January 21, 2014
Fields of Opportunity: The Legacy of Title IX

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By Jeremy Steinberger

In 1776, the Founding Fathers established the United States as a democratic society. In a democratic society, citizens have the ability to contribute and participate in all decision-making processes pertaining to their everyday life and the ability to hold others involved in making decisions accountable if they violate human rights. Also, all citizens must have all necessary resources available to them in order to be as successful as they can. Despite these ideals, prior to 1972, women in the United States saw extreme discrimination and social prejudice in society. As a result, in the 20th century Women’s Movements swept the country, hoping to make gender equity between men and women a reality. One of movement’s most significant gains was the passing of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, stating “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Through this law, for the first time, schools receiving federal funding were required to have equal educational programs for men and women, which prior to Title IX was not the case. One of Title IX’s most significant results was the opportunity women were granted to compete in sports at all levels. These changes were instrumental to the women’s fight to solidify their status in society. Before Title IX, women were not guaranteed their democratic right of having access to all potential resources to succeed in society. From the passing of the law, women gained numerous resources to thrive. Not only did they get the chance to compete and succeed in competitive sports, but women were also provided with far greater opportunities to prosper in society as a whole. However, failure to comply with the language of Title IX by society has resulted in gender equity in society to remain in question.

The passing of Title IX gave women an opportunity for success in society that they previously did not have, as the requirement for gender equity in all sports programs receiving federal funding resulted in the development of women’s sports leagues at all levels. This was a necessary step in establishing the ability for women to build successful athletic careers. Before 1972, the sports world’s primary focus was on men. Women could play sports, but without leagues or programs, they were unable to develop the necessary skills needed to pursue a career. During a time when women lacked basic rights, it is not surprising that society did not typically think of females as athletes. Sports are typically viewed as aggressive, physical, and masculine activities, thus women’s participation seemed unlikely. As a result, society left no opportunities for women to showcase their athletic talents and prove they could perform at a level similar to men. For such an unjust prohibition, the reasons behind the exclusion of females in sports are seen as completely ridiculous. Many believed that women who played sports would lose touch with feminine activities such as child-rearing, and start developing masculine traits such as being unable to have children, wanting to be men, or even start to developing masculine features, such as a mustache. This perception reflected the common belief that women were inferior to men. It was not believed that women possessed the characteristics men had that allowed them to be successful in society. Thus, when it came to sports, which were believed to be a very manly activity, women were never considered. The belief was also that the qualities gained from sports were not needed in a women’s life. Building character was essential to the life of a man, but for women, character was of no use. This lack of emphasis on women’s education was due to the perception in society that women’s purpose in the family composition was to be the housewife. For men, however, building character was necessary to complement their primary responsibility of providing for the family.

Title IX was passed in 1972, giving women gender equity in all educational programs that received federal funding. In a time when females were undermined in schools, as they were disallowed to participate in the same educational programs as men, Title IX’s initial focus was not on the athletes of our nation. Its purpose was to help solve the problems of discrimination on the educational level. Thus, the law called for equity in every educational program that received federal funding. Sports just happened be considered as an educational program, thus discrimination here had to end as well. The door was opened for the creation of female athletic programs in high school and college, which eventually led to the development of professional leagues for basketball and soccer such as the WNBA and the Women’s World Cup. Girls were able to compete in sports leagues as early as six years old, providing a foundation for their continued development and ability to achieve a successful career in sports. As girl’s exposure to sports increased, family’s attitudes towards their daughters and sports changed. “Nearly 90 percent of the 1,000 parents interviewed in a 1988 study viewed sports participation as important for their daughters as for their sons.” As a result of this increased participation, it became more and more of a societal norm for young girls to participate in sports to the point where today it is hard to imagine our society without the AYSO soccer girl and the soccer mom cheering from the sidelines. From previously being unheard of, the participation of young girls in sports is now encouraged and prominent. In fact, “In 1971 fewer than 300,000 high school girls participated in athletics. Today that number is close to three million, with almost half of all female high school students on a team.” From these opportunities in high school, athletes are able to gain the necessary skills and experience to continue to pursue their passions whether that be in college or beyond in professional female sports leagues. “In 1972 about 16,000 young women participated in college athletics, a number that has grown to over 180,000. The number of women’s teams per campus has increased from an average of 2.5 before 1972 to 8.5 in 2006.” Evidently, once women were able to become college athletes, they took full advantage of the opportunity.

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January 7, 2014
Packers Offseason Needs: Defense

A tumultuous season that saw stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley go down with significant injuries came to an end last Sunday, as the Packers fell to the 49ers 23-20 in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. The game exposed many of Geen Bay’s defensive flaws that will need to be fixed this offseason in order to put the team back in Super Bowl contention next season. Here’s some of things I feel must be addressed: 

Fire Dom Capers 

Capers has had some glorious times in Green Bay, but in the last few seasons it has been his defense that has proved to be the down fall of the team. While some of it is due to lack of talent and injuries, it seems as if Capers 3-4 scheme is simply no longer effective for this Packers team. Green Bay is consistently ripped by opposing offenses, such as that lead by the Colin Kaepernick and 49ers. Capers had not one, not two, but three shots to figure out a way to stop the quarterback out of Nevada, but failed each and every time. If the Packers want to get any sort of production from their defense in the future, Dom Capers cannot be apart of it. 

Draft Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 

The Packers will pick 21st in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft, their highest pick since 2009 when they selected B.J. Raji. As Mel Kiper and many other mock drafts have it slated now, Green Bay should select Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (names these days…) with the pick. As the top rated safety in the draft, Dix would make an immediate impact in Green Bay. He has a unique ability to make plays on the ball and lower the boom with his big hits on opposing players. Personally, I’ve had enough with Morgan Burnett’s slow, ineffective play, and M.D. Jennings, who is not very talented in his own right. Drafting Clinton Dix would provide Green Bay with the playmaker they’ve lacked since the departures of Nick Collins and Charles Woodson and would be a nice step in turning this defense into one that dominates once again. 

Find a Pass Rusher 

Wether it’s in Free Agency or in the Draft, Green Bay needs to find a pass rusher that can cause havoc opposite Clay Matthews or/and from the defensive line position. The selection of Datone Jones last year was supposed to help, but Jones saw little time on the field after unproductive play. Instead of taking another shot in the draft, I would like to see Ted Thompson go out and sign an already solidified pass rusher in February. Let’s face it, while we’re in the midst of Aaron  Rodgers’ prime, there’s only a 5 or 6 more years left of him completely dominating the league. To make the most out of the time, Green Bay needs a better defense fast, and singing a a great pass rusher this offseason would give them that. 

Keep Sam Shields

Sam Shields will be a unrestricted free agent this offseason and will certainly draw attention from team’s around the league. Instead of letting Shields go and drafting another cornerback, I feel it is imperative that the Packers work something out with Shields to keep him in Green Bay for the future. There’s not many guys better that you’ll be able to find in this year’s draft if you don’t spend a high draft pick to get him, and with all of the Packers’ needs and such a deep cornerback group, I don’t see that happening. Keeping Sam Shields is a must.

December 16, 2013
Packers Save Season with an Improbable Comeback Victory Over Dallas

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The last time the Packers played a game at Cowboys Stadium (formally AT&T Stadium) in Dallas, Texas, they walked off the field as Super Bowl 45 champions. While Sunday’s clash between this year’s Packers team and the Cowboys didn’t hold quite as much significance, the game was still vital to the two team’s playoff hopes. After being down 26-3 at half, the Pack rallied to a wild 37-36 victory and kept their playoff chances alive. Here’s a recap: 

What went well: 

Facing a 23 point deficit, the Packers exited the field at half time as a degraded, beaten, and battered football team. With the playoffs on the line, Green Bay needed a spark, and quick. After speeches by Jamari Lattimore and Johnny Jolly in the locker room the Packers got that and more. Jordy Nelson capped off the Packers first drive of the second half with a 13 yard touchdown and Green Bay never looked back. They went on to score touchdowns on their next four possessions, leaving Tony Romo and Cowboys in the dust. 

Eddie Lacy led the way for Green Bay, totaling 141 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown on the day. With the dominating performance, Lacy became the first Packers rookie since John Brockington in 1971 to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. There many not be anything flashy about Lacy’s running style, but he is quickly making it clear that his punishing, up-hill running style is just as good. For a team without their starting quarterback, having a guy like #27 has been incredibly vital to their ability to stay in the playoff hunt. It is quickly becoming evident that the running game problem that has haunted this team in the past is now purely a memory, as it seems as if Eddie Lacy will be a dominating force for Green Bay for years to come.

After a dismal start, Matt Flynn couldn’t have performed better in the second half. He led his team to five touchdown drives, doing it with strong accuracy and decision making. It is has become apparent that Flynn struggles in complicated situations such as facing a blitz, or going through his reads while a play is progressing. Knowing this, Mike McCarthy was able to take some of the pressure off Flynn in the second half, relying on the running game and a simplified no-huddle to get the job done. 

Dom Capers defenses have always been one’s predicated on turnovers. He has preached the bend don’t break mantra over the years, hoping that his team’s ability to turn team’s over would compensate for giving up big yardage. The Packers inability to live up to this scheme this year has haunted them, as their inability to make big plays has resulted in team’s consistently gauging them week in and week out. On Sunday, the defense gave up a ton of yards yet again, but in the second half were able to help lead the Pack to victory after picking off Tony Romo twice. Like it was for many Capers coached defenses in the past, it seems as if this unit’s formula of success is also the takeaway. 

What didn’t:

The Packers got absolutely throttled in the first half, giving up 26 points to the Tony Romo led Cowboys and only mustering 3 for themselves. The offenses struggles stemmed from the team’s inability to get Eddie Lacy going, and Matt Flynn’s struggles to get the ball down field. On defense, Green Bay couldn’t stop a nose bleed, as about every Cowboys play went for big yardage. 

The offense was able make up for their brutal play with an excellent second half, but some of the things I saw on defense were a little concerning. Demarco Murray was able to do anything he wanted, finishing the game with a 7.4 yard average. Also, Green Bay showed had no answer for Dez Bryant, who nabbed 11 balls for a buck fifty-three him self, another instance of the Packers’ struggles against big name receivers. If Dallas had ran the ball instead of electing to throw on their final drives which resulted in two picks, I’m not sure Green Bay would have made it out of this one alive. 

What’s next:

The Packers win was a huge one for the playoff hopes as they remain a half game out in the division. The team in front of them, the Lions, play the Ravens on Monday Night Football tomorrow. The Packers need Detriot to lose at least once for them to have a chance to make the playoffs. Green Bay will face the Pittsburg Steelers back at Lambeau next Sunday at 4:25 ET for another ride on what’s been a roller coaster of a season. 

 

December 10, 2013
Kobe Returns Rusty

For the first time since rupturing his Achilles last April, Kobe Bryant returned to the court Sunday to score 9 points on 2-9 shooting. 

After the game, Bryant reflected on how it felt to return to the court, “Weird. It was really weird,” he said. “I think the last time I had eight months off I was still in the womb.” While this is an witty over exaggeration, it illustrates how painfully the recovery must have felt to Bryant.  We’re talking about a guy who, over the course of his 17 career, took just two weeks off from playing basketball each year. A guy that stays up to the wee hours of the night watching film and who wakes up before sunrise to a get lift in and shots up. A guy who, after a loss to the Miami Heat, came back onto the floor to shoot with his trainer for nearly two hours in front of an empty American Airlines Arena. If Bryant has made one thing clear in his time in the NBA, it is that he works longer and harder than anyone out there. 

8 months off from Basketball to Joe from next door is nothing, but for Kobe Bryant, it is a substantial deprivation. The feelings of agony that Bryant was forced to endure also motivated him to resume basketball activity as soon his Achilles and his doctors called for it. While Bryant has been working out for a couple of months, his return to NBA action Sunday demonstrated the toll of his basketball intermission. Shooting around and scrimmaging in practice with your teammates is one thing, but there is nothing one can physically do the simulate live NBA basketball. Kobe appeared pretty good physically, but it was evident that his basketball timing was simply off. He racked up 8 turnovers, countless times throwing the ball one way and his teammates running another. On three pointers and outsider jumpers, Bryant’s shots fell flat. He also struggled to develop pick and roll chemistry with Pau Gasol, something we’ve become so accustomed to seeing ran to perfection in the past. 

As Stu Lantz called out during the Sunday Night’s broadcast, Sunday night was like Kobe’s first preseason game. To have expected him to have come back flawless, looking like the Kobe Bryant of old was incredibly unreasonable, even for as man as superhuman as the Black Mamba. While it’s true that the LA has their star back, it may be some time before vino is in full effect.

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Filed under: Kobe Bryant Lakers NBA sports 
December 1, 2013
Should The Packers Shut Down Aaron Rodgers?

When Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone on November 4th, his left shoulder wasn’t the only thing wounded. As evident by their 0-4-1 record since that day, the Packers team as well was shattered by the injury to their leader. As a result, Green Bay now sits on the outside looking in of the playoff picture, needing to win out to have any remote chance at contention. 

While having Rodgers on the field certainly gives the Packers the best chance at making a playoff run, if he is unable to play this Sunday vs. Atlanta, it may be time to start thinking about what’s in the best interest of not only Aaron’s career, but also this team’s future. This thinking is seemingly shared by the Packers organization, as it was announced today that the Packers are in fact considering such a move. 

In my opinion it comes down to wether or not Rodgers can suite on this upcoming Sunday. Although the Falcons have struggled this year, they present a substantial challenge if Matt Flynn, not Aaron Rodgers, is playing QB. As we saw on Thanksgiving, and in the three previous games, without Rodgers, this Packers’ team is dreadful to say the least. Thus, its reasonable to assume that they could lose to Atlanta at home, dropping them two games under .500 and ending all hopes for a playoff spot. If such were to unfold, I’m all for sitting Rodgers for the rest of the season. All potential risks of him re-injuring his left shoulder and jeopardizing his immediate future in games meaningless to the Packers’ season are removed. Also, although it may be a harsh reality, once the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs, losing games isn’t the worst outcome. For a team with tremendous holes on defense, having a high draft pick to use on maybe a safety or linebacker would be beneficial to say the least. 

With the way the Packers were playing before Rodgers went down, it’s really a shame that this had to unfold. That said, instead of moping on what could of been, it’s time for the Packers and their fans to start thinking about what gives them the best chance to return to success in the near future. Although it may be tortuous, shutting Aaron Rodgers down for the rest of the 13-14 season may be just that.

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Filed under: Packers NFL sports football 
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