochi games, mentioned speed addiction in his coverage. Science supports this phenomenon by claiming that it is based on the chemical reaction that this type of risk taking behavior produces in the brain.

It would seem to make sense that something ingrained in our biological makeup would be the force behind some people’s complete lack of fear when it comes to performing tasks that most humans wouldn’t dare try.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a physician who covers health and medicine for NBC, said, “There’s a reason why some of us are spectators and others are Formula One drivers.”

How else can it be explained that some people perform death-defying acrobatics on a sharply inclined snowy hill that’s more than 30 stories tall, while others can’t even jump off a diving board that’s four feet off the ground?

In my opinion, it seems to make sense that there is a scientific reason as to why many of us are spectators, while a select few of us are in Sochi right now skiing down steep hills at over 80 mph. However, it also makes me think about how it will affect the games in an ethical way if people begin to get tested for such a gene.

The brilliance of the Olympics is watching teenagers and adults alike performing acts that many of us will never come close to executing. It’s seeing how they grew up miles or continents away from us and one day decided to pick up a snowboard when they were toddlers.

There’s an outpouring of heartfelt stories where we see athletes as two-year-olds diving into a pool for the first time, realizing they had a love for the water and then watching them stand on the podium with a gold medal in hand years later — proud of themselves, their determination, their hard work, and most importantly confident in their choice of pursuing these sports.

If people are able to test themselves for the gene, what’s going to happen if the only Olympians we see are those who tested positively and use that fact as their sole motivation? Will we still admire their courageousness and passion?

While very interesting, I believe that this gene may rid the Olympic Games of its very essence — becoming an athlete based on passion, love and dedication to the sport. Because you believe that you are capable of defying odds and taking risks. Not because some machine confirmed that you’re genetically made for something greater.

So what’s the final verdict? Can this extraordinary defiance of fear be founded upon science? Are Olympians destined to become risk-takers from birth? Is there a concrete, scientific reason that explains why we don’t all become Olympians? And most importantly, what will happen to the Olympics if people begin to test themselves for the risk gene?

Snow days can still require school work


It seems that nearly everywhere in America there are intense winter storms, shutting down schools and giving students a break from classes.

Or so they would hope.

Just a couple of decades, even years, ago, when all schoolwork was strictly in the classroom, a snow day meant staying in bed and maybe spending some extra time with the family.

In the era that we live in now, just about all of our schoolwork is regularly online, whether it’s homework, PowerPoint slides, or necessary readings.

While many stressed out students would love to just relax for a day or two and catch up on some work, their professors and teachers alike continue to give them assignments online.

It seems to be a growing phenomenon as more news media sites are reporting this trend and more students are complaining. I find the complaints appropriate, though.

Being from Florida, I’m used to not having school due to bad weather, too, but it is usually from tropical storms such as hurricanes.

While there was always a threat of danger and the power going out, these days were great for catching up on sleep and possibly getting ahead in work.

Now, I worry that if we get another hurricane day, I’ll still be stressed out doing work.

Another thing to consider with this situation is with all the work being posted online, what about the students who are located in an area where the power does go out?

Is there a way that they can produce a document that they were truly unable to do any work online without an Internet connection to begin with?

I feel like this solution that schools are using will work for a little while but will have many complications arise soon.

I’m aware that some schools find it to be necessary.

When Hurricane Sandy happened, for example, schools that had to be shut down petitioned for an official “virtual,” school day so that they wouldn’t go over the three snow days already given and have to add school days to a future vacation day.

This is an instance where a virtual school day seems great.

Still though, being in college, there have been moments where I have wished for a snow day so I can have a moment to recharge.

Maybe I shouldn’t wish for those kinds of days anymore, since snow days aren’t necessarily fun days anymore.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all turns out and to see how students take to it.

Airline’s video: Offensive? Entertaining?


Every time a flight is about to take off, the airline rolls a safety video for passengers. Yet, very often many get distracted and do not watch it.

For this reason, Air New Zealand partnered with the magazine Sports Illustrated to produce the video “Safety in Paradise.” The video was filmed in the Cook Islands, and shows models explaining all safety procedures in case of an emergency.

Air New Zealand debuted the video this Tuesday and will begin to play it in all of its flights commencing at the end of February.

However, what was thought to bring entertainment and work as an attention getter for passengers to prepare in case of an emergency; caught the attention of many in a negatively.

The video unraveled controversy because it showed women with few clothe on. But, isn’t it normal to show women in swimsuits if they are in the beach?

If people get offended because of the bikini, probably New Zealand is not the right destination for these people since they will surely find women in bikini.

Some have praised the company for the marketing strategies, but others have criticized it.

Sexist … malnourished models … not really showing the true beauty of the Cook Islands?

“It seems that suddenly they are saying that my sexuality is all that matters about me,”  Deborah Russell, professor at Massey University, said to the Sydney Morning Herald.

A video showing several models at the beach does not make the company sexist and it does not mean that Air New Zealand is trying to say how women should be or look like. Contrarily, the company depicts the beauty of the Island and its people. And the video has surely attracted plenty of news media attention.

Some people may approve and others disapprove the video, but certainly the company accomplished its goal: to get people to pay attention to the safety video.

The video has gone viral in YouTube reaching more than six million views in less than one week.

In my opinion, Air New Zealand has done a great job with the safety video. It is a creative way of displaying important information that will surely get the attention of passengers.

Sexual orientation knocks on NFL door


Earlier this week, former Missouri football player Michael Sam announced in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay.

While the progressive point of view is this should be no news at all, the reality of the situation is there has never been an openly gay player in any major American sport.

I would be more than thrilled if this had no affect on Sam’s upcoming NFL Draft stock, however, that will not be the case.

The NFL has always been the American sport to hold the “macho” title. They are known as the guys who play through concussions and broken bones, so there was no way a gay man could suit up, right?

The various owners and general managers who believe these ignorant stereotypes need a reality check. There will be those who say he will be a distraction because of the media attention, but that will be out of the way after the first week of training camp.

It is important that journalists continue their support of Sam to pressure owners into researching his football talent, not his personal life.

Focus on Sam’s accolades, such as co-SEC defensive player of the year. Winners of this award since 2004 include David Pollack, Patrick Willis, Glenn Dorsey, Eric Berry, Rolando McClain, Nick Fairley, Morris Claiborne, and Jarvis Jones. Another thing these players have in common, they were all first round picks.

While I understand collegiate success does not always translate to the NFL, there are players who have actual issues related to drugs or violation of team rules. When the media examines these problems, teams use answers such as “we thought the reward outweighed the risk.”

I can tell you that also holds true here.

An anonymous source at Missouri who interacts with players on a daily basis said, “that over the season, he barely thought about Sam’s sexual orientation.”

If college students who are not yet fully matured can embrace Sam, this should be no problem for an NFL team.

The news media needs to focus on the idea that this is a game. The ESPNs of the world harp on the SEC being far and away the best conference in college football . Well, Sam was the best defensive player in the best conference of football. If that does not prove enough to move past this issue, I do not know what will.

Weather news no longer boring


The No. 1 thing people are told not to discuss if they are worried about appearing boring is…


If you guessed correctly, congratulations. You could’ve just won a round of “Family Feud.”

Weather is generally accepted as one of the most mundane small-talk topics known to man, reserved to be spoken about only as a last resort.

However, lately weather has been the topic on everyone’s lips and on every news platform.

What causes a boring topic to catapult to the front page of every paper, lead story of television newscasts, and the home page of every news Web site?

The answer is the bizarre factor.

Winter storms in the north and northeast will be mentioned in the local paper, but won’t usually receive so much as a blurb in national news. But when a few inches of snow paralyzes the entire metropolitan area of Atlanta, the weather certainly makes headlines.

Atlanta became a classic example of Murphy’s Law when the storm hit. Traffic stopped resulting in 20-hour commutes, children were held overnight in their schools, citizens were encouraged to stay home and off the roads. The nation’s ninth largest metropolitan city, the headquarters of CNN, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and even the Weather Channel, was unable to respond efficiently.

Reporters went wild. After all, it’s not every day that the south gets snow, and it’s not every day that a city actually shuts down over two-plus inches of it.

The problems caused by the weather were so extensive that reporters continued to follow the story after the icy situation had been resolved, analyzing who was at fault for Atlanta’s inefficient emergency response system.  The buzz created even extended into this week. Reporters Wednesday wrote stories spectating on Atlanta’s reaction to another incoming storm before it even hit.

Though this week’s storm was more severe than the one prior, it appears Atlanta learned its lesson from the “Snow-pocolypse.” People have been staying off the roads and government buildings and schools were closed well in advance to avoid the traffic.

Whether the weather-obsessed reporters had to anything to do with Atlanta’s much cleaner response to storm number two is up for interpretation. My guess is that Atlanta didn’t want to be the recipient of northern ridicule again.