Category Archives: Sports

Cutting Weight Can Wait; Teens’ Health Can’t

Aigner Settles (left) and Sofia Barnett (right) powerlifting for their high school teams.

By Sofia Barnett

Frisco, Tex.

I didn’t understand the toxicity of high school sports until I had to lose 11 pounds in 36 hours for varsity powerlifting.

On weigh-in day, I rose before the sun. Having completely deprived myself of food the day before, I immediately sank back down as fireworks of red, blue, and green interrupted my blurred vision—my body’s way of warning me that I needed help. I put on five sweat- shirts and six pairs of sweatpants, hot-flashing already as I struggled to tie my sneakers. Still, I made it to my high school track just before the first wave of runners started their early morning jogs.

Twenty sprints, 100 meters, 16-second average. Ready, go.

My heavy exhalation lingered in clouds of vapor in the cold December air. I wasn’t sweating enough. The chill was preventing me from expelling every remaining drop of water my body had clung to. It became too much. I threw up on the side of the track just as the sun began to rise: a ceremony honoring the fact that my stomach had forced out the last of its contents.

For thousands of student athletes nationwide, the demands of weight-cut culture are a tragic reality. In order to compete, lifters and wrestlers must make a designated weight class, often by gaining or losing weight rapidly, forcing them to choose between their health and their athletic performance. With added pressures from coaches and teammates, it’s not an easy choice to make. At what point does an athlete say no?

As weight-cut culture continues to grow, the increasing number of athletes resorting to physical harm in order to make weight is not only normalized, but praised within the sports community. During my time as a powerlifter, I have heard locker-room horror stories of coaches buying students laxatives, glorifying eating disorders and unjustly punishing athletes who were unlucky enough to miss weight by even the slightest fraction of a pound.

As teenagers, we are highly susceptible to internalizing the beliefs we are exposed to, whether good or bad. Young athletes, told often of the virtues of rapid weight fluctuation, start to believe that the harm they are causing their bodies is just another inconvenience they have to overcome rather than a potentially life-threatening compulsion.

We are minors. This isn’t the Olympics, it’s high-school competition. The only thing at stake here is a cheap, bulk-produced aluminum medal that will eventually end up collecting dust in a grandmother’s moldy basement—well, that and our health. The detrimental impacts of weight-cut culture—immune system deterioration, development of unhealthy habits, and life-long trauma—far outweigh any momentary competitive advantage.

That boy spitting ounces of saliva into a jug on meet day deserves better. That girl sticking two fingers down her throat because she accidentally forgot she couldn’t have breakfast deserves better. My teammates, my competitors, and I deserve better.

In kneeling, Kaepernick and other players show patriotism

By Jayda Jones 

Brownsville, PA

The last few words of the national anthem—the home of the brave—could refer to Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, or any of the dozens of other National Football League players who have protested police brutality by kneeling during the song. Two years after Kaepernick first declined to stand during the pregame rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” NFL players are still exercising their first-amendment rights to demonstrate against racism. 

Some say the anthem is no time to protest. But far from being unpatriotic, the act of kneeling is a respectful form of civil disobedience that protests the fact that America does not treat its citizens equally. 

It’s important to remember why Kaepernick started his protest. A few weeks before Kaepernick first demonstrated during the anthem, Alton Sterling, an unarmed African-American man, was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “This is what lynchings look like in 2016,” Kaepernick said. Other players soon followed.

Peaceful protest, even during the national anthem, is protected under the First Amendment.  But while the players clearly have a right to speak, it’s important that we listen.

For too long, the voices of people of color in America have been overlooked, which is why kneeling is so important. It’s showing that we as African Americans cannot praise or pledge our full hearts to a country that is condoning the murder of our people. It’s showing that while we respect our country enough to refrain from speaking during the anthem, we still demand to be heard through our actions to protest this long history of injustice.

Kaepernick’s loudest critic has been President Trump, who has pushed the NFL to suspend players who protest during the national anthem. “Find another way to protest,” Trump tweeted last week. But the protest’s goals were never to disrespect. The true betrayal of America is the brutality and injustice many citizens continue to experience. 

The issue of police brutality has instilled fear in the black community, leading many of them to flee when a policeman is in sight lest they be targeted and terrorized. Of course, this only makes the situation worse and leads policemen to target black individuals more, but what are you supposed to do when the color of your skin is a danger to you, and apparently, a danger to someone else? 

We protest for 17-year-old high school student Antwon Rose, unarmed when he was killed by police in East Pittsburgh, Pa. We protest for Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist shot by police in North Miami, Fla., while helping a patient. We protest for Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark and too many others. African Americans are still being brutally and wrongfully murdered, and justice is rare. That’s why we protest. Until I, as a black female, or my brother, as a black male, can comfortably exist in a room with a police officer, or walk into a store without being accused of stealing, we will protest. Until society starts treating African-Americans like first-class citizens, we will protest.

You may not understand it, you may stand, but don’t be surprised if I kneel. That’s patriotism. 

Darnold shines in first pro action

By Devontae Jackson

Dayton, OH

East Rutherford, N.J.–The New York Jets have a big decision to make. The competition between Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Darnold to win the team’s starting quarterback job began in earnest on Friday when the Jets took on the Falcons in a preseason game at MetLife Stadium.

While McCown started the game, both Bridgewater and Darnold made good cases to be the starter on Sept. 10 when the Jets open their season against the Lions. 

McCown, the Jets’ Week 1 starter last season, only lasted one series, completing one pass on one attempt for four yards. He was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, playing in his first game for the Jets after signing for New York this offseason. On his first drive, the former Vikings quarterback gave the Jets a lead with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Crowell.  

Bridgewater stuck around for the rest of the first quarter and into the early part of the second quarter. He finished the game with seven completions on eight attempts, 85 yards, and one touchdown. 

Jets head coach Todd Bowles praised Bridgewater after the game. “I think it’s great for him to get back out on the field, just enjoy himself and have some success early was great for him,” Bowles told reporters. “I know he had a big smile on his face, so I’m just happy for him.”

But the new rookie in town, Sam Darnold, stole the show. Selected No. 3 in the 2018 NFL draft out of USC, Darnold started off slow in the second quarter. He overthrew a pass to Charles Johnson, but he settled in and slowly but surely moved the ball up the field. Just before the end of the first half, Darnold found Johnson in the endzone for a 14-yard touchdown, with the extra point giving New York a 17-0 lead. 

“He looked comfortable,” Bowles said of the rookie quarterback after the game. “He was excited going out.” He also said Darnold “can get better at some things, we can get better at some things as a team.” 

Darnold remained under center for the entire second half and finished the game 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown. Action slowed down after the break, as neither team scored, sealing a 17-0 victory for New York. 

Bridgewater had the highest overall quarterback rating of 150.5 at the end of the game. Darnold followed Bridgewater with 103.0, while McCown’s lone completion gave him an 83.3 rating. 

Bowles praised all three quarterbacks, though he has yet to name his starter for Week 1. “I’ll make my decision when it happens,” Bowles said. “I’m not going to jump to conclusions after one game.”

Darnold impressive in Jets preseason game

By Kendall Williams

Phenix City, AL

East Rutherford, N.J.–Break! The Jets, leading the Falcons 10-0 in the second quarter, scrambled out of their huddle like hungry wolves. Though only the preseason, the moment felt anything but meaningless: Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold was in the first goal-line situation of his NFL career. 

Anxiety infused the thousands of Jets fans gathered in the stadium as New York took to the line, just over a minute remaining in the first half. Darnold had completed six consecutive passes in less than two minutes to move the Jets from their own 36-yard line to the doorstep of Atlanta’s endzone. On first and goal from Atlanta’s three-yard line, the Jets lined up with an empty backfield. The ball was snapped, and Darnold hooked a pass to Charles Johnson on the right, but failed to find his receiver. On second and goal, Darnold handed off to Trenton Cannon, but the Falcons gobbled him up in the backfield. 

On third and goal, Darnold found Charles Johnson in the endzone, but referees ruled Johnson had pushed off his defender, negating New York’s touchdown. Backed up to the 14-yard line, New York lined up in shotgun formation with Cannon in the backfield and Johnson still on the right wing. The ball was snapped and Darnold, shuffling his feet and glancing left then right, found Johnson again in the right corner of the endzone: the first-round pick’s first touchdown pass of the preseason.

This isn’t Darnold’s first rodeo dealing with the pressure and responsibilities of the quarterback position. During two years as a starter for USC, Darnold won 20 games and lost just four, throwing for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns against 22 interceptions. 

Darnold, who finished Friday’s game 13 of 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown, is competing with veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to win New York’s starting quarterback job. But if he continues playing like he did against the Falcons, he could start for the Jets in their Week 1 game against the Lions. 

Though the Jets won the game 17-0, Atlanta is expected to be a better team this season, mostly because of the team’s star quarterback, Matt Ryan, who only played one series on Friday. Ryan’s first NFL season was jaw-dropping, as he went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,340 yards and 16 touchdowns. 

Will Sam Darnold be the 2018 version of 2008’s Matt Ryan? No one knows the answer to that question just yet, but Darnold is making a convincing case for himself as New York’s starting quarterback. 

Jets roar past Falcons, 17-0

By Anahi Soto

Maywood, IL

East Rutherford, N.J.–The crowd went wild as the cannons blasted off. The static in the air felt charged and Jets fans anxiously awaited the start of the game. An ocean of green swayed throughout MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Jets, as the visiting Atlanta Falcons kicked off to the home team. Any other year, a preseason NFL game in August wouldn’t generate much excitement. But this year was different. Friday, Jets rookie quarterback and potential franchise savior Sam Darnold made his first professional appearance.

The Jets were leading 10-0 in the second quarter when the 21-year-old Californian, wearing no. 14, jogged off the sidelines and into the huddle for the first time. The hometown crowd, which had lost steam since the start of the game, suddenly sprang to life. Darnold’s first drive was a disappointment. Despite two completed passes and a five-yard scramble, Darnold failed to advance out of Jets territory and the Jets punted the ball back to Atlanta. 

His second drive was more successful. Starting at his own 36-yard line, the rookie marched the offense down the field, generating a first down-and-goal with 52 seconds left in the half.

Darnold took the snap and surveyed the field, drifting to his right to escape pressure. As he burst from the pocket toward the sideline, he spotted new Jet acquisition Charles Johnson, and fired on the run. Johnson caught the pass near the sideline, and two-stepped into the dark green turf for the touchdown. The Darnold era was off to a promising start.

The Jets had been eyeing the 6’3” quarterback since he was a freshman at USC in 2015. In April, the team leapt at the opportunity to trade up in the draft—from the sixth to the third position—to land their man. Over last decade, the Jets have bounced from one mediocre quarterback to the next, including  infamous busts like Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg. Darnold, the highest-ever drafted Jets QB since franchise great Joe Namath in 1965, has given fans new hope.

Darnold finished the game 13 of 18 for 96 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers. Neither team scored after halftime, as Atlanta kicker David Marvin shanked a 42-yard field goal wide as time expired. The Falcons, who led the NFL in points two years ago, had been shut out.

A non-football fan reports from the press box

By Muhammad Elarbi
San Diego, CA

It was the opening weekend of the 2017 NFL preseason, and I found myself in the MetLife Stadium press box to cover the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. One would assume that someone who has a seat in the press box would be knowledgeable about what is going on. But this time, that wasn’t the case.

Saturday marked my first time at a football game. Before I entered the stadium, I didn’t even know which state the teams called home. I was clueless.

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Men’s basketball coach Skye Ettin reflects on last season

By Danielle Quezada
San Bernardino, CA

In the final ten seconds of the Princeton-Notre Dame basketball game, time seemed to stand still. Princeton was in possession of the ball, and optimism filled Tigers fans. With five seconds remaining, Princeton’s Devin Cannady tried for a three-pointer to win the game. As the ball arced toward the net, the crowd rose with excitement — but the ball bounced from the rim onto the backboard and into the hands of Notre Dame. Seconds later, the team and the crowd wore dejected faces and bowed heads. The scoreboard read: 59-58, Notre Dame.

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Jets win their first preseason game

By Joselin Rosales
Wapato, WA

The Jets kicked off their 2017 preseason with a 7-3 win over the Titans on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, showing some promise but also many of the issues that plagued the team last year.

New York ranked 26th in total offense last season, and Saturday night’s game was more of the same. The Jets scored a touchdown on their opening drive, but both teams struggled offensively.

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Basketball coach Skye Ettin reflects on his coaching career

By Diana Gonzalez-Castillo
Littlerock, CA

It’s not easy for an Ivy League school to make the NCAA tournament. So when Skye Ettin, an assistant head coach of Princeton’s men’s basketball team, led his players onto the NCAA tournament stage this past March, it was a big deal.

This was his first season as a coach and, at only 25, Ettin is still learning “how to run a program,” he said. But he also considers his age to be a positive.

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