Category Archives: Sports

Washington Football changes controversial name

Geoffrey Allen

Contributing Writer

 

Content Warning: This article contains reference to violence and racism.

There is no doubt that the tragic death of George Floyd took the world by storm. The Black Lives Matter Movement has truly made a breakthrough in bringing about significant change in media, local towns, and even sports teams. But no sports team has been in the public eye in the wake of this movement more than the Washington Football Team, which up until this summer was known as the “Washington Redskins.” The team had been under intense pressure to change their name in light of the United States’ long history of racism against Indigenous Americans. While some might say this was just an effort to be part of a trendy social justice movement, this was part of a much longer, 87-year history.

While today we think of the name ‘Redskins’ as being associated with Washington D.C., this was not always the case. The name stemmed from the Boston Braves. The team chose to rename itself as the ‘Boston Redskins,’ along with the face of a Native American of unknown descent on their logo, in 1933. Four years later the team would be relocated to Washington D.C., becoming the infamous team we know today. Public activism against the team’s brand did not fully develop until 1972, when a group of Native American leaders requested the removal of the racist lyric “scalp em” in the team’s fight song; this request was honored.

Although this request was approved, changing the name itself would prove to be much more challenging. In 1992, a public petition was sent to the United States government demanding federal action against the name, which was eventually denied. In the same decade, the current owner, Daniel Snyder, would buy the team. Similar to the first, a petition was filed to the U.S. patent and trademark office in 2006 and was also denied. In 2013, Daniel Snyder commented on the anti-name sentiment, stating, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” This statement would become notoriously controversial.

The debate over the name intensified this summer after the incident on May 25th, 2020 when an unarmed Black man, George Floyd was suffocated to death by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What would follow was a wave of demonstrations, unrest, and demand for change against racial injustices and police brutality. The call for action would not only be limited to that of people of African American descent, but rather all people who identify as people of color, including Native Americans. 

With reinforced pressure against the team, investors on July 1, with $620 to their name, intervened by garnering the attention of companies such as Nike, Pepsi and FedEx with a request to withhold their sponsorships for the Washington team. Two days later, FedEx, which owned a portion of Washington’s stadium formally requested the team to drop the ‘Redskins’ name and logo. Nike also removed ‘Washington Redskins’ gear from their website to which the team replied that it would review the name. On July 13, owner Daniel Snyder and the team formally stated that Washington would divorce itself from the ‘Redskins’ name and the racially charged imagery. While tentatively dubbed as the ‘Washington Football Team,’ a new name will be decided in the future when it is agreed upon and trademarked. Later in July, new uniforms and an updated roster in the popular Madden video game was added in preparation for the new season.

Since then, the team has settled into the season with a somewhat steady start. Under Coach Ron Rivera, the team went 27-17 against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 13, but lost 15-30 against the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. They are expected to compete against The Cleveland Browns next Sunday. The Washington Team has an interesting season ahead as they play football in closed doors this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, you can visit the NFL website or watch their games on various streaming platforms. 

How the Nuggets structured not one, but two, perfect comebacks

Gabriel Melmed
Contrbuting Writer

 

By design, the NBA isn’t particularly friendly to underdogs. Professional basketball requires a very specific body type, which only a handful of adult men worldwide have. As a result, the gap in skill level between the most talented and least talented professional basketball players is considerably wider than that of soccer, hockey or baseball. Basketball also allows more opportunities to score than any other major sport. NBA teams play 82 games over the course of the regular season, followed by a playoff tournament of four best-of-seven games. All of this adds up to a league in which skill prevails over luck. It’s the reason the NBA is a league of dynasties and in which final outcomes feel inevitable. It’s also the reason that comebacks in the NBA taste sweeter than in any other league.

         In a league where precious few games and even fewer series are won on accident, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit stands alone as the most heroic and unlikely comeback a team can make. Before this season, only 11 teams had completed this dauntless task, the most recent being LeBron James and the Cavaliers during the 2016 NBA Finals. Recently, my hometown Denver Nuggets became the only team in NBA history to do so twice in the same playoffs. Through two rounds, the experience for Nuggets fans like me has been an odyssey of despair, adrenaline and euphoria that has reminded us all of why we love sports.

         The Denver Nuggets, who I’ll refer to as “we” from now on, are today’s most lovable off-the-beaten-path NBA team. Our two most notable players are Jamal Murray, a tough and feisty Canadian guard who until this season was known as a streaky B-tier star, and Nikola Jokić, a vertically challenged, goofy-looking seven-foot Serbian who makes up for his lack of athleticism with brilliant scoring and superlative passing. The two stars are rounded out by a cast of mostly young specialists whose collective buy-in, combined with the basketball minds Jokić and Head Coach Michael Malone, makes the whole team greater than the sum of its parts. We mounted these comebacks against much more prototypical NBA teams in the Utah Jazz and L.A. Clippers, each led by young and athletic American stars.

         It’s hard to overstate just how impossible these comebacks looked before they happened. After losing three straight games to the Jazz, we looked like outmatched frauds, losing badly to a team we were projected to beat. I was incensed, yelling obscenities at the players and referees as if they would change their behavior if I yelled loud enough. But on the cusp of defeat, Murray hypnotized himself and in his otherworldly state, produced a flurry of epic scoring performances unlike anything Nuggets fans have seen before. All I could do was laugh in awe of the late-blooming stone-cold assassin that had just saved our season. All culminated in a nail-biting Game Seven which came down to one final shot that the Jazz just barely missed — the only fitting way to end such a thrilling series.

         The Clippers series was less thrilling — no games were particularly close. The Clippers, championship favorites in the eyes of many, dominated three of the first four games before the momentum shifted almost instantaneously towards us. The next three games were the sweetest kind of victories — the kind that of medium margin-victories against complacent superstars, two of them second half comebacks, that allow the underdog to gloat at everyone who forgot how dangerous they were. A chance to say, as Damian Lillard most recently declared, “Put some respect on my fucking name!”

         At the time I’m writing this, things don’t look good for the Nuggets. We’re down 2-0 against a LeBron-led Lakers team that looks poised to go to the finals. No matter what happens, I’m proud of this team. We put together a run that no other team has ever put together, a run powered by the qualities all athletes strive for — grit, teamwork, resolve and an audacious desire to keep fighting.

C.O.W. athletics commence phase one of in-person training

Geoffrey Allen

Staff Writer

Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

 

The College of Wooster athletic teams have officially begun phase one of practices, which has allowed athletes to spend time on the field, the track and the court together for the first time in months, which is something athletes have been looking forward to for a long time. Despite the restrictions that COVID-19 has imposed on sports throughout the world, certain areas look to be improving.

The College of Wooster has implemented many protocols for good reason, with the hope  that they will be able to be less restrictive in the coming weeks and months as the athletics department moves into phases two and three. It is invaluable to maintain a positive outlook in the midst of these unique circumstances. Many athletes have thoughts about having practices again and the importance of maintaining motivation despite not having a normal season or preseason, among other things.

Eric Kraus ’22 described the uniqueness of these circumstances and how he is nevertheless optimistic. “Although student-athletes will not be getting the season they wanted, we are still fortunate enough to make the best out of a challenging situation. As a senior, the upcoming season may be my final opportunity to strap up and play football with my teammates. We have made lasting friendships during our time at Wooster and want to finish on a positive note. Sharing the field with this group of guys is by far the most exciting part of this experience.” He went on to express how nice it is to be back with his teammates in-person and how “it feels fantastic to have regularly scheduled practices again. Besides giving student-athletes a sense of structure, it allows us to connect with new first-year teammates that many of us have not been able to meet in-person. I think this is especially beneficial for new student-athletes, as it instills a sense of belonging within the Wooster community.” Football is a high-risk sport but is one of the several sports finding ways to stay close-knit and looking forward to phase two.

Members of the soccer team, another high risk sport, are appreciating the additional structure that is coming with phase one and are excited for next week when they will be able to practice in larger groups and with their coaches. “It feels good to be back with the team and to be able to have people to practice with rather than just on my own,” said Maya McDonald ’22, a member of the women’s soccer team, “it does give me a sense of structure because I now have a designated time that I work out and train whereas before I would just go whenever I was free.”  

It is important to note that despite low-risk sports not having to worry as much about exposure to others, they still are required to follow the same guidelines and phases that Wooster has put in place. “Of course being with my team is so important to me, and having a more consistent schedule will make this semester just a little easier,” said Laura Haley ’21, member of the women’s tennis team. “Right now we’re focusing more on fitness until we can get back to some sort of normalcy.” That will begin next week when coaches will be able to be around athletes and other coaches at practice. Just like the tennis teams, the Wooster golf teams are also in the low-risk category. They have been enjoying being together and practicing again. “So far, the golf team has been practicing in blocked time periods at the golf course, and we can only go during those times,” said David Roney ’21. “They are three-hour blocks, and all the facilities are open only for us, so it is actually a really good opportunity to get specialized practice that is more difficult when there are other people around.” 

Cross country is a peculiar case where, despite the cancellation of the season, athletes are able to train individually almost exactly as they did prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there are still a few hurdles they face in addition to the absence of meets. “We are always in groups [of] less than ten and wear our masks when we are running on campus,” said Matt Prill ’23. Since the cancellation of in-person classes in March, Prill has felt that running at home was more than just training. “Running has been something consistent in my life since I was in seventh grade,” he said.  He says running for him is “a great way to stay physically, as well as mentally, healthy.” The “desire to get better, the desire to be a better person, to fuel [his] motivation” has been a part of him on good and bad days. It is for this reason Prill now feels ecstatic to be back on campus while social distancing with his teammates. “We try to motivate each other to be the best we can, both as people and athletes,” Prill stated. But more importantly, Prill and other runners plan to continue to compete in virtual meets in what cross country Head Coach Dennis Rice calls “time tests,” where athletes are timed on their 8k and 5k runs and those times are compared to those of other schools in the NCAA. 

Cross country runners are not the only ones who have chosen to use quarantine as an opportunity to run. Field hockey student-athlete Maggie Brown ’21 has expressed how running allowed her to build a routine while being unable to practice on campus. Brown shared that returning to Wooster brought on many obstacles such as doing “drills and keeping six feet [of] distance between each other.” Regardless, everything that she has been allowed to do, from seeing her friends to conditioning outside has been simply a “blessing.” Without a full fall season to finish her career, she sets her eyes on new goals such as running a half marathon by the end of 2021. Here is to hoping that she, as well as all other Wooster athletes, will be able to accomplish their goals this fall and beyond — despite the unique and unfortunate circumstances.

ESports gains prominence in professional sport circles

Olivia Mittak

Sports Editor

 

Just a few years ago, professional athletes and fans turned their noses up at the idea of including esports as a category of professional sports, let alone considering its participants actual athletes and professionals. Fast forward to 2020, esports have launched themselves into the mainstream due to the  COVID-19 pandemic, becoming one of the few sporting options that was already fairly capable of switching to socially-distanced events without hassle. Thousands of people turned to Twitch, the most common streaming platform that esports are broadcast from, to find a source of entertainment while quarantining; in the process, they discovered a new hobby and helped push it into the public eye.

Esports’ influence during the pandemic has not just been limited to everyday viewers; NASCAR recently made the decision to cancel all of its in-person racing events, replacing them with professional esports-style racing competitions. The first of these virtual racing events, the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, broke records for viewership on a televised esports program. The race, aired by Fox Sports, drew in over 900,000 viewers; quite an impressive number considering the niche label assigned to professional gaming events just a few years ago. While the NASCAR association certainly helped, the program stands as evidence that professional gaming is a type of sport that is flexible and adaptable, capable of satisfying the needs of people who might not normally find themselves watching a video game event.

The energy generated by the NASCAR events is starting to spread; Aston Martin, a British company known for their luxury sports cars, has announced a racing simulation machine they will be producing in the style of one of their cars. Aston Martin will produce 150 of these racing simulators, known as the AMR-C01, and will sell them for $74,000 a piece. The machines are luxuriously designed with customizable seats, adjustable pedal boxes, a high-tech steering wheel with twenty-one different dials and buttons, and a curved Quad High Dimension 32:9 aspect ratio monitor.

While some may still express doubts about the “validity” of esports as a profession, the interest of other sporting associations and high-end companies in the professional gaming industry is evidence that esports is beginning to be taken more seriously. The image conjured up when someone mentions a “professional video game player” is beginning to shift away from the boring, lazy and unemployed person sitting in their mom’s basement toward a more respectable place. Professional esports players now have huge followings on social media and are beginning to gain the respect they deserve as experts at what they do. Even celebrities like Post Malone are beginning to take an interest; the singer recently announced a partial stake in the ownership of Envy Gaming, a collection of notable esports teams.

Given the rapid growth and exposure esports is experiencing, it will be interesting to see if and when the College of Wooster decides to form its own professional esports team. Currently, 175 colleges across the United States have a team in the National Association of Collegiate Esports, including several schools in Ohio. Esports can cover a wide variety of video games, allowing for a variety of students to feel qualified to try out for a team; with the ever-changing landscape of the gaming industry, there are always new opportunities. It makes sense for the College of Wooster to begin discussions about forming its own Fighting Scots esports team as it’s popularity is only growing from here.

Franmil Reyes: An underappreciated MLB powerhouse

Chloe Burdette
Editor in Chief

Franmil Reyes. When I say that name, does it ring a bell? If you aren’t a sports fan, I am sure you are completely clueless. But, even a baseball fanatic might not recognize the name. Why? Well, in my opinion, it is because he is one of the most underappreciated names in Major League Baseball — and he deserves better than that. 

 

For those who are unaware, Franmil Reyes is a six-foot-five, 270-pound powerhouse from Palenque, Dominican Republic. Beginning his MLB career with the San Diego Padres at age 22 in 2018, he had a batting average of .280 and a slugging percentage of .480, which is pretty decent for a man his size and stature. His defense was nothing to shake a stick at, but it wasn’t phenomenal. But there is one thing for sure — if he got a hold of the ball, he hit it hard. As a rookie, the Padres found it difficult to gauge his talent as a hitter, but they knew he had power and it was only a matter of time before he blew up the league. 

 

Reyes’s time with the Padres was a game of back-and-forth. When he was playing for the Padres Minor league affiliate, the El Paso Chihuahuas, he was called up to the Majors right as two of the Padres’ best players were put on the disabled list. It was Reyes’s time to shine. During his MLB debut, Reyes hit his first homer on May 21, 2018, and Padres fans were excited for their talented new rookie. Yet after only two weeks, one of the two regulars was healthy again, which sent Reyes back down to the Minors. On July 10 of that same year, he was brought back again with a whole new hitting approach and attitude — only to be sent back down as the second player was revived. He went back and forth a total of four times until he got a somewhat permanent spot on the Padres’ roster. Personally, I wish Reyes hadn’t been tossed around so much because I had faith in him. His power on the plate was quite impressive to watch and the guy had eyes like a hawk when determining balls from strikes. Coming from a baseball family myself, I enjoyed every moment of watching him even when he was playing for the Padres. But then, something magical happened.

 

At the time of the trade deadline in July 2019, the Padres, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians were part of a surprising three-team deal where the Reds traded center fielder Taylor Trammell to the Padres and pitcher Scott Moss and right fielder Yasiel Puig to the Indians and the Indians traded pitcher Trevor Bauer to the Reds. Lastly, the Padres traded right fielder/designated hitter Franmil Reyes, pitcher Logan Allen and third baseman Victor Nova to the Indians. Confusing? Yes. But this trade brought Reyes to my home team, and the Indians were able to benefit from his overlooked brilliance.

 

In Cleveland, Reyes is surrounded by teammates Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez and together they create a triple-powered hitting squad of sorts. He is so powerful surrounded by those two that he was given the nickname “Franimal.” Absolutely fantastic. One of my favorite articles on Reyes about his ultimate power says this quote: “When he was just a boy, Franmil Reyes derailed a train when he reached out to touch it as it passed. The train flew off of the tracks, burst into flames, and incinerated the nearby woods.” 

 

As of 2020, I think Reyes has proven himself with his stats — his last 30 games he has a slugging percentage of .545 — but I am so excited to see what’s left in the tank for the rest of the season for him. If there are any Reyes fans out there, let me know and I can hook you up with my FOX Sports Go account. No, seriously.

Athletes adjust to new COVID-19 sports world

Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

 

COVID-19 has affected everyone in one way or another. The transition to college has been quite the challenge for athletes especially, given that they are used to a routine revolving around academics, social life and athletics all at the same time. Despite the restrictions and protocols in place, there are still ways to spend time with teammates and practice in order to improve.

The College announced in early August that all travel for sports and competitions against other schools would not be allowed for the 2020 fall season. This came as a disappointment to athletes, but not a surprise. Additionally, the NCAA cancelled all Division-II and Division-III Championships this fall. Athletes have been trying to find new ways to stay close with teammates while also being safe,
as well as ways to stay in touch with coaches until practices and
competitions can resume without current restrictions. The current
fall sports at Wooster are men’s and women’s golf, football, men’s
and women’s soccer, field hockey and men’s and women’s cros country.

Molly Kershner ’24, a lacrosse player, described what the transition to college has been like and how this fall has already been different than what she expected, “Since lacrosse is a spring sport, we usually use fall as an off-season training time.This would mean small sided
practices and running to stay in shape … Because of COVID, the goals have not been up on the turf, so most of us have been
meeting on the field to run and pass, [from a safe distance].”
She also voiced her feelings about not being able to spend as
much time with her teammates on and off the field. “I have been  looking forward to playing college lacrosse for years now, and not being able to fully meet and interact with the team makes me
sad. Lacrosse is a big part of my life, so this past spring, as well as now in the fall, it is weird having so much downtime where I  normally would be spending it with my teammates.” She made
sure to add that she and her teammates are staying optimis-
tic and are taking advantage of being able to practice in groups
of 10 or fewer.

Captain Ashley Boersma ’21, chimed in about how Coach Elizabeth Ford has been helping the team stay in touch with one another. “In addition to being in communication with captains to discuss a plan for this fall, [Ford] has been checking in on us and our transition back to Wooster.” With regards to this fall and spring, Boersma is
looking on the bright side. “I am most excited to be back with my teammates making memories and preparing for [hopefully] one last spring season despite the unusual circumstances.”

During these times, it has also been important for athletes to remember why they are a team and what keeps them close. Maggie Brown ’21, one of the field hockey captains, added how her coaches continuously update the team and set up Zoom calls to keep in
touch. She added, “This team is so hardworking, and I think this challenge will be better for us in the future. We work so hard during the off seasons, and even during the season we all put in extra work to be better for next season.”

Shane Wallace ’21, a men’s lacrosse player, was asked the same question. “One thing that will be very helpful this fall is that our team is truly a family. Last year we all developed a really strong bond before [COVID-19], and the hardships we endured as our season was canceled before our eyes made those bonds even stronger. I’m confident we’ll be ready for anything this fall throws at us,” he said. Men’s and women’s sports were able to begin practicing
Monday, Sept. 7 in groups of 10 or fewer. The target date for the
next phase is Monday, Sept. 21, in which coaches will be able to
begin coaching their teams in groups of 50 or fewer. The final phase gives permission for groups larger than 50 to practice with coaches. These dates could change in accordance with public health guidelines; however, as of now athletes will be able to enjoy more freedom with regards to practicing and scrimmaging.