Archive for May, 2014

Super Mario Bros. for NES introduced the concept in the early 80s. After defeating Bowser in the first castle, Mario finds a one of the Toad people who informs him that his journey is far from over. The Legend of Zelda takes this concept to the next level. Link battles through all of Hyrule just to find that he can save Princess Zelda, but he does not really get the girl in the end. These characters are joined by many as the icons that gamers spend hours trying to save and protect. With the significant influence from their games, does this have an effect on how they see real life relationships and expectations of the opposite sex?

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A couple of days ago, Arthur Chu over at The Daily Beast blogged to discuss this very issue. His article highlighted how the recent actions of one man serve as an example for how men have become misguided in their assumptions of finding relationships, love, and sex with women. Being there to save the princess does not automatically mean that the princess must give herself to the hero’s every whim. Also highlighted were shows like The Big Bang Theory, which portrays its lead character living across from a beautiful woman and finding a way to be her close friend until he finally is able to date her. He highlights how these images have distorted some men’s views and caused them to expect a return on their success and good behavior. When those expectations are not met and some men feel slighted by life, they have taken it out on women through violence, rape, and murder.

Chu’s article covers a lot of related elements, but its main point is definitely strong and true. Men, whether video game players, movie watchers, or otherwise, have come to expect that success leads to whatever they want in a partner. In some cases, this presumption even exists without success as an assumed indicator of relationship likelihood. Take the incident in Santa Barbara, CA. Assuming that women owe any man anything with regards to sex, love, or otherwise is naive and chauvinistic. To act against women because you feel slighted is foolish. To enter into any space to kill woman as symbolism of your vengeance against an entire sex for made-up expectations you created is just plain horrific.

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It does not matter if the guy feels led on. It does not matter if the woman one lusts after has been a friend for their entire lives. It does not matter if the guy feels that he is about to permanently end up in the “friend zone.” None of these scenarios deserve the actions that one man perpetrated in that sorority house. I refuse to give his manifesto and YouTube videos any direct attention, but I cannot help but feel disgusted by his expectations of women and his reactions to feeling rejected. Everyone has felt rejected for some reason or another. Maybe there was a job you really wanted or a promotion for which you thought you would be perfect. Maybe you have a sibling who gets more attention than you think they deserve. Maybe a teacher or professor struggles to see a point you made or the effort you put into an assignment. The answer to any of these issues is not to seek vengeance or enact some sort of violence in the name of your damaged ego.

You know what qualities most women seem to appreciate? What about communication? What about respect? What if a man who was interested in a woman just simply asked her if she was interested too? If she said no, is it not time to move on and hope for better luck with someone else?

One of the important things that Chu took time to highlight was the media’s attention on the shooter’s mental illness. While I studied psychology in college and appreciate the controllable and uncontrollable elements of mental and emotional challenges, they do not make up the entire story of a person’s actions and do not absolve a person of wrongdoing. The reality is that rape culture is still prevalent, women’s rights are still not equal in the eyes of human rights advocates, and social culture still fails to resolve perception issues with entitlements and expectations of men over women. the answer is not to keep women for flirting or dressing provocatively. It is not to teach women how to protect themselves from potential attackers or stalkers (even though those are valuable skills given the current social climate). It is for men to learn what it really means to be a man.

Being a man is about respect for oneself and those around them. It is about being advocates for equal rights and treatment for men an women. It is about respecting the choices of other and being accountable for your own. Save the princess if you choose to…just do not expect her to bow to your needs afterwards. Gratitude is nice, but returning affections is a choice that she deserves the right to make. If your princess is in another castle, then do not give up or blame the one in front of you for your situation. Learn to move on and “fight” for what you want but not expect things that are out of your control.

Chu choose the right words when he says, “He needed to grow up. We all do.” Dream about what you want but do not blame others for how it turns out. You only have yourself to hold accountable.

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It would be easy for the entire discussion of the NBA’s playoffs to be about the play on the court. In a year where five 1st round match-ups go to 7 games and 8-seeds have chances of knocking off 1-seeds, the competitiveness is off the charts. There are few teams that look like they can breeze their way through the conference finals, if they can even make it out of the first two rounds. Unfortunately, there is just as much action happening off of the court, and it happens to be with one of the playoff teams.

The Clippers are fighting their battle against the Thunder, but owner Donald Sterling have caused them to rally against another opponent…owner Donald Sterling. This is not new to the organization, as Sterling has made comments and run the organization in some questionable ways in the past. The element that made the current situation more volatile was his direct and public displeasure for racially-diverse individuals attending his games. The soundbite has been played millions of times by now and it was mostly silence from Sterling after the story broke. Other than saying that he wanted to remain connected with the team, there was no reaction about his actual comments until more recently.

vstiviano-MAGIC-2So what did he say…after posting a picture with Magic Johnson, Stiviano, Sterling’s girlfriend, was told by Sterling to take the Instagram post down. She eventually removed the picture, but Sterling went on to say, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” He went on to make comments about not wanting to have black people brought into his arena. Sterling supposedly was shocked to later find out that he had been recorded and the audio was leaked to the public.

This reveal produced an immediate public reaction of disgust and anger toward the owner. Many were ready to remove ownership immediately, and the NBA was too. Though there is a process that has to be followed, new commissioner Adam Silver addressed the public to announce that Sterling had been given a lifetime ban from NBA activities, a fine, and a forced sale of the team would be decided by the other NBA owners. This tough decision is something that has not been experienced in other major sport, but the NBA got it right. No tolerance for bigoted comments and poor leadership of an organization is the right call.

Sterling decided to break his silence finally with an interview with Anderson Cooper. During this interview, Sterling proceeded to claim that he was sorry for his comments and was in disbelief that he would ever say such hurtful things. He seemed to blame Stiviano for the commentary and proceeded to reinsert his foot into his mouth by dragging Magic Johnson back into the conversation. Now claiming that Magic has failed to be a good role model for people of color, he contradicted himself by trying to insert comments about Magic’s greatness around commentary against Magic’s outreach and example to the children of Los Angeles.

sn_a_cliipers_kh_600x600The impact of this interview and Sterling’s statements only intensifies the frustration with a man who clearly does not understand the concept of racism. You do not need to be a social justice advocate to recognize that Sterling has continued to make statements that are just plain offensive. He shows a lack of integrity and respect for anyone of color. He could not even just give a straight apology in front of Anderson Cooper. He had to interject comments of continued disrespect and return to referencing his opinions of Magic Johnson. If he wants to talk about poor examples, he should just look at himself in a mirror and take a moment to think about what he has been saying publicly. He has perpetuated social rifts between people of different races by failing to own the statements he has made on multiple occasions. Acting like he is shocked at himself, ignoring his past (un-adjudicated) discretions, and continuing his poor public representation do not make a case against his racism.

The NBA and Clippers organization has reacted quite professionally throughout this process. Silver announced the decision against Sterling and immediately pushed for the owners to start the process of the forced sale. The players protested Sterling’s involvement with the team by hiding the Clippers logo on their uniforms around the time of Silver’s announcement. Coach Doc Rivers took the high road and tried to keep the team focused on playoff success and commented only to state his displeasure with the failure of Sterling to understand his impact on the topic of racism and failure to appropriately apologize for his indiscretions.

The hope is that Sterling can be removed completely from the Clippers and we can get back to basketball. The games go on but this wretched situation continues to fester in the background. The NBA has made a bold decision and definitely needs to continue to stand behind it.

Hello! It has been a while since I was on here commenting on the broad range of topics on this blog, but I am back and ready to take on the NFL…at least with some draft analysis.

The first thing I will say is that ESPN and the NFL surely have enough money to pay for more than 1 song to represent the draft. While I know that Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” is well-fitting and was used last season with some commercials, it was just too much to use it after every pick, into every commercial break, and any time they had to fill some space. That certainly felt like an attempt to overplay a song so much that peoples’ heads would explode from the insanity. No offense to Aloe, but I hope to not hear that song for quite some time.

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Now on to the actual draft…

Starting with my home team, the Washington Redskins had some interesting conversation surrounding this draft. Some of this was off-the-field issues that would certainly detract from the actual movement of the team’s front office. The name dispute continues to grow again, this time surrounding the NBA’s reaction to Donald Sterling’s offensive comments. This is a story that will continue to weave itself back into conversation over and over again until the team finally makes a change. My personal belief is that the name is offensive and the organization could do with the change, even just to stop the insanity. Snyder will never have it and the other owners cannot seem to do a thing about it, especially in a league that fails to live up to the same standards as the NBA.

Prior to the draft, the Redskins acquired some serious talent. Jason Hatcher from the Cowboys adds a little more depth to the OLB position. He is a hard hitter who can make an immediate impact on nickel defenses and potentially special teams. DeSean Jackson is likely the bigger name and had a great season with the Eagles last year. He fills in for the loss of Josh Morgan and will provide great balance with Pierre Garcon on the other side and Jordan Reed in the slot or coming off the line. Tracey Porter from Oakland also adds a little more to the CB position that struggled to maintain opposing offenses all last season. Replacing Reed Doughty with Pittsburgh’s Ryan Clark may not be the best move, but the team still made some good decisions with free agency.

Entering the draft, this was to be the last season with the depletion of first round picks off of the RGIII deal. This meant that we were slated to pick 2nd in the 2nd round. We instead decided to trade down and made our most questionable pick of the draft as our first player. With many other needs clearly ahead of us, we went with OLB Trent Murphy out of Stanford. He was projected for 4th round or lower, making this a very questionable call when we needed OL, CB, S, or ILB. Our 2 picks in the 3rd round set up extra support on the O-line, with Morgan Moses from Virginia and Spencer Long from Nebraska filling some big needs. Bashaud Breeland of Clemson was picked up in the 4th round, adding another CB to help the depth at that position, although there were some stronger candidates still available at the time of his selection. Out of the final 4 picks, the best decision was RB Lache Seastrunk from Baylor. His speed, versatility, and experience with RGIII could be great for the team. The other picks included WR Ryan Grant from Tulane, TE Ted Bosler from Indiana, and PK Zach Hocker from Arkansas.

This was a okay draft, but there were some teams that truly made out much better than DC. Here are some of the highlights from the rest of the draft…

  • With the 1st pick of the draft, Houston took Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina. There was no surprise with this pick but it certainly will make Houston’s defense even scarier with JJ Watt partnering with the rookie.
  • The first QB to be selected was not Johnny Maziel. Instead, Blake Bortles from UCF went to the Jacksonville Jaguars, as they seem to have had enough of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Jackson continued to sure up their offense with two WRs for their next two picks: Marquise Lee from USC and Allen Robinson from Penn State.
  • WR Sammy Watkins was picked up at #4 by the Buffalo Bills, having sent Stevie Robinson to the San Francisco 49ers and needing to get more talent at receiver. This trade also pushed the Cleveland Browns from 4th to 8th in the draft order, gaining them an additional pick from Buffalo later.
  • Cleveland seemed like they were channeling the move Draft Day with their movement throughout the draft. They shocked everyone when they decided not to select Manziel at #8, going with Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State.
  • The decision to not draft Manziel immediately hurt the QB’s stock, as he even slipped past the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones later admitted that Manziel was the #1 option on their draft board if he was still available, but the contract extension for Tony Romo immediately changed their decision and Dallas went with OT Zack Martin from Notre Dame. Manziel continued to slip past a couple more potential teams until Cleveland traded back up from 26 to 22 to finally end the drama. Manziel, who should have been humbled by the experience, was a mix of annoying interactions. He flashed money hand gestures when he came out on-stage but proceeded to appear more humble in the interview immediately after leaving center stage. Browns fans are still mixed about this one.
  • After finally moving past Manziel, the draft excitement calmed a bit, but Teddy Bridgewater was surprised to find out that Minnesota traded up to grab the Louisville QB with the final pick of the 1st round.
  • Houston avoided the QB position in this draft, which appeared to be a position that they desperately needed. They eventually picked up Tom Savage in the 4th round, but there is not a lot of hope for him to succeed. Instead, the Texans passed on other options, including Fresno State’s Derek Carr (who went to Oakland), Eastern Illinois’s Jimmy Garoppolo (who went to New England), Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas (who went to Arizona), Georgia’s Aaron Murray (who went in the 5th round to Kansas City), Alabama’s AJ McCarron (who went in the 5th round to Cincinnati), and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger (who went in the 6th round to Tennessee).
  • Teams, like Cleveland and Kansas City, appeared to have a chance to help their offense immensely in this very WR-rich draft, but waited way too long to consider addressing the need. Kansas City never chose to get a WR, but picked up Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas in the 4th round.
  • Cleveland’s situation with WRs was more complicated, as news broke that both starting WRs may be out for at least part of the season. Breakout star Josh Gordon has been cited for failing 2 drug tests and could be suspended for the entire 2014 season. Nate Burleson, who was brought over from Detroit, injured himself in a mini camp and may not be available to play until the start of preseason. With no WRs picked up in the draft, they may have put either Brian Hoyer or Manziel in some serious trouble to start the season with only Greg Little and Jordan Cameron as legitimate threats.
  • Some strange patterns developed in this draft. There were a record number of WRs selected in the first and second rounds. Twelve WRs were taken across 11 different teams. As far as RBs, the first one did not happen until the 54th pick. This unusual avoidance of RBs led to 1st round prospect Carlos Hyde dropping into the late 2nd round. RBs went flying off the shelf in the 3rd and 4th rounds, but this seemed like an unusual occurrence.
  • The University of Texas was without a single player being selected
  • The NFC West made themselves the division to fear again for this upcoming season, but the Cardinals and Rams were the movers and shakers that may have pulled the division more even than originally projected. The Cardinals balanced their offensive and defensive picks, including Washington State’s S Deone Bucannon, Notre Dame’s TE Troy Nikias, UNC’s DE Kareem Martin, and Pittsburgh State’s WR Josh Brown. The Rams added strength with Auburn OT Greg Robinson, Auburn RB Tre Mason, and Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald.
  • The Rams also made history with selecting Missouri DE Michael Sam in the 7th round. Having openly announced that he is gay prior to the NFL combine, he became the first drafted openly gay NFL player. The moment was shared widely over the media, but there were some unfortunate unfriendly reactions to the news. The reality is that the young man played hard for Missouri and should be individually commended on the combination of his dedication to the game and bravery for coming out in a testosterone-fueled, adrenaline-supported sport that has frowned on sexuality issues throughout its existence. Congratulations, Michael Sam and the the Ram organization!

And now it is over. Time to see if these players hit the field in 2014, warm the benches, or get cut from the team prior to the start of the season. All sorts of speculation is ahead of us, and I am ready for it.