Soccer star donates brain for research


Articles concerning topics on both sports and science tend to either be doping focused or either too scientifically written, exclusively catering to a selected few. Rarely are there sport science stories that appeal to a larger audience, and so when there happens to be one that catches public attention it’s always worth taking a look why articles like these draw so much attention.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 2.48.24 PMBrandi Chastain, former U.S. national soccer team member, just announced that she will be donating her brain to Boston University for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) research.

Chastain rose to fame after scoring the shootout goal in the 1999 World Cup, ousting China in the final match.

Currently, in her late 40s, Chastain is assuming the role of a mother as well as that of a soccer coach in her community.

After the announcement, Chastain has become the second national soccer team member to donate her brain for research. Soccer players, similar to other athletes like boxers and football players are prone to concussions and minor impacts in mild traumatic brain injuries that result to CTE. With Chastain’s contribution to CTE research, it will be of significant value for the entire soccer community.

It was The New York Times that released this story on Chastain and I commend The Times for being able to present the article to its audience in such an empowering manner.

The article does not only shed light on how Chastain willingly wanted to contribute to her sport in her own little way, but also puts into context different issues relating to CTE risk, all by doing so in an educational way.

The article also included a question and answer response, which did enhance and strengthen the article content all the more.

The issue of woman empowerment was taken onto another step when it was linked onto how recent developments are made to benefit female sports icons like Chastain herself.

Andrews testifies in stalker, hotel lawsuit


Earlier this week, Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews finished testifying in a $75 million lawsuit against a stalker and the owner of a Nashville Marriott hotel.

Andrews claims that the hotel allowed a stalker to occupy the room next to hers in 2008. The stalker, Michael David Barrett, recorded nude footage of Andrews through a peephole and leaked the videos onto the Internet. Barrett has since served time in prison for his crime.

Andrews believes both the hotel and her stalker are responsible for emotional damage.

In her testimony, Andrews also alleged that ESPN, her employer at the time, refused to let her continue reporting on college football until she spoke publicly about the matter. Andrews said that the network wanted her to clarify whether or not the incident had been a publicity stunt.

In a field like journalism, where the “truth” is of the utmost importance, Andrews’ situation begs the question: when is human compassion more important than an accurate story?

If you ask me, ESPN undeniably overstepped its boundaries by asking a woman who was a victim of sexual exploitation to relive the incident on national television.

Whether or not it had been a publicity stunt, ESPN should have treated the statements of a fellow employee with the highest respect and consideration. Forcing any person, male or female, to speak about such a sensitive subject is a tasteless invasion of privacy.

I truly hope that Andrews is exaggerating the way ESPN addressed the situation. It would be a shame to learn that such a respected sports news network lacked the basic human compassion necessary in dealing with sexual exploitation.

As a note for other networks in the future: sometimes “getting the story” just isn’t worth the damage to a person’s mental and emotional health. Always be cautious.

And now, h-e-r-e’s Donnie!


Well, another day of the news media’s time spent on Donald Trump. This election campaign is turning into our reality, or should I say, our reality show.

I am writing this on March 2, 2016—the day after Super Tuesday, which so happened to fall on my birthday — and who did I spend my birthday with, you ask? Well, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, of course.

Clinton and Trump won the day for their respective parties; each earned the delegates of seven states to take even larger leads in the race to become their party’s nominee.

All I have heard today from the news media has been arguments for and against Trump and the strategies that the establishment group of Republican Party leaders should implement to prevent Trump from becoming their nominee.

There has been little to no mention of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or the Democratic Party, if only to show the results from last night and compare them to Donald Trump, who I am now going to refer to as “Donnie” because I am bored from hearing his name everywhere, all the time.

The news media have been so saturated with Trump that most of my social media is inundated with articles involving the controversialist. I feel as though the news media are trying to suffocate me with all things Trump.

As I was watching CNN, I saw some scrolling text at the bottom of its graphic, which showed that the culprit behind the murders of the two Virginia college students, Jesse Matthew Jr., has been sentenced to four consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty.

You would think that such news would at least garner a minute, or two, of screen time to be addressed to the public, but no, the news media have opted to focus on Donnie once again.

It has become abundantly clear that this is our reality, our reality show.

News media fuel Trump’s campaign fire


Donald Trump’s campaign for president started out as a mere joke to some, but not for him. People laughed and took a shot at guessing how long it would be until the radical billionaire would drop out of the election. It was even a joke to the news media, which made it a point to cover Donald Trump’s latest offensive comment or outlandish statement every single week.

Whether it was negative publicity or not, Donald Trump was getting publicity. Publicity that would seem to have discouraged voters from supporting Trump actually helped to build his popularity. Now here we are, just days after Super Tuesday, and it appears as though Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

From name-calling to false accusations, Donald Trump made his way into the news media spotlight right from the beginning of the campaign. At the beginning, it was his comment calling Mexicans “rapists” that sent the news media into an uproar. Then it was his statements on his plans to require Muslim-Americans to register with a government database and carry around identification cards that brought him to the center of media attention.

While the Trump’s constant news media coverage seemed to just point out his extreme views and that he was unfit to be president, it actually helped him in the long run. Trump was getting attention and publicity that no other Republican candidate was receiving. When you turned on your television to a news station, chances are Trump was the first face you saw.

The news media actually helped increase Trump’s popularity by covering him so much.

Now, as the campaign gets down to the wire, the news media have switched their approach with coverage of Trump. The news media are starting to portray Trump as a true presidential contender and focus more on the Republican Party’s plan to stop Trump from getting the nomination. Information about Republican senators’ ideas on how to stop Trump from getting the nomination are starting to surface. It is becoming a reality that Trump could actually be the Republican nominee.

In retrospect, Donald Trump’s case shows how crucial the news media are when it comes to swaying the public. When the news media constantly cover someone, it forces people to pay attention to them and form an opinion about them. Donald Trump’s case is also a prime example of the popular phrase, “No publicity is bad publicity.”

‘Spotlight’ illuminates a sensitive topic


In response to the film “Spotlight” winning the Best Picture Academy Award last Sunday, news coverage has rekindled its fire toward the issue of sexual assault in the Catholic Church.

“Spotlight” tells the story of an original investigation conducted by the Boston Globe that began in 2002, when reporters in the Globe’s investigative team started to analyze cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Recently CBS News released information that a Grand Jury report had found two bishops had hidden more than 100 sexual assault cases by more than 50 priests and religious leaders in the past 40 years. Evidence was found for these cases in a secretive dioceses archive.

News media are the only way a population will be informed about what goes in the world around them. While I appreciated the quality of storytelling that “Spotlight” did in order for the public to know about the issue, I am sad that it took almost 14 years after the original investigation in order for people to recognize its relevance again.

Does it really take a Hollywood picture to emphasize the weight of corruptness inside of this religious organization, or in any organization?

If that truly is the case, then the news media should emphasize other channels in order to get across crucial messages. A compelling story like this one could not have been told in a more emotional, factual and enlightening way.

Film is a medium of communication that has not been unlocked to its full potential and is one of the few art forms and media channels that engages an audience through almost every sense.

While issues like this one and undoubtedly others go unnoticed, it is our job as the media to not only inform the public, but also truly convey the importance and pertinence of current issues in whatever media channel that is most effective.

Colombian journalist airs sex tape


Last week, Colombia faced a major wiretapping scandal, which led to the resignation of various public officials.

The scandal started when prominent radio host, news anchor and journalist, Vicky Dávila published a secretly filmed video of a 2008 conversation about gay sex between Senator Carlos Ferro and Police Capitan Anyelo Palacios.

She stated that she released the video as an attempt to expose alleged grave sexual misconduct within the National Police, a complaint that has been investigated by other journalists for months.

The content of the video was so strong that it immediately forced the resignation of Ferro,  vice minister of the Interior and National Police Director General Rodolfo Palomino, who had already been charged with sexual harassment.

After the scandal, the whole country, including the news media, was divided in two. People joined either one side or the other; there was no neutral opinion in this case.

One side believed that Dávila published the video in order to help the state with the investigation of the “Fellowship of the Ring,” an alleged gay prostitution network in the police force, which cannot be tolerated. People such as Dávila, those who supported the publication of the video, concluded that the information released served as a proof of the prostitution ring.

The other side, the one I support, claimed that the broadcasting and publishing of this extremely intimate video shows zero evidence of any involvement in prostitution; instead, it only publicizes private matters of professional politicians. Yes, the video proved that the former parliamentarian had had a relationship with a policeman, but it also showed that it would have been consensual.

How are we journalists covering things? Should our beliefs affect our objectivity?

Here is where the journalism’s role as the watchdog of the public interests at its heart should be brought into question.

Colombians might be interested to know where and with who their public figures sleep at night, but since this conduct doesn’t interfere with their assigned work, it should remain private. These persons should be judged by their professional performance, what they do for sexual pleasure, as long as it’s legal, should not be considered a public concern.

The pressure and comments from social media were so explosive that the video was removed from the networks and Dávila resigned as well.

So, did she have a genuine public interest in revealing this or was it something more personal? Despite the reason, journalists should be more careful with what they are publishing.

Words are powerful, they can contribute a lot, but they can also destroy; as Ferro, the victim of this whole story said: “I hope that justice can give me back the dignity journalist Vicky Dávila wanted to snatch from me.”

Carson sees ‘no path forward’ in race


Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson announced Wednesday that he will not be attending Detroit’s Thursday GOP debate and sees “no political path forward” with his bid for presidency after Super Tuesday’s underwhelming results.

Although he will not be attending the debate being held in his hometown, reports confirm that the retired neurosurgeon will not be stepping down as a candidate. In a statement shared on all his social media sites, Carson told his supporters that he would discuss the future of his campaign Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

“Even though I will not be in my hometown of Detroit on Thursday, I remain deeply committed to my home nation, America,” Carson said. “I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results. However, this grassroots movement on behalf of “We the People” will continue.”

In recent debates, Carson has been out-shined by fellow candidates Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Carson has said that he has struggled to gain any speaking time during the heated debates. This has caused his numbers to tumble, finishing no higher than fourth in any state during Super Tuesday.

During Thursday’s Houston debate, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio joined forces with a plan to take down Trump attacking the controversial candidate many times throughout the debate, leaving no room for Carson to put a word in.

At one point, Carson interrupted and jumped in.

“Can someone attack me please,” he said in a plea to get some talk time.

This downfall comes as a surprise to most of us since last fall, during the launch of his presidential campaign, Carson rose to the top among the likes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Although he has denied ending his bid for presidency, it is highly likely that Carson will be stepping down from the race within the next coming days.

ACC titles still up for grabs for Canes


The ACC regular season title is at stake in the final week of regular season play for the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team.  The Canes enter this week with a 12-4 mark in ACC, which is a half game back from North Carolina and a half game up on Virginia.

In order to win the regular season outright, the Canes must win their last two games and UNC must lose in Durham on Saturday against Duke.  This is quite possible, if you ask me.

If Miami wins out and UNC beats Duke, then they share the ACC regular season title.

Packed in one of the best conferences in the country, the Canes have been able to come up with signature wins against Virginia, Duke and Louisville.  They have been virtually unstoppable at home going undefeated in the ACC at the Bank United Center.

Senior Day against Louisville brought out the loudest crowd of the year and a resume booster for the Canes, as they still have a chance to get a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Washington, D.C., will be a tough test for the Canes, as they look to win the ACC tournament.  They will likely receive a double bye into the quarterfinal round, as Louisville will not be competing.

The Canes have been flawless in neutral site games after dominating the Puerto Rico tournament where they beat ranked Utah and Butler.

I would like to see if the Canes can surpass their accomplishments from the 2012-13 season where they won both the regular season and ACC tournament and made it to the Sweet 16.  This years team has the tools for a March Madness run, and it will be their best chance yet.

A winning year for women at Oscars


I found it really interesting that while other news websites were talking about the highlights of the Oscars being about the racial diversity speech of Chris Rock, which was also important, Vox decided to also talk about a gender issue that has confronted many women on the cinema industry: the lack of women winning categories in the Oscars. This year, as the website pointed, it was the best year for women “in ages.”

Vox pointed that for the first time, a woman — Sara Bannet — won the category of Visual Effects Supervisor, for the movie “Ex Machina.” The category is usually dominated by men. Also, many other women won the categories of Documentary Short, Live Action Short, Production Design, Makeup, Costume Design and Film Editing.

What was also interesting is that Vox pointed that the awards itself were not the biggest accomplishment for women of the night, but the stories that the movies focused on. Usually, two women won the Oscars for lead actress and best supporting actress, and sometimes the woman does a part in which she supports the man in the movie.

This time, Brie Larson won the category of Best Actress for “Room” in which the story is centered on a woman. Other movies were also centered in a female figure, like “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” “Amy” and “Inside Out.”

Other than movies, there was a presentation at the Oscars by Lady Gaga in which she focused on sexual assault both for men and women and for women specifically on “Mad Max,” “Room” and “A Girl in The River.”

Other issues still have to approached in the Oscars, specially the racial diversity – no women with color won the Oscar this year, Vox pointed — for all the genders. The focus that the news website gave to the event was interesting and it analyzed the Oscar in a different journalistic way.