Growing up I have had the good fortune of being able to travel to numerous places in my life, both domestically and internationally.
Much of my traveling is because of my mother, who has always been big on traveling. In fact, she named me Christopher much because of her love for traveling. Since she was born in Argentina, she is big on Latin culture and in their culture, Saint Christopher is the patron of travelers.
Domestically I have pretty much traveled to all regions of the United States, which is awesome since I have been able to see many historic places, along with many very different cultures, some of which have been quite a shock.
Internationally, I have mostly ventured into Latin American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico. Some of the places in Mexico I have been fortunate to visit of Mexico City, Puerto Escondido, Ixtapa, and Oaxaca.
If there is such a thing, the traveling gene seems to have definitely passed down from my mom. I always enjoy traveling, whether it is a road trip, a camping trip, or an international trip to Puerto Vallarta with some friends.
But on many, if not most, of the trips I have been on have been planned by my mom, with her getting to select the destination to travel to. But not this time, I get to make the selection for our next trip.
Ever since I begin going to college, first Cal Poly and now Sac State, my mom has held strong saying that when I graduate I will be able to pick our next destination, as long as I plan the whole trip.
I’ve never had this much pressure in our trips, I am usually just there along for the ride. There are so many places in this world that I long to go to that I haven’t been yet: Europe, Spain, Peru, Jamaica, Costa Rica, etc.
Since I graduate in May, I have been thinking about it a lot this semester and have finally come to the conclusion that I want to go to Costa Rica after graduation. I chose Costa Rica because I have always wanted to go there, ever since seeing it on TV as a little kid and seeing the beautiful rain forest, coastline, and the diverse animals.
But what this trip is really making me realize is how hard it is to plan a trip of this caliber.
Everything from the flights, to the lodging, to the activities and eating, it is quite stressful when looking at all of the decisions that need to be made.
Looking at just the regions of Costa Rica alone become overwhelming when trying to figure out where we should go. Each region offers many different pros and cons to its visitors. Finally, after long lists of the pros and cons, I decided on the Osa Peninsula just last week. But this is the only decision I have been able to come up with, and have many more to make.
Since the Osa Peninsula is a rather remote part of Costa Rica in the rain forest, I have to make a decision on whether or not to fly in a small plane, or take the bus there. If we fly, it is only about an hour, but my mom hates small planes. If we take the bus, it is an eight hour drive. So, do I please the mother who has taken me around the world? Or do I just take the short flight without thinking about it?
Another stressful decision yet to be made is the lodging situation. Since the whole family is going, this means that we need a place to stay to fit five. I am still yet to figure this out, but have narrowed it down to many eco-lodges on the peninsula.
This has been a very eye-opening experience as I didn’t realize how stressful it could be to plan a trip of this caliber. Perhaps that is why my mom wanted me to do the planning, to see just another part of growing up after graduation.
Be sure to check back in late-June to July for a column on how the trip went!
The Home Box Office channel, or HBO, is largely known as a movie channel for viewers but they have been growing in the market for television shows. This growth has largely been made possible by popular series such as “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”
In 2010, HBO brought its viewers another entertaining and powerful television series, “Treme.”
The term “Treme” refers to one of the oldest neighborhoods of New Orleans, which is prominently African-American and rich in culture and New Orleans jazz music.
“Treme” takes place in a post-Katrina New Orleans, approximately just three months after the hurricane when Season One begins. The show focuses on the struggles of the residents of New Orleans who were brought to a state of disaster when the levees broke from Hurrican Katrina, causing massive flooding and massive damage to a city where the majority of citizens don’t have much money.
“Treme” chronicles a variety of characters when documenting the struggles of post-Katrina residents. The variety of characters includes musicians, chefs, bar-owners, government officials and even police chiefs.
“Treme” is brought to you by David Simon, the same writer that wrote the popular HBO Series “The Wire” and “Generation Kill,” along with Eric Overmyer, who is the writer and producer of “Law and Order” and “Homicide.”
Much like Simon did with “The Wire,” he does an amazing job of developing the characters of the show, and how they interact with each other. The show focuses on a group of characters, but the characters don’t all know each other, but since they are all experiencing similar situations, they tend to cross paths often without knowing each other.
If you liked the actors in “The Wire,” then you’ll love the ones in “Treme.” Simon has chosen to use many of the same actors, but in very different roles. This is great to see since it’s always nice to see familiar actors, but this time in a completely different role which shows just how capable they are.
One of my favorite characters in the show is Antoine Batiste, who is played by Wendell Pierce. Pierce was “Bunk Moreland,” in “The Wire,” an alcoholic detective in the city of Baltimore. In “Treme,” Pierce plays Antoine Batiste, a struggling musician who is getting pressure from his girlfriend to drop his trumpet and get a real job. But Batiste is getting pressure from the other side to continue playing music as his family has always been a group of musicians, plus he loves being a Jazz musician.
Many of the characters are musicians since the neighborhood of Treme is huge on culture and Jazz. This allows the show to provide a lot of music and demonstrations of their culture throughout the show, giving the viewer great insight into the culture of New Orleans.
Many scenes of the show feature musicians performing a show in a local bar, having a great time despite the damage that Hurricane Katrina has caused, which demonstrates the mentality of the neighborhood. The characters seem to use their music and culture as a form of coping with the disaster.
The show always keeps me wanting to see more episodes, which becomes a problem with “Treme.” They tend to have short, eight-episode seasons which are topped off with a powerful hour and a half season finale that always leaves you wanting to see more.
“Treme” provides a powerful insight into not only the horrific situations of a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, but also the amazing culture that the historical city contains. If you are looking for a good show that provides drama, music, historical context, and good acting, I recommend you check out “Treme” on HBO.
The premier date for Season Three has yet to be announced, but until then you can watch the first two seasons on HBO Go if you have HBO, or rent them from Netflix or a local movie store.
College football and basketball players across the nation finally took action in their own hands to confront the NCAA in regards to revenue that their respective universities are making from their play on the field or court.
This week, a petition traveled around various universities and was signed by over 300 college football players and eventually sent to the NCAA. This petition is intended to show their belief that they are inclined to a piece of the television revenue that universities make while televising the games each week.
Now I have already gone into the college football industry and how much it is broken so I will spare you of listening to that rant again. But this petition is a very reasonable one, and I fully back the players’ beliefs on this one.
The fact is that the universities are making a boat-load of money from televising these games each week. Lets first take a look at a new deal which will be used as a precedent for future deals.
Earlier this year, ESPN announced that it would be starting a new channel, The Longhorn Network, which was dedicated solely to covering the University of Texas athletics. For the ability to cover their athletics 24/7/365, the University of Texas is “receiving $11 million annually plus another $4 million to their marketing agency IMG,” according to a USA Today report.
This means the University of Texas is getting $15 million a year just for allowing ESPN to televise their games and their coverage. Because the deal is a 20-year deal, the University of Texas will have made $300 million dollars by the time the deal expires. And not one penny of that money will have gone to the athletes, which are the stars of the Longhorn Network.
The same kind of money can be found in the college basketball industry.
Just recently the NCAA signed a new contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting to televise the March Madness Tournament, which decides the NCAA Basketball Champion every year.
Here are the logistics of the new massive deal: The deal reportedly runs from 2011 to 2024 and the NCAA will earn $10.8 BILLION, or $770 million a year.
So, this entity is making $770 million a year by allowing the televising of a MONTH-long tournament, and none of this money is going to the athletes that are the stars of the tournament.
Without these athletes and the high play on the football field or basketball court, the universities and NCAA wouldn’t have the opportunity to make this kind of money.
It is perfectly reasonable for the players to be seeking at least a portion of this TV revenue since the universities are making so much off of their play. The recently signed petition is an attempt to just receive a portion of TV revenue, and they aren’t even going after any of the ticket revenue or jersey sales or any other revenue.
But the NCAA clearly does not see that the system is broken. Instead of taking a look at the petition and realizing that it supports the idea of a broken system, the NCAA’s board of directors has said that they won’t discuss the idea of distributing a piece of the TV revenue.
What is the reason for this? It's simple: People are inherently greedy and "money makes the world go round."
The NCAA needs to realize that without these athletes on the court or the football field, they would have none of these monster deals worth so much. They are the stars of the games, or “episodes” if you may.
The televising of these games is no different then the televising of a sit-com, a drama, or any other TV show, and in the world of television, the actors and actresses get paid for their work. In the world of college athletics, the athletes are the “actors and actresses”.
The saying “Never say never” has long been thrown around in our society implying that anything can be achieved if given the appropriate circumstances. This is especially the case within the sports world.
Throughout the history of sports, athletes, coaches and even owners have decided to ignore the saying and continue to loosely use the word “never.” The great Michael Jordan came out of retirement after he hung up the sneakers; every NFL off season we now have to wonder if quarterback Brett Favre is going to return to the football field because he came out of retirement once; and now, we have an NFL trade that occurred after Mike Brown, the Cincinnati Bengals owner and general manager, said he would never trade Carson Palmer.
Quarterback Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday after plenty of controversy and bickering between him and Brown.
To understand the situation some more, it helps to know the history between Palmer and the Bengals organization. After an illustrious college career at the University of Southern California that included winning the Heisman Trophy, the Bengals selected Palmer first overall in the 2003 NFL draft. Palmer was expected to be the savior of the franchise that finished 2-14 the previous season.
During his nine-year tenure on the Bengals, Palmer led them to two playoff appearances but zero wins in the postseason. After the 2010 season, Palmer met with ownership and requested he be traded to another team and if they didn’t trade him, he would retire and not play for the Bengals.
Palmer became upset and unhappy with his stay in Cincinnati towards the end of last year and requested a trade to another team. In response, Brown decided that he would not give in the Palmer’s request and that if he was going to play in the NFL, it would have to be for the Bengals where he still had four years left on his contract. If he didn’t want to do that, he would have to retire at the age of 31.
This standoff lasted for the entire off season and six weeks into this year’s NFL season before it ended on Tuesday. Palmer remained retired working out on the side without the Bengals, while the Bengals drafted a new QB along with starting the season 4-2. But all the while Brown maintained that he was more willing to let Palmer suffer and the Bengals get nothing for him than to let him get his way and get a trade.
That is until the Raiders made Brown an offer that he could not turn down. The Raiders offered Brown two 1st round draft picks, plenty to force Brown to reconsider his options. Brown took the offer and finally gave Palmer what he wanted by trading him to the Raiders. With this action, Brown contributed to the strengthening of the phrase, “Never say never.”
Brown’s actions furthered the idea that there are always certain factors that will cause you to go back on saying you’d “never” do something; like a price for the action.
This is also the case with the NFL. General managers can always say they won’t trade someone, but in the end, the NFL is a business and there is a price that if reached will change the general manager’s decision.
In the end, sports will always be an industry that is ruled by money and power. It has long been the case in the NFL with numerous players holding out because they want a bigger contract, or to be traded. But in the end, there is always a price or a contract that can be offered that will get them back on the playing field. But don’t just think it is the players, the same can be said for the owners. The owners’ decisions can easily be swayed for the right price, just as Mr. Brown has shown with his handling of Carson Palmer.
The NBA lockout is now over 90 days old and seemingly has no end to it. With the scheduled season tip-off looming in the distance, the players are still spread out across the world playing in various international and local leagues.
During the recent NFL lockout, ESPN and sports networks would update us almost every day on how talks were going, and whether or not an end was near; this is not the case with the NBA lockout.
My theory on this is it’s because there just is no telling whether or not the NBA and its players will ever come to an agreement. You see, the NBA is just so screwed up compared to the NFL. The NFL was fighting for things like rookie salary caps, HGH testing, how high the salary cap should be, how much money should go to the players, and other items on the agenda that would better their business model.
The NBA’s previous business model is so messed up that their new collective bargaining agreement is going to involve a whole new plan, assuming they come to the appropriate agreement.
The main problem that the NBA is trying to fix is the fact that only so many teams are making a profit each year in the league. For instance, after last season ended, it was reported that only eight teams in the league recorded a profit for the season.
How can this be? This means that 22 out of 30 teams in the league either broke even or lost money for running a professional basketball team in the NBA. If less than 25 percent of the teams are making money, there has got to be something wrong with the business model in place.
Locally, we know the Kings did not make money last year and have likely recorded losses the last couple of years at least. The Kings had such a low payroll on its roster that they had to trade for Marquis Daniels, a player that was out for the rest of the season due to injury. They traded for Daniels just for his expensive contract so they’d get over the minimum salary cap to avoid being taxed by the league.
ESPN’s columnist Bill Simmons said it best. In the system now, small-market teams have to do almost everything right in the front office (draft, sign free agents, re-sign players, etc.) in order to have a chance to compete with big-market teams.
The Sacramento Kings, along with other small-market teams, just cannot compete with these big-market teams because of the money situation. The big-market teams are the ones recording profits, therefore they have more money to spend on the players. This whole problem can be solved by one solution, but it is being shot down by greed.
The NBA needs to reach an agreement to share the revenue of the owners amongst the various teams. Although I understand the eight owners that are recording profits won’t want to, but those eight owners also need to realize that they need the other 22 teams to have a NBA.
Besides, can you imagine an NBA in which it wasn’t the same teams in the playoffs every year? It would be great seeing these small-market teams challenging for a championship. Just look at how excited every has gotten with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s success over the last five years.
The NBA and its players need to end this lockout and make sure they get the business model correct this time, as it is losing ground on the NFL in fandom.
There are many things that makes BIl Simmons a successful columnist, and quite possibly one of the most popular in the sports community, but the one thing that keeps him popular is his ability to write pieces that his readers can relate to.
Simmons entered the world of sports journalism while attending the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. While majoring in Political Science, Simmons joined the school newspaper, The Crusader, and had a column called “The Rambling” before becoming the paper’s sports editor.
Upon graduating from Holy Cross, Simmons attended the print journalism graduate program at Boston University where he received his master’s degree. It was while in Massachusetts that Simmons drew the eye of his current employer, ESPN, the leader in sports news.
Simmons started a website, BostonSportsGuy.com, which grew in popularity until ESPN offered him a job to write three guest columns for ESPN’s Page 2 section in 2001. After seeing the amount of readers Simmons brought to ESPN, the company gave Simmons the lead columnist position which he still holds today.
Simmons has been able to expand his popularity because of his wide variety of topics covered, along with the easiness of the reading material.
Although Simmons is quite vocal about his Boston-team fanhood, he does not shy away from discussing other topics that surround the wide world of sports. He also to picks topics that are prominent in the sports world in a timely matter.
For example, as people in our Sacramento region fought to keep our beloved Sacramento Kings from moving to Anaheim (well, some of us), much of the country and its sportswriters simply reported on the situation as opposed to discussing what was wrong with the situation. Not Simmons.
Simmons decided to take the Sacramento Kings’ disastrous situation as an opportunity to point out problems with the NBA. In his article titled “Kings checkmated by money, luck” published on April 26, Simmons attacks the potential issues of small-market teams in the NBA head on, writing:
But with a momentum-killing lockout lurking and the Maloofs scrapping to keep their franchise afloat, it's hard not to wonder whether those two events are connected. Is there a chasm between big and small NBA markets that only a prolonged labor stoppage can prevent? Is Sacramento's failure a glimpse of a bigger picture -- that, in the Multitasker Generation, middle-class fans would rather stay home and do four things at once than spend their hard-earned money for mediocre seats and uninspired basketball? (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110425&sportCat=nba).
Simmons goes on to discuss the problems small-market NBA teams have and why they mostly fail to be successful. He lists the problems, making it very easy to read, and then compares them to the Kings situation and how the same problems are present in the Kings demise.
One of my favorite pieces by Simmons was one that he wrote last May in which he compared the NBA Playoffs with quotes from HBO’s The Wire.
25. "Yeah, well, now, the thing about the old days? They the old days."To the Spurs, only the fourth No. 1 seed ever to get bounced in Round 1 ... although we can't totally call it an upset because, within a half of Game 1, everyone went from thinking, "Memphis could beat San Antonio" to "Wow, Memphis is going to beat San Antonio UNLESS they choke away a couple of wins because of free throw shooting and/or repeated brainfarting." (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/part1/110503&sportCat=nba)
Simmons’ ability to compare sports to pop culture has always fascinated me, as he does it with ease and keeps his readers coming back for more.
Simmons is currently still the lead columnist for ESPN, along with being the Editor in Chief of ESPN’s newly-founded website Grantland, which fittingly covers sports and pop culture. Simmons is also the creator of ESPN’s popular series of documentaries 30 for 30, which covers sports stories from ESPN’s time on air.
The world of sports has long brought people joy, entertainment, pleasure, controversy and even scandal. For example, take the recent scandals of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Cam Newton and most recently the Miami Hurricanes.
But are these programs really to blame?
Instead of pointing fingers at the programs that repeatedly get caught and punished for scandals, the NCAA and media need to look at the college football industry and find a way to fix it.
The fact is this, the NCAA and the college football industry is broken as it stands now, and this has long been the case. If the industry wasn’t broken, there wouldn’t consistently be scandals being turned up.
Take ex-quarterback Terell Pryor and his fellow teammates for example. Pryor was recently ousted out of his position of starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes because he sold some memorabilia that was signed with his signature.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to be completely against these football players taking any other money except for their scholarship money. But this all changed recently when I got into an argument with a friend of mine.
My friend made a valid point when he asked me the following question: “What is the difference between Pryor selling an autograph and an art student selling a painting they made in class?”
I pondered the question for a couple of minutes and came up with what I thought was a valid argument back. “But Pryor and football players are already on scholarship,” I said confident in my response.
But he already had a response for that: “The college football industry is a $1 billion industry, probably more. How much do you think art students make their colleges?”
I was stumped. He had completely changed my opinion of the situation in under five minutes of conversation. He was right, these athletes make their universities a ridiculous amount of money to not get at least a little bit of allowance.
Now, I’m not saying that college football needs to turn into a minor-league NFL. All I am saying is that these kids need to be compensated more than they are now.
Think about it. College football is an industry that makes universities tons of money, yet the kids can’t even sell their autograph?
In the 2009 season, a year that Pryor led the Buckeyes to an 11-2 record including a Rose Bowl victory, Ohio State made $39,515,387.00 on ticket sales alone, according to USA Today. This doesn’t even include the money that the university made from jersey sales and other revenue sources like boosters.
Not only do these football players make the university money, but they also often fund the other athletic programs since they are not as marketable. This is just another reason why the universities need these players, and should give them a little bit of extra money.
In America, we pride ourselves in our capitalistic market. In most business models in industries in this country, if your business goes up in worth and the product quality increases, then your employees get a raise. This is not the case in the college football industry.
The coaches of the game continue to get paid more and more, receiving multi-million dollar contracts, all while the college student-athletes continue to only receive scholarships.
Again, I am not saying the players should earn salaries. But why not give them some of the jersey revenue, or ticket sale revenue? Not an outrageous amount, but maybe in the form of a small weekly allowance. Or if the player is able to sell an autograph for a little extra cash, allow it.
The NCAA has been broken for years now, and it is the reason why these scandals keep happening. If the NCAA would recognize how much money these athletes make for the industry, the would realize that it needs to be fixed in order to fix the industry and stop future scandals. I’m not saying there is one definite way to fix it, all I’m saying is that the NCAA needs to attempt to fix the college football industry.