Athletic Area is a Place to discuss, post, and learn about different aspects of sports; including specific events, athletes, teams, athletic medicine, and anything else pertaining to athletics.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I am a BLOGGER Now!!!

This semester we created our own blogs to post our works online. I found this idea to be intriguing and exciting as I have never had my own blog or much experience using them. When we first started to use the blogs I liked that we could give them a personal feel with out templates and side links, plus we even had a chance to fill the readers in on our background with out self profiles. Another thing I enjoyed about blogs over paper work is that we could post pictures which I feel adds to the essays although I have had many problems posting pictures to my blog since the very beginning (essay 1 was the only essay that I did not manually have to type the codes in myself).

In addition because blogging is all done online it makes working on essays easier because most of the information needed for the essays is found online. Furthermore because we could just link to all our sources we did not have to waste so much time with correct citing and formatting which I find to be a pain. The linking also allows the reader to have all the sources used at their fingertips, so they can further explore a subject if they so chose to. Blogging also allowed use to always have access to our work and be able to make changes to it when we found time without going through a longer process of editing in word. The only negative about editing online is that blogger does not have any grammar or spelling checks and so you have to move it back and forth from word.

In my blog I feel that I made good use of the fact that I could work on my papers at anytime, because I was very busy this semester and having my papers always within reach of any computer allowed me to work on them and have an average of about 5 drafts for each, and work on each paper for at least 10 hours each. I also felt that I had interesting and appropriate pictures although I had much trouble posting them. I also feel I worked very hard on trying to post them manually spending hours on adding them online. I think that my links were appropriate and worked well although I did have some troubles with the links not working at the beginning, and also with the size of my links in my essay. Overall I found the blogging experience to be a valuable learning experience that allowed use to use new technology not only to save paper but to always have our works and all the information needed to work on our writing skills all at our fingertips (figuratively speaking).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lance Armstrong: Success, Philanthropy, Pose and Perseverance

As graduation time approaches, universities set out to award honorary degrees to distinguished individuals who honor their respective school through their achievements. At USC these degrees are awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves through extraordinary achievements and excellence in the community. In addition to giving the individuals honor, these degrees also serve as a way for the university to represent the qualities it values most. According to James Freedman, "Honorary degrees serve at least one more important purpose beyond suggesting role models to student and enhancing institutional prestige." They give a connection to the school and the students to there honorary for many years to come, and so the school should pick them wisely. Lance Armstrong, one of the most successful and famous athletes in the world, currently fulfills the criteria for a USC honorary degree. Although Lance is one of the most driven and influential men in the sports and cancer world, the University of Southern California has not yet considered him for an honorary degree. Mike Martin, Professor of Philosophy at Chapman University writes in his book Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics that “we might sort professionals’ desires, pleasures, and sources of meaning into three broad categories: craft, compensation, and moral concern. Not surprisingly, these categories correspond to three values that enter into the very definition of professions: advanced expertise, social recognition, and service to clients and community.” These three categories outline the basic ideas that universities view when awarding honorary degrees, and Lance Armstrong has fulfilled these categories in a number of ways, and many times over.

Until Armstrong came onto the cycling scene, most people could not name a cyclist. Now even children pretend that they are Lance as they bike around and race their friends for the “yellow jersey.” On the Champs-Élysées podium after winning his seventh and final Tour, Lance stated, "Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe… the cynics and the skeptics. I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race…you should stand around and believe it… And there are no secrets - this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it.” Anyone who knows of Lance understands that in this quote he was not only referring to cycling, but the way he lives his life everyday, as well as the way he wishes others to live their lives. Life for him is a long and difficult race with many challenges and speed bumps, and not many could finish a “life race” with as many hindrances as Lance has had. Now that he has learned how to fight and win his trials, he is helping others to do the same. Through his life-story and service he is fulfilling USC’s Central Role and Mission described as “the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” In short, Armstrong embodies all the qualities USC claims to look for in honorees.

Martin defines craft motives as, “desires to achieve expertise and desires to manifest technical skill, theoretical understanding, and creativity.” There is no question that Lance Armstrong’s craft is unmatched, hence the seven consecutive Tour wins. "[He] is on top of the cycling world because of the combination and interaction of his genetic endowment, years of incredible training, competitive experience, and obsessive drive to achieve and persevere," said Phillip B. Sparling, a professor of applied physiology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Armstrong began his sporting career as a triathlete. He started competing in adult competitions at the age of 14, and soon it was clear that his greatest gift was as a cyclist. At 17, he trained with the Junior National Cycling Team. After winning the US amateur championship in 1991, and competing in the 1992 Olympics Armstrong turned professional in 1992 SOURCE. In his first professional race he finished last in the Clasica San Sebastian. However, as in other situations in life, he learned from his failures and challenged himself to do better. The following year he scored his first major victory as he rode solo to win the World Cycling Championship. In 1995 and 1996 he won the Tour DuPont after placing second in 1994, and was ranked the number nine cyclist in the world. However, in 1996 he abandoned the Tour and had a disappointing Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia SOURCE. These disappointments went on to spur him to the great achievements he achieved post-cancer.

On October 2, 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. His doctors told him that he had less than a 40 percent chance of survival, however, after his recovery, one of his doctors told him that his actual odds were considerably smaller (one even went as far as to say three percent). After his recovery, doctors and people around the world realized that Lance has an enormous capacity of hope, faith, and perseverance throughout every aspect of his life. As Armstrong put it, "Anything is possible. You can be told that you have a 100-percent chance or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight." said, “There are very few people in the world that are as self-driven as Lance Armstrong.” His morale and relish for life have made him a role model for millions of individuals, whether fighting everyday battles, or life threatening cancer.

Martin described benevolence as, “desires and emotions aimed at promoting the happiness of others, for their sake rather than solely for ulterior self-interested ends.” The date of October 2 is commemorated by Armstrong and Nike, through the "10//2" line of merchandise, in which one dollar from the sale of each piece of "10//2" merchandise is donated to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which was founded in 1997 by Armstrong to help give back to the community, as well as help cancer research and education. Armstrong recovered after surgery to remove his right testicle and two brain lesions, and sustained a course of chemotherapy. In 1998 in the Vuelta a España he made his successful return to cycling with a fourth place finish. To this day, Armstrong lists his return from cancer as his proudest accomplishment SOURCE.

With all this success, as with many other amazing athletes, Lance was suspected numerous times of drug use. However, his morals of integrity and honesty are triumphant, as no conclusive results for drug use have ever been found. On the contrary, many essays have been written to explain the reasons for Lance’s success in his craft. In an article by Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News titled “The Science of Lance Armstrong: Born, and Built, to Win,” Stefan explores the reasons for his success. Ed Coyle, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas has been testing Armstrong throughout his entire career. Coyle credits many things to his accomplishments, including his oversized heart, his “extremely high” VO2 max, and disciplined training, so much so, that according to Coyle, Armstrong is the only person who has been shown to change his muscle efficiency. "It was believed that muscle efficiency is something you're born with, that you can't change," Coyle said. "But we've documented that Armstrong has indeed changed it while training intensely." In addition to these advantages, Armstrong has the lowest lactic acid levels Coyle has seen, about half the levels of an average person (which factor into muscle exhaustion).

With his increased muscle power and more slow-twitch muscle fibers, Armstrong was able to increase his pedaling rate from 85 revolutions per minute to 105. Armstrong was also diagnosed with cancer during Coyle's study and amazingly showed no negative effects upon recovery. On the contrary, surviving cancer became an advantage and made Armstrong a stronger athlete mentally. “Sports scientists agree that Armstrong is one of the most disciplined and focused athletes in the world.” As explains it, “He never had anything handed to him on a silver platter; he earned everything himself. From an early age until now, Lance Armstrong feeds off of challenges. He never quits; he merely moves on to bigger and tougher challenges.” Why would anyone who enjoys challenges find an easy way out by using drugs? In Lance’s essay “Back in the Saddle” he states that after cancer, “For the first time in my life, I rode with real strength and stamina and purpose. Without cancer, I never would have won a single Tour de France. Cancer taught me a plan for more purposeful living, and that in turn taught me how to train and to win more purposefully. Cancer was the making of me: Through it I became a more compassionate, complete, and intelligent man, and therefore a more alive one. So that's why I ride, and why I ride hard. Because it makes me hurt, and so it makes me happy.”

Lance not only had these physical gifts but took his craft very seriously. He had the “technical skill, theoretical understanding, and creativity” that Martin described. He had an obsessive focus on training and preparation for winning the Tour (making frequent visits to analyze key weaknesses in his routine). He was a master technician and was obsessed with detailed preparation. He always increased the strength of all the teams he was on, in which the riders are selected to specifically help Armstrong win the yellow jersey.” Armstrong’s creativity in his craft was evident with his influence of the cycling world as he rallied for the support of the broader team and revolutionized this by asking his sponsors and suppliers to contribute and act as one cohesive part of the team… taking full advantage of the combined resources of several organizations working in close communication... “For a well-coordinated and technologically cutting edge array of products that produce the fastest Lance Armstrong possible.”

USC awards its honors to individuals “who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare and development of USC or the communities of which they are a part”; “[t]o recognize exceptional acts of philanthropy to the university and/or on the national or world scene.” Martin stated that, “If we are healthy, we affirm our will to live. If we are honest, we are moved by empathy to feel the similarity of our will with the will to live in other organisms.” After Lance’s success in overcoming cancer, and becoming the greatest cyclist in the world, he used his success to help others. Not only has he influenced the advancement of techniques in endurance sports training, but his athletic success and his dramatic recovery from cancer inspired Armstrong to come in conjunction with Nike through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a charity founded in 1997. His "Livestrong" yellow rubber wristbands first launched in 2004, helped raise tens of millions of dollars (62 million as of January 2006) in the fight against cancer. With his charity, Armstrong became as Schweizer spoke of in Meaningful Work part of, “‘the Fellowship of those who bear the Mark of Pain’ –the communion among individuals who have escaped but understand horrible suffering—he specifies that gratitude is primary motive in funding global efforts to relieve suffering.” The yellow band was part of the “Wear Yellow Live Strong” educational program, intended to support cancer victims and survivors and to help raise cancer awareness. Armstrong, who has also been a member of the President's Cancer Panel since 2002, said in an article "we have the smartest people in the world working on cures, so his [President Bush] role is to get the funds to keep that research alive. Funding is tough to come by these days," he says. "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The [annual] budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again."

Armstrong’s next steps cannot be determined, however he may be giving thought about using his status as a celebrity to become involved in the political world. He has mentioned about running as Governor of Texas, and considers himself a friend of George Bush, although he would most likely run as a democrat. U.S. Senator John Kerry, interviewed at the 2005 Tour de France, stated that Armstrong has the potential to be successful in politics. "I think he'd be awesome, he'd be a force. I just hope it's for the right party." He has already shown political ability in his past speeches, in 2005 in his Sportsman of the Year speech, he said "Cancer and what all can be done there, not just in the world of health care, but if it's education or political, this is a very real issue…we're at an interesting time in medical research. That would be a serious rush for me if I could affect change there.” He mentions Bono’s lobbying for the worlds AIDS-stricken and poor as an example of what celerity power can bring to world issues. He also knows that he does not stand alone, "I know not all 60 million bought them [bands] because of a connection to cancer, but a lot of them did," he said. "When you consider that army, there's a powerful force for change."

There is no argument that Lance has not been compensated for his perseverance and success in life and his sport. Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times. In 2002, Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year. He was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2005, received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. He is one of the most influential and successful role models in sports, currently holds many honors including an honorary degree of doctor in humane letters from Tufts University SOURCE. However, the compensation, money, power, and recognition that he has received for his success and story have not been taken in vain after cancer. Instead he uses them to help others. For example, he lends his fame to Nike for his Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation. He uses his experience and tells his story to others so they learn from his life and live like with the fervor that he now has. In his essay “Back in the Saddle,” he states, “If I pursued only happiness, and lived just for the moment, I'd be a no-account with a perpetual three-day growth on my chin. Cancer taught me that. It taught me that pain has a reason and that sometimes the experience of losing things--whether health or a car or an old sense of self--has its own value in the scheme of life. Pain and loss are great enhancers… I do it for the pain. In my most painful moments on the bike, I am at my most self-aware and self-defining. You might say pain is my chosen way of exploring the human heart.”

USC’s says that an Honorary should add to “the development of human beings and society as a whole through the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit.” Freedman wrote and honorary shoudl have, "Exemplary courage and unrivaled conviction, [you have taught us anew] the meaning of suffering." Lance is the epitome of this, he sends out hope to all people - not only cancer victims - but anyone who suffers. He writes that, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it subsides…and something else takes its place, and that thing might be called a greater space for happiness. We have unrealized capacities that only emerge in crisis--capacities for enduring, for living, for hoping, for caring, for enjoying. Each time we overcome pain, I believe that we grow.” Lance is famous for his courage: he educated the public about a disease while he was still fighting it, and came back to become number one. calls him “gentlemanly and heroic; a very likeable combination… His athletic prowess merits the recognition that he receives for his accomplishments. His founding of various charitable organizations and stature as a role model are well-documented…he is deeply embedded in American culture and is the epitome of what the human spirit can overcome. What makes Armstrong so revered is that he is fallible. He has endured failure in his life. He is not immune to everything. But, he is hard to defeat. Whenever he encounters any sort of obstacle, he meets it head-on and comes out victorious. If you had to pick any athlete to lead you into war, you'd ultimately choose Lance Armstrong.”

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Controlled Cornucopia: a Review


ESPN, a greatly acclaimed name in the world of sports, has received the first place award for the 2006 Webby Awards, and the 2006 People Choice awards, in the sports category (PICTURE # 1). The site was so rich that I decided to focus specifically on the NCAA Football section of the site. The ESPN college football site (ESPNCF) is a media and ESPN corporate site with a .com domain. It has credibility with all of its information, and authors through the trusted ESPN name, and it gives fervor through the photos, videos, and articles. In this essay I will explore what makes ESPNCF the top sports site without bias, including what the site lacks.

When I first looked at the site, I immediately noticed the ESPN logo and a large picture followed by the cover story, under that are many other stories arranged in clear cut boxes. The site was full of every piece of information about college football that anyone would ever need to become an expert, yet it was easy enough for laymen in the world of sports and internet to navigate through. The categories were found clearly at the top and when passing over them the search is refined into numerous self explanatory subcategory links. It is amazing how much information can be found on this one web site about NCAA football, and how easy it is to find the information (PICTURE # 2).

According to Pew data "92% of Internet users say the Internet is a good place to go for getting everyday information. [and] 69% say the Internet is a good way to entertain themselves in everyday life," making ESPNCF one of the most popular types of sites that internet users use on a daily basis. Pew Data also states that, "55% of Internet users who ever check sports scores in their lives get such information online." With this high amount of traffic looking for these features online it is no wonder that there are thousands of sites to chose from, but what is it that makes ESPNCF the number one choice for The Webby Award and the People's Choice award?

Pew data aslo mentions that," Men are more likely to: gather material for their hobbies, read online for pleasure, take informal classes, participate in sports fantasy leagues, download music and videos, remix files, and listen to radio." Most of the activities that they participate online are found on According to the Webby Awards criteria content is “not just text, but music, sound, animation, or video -- anything that communicates a sites body of knowledge.” ESPN informs the readers through all these mediums, with articles, video interviews, and audio. Good content should be “engaging, relevant, and appropriate for the audience,” and the site fulfills this through relevant but dazzling articles and introductions that make you want to read them even if you are not interested in the article. For example “Irish eyes are smiling after Notre Dame's rally, but is a reality check in order for the Irish? Our experts break down ND-Michigan State and the rest of Saturday's action.” This introduction grabbed me into reading this article, although I was at first not interested in reading about the Irish. Good content “has a voice, a point of view. It may be informative, useful, or funny but it always leaves you wanting more.” Over the years I have visited many sports sites and have become somewhat of an expert on the matter, which is why I always go to ESPN first. It has never missed a beat, in the news, statistics or information I was searching for, and it always keeps me coming back not only for information but interesting and engaging articles and content. Pew Data states that, "Eight percent of adult American internet users say they participate in sports fantasy leagues online. That represents roughly 11 million people. And on a typical day, about 2 million internet users are going online to oversee and check on their fantasy teams," making a valuable and common site visited my millions, that allows them to easily find the information they are looking for.

However, not just fans have trusted the site for its informative and engaging content but coaches around the world such as USC’s running back coach Todd McNair who has coached college football greats like Reggie Bush, Lendale White, C.J. Gable, and Emmanuel Moody. Coach McNair says that the site “overall has everything that you need… [and] recruiting [on the site] is good.” A great compliment to ESPNCF as McNair was named the nation's 3rd best recruiter by in 2005. However, McNair mentions that the site does not have “a head-to-head feature where you can match up two teams and head up their statistics against one another, as Fox Sports has.”

Web Style Guide states that an “efficient web site design is largely a matter of balancing the relation of menu, or home, pages with individual content pages. The goal is to build a hierarchy of menus and pages that feels natural to users and doesn't mislead them or interfere with their use of the site.” ESPNCF successfully accomplishes its goal to inform and entertain both the general public and experts on all the aspects of college football. The main page shows all the recent and interesting stories of NCAA football through the links, categories, and drop down menus located at the top of the page. Using the links you can find information about each team’s scoreboard, updated team rankings, various statistics for each player. You can also find the team schedules, rosters, and divisions. For more knowledge and entertainment the site also has numerous video and radio feeds of plays, commentaries, and personal interviews. In addition to this typical information there are extras like photos, All-American Teams, bowl schedule, player index, blogs, local sports news, and the Heisman watch. For those who want even more in-depth analysis, the site also has extras like college insider which gives an interesting insight on players, scouting, and recruiting; some of which is available on a subscription basis (PICTURE # 3).

“Sites with good structure and navigation are consistent, intuitive and transparent. They allow you to form a mental model of the information provided, where to find things, and what to expect when you click." With all its the cornucopia of information ESPNCF still manages to arrange it in a way that the structure and navigation of the site are easy to follow and clear to any visitor to the site. For example Rankings in the main menu links to a page with all the top team rankings in all the polls, and from there you can link to those team's pages and statistics. "Good navigation gets you where you want to go quickly and offers easy access to the breadth and depth of the site's content.” The set up and functionality of the site works very well, with clear titles, and categories. As shown in the picture the main menu allows a clear and easy to use porthole into all the site has to offer (PICTURE # 2). Every chart and statistic is clear and easy to understand, as shown in the example, with its clear titles and interchanging colors making all the information easy to follow and visually enticing (PICTURE # 4).

“Good visual design is high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting. It communicates a visual experience and may even take your breath away.” I found the visual design of the site to be mostly positive, vivid, useful and dramatic, however, when first entering the main page all the stories and articles seem to be a little overwhelming and too much to take in. I feel that they try to fit in too much information on the main page rather than just mentioning the most important or most recent news. They do, however, make an effort to assemble the more interesting or popular stories so that you notice them on the main page. This is done with the use of pictures and clear titles for each type of article in a separate box (PICTURE # 4). Web style also adds that “entertainment sites usually cater to an audience whose interests and motivations are usually much less focused. This audience needs to be grabbed immediately by compelling graphic and text presentations, or they'll simply hop somewhere else in search of stimulation.” ESPNCF as stated above does pull in visitors with its text, furthermore, as shown with this dramatic picture, it also peaks the visitors attention through graphics (PICTURE # 5). I also enjoy that the search box is at the top of the page, and clear for any visitor to see, because with a site that is so teeming with information, the use of a search box is essential to find any specific information quickly.

For the display the separate boxing for different types of stories is a useful idea, that helps to clear up all the density of the site. However, it would be much easier to read if the site made better use of the room on the page since much of the right side and the bottom of the screen is wasted for no particular reason (maybe make all the page bigger in size) (PICTURE # 6). Within the page links of the site the room is also wasted, although it does not have as big of an effect as on the main page because the information is more refined. According to Web Style Guide a site should, “Be sure to include a basic set of links to other sections of the site on each sub-site home page, and always include a link back to your main organization home page.” ESPNCF fulfills this guideline so you only see the information you want. For example, within the polls you can click on any team and navigate to its specific page where team scores, recent articles, players, statistics, schedule, information can be found, and each of these links in turn takes you to another page refining the search yet again A negative of this feature is that when navigating to a more specific page the new pages link bar takes the place of the original home page bar, and so you cannot reach the same main links that are found on the home page (PICTURE # 7). The site lacks in this area of its navigation, and I believe, should add the refined category bars under the main home page bar when diverting away from the main page.

According to the Webby Awards, “Good functionality means the site works well. It loads quickly, has live links, and any new technology used is functional and relevant for the intended audience... Highly functional sites anticipate the diversity of user requirements from file size, to file format and download speed. Good functionality makes the experience center stage and the technology invisible.” The site fulfills all the requirements for a well functioning site. It loads quickly, all the thousands of links work. The technology found on the site (radio, photo, video) is realistic and easy to use for a diverse audience. Unfortunately, the videos are only run in macromedia flashplayer 8+, however, the site offers this information and where to get the free download of the program very clearly, and it only takes a few minutes to download and install. The files are all convenient size and download fast and at high quality. For example the coaches’ interviews or ESPN TV recap. The sound bites work on multiple media players and are clear and load with fast downloads and convent file sizes also (PICTURE # 9).

The site is also cross-platformed, and browser independent making it available on different operating systems and browsers in an easy and functional manner. The thousands of link work flawlessly and quickly, and all the functionality is easy to use and foolproof for it intended audience. The file sizes are small and download speeds and minuscule, so the visitor never has to wait much, which Pew data shows is one of the main reasons the internet is used to widely. When doing my research, the only problem specifically with functionality was the videos play on a specific player. In all the functionality of the site is wonderful. When you view the site you never think about its functionality because is works like a well oiled machine, making the experience smooth and user friendly, allowing the content to be the main focus of the visitor, as it should be.

Interactivity in terms of a site is the way that it “allows you to do something. … as a user, to give and receive. It insists that you participate, not spectate.” Visitors on ESPNCF not only get the information they are looking for but have a part in the action of the world, giving and receiving input and output about college football. They can use the search engine to find any piece of sport information they are looking for. They can participate in interactive voting polls (PICTURE # 8). Or have discussions with some of the top college football authoritative bloggers on the net, and the rest of the bloggers and get real-time feedback. The site also has e-commerce allowing you to buy items from your favorite teams on the net, and notification agents sent by email about news updates, and top stories. These agents allow you to “make your own, distribute your own, or speak your [own] mind so others can see, hear or respond. Interactive elements are what separate the Web from other media.” For example in the Friday Mailbag Blog we see the interesting and interactive subject of, "What do you make of the LA Times article on Pete Carroll leaving for the Arizona Cardinals? I just can't believe he would leave when he has had so much success at USC." These interactive activities are what make it obvious that you “aren't reading a magazine or watching TV anymore.”

Lastly, the Webby Awards states that, the grounds that cause sites to be visited more or less is due to “the sum of their parts, the overall experience encompasses content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, and interactivity, but it also includes the intangibles that make one stay or leave." One most likely had an overall good experience if the frequented the site over, and the fact that ESPN received the Peoples Choice award proves that it is used more by the people then any other sports site. By and large, ESPNCF is an utter success with its clarity and ease of navigation through the ocean of information it harness. It is a dream for any expert in the field, coaches, players, recruits, and still caters to all the needs of everyday sports fans, authors, and researchers. ESPNCF is a jewel for its users and encompasses all the information of interest to everyone from a fan looking for the most recent news on an injured player, to researches looking to find the first ever Heisman winner’s statistics. However it does not just spew out loads of information to the reader, but pulls you into the world of college football though interactive searches, blogs, e-commerce, and notification emails. Plus ESPN has been a world renowned and trusted name in sports for many years, and all the information is accurate and up-to-date. The site breaks down the information into useful and predicable elements and keeps you entertained with insightful articles, photos, videos, and links. After exploring this site I can easily see why it received both the Webby award and the People’s Choice award for best sports site, and as I have done for many years now I will continue to utilize the site for research and entertainment, and recommend it to others.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Get Out of Here... But It Is My House: USC Coliseum Student Seating

The Coliseum: one of the nation’s most historic stadiums; home to the USC Trojans, and everyone else who wants to jump on "the wagon." I find it a travesty and a crime to all USC students that with a stadium that holds over 92,000 people, only 8,000 students were allowed in last Saturday’s game; even though the University sold 12,000 activity passes to students, and so I made it my adventure to post on two other blogs about this offense. In the first blog the writer talks about this subject in detail, and the anger of the students. My post was an addition to his article, and my personal perspective and experience at the game that day. The second post focused more on the movement of the band and did not really present an argument either way. I replied to it overall for the positive sentiment that the band had moved, but that the seats should have gone to the students not the alumni. However, a correlation to the stealing of student seats, and the movement of the band is that in both cases, the persons being affected by the changes were not asked in advance. As one band member in the blog states, "We didn't want to do it. It's not like we were asked." One thing is clear all the seating changes in the Coliseum were driven by money, and were unfair to students, whether fans, band members, or both. As the blogger states, “Last year, USC upset some season-ticket holders who were forced to move seats unless they donated money to a support group. Students will surround whoever pays for the band's seats because the group sat in the heart of the student section.” I add, “This year USC’s drive for more money has forced students to take a stand for what is their right, to have a place in their own home,” and so far we are getting much support from articles and people around the country, within two days USC has now vowed to add 600 more seats.

My Blog posts:

1. Move Those Chains: Nebraska Review (I repeatedly posted my comment to this site and it never showed up)

As someone who was sitting in an aisle next to the alumni who had stolen our 50 yard line, it was unfair that the best seats in the house were sold to people who, for the most part, could not see what was going on in front of them, and so watched the screen the entire time. At one point I actually cheered on one old alum that was standing as other alum, who were mostly younger shouted at him to sit down. One even called security, to get him to sit down; they told him he could stand. I scouted to my right, to all the alum “Fight On! We stand at USC football games.” I also got a view of the crowd from the field before the game and I thought it was hideous to see how small the student section was, how quiet the 50 yard line was, and how bright red all the rest of the coliseum was; the tickets were sold publicly, and Nebraska had more seats then USC students. It is unfair to say that the tickets are sold to others because they make the University more money than the student tickets, because frankly as a student I pay over $40,000 a year to USC. Another thing that should worry the Scrooge’s who made this decision, other than the thousands of furious students, and injuries from the mad mob trying to enter the Coliseum, is that for this game, more then usual, the players had to turn around to try to rile up the crowd for some support, only to find that the only ones cheering were considerably further away, and everyone directly behind them was just too old, too rich, or just too disengaged from these student-athletes to waste any energy on them. How can the University make such a bogus decision without first asking the people that it is affecting. It is not a fair or moral decision in anyway, and as the Daily Trojan’s front page today plainly states “game day angers students,” which it should have, we used to look forward to the game day not worry about how to get a seat in our own house. Source USC Source

2. USC Band Sent Marching Out of Usual (I repeatedly posted my comment to this site and it never showed up)

Although I enjoy the band and think they rile up the crowd and the players, I think it was a good move to put them in the end zone. However, I think it was a good move because it opened up seats on the 50 yard line (for students). I find it appalling that with 92,000 plus seats in the Coliseum, that only 8,000 student seats are available, and our best seats and part of our student section was given to the highest bidders, rather then the rightful students. The Scrooges’ reason for taking away student seats, and moving the band, like many things in life: more money. However, most students would disagree that they do not pay for their seats to cheer on their own team. Personally I pay $40,000 a semester, and I believe that should include my priority for a seat in the Coliseum to cheer on my fellow students. Not to mention, most of the alum that took our seats are not only bandwagon, but too detached from USC to even stand, be loud, and be proud. Most sat in their seats (because we all know how comfy the Coliseum seating is) and watched the big screen, while they complained to the little other alum that were standing in front to sit. Players looking for energy found it coming from behind them on the left, and the thundering band now in the distance. I am sure that if the people who these decisions affected were first asked their opinion that students would much rather have their "Spirit of Troy" back in the heart of the student section rather then the "lively bunch" of alumni we have now. SourceUSC Source

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reggie Bush versus Vince Young…Again: Top Rookies face off in the NFL

On Saturday, August 12th one of the most anticipated match-ups of NFL football this year took place…and it was not even a regular season game. With all the hype and arguments over the Heisman race of 2005, it was time to see who would show up and step up, as Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, and Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans went face to face in their first NFL game and second match up in less then a year. It was time to show that the Heisman winner could really cut it in the NFL, and why he was awarded the award for the best NCAA player last year. His opponent yet again was, the main reason for Texas winning the Rose Bowl, Vince Young. However, like his dominance in the Heisman race over Young, Bush yet again trampled over Young, and helped his team on to the first win of his NFL career.

Let first see how Bush performed (or outperformed) in the encounter. As he did in many countless USC games, and ESPN highlights tapes, Bush showed why they call him the President, with his control over a game. Even though running backs usually have to rely on the team for their success, Reggie is one of the few that can make miracles on his own. On his second carry of the night, Reggie was stopped behind the line going left, by one of his many miraculous escapes (you might call him a Harry Houdini) he bounced out of the stampede, turned right and flied past two defending Titans on the side line for a total of 44 yards. Not bad considering his offensive line did not leave him much to work with, and many thought the play was done before it started. He finished the night with 59 yards on only six carries, and was the second leading rusher on the team that night. As one reporter said, ‘It’s not the kind of play Sean Payton will draw up on the blackboard. But it’s the kind of play a virtuoso like Bush can create to make life miserable for a defense, even when his blockers break down, as they did on Saturday night’s ad-lib against the Tennessee Titans.”

Vince Young who made a compelling argument in his last meeting with Bush for why he should have been awarded the Heisman, did not perform as well in his first NFL game. Young, who was the number 3 pick overall (right behind Bush), showed his arm strength throwing a pass 50 yards, and to the hands of Roydell Williams, however the ball was not caught. In the end he was just 4-of-11 for 56 yards and ran four times for 28 yards. He also in one play failed to throw away the ball as he scrambled right looking for a receiver, and ran out of bounds for a six-yard loss in the fourth quarter for one of two sacks, a costly mistake to make in any NFL game especially in the fourth quarter.

Although, some may say that one game is not enough to predict what is to come for these two athletes in the NFL; if we look at their history and statistics for their careers, we see that Bush was always a consistently amazing player even since his days at Pop Warner, while Young was not always consistent even in his three years at Texas. Moreover, Bush was also considered a better athlete by the top elites in his sport, the previous Heisman winners. He was on 99 percent of the ballots, the highest percentage ever, and his first-place votes, were the second-most in history awarding him the Heisman over Young by a Dante Hall as a receiver and returner, plus he can run the ball like Mario Williams. Young, however, has a lot more questions to answer to. It is a lot harder as a quarterback in the NFL to make an immediate impact, and a heavier load to carry. It also still remains to be seen, if his style of play (rushing the ball more), which he was most known for in college, can be successful in the NFL. With players that have more size and speed on defense, the scrambling quarterback has yet to really prove that he is better than a traditional passer in the NFL. The Titans would do him good not to rush him into the starting role, and let Billy Volek handle quarterback, until Young is ready. Overall Reggie Bush looked just like he always did, as his mother, Denis Griffin and Reggie put it “he is anointed to play football,” However, I expect big things out of both of them eventually, but so far Reggie has proven that he is the better player.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SLURPING STEROIDS: What drives athletes to do it? Should it be permitted?

Floyd Landis struggled past the lasts stages of the Tour de France, as millions watched to see who would win the coveted award. Floyd went on to win the strenuous race, but tests that were previously taken showed abnormally high levels of testosterone, and he was stripped of the title. MSN reported that, "Landis was discredited and disowned ... when elevated levels of testosterone showed up in his ...second doping sample — as it did in the initial “A” sample released last week." This scandal came not long after scandals in baseball, where Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa appeared to have been using steroids to push them to record breaking performances. However, Jim Sensenbrenner former Chairman of the House Science Committee and the current Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee states that, "Sadly, this problem of steroid use is not isolated to baseball." World class track athletes, such as Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, professional football players, weightlifters, and exceptional athletes in other sports have also failed drug tests or are suspected of using drugs. With the emergence of new records and winners in some of the greatest sports stages, it has come as a disappointment for so many to find that their athletic role models have won through the use of drugs. Why should various drugs, be banned in competitive sports if the athletes know the risks to their health from using the drugs to enhance their performance? The justification for banning doping is derived from the original nature of athletic competition. The reward system is based not so much on the absolute performance levels, but on performance relative to competitors. For example, Lance Armstrong, is remembered primarily for his seven consecutive wins of the Tour de France, not for his times in the races. Victories are primarily what count in most competitive sports. Rewards are connected to victories because audiences and the media are mainly interested in outcomes of competition. Athletic stars, and superior teams, get large rewards even when they are only slightly better than their competitors, while those who are only slightly substandard receive much lower incomes and prestige.

In these surroundings, doping is attractive to athletes because it provides them a competitive edge. However, if many performers use drugs the overall outcome is essentially zero, because if all athletes take steroids, they all tend to increase their performances and chances of doing well, but not everyone can improve their relative position in the standings. This becomes a matter of concern when the drugs have a negative effect on health. Users of these enhancers are hurting themselves in the long run, without relatively improving their short-term rewards (as long as competitors also use drugs). This is the main rationale for trying to ban drugs from athletic competitions. For the same reason other costly enhancers that would not affect overall outcomes such as, golf limiting the number and size of clubs, tennis limiting types of rackets permitted, baseball limiting "corked" bats, and other team sports limiting the number of players allowed on rosters, are also banned. To be sure, absolute performance does count to some extent, such as the number of home runs in baseball, or scoring averages in basketball. However, even then there is a crucial relative aspect. Roger Bannister’s breaking of the four minute mile barrier was noteworthy not primarily because four minutes has any special significance, but because it was never done before. Baseball fans are upset that Bonds, McGuire, and Sosa apparently took steroids because that enabled them to break records established by Roger Maris and Babe Ruth, who did not take drugs.

While the case for banning drugs and other enhancers is strong, the ability to control them is limited. The House Government Reform Committee members said "baseball's policy was full of holes and threatened to legislate tougher testing policies if the sport doesn't come up with them itself." The result is a balance between the banning of various drugs, enforcement of banes, and the search for new substances. The outcome of this balance is not perfect but on the whole is better for competitive sports then a policy that would allow all kinds of performance enhancing drugs. As Jim Sensenbrenner said, "It is essential that we put an end to steroid abuse and set a better example for aspiring young athletes to follow, so that some day, when they make it in the All Star Game, it will be because of their own natural talents, and not because of a performance enhancing product. "