Why bad mouth aspiring NFL stars?


With the NFL draft approaching on May 8, the dissection of young athletes personal lives has once again came to the forefront of sports reporting.

Whether it is Johnny Manziel attending the Masters with his dad or Jadeveon Clowney deciding to not participate in individual workouts, everything these athletes do is carefully analyzed.

The ridicule player’s take for making personal decisions regarding their future is laughable.

If Manziel wants to attend the world’s most famous golfing event to get away from his preparation for the draft for a weekend, who are we to tell him he is wrong? Millions of people watched the Masters from their homes, but because Manziel has the means to attend he should be ridiculed?

In Clowney’s case, he has not only played three collegiate football seasons but has also attended the NFL Combine and a personal pro-day held at The University of South Carolina. Teams have more information than they need to evaluate him, yet when he decides to sit out due to the risk of injury his “heart” and love of the game is questioned.

The decisions these athletes make are based on their own moral values and what they believe to be best for them. They are not making decisions that are detrimental to anybody else yet they are repeatedly questioned.

Before reporters write an article dissecting Manziel’s personal judgment, think back to when you were 21 years old. If you had millions of dollars coming your way, do you not think you would partake in the endeavors these athletes choose?

Bring pay for play to campus


Shabazz Napier is at the top of the sports world right now. After being named All-American, NCAA tournament MVP and leading the University of Connecticut to a national championship, he is having celebrities such as LeBron James tweeting about his game. This, however, does not prevent him from going to bed “starving” some nights.

In an interview prior to the Monday night’s NCAA championship game, Napier was quoted saying “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving”.

After the win, Napier will get a few free t-shirts and even his jersey retired, but not any money.

Connecticut Coach Kevin Ollie will almost certainly get a significant raise from his $1.2 million salary he earned this year, leaving the players as the only ones not profiting from this multi-million dollar event.

Many players agree with Napier’s sentiments about “when you see your jersey getting sold and things like that, you feel like you want something in return.”

The fact that college athletes do not make money is “obscene,” said Connecticut Rep. Matthew Lesser. Coaches, presidents and schools reap the benefits of these individuals’ talents, yet those who are actually producing on the court, field or track do not see any.

Recently Northwestern University’s football team has been discussing a union among its players similar to the NFL’s players union. This would allow them to be involved in discussions that have a direct affect on the team’s football decisions.

Coaches and presidents alike are urging the team against unionization, as it takes money out of their pockets. It has come to the point where enough is enough. NCAA student-athletes deserve fair treatment.

The media must continue to push the NCAA to usher changes in how they run their business.

Players do not always have the luxury of speaking out their opinion on this specific matter. Certain coaches monitor and discontinue social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, ensuring their players do not speak against their university.

It is time to open your eyes, NCAA President Mark Emmert. Help the players who generate the income and, ultimately, your $1.7 million salary.


Make room for obscenities in journalism


A recent phone conversation was leaked involving United States Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland saying “F*** the EU”.

Nuland was referring to the European Union and her belief that in order for a solution to occur in Ukraine, they will need to be of assistance.

I am not concerned on Nuland’s views, but why it is still necessary to replace profane language in journalism?

The barriers of using offensive language have broadened in society, yet journalism lags behind with no intention of change.

Yes, there are some situations in which explicit language is unnecessary. However, it is often essential in understanding the context of the message.

The actual visibility of an obscene word allows us to understand the message better than filling the space with asterisks.

Euphemisms and other similar tactics do not provide justice to the reader in seeing the honest story.

Many blogs and more progressive outlets allow their writers to publish content with obscenities. If we want mainstream journalism to continue it must keep up with the changing of society.

When New York Congressman Michael Grimm threated to throw a reporter of a balcony, much of his language had to be bleeped out.

Although we were able to understand what was said, the videos and recordings do not do justice to the fearfulness the reporter must have felt.

So please mainstream publications, start writing what you actually mean and put an end to patronizing your audiences.

Going pro: A personal choice


As March Madness continues on its second weekend of play, numerous players have life changing decisions to make in the upcoming weeks.

Declaring for the NBA draft and forfeiting the rest of your NCAA athletic eligibility is a personal decision that should be left up to the players themselves to make.

The news media make declarations that certain players should stay due to their physical maturation and skill, but often fail to recognize these athletes have earned the right to make the decision on their own.

Formulating an opinion for a player you know very little personal information about is a sensitive subject. You do not know their family’s financial situation or the player’s personal aspirations.

Urging someone to forfeit the guarantee of millions of dollars is not a decision that you should try and sway either way. If a player feels he needs time to develop before he makes the jump to the NBA, he and his family will come to that conclusion.

Those who earn the league minimum still make $490,180. Many professional athletes come from broken homes that are relying on them for support.

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim was quoted saying, “you gotta be in the top seven eight, 10 picks to make sure you’re going to be playing in the NBA,” which is subjectively wrong.

The NBA develops players faster than the NCAA, as basketball becomes your full-time job.

While it is easy to write an article saying somebody should stay in college, put yourself in their shoes. If you were guaranteed to achieve a personal goal of playing in the NBA and get paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, would you say no?

Separating fact, fiction of Flight 370


Nearly two weeks ago, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared with 239 passengers on board.

Information regarding the flights whereabouts has become some of the most sought after daily news. Many different theories and conspiracies have been brought to the public’s eye through various methods of news.

Networks such as CNN have been dedicating hours upon hours to this single issue, endlessly talking about a discussion that has no concrete answer.

It is important that the media focuses their theories based on certainties that have been given rather than headlines that will receive views.

The fact that there is no definitive answer yet on where the plane is located gives journalists the opportunity to write stories they know will garner attention. Rather than pushing their readers to known truths, many are spreading conspiracies that often times have no basis.

While I understand those in the media are under heavy pressure to entice readers to their page, spreading fictional work is not the way to go about it.

People are drawn to abnormal headlines as they want to be apart of something that has never happened before. There are many people who are hoping the disappearance of the plane is a conspiracy, as numerous stories would come from it.

While nobody truly knows where this flight is, I hope news networks and journalists alike stop pushing their own personal agendas. It is tedious to watch analysts argue about something they know very little accurate information about.

The NBA’s ‘tanking’ problem


If you’re not first, you’re last. That’s how many NBA owners and general managers feel.

In the NBA, the concept of “tanking,” or purposely-losing games, is a strategy that has become popular in recent years.

Those in the management circle of franchises know the worst place to be in the NBA is stuck in the middle. Teams that consistently make the playoffs, but lose in the first round, have very few methods to get better.

Larger market teams such as the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers do not deal with such problems, as their cities help them lure free agents to their teams.

Nevertheless, smaller markets do not possess the glitz and glamour lifestyle to help them lure top-tier talent.

The NBA has a procedure that essentially rewards teams for losing games. By losing the most games, you have the highest chance of obtaining the No. 1 draft pick.

This system begs teams to lose games, making the product on the court worse.

Owners care about fans for one reason and one reason only, money. They will put them through endless seasons of losing basketball as long as their profits continue to increase.

It is necessary for Commissioner Adam Silver to change the lottery system the draft is run on. Fans are being robbed by paying absurd ticket prices only to see a team not give its full effort.

If the NBA is going to continue preaching progression, it is time for them to fix the draft.

Limiting racial slurs in the NFL?


In recent years, professional sports have instituted new policies to clean up the bad images they previously portrayed. For example, the NBA initiated a rule in which players had to dress professionally to attend their own games.

Now the NFL has proposed restrictions on offensive language use. I understand the NFL’s proposed rule. The league wants to rid an offensive word that is a racial slur from the field and locker rooms due to its disrespectful meaning.

This, however, is a middle ground in which the NFL improves its image without dealing with many other significant issues about race in society.

In recent years, there has been discussion of changing the Washington Redskins team name, yet no progress has been made. The NFL is worried about protecting its image, but apparently not at the expense of losing money.

The league sells Redskins’ merchandise, making millions of dollars a year without second thought.

I also wonder, if the NFL is serious about cleaning up the language used among players and coaches, why is the N-word the only one getting its own rule? There are many other offensive words that have racial undertones and are getting no attention from the league.

In today’s NFL culture, the N-word is common language amongst players. Will a referee throw a flag, if the word is used as a friendly gesture — or just as an insult?

I see the benefits this proposed NFL rule would have on the league. There are people who do not understand the harmful nature of this word. They do not understand its racial significance, and the removal of the word would bring these issues to the forefront of the news.

Even so, the NFL should step down. If the league only protects the N-word, it will make it seem other racially derogatory terms are not as important. Take more time and propose a rule that would rid of all demeaning words.

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.

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.

Care needed in covering NFL drug policy


The risks and benefits of marijuana use to treat injuries has become a major debate in National Football League circles. With the recent increase in awareness about concussions, marijuana is being looked at as an option to treat these often-occurring injuries.

While most NFL reporters are familiar covering statistics from games, this issue brings a political discussion that is taking place in our government right now.

Journalists must approach this topic with caution, as there is no concrete evidence to suggest that it is either helpful or harmful to remedy injuries. It is however time for not only doctors, but journalists to closely examine the effects it could potentially have as a useful substance.

Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks’ Coach Pete Carroll agrees with this notion saying, “the world of medicine is trying to do the exact same thing and figure it out and they’re coming to some conclusions.”

While marijuana might not be a useful medicine to utilize, the addiction to painkillers that many NFL players deal with proves there is a need for change. Former offensive lineman Kyle Turley recalls after games “ The trainers and the doctors used to go down the aisle [of the plane] and say, ‘Who needs what?” in regard to substances such as Vicodin.

While this is a touchy subject to report on, it is critical the news media communicate the findings medical researchers and doctors have about this substance. With the league currently continuing to look for ways to increase player safety, we have to know if they will go to extreme lengths that may be unpopular with fans of the game.

The political argument does not matter if the risks outweigh the benefits. Football is a lethal sport and if the new findings prove any advantages in helping with the injuries that occur, they must be taken advantage of.

There will be reporters scared of the repercussions the NFL might set down on them if they publish a story that negatively affects them, but that does not matter. The people have the right to know what this new-found research proves.