Author: admin

Schwarber Robbed in Home Run Derby, According to Reactionary Cubs Fans

As the MLB All-Star Game gets ready to kick off tonight in our nation’s capital, there was some controversy over Monday’s Home Run Derby that got a rise out of Chicago Cubs fans on social media.

Two Cubs players participated in the derby, shortstop Javier Baez and outfielder Kyle Schwarber. The derby took place in a bracket style, with Baez as a six seed and Schwarber as a five seed. While Baez was eliminated in the first round by Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, Schwarber battled his way all the way to the finals. On his way there, Schwarber put on a great performance, hitting 21 dingers in the semifinals against Phillies first basement Rhys Hoskins, who hit 20 homers before Schwarber came to the plate. The format of the derby is a timed competition, so players batting second in close battles try to beat the clock to surpass their opponent. Schwarber did just that against Hoskins, launching a blast to right field as time expired to break a 20-20 tie. It was time for the final round, Schwarber versus hometown hero Bryce Harper, outfielder for the Washington Nationals. It was also time for some Cubs fans to overreact.

Schwarber batted first against Harper, starting out with a bang by blasting a homer over 450 feet on the first pitch he saw. He continued his strong showing on the night, ending with 17 home runs in regulation time. Players in the derby were awarded a 30 second bonus period if they hit two homers over 440 feet. Schwarber had seven homers over that distance in the final round, but could only tack on one more homer before his bonus time expired, leaving his total in the final at 18 home runs. Harper came up next and started slow. He only hit four homers in the first minute-plus, so he called a timeout to regroup. With 50 seconds remaining, Harper had nine homers. He seemingly flipped a switch and blasted nine big flies in that time to tie the score. With the bonus 30 seconds easily in the bag for Harper, he took one swing in the overtime period and flipped his America-themed bat as the victor.

bryce-harper-nationals-home-run-derby

Harper seemed to be a man possessed in the final minute. Some fans noticed that he was readying up and swinging for the fences before his previous homer had even landed, racing to match Schwarber’s total. Apparently there’s a rule that the batter must wait for the previous home run to land before taking another pitch. There’s an official rules page for the Home Run Derby on MLB’s website, but it doesn’t mention the rule. Cubs fans raced to Twitter to proclaim that Schwarber was robbed. One even started a change.org petition to change the results of the derby.

I believe some of the Cubs fans on Twitter were just having a bit of fun and overreacting. Some seemed serious though. Honestly, we as Cubs fans should let the hometown guy have his moment. The Home Run Derby is just supposed to be a fun prelude to the All-Star Game where players can show some personality. Harper was decked out in an America sleeve and his America bat, so let’s just let him have this one. Yes, maybe he and his father (who pitched to Harper in the derby) cheated, but I noticed Schwarber getting a couple swings off quickly in his close battle against Hoskins as well. Chalk this one up as good ole’ American fun, and let’s just enjoy the All-Star Game tonight.

Trump Meets Privately with Putin in Finland to the Dismay of Almost Everybody

The rumors of President Donald Trump’s shady connections to Russia popped up even before he was elected in 2016. Since he took office, there have been numerous reports of Trump’s campaign and staff having mysterious meetings, conversations, and negotiations with Russian officials and liaisons. These reports have divided conservatives and liberals completely, with conservatives thinking that the Russia rumors are complete fabrications by those in the media who wish to destroy Trump. Liberals on the other hand believe that it’s possible that Trump himself is completely beholden to Russia and its ruthless leader Vladimir Putin. I believe the truth may be somewhere in between, but to me it has become very obvious that Trump’s relationship with Russia and Putin goes far beyond normal foreign diplomacy. Trump furthered those suspicions on Monday when he met privately with Putin. There were no other Americans present, and what was really discussed may never be known because Trump himself is the only one that can report on what happened in that meeting. For some conservatives, this meeting was something that was indefensible. It seems like it could be a new low for this presidential administration.

Trump emerged from his summit with Putin in Helsinki, Finland on Monday to have a joint press conference with both leaders speaking. What followed was a stunning admission on Trump’s part that he believes the words of Putin over that of his own intelligence community. In 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to the head of a Special Counsel investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counsel has already indicted former Trump campaign officials Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Rick Gates. Last Friday, the counsel indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials who are accused of hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and releasing them to the public to damage the reputation of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This was one of the first times the American people have gotten a better insight into exactly how the Russians meddled in the election. On Monday, Trump flatly sided with Putin and claimed he was sure that Russia had nothing to do with election interference.

“The Russian state has never interfered, and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs, including in the election process,” Putin said.

“There was no collusion at all…President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I’ll say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump said while standing at a lectern next to Putin. “We’re all to blame.”

Of course, the American public exploded after this meeting, taking to social media to voice their concerns and criticisms over what was said at the press conference. What was more interesting to me was how some republicans who have been hesitant to criticize President Trump reacted.

“The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said in a statement. “[Russia] remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.” He added that there’s “No question” that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has seldom criticized Trump in any way said he has “Complete confidence in our intelligence community and their findings.” He added, “The Russians are not our friends.”

Where our country goes from here is unclear. I’d say I’m encouraged by Republicans coming out to criticize our president for his brazen disregard for US intelligence officials, but unless they actually use the system of checks and balances that they’re in control of to rein in the president it will all just seem like hot air. This Russia thing has become so polarizing that it seems like many conservatives will just bury their head in the sand and go along with whatever Trump says as absolute gospel. It’s also up to liberals to be patient and not expect Mueller to slap handcuffs on Trump himself. This is going to be a long, drawn out process and the only way to get Trump out of office will probably be to go and vote in 2020. It’s not an easy answer, and it’s disheartening to see our democracy so closely tied to a regime in Russia that is murderous and tyrannical. For now though, it’s important to remember that the wheels of politics grind slowly. Nothing can happen overnight. If there really was collusion and interference that the Trump campaign participated in, all we can do is hope that one day it comes to light and justice is done.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the Documentary this Country Needs Right Now

Almost every American child of any age has seen at least a clip of the long-running PBS show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The famous children’s show ran from the early 1960s all the way until 2001. Fred Rogers was the host and seemed to be a friend and neighbor to any child that was lucky enough to catch the show. Mister Rogers was a fixture of American culture and taught multiple generations incredibly valuable lessons. A documentary about the amazing life of Rogers and his show seemed long overdue. I’ll admit, I went into the film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” expecting a sentimental, fun portrait of the show and the impact it had on American culture. If that was all this was I would’ve been satisfied. Instead, I was blown away by how personal and challenging the film was as it portrayed not only the struggles of American life during the height of Rogers’ fame, but also his personal battles and vulnerabilities.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” showcases the behind the scenes aspects of Rogers’ show and how his message mirrored happenings in America rather than focusing heavily on the personal life of Rogers. Former cast and crew paint the portrait of Rogers as a kind and understanding man while delving into the history of the show. While Rogers was often focused on messages of positivity and kindness, he also addressed the challenging issues that were facing the country. In 1964, several black men and white men swam in the same Florida hotel pool to protest segregation. They subsequently had acid and chemicals thrown into the pool by the hotel’s owner to force them out. Rather than address the issues head-on, Rogers crafted a beautiful, yet subtle image where he invited Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’s police officer, Officer Clemmons, to wash his feet in the same small pool as him. Officer Clemmons was played by African-American actor and musician Francois Clemmons. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” director Morgan Neville shows a heartbreaking juxtaposition between the scenes of acid being dumped into the hotel pool and Rogers and Clemmons washing their feet together.

mister rogers

While Rogers seemed to be the most wholesome man in America, he was not without his own self-doubts and lack of confidence. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood often featured a puppet character called Daniel Tiger. Many of those interviewed in the film believe that Daniel Tiger was an extension of Rogers himself and the character he turned to in order to express his vulnerabilities. After all, Rogers himself wrote, voiced and sung most of the characters in the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” which was a part of the show that mostly featured puppets interacting with actors and low-budget sets. A moving scene in the film shows Rogers as Daniel Tiger singing a duet with main character Lady Aberlin about whether he is a mistake or not. Without giving away too much about those interviewed during this scene, it is clear that Rogers sometimes saw himself as too meek or not bold enough. It is an amazing look into a part of the man that no one really got to see by just watching his show.

It was fun to take a stroll down memory lane with this film to remember all the great things that Fred Rogers was about and everything he created. While it would be nice to just leave it there and have happy thoughts about his show, the film seemed to ask a more poignant question at the end. Did we really take to heart all the lessons Mister Rogers was trying to teach us? Rogers actually returned to do PSAs about the September 11th attacks after his show had ended. It seemed we needed Mister Rogers to come back to give us advice even when his show was on a hiatus or gone altogether. Rogers was always ready to deliver a message, but it appears he sometimes questioned if his messages were working. He was often mocked and derided by right-wing pundits towards the end of his life and after his death about creating a “Soft” generation by spreading the message that every kid was special. What’s ironic about this is that Rogers was himself a Christian republican, and his message of everyone being special was really just a simpler way of saying that we’re all endowed by our creator.

I loved this film and the emotional, inspiring journey it takes the viewer on throughout. While I don’t have a lot of vivid memories of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I do remember one clip I saw as a preteen about always looking for help in times of trouble. It was actually from an interview with Mister Rogers, but I find it to be powerful and applicable to the world today. This message always resonated with me, and I leave you with the clip of this wonderful man and his sage advice.

 

My Opinion on Why Donald Trump is President-Elect

I have never hated being right more in my entire life. For months, I told family, friends, and really anyone who was interested in listening that Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate and that she would most likely lose the presidential election. Even though the Republican candidate for president was also deeply flawed, it didn’t matter because a lot of voters have a long-held grudge against Clinton. I don’t necessarily agree with their grudge, but I was never a huge supporter of Clinton in her presidential bids so it’s tough for me to defend her. Still, I was reading the polling data that said Clinton had a decent lead even though enthusiasm for her campaign was plummeting. On the morning of the election I finally thought to myself, “I guess I was wrong, but at least we won’t have Donald Trump as our president”. I was a supporter of Bernie Sanders during this election season, but I still much preferred Clinton to be president over Trump. Unfortunately, Clinton’s “Blue Wall” collapsed as states that normally went to the democrats switched sides. Trump won the election definitively through the electoral college, despite losing the popular vote. Even though a reality TV star was a candidate for president, people in America showed how much they really hate being ignored, and how much they hate Hillary Clinton.

My concerns with Clinton started when the massive scandal about her private e-mail server started. I knew that it was a type of problem that doesn’t just go away. It was something that contained a ton of information, and when we found out that information had been stolen through a hack, the problem got even worse. Despite the fact that the FBI declined to prosecute Clinton, the scandal gave her opponents plenty of ammo to use against her. And she only hurt her cause more by staying silent and vague about it. In fact, ignoring people was a big problem with her campaign for over a year. Despite the hatred for Clinton, I don’t think it’s possible to point to one factor as the main reason Trump won the election. There were several factors that hurt Clinton’s chances and made Trump a more attractive choice to a lot of voters, despite his flaws and general vagueness on the issues.

Clinton spent a lot of time privately strategizing with her team, rather than publicly answering questions. She went on a nine-month streak where she didn’t hold one press conference. That’s really a terrible look for a presidential candidate. She ignored key swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan, and it ultimately cost her the election. The Clinton team’s resources were dedicated in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and she won none of those states. So what happened to make voters go against her so wholeheartedly?

One factor was the overwhelming support working class males and families showed for Trump. Some enthusiastic support came from working class families in those rustbelt states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those voters truly believe, right or wrong, that they’re being screwed over by the current state of the economy. Trump’s campaign was strong in this area: highlighting that he would manufacturing jobs back to America, lower the taxes of the working class, and strip away trade regulations. Trump of course has not produced a clear plan on how to do any of these things now that he’s been elected president, but that’s not surprising to most people that have followed him throughout this campaign. Trump doesn’t seem to plan for much, he just goes off how he’s feeling at the moment. Still, he rode that strategy all the way to the white house which is a truly amazing thing to think about.

Speaking of Trump’s message, Clinton didn’t seem to want to counter it at all. She was content to point out all of Trump’s flaws, and there were a lot of them. She hammered him on his behavior towards women and the infamous Access Hollywood tape, but it didn’t matter to Trump supporters. He was speaking to them, she was just telling them he was bad. She needed to tell them more about actual policies, but with the e-mail scandal hanging over her head she tried to do whatever it took to not rock the boat.

That scandal would be the undoing of Clinton. When FBI director James Comey announced that he might re-open the investigation into Clinton just 10 days before the election, it halted whatever momentum she had in the polls. The saddest part for liberals and Clinton supports alike is that she did it to herself. Clinton knew she was walking the line on many different security measures including the emails, she is a brilliant lawyer with decades of experience. She even asked Colin Powell, the outgoing Secretary of State who also used a private e-mail server, for advice on how to use the server. The scandal was a cloud that allowed Trump supporters to counter any positive claims about her with credible evidence of her participating in illegal activity and mishandling classified information improperly. With this kind of obstacle to overcome, the Clinton campaign was super careful about anything they did. They just assumed that people would hate Trump enough to vote for her. It didn’t happen, just like the DNC’s pre-planned victory celebration with Katy Perry and other celebrities didn’t happen.

Then there was the issue of democrats not showing up to vote. Indeed, democratic voter turnout was way down from both the 2008 and 2012 elections. This was probably due to a lack of enthusiasm for Clinton, but there are also many disgruntled Bernie Sanders supporters out there like me. Even though I would’ve voted for Clinton if I lived in a swing state, I can totally understand why some liberals decided they just couldn’t cast a vote for her under any circumstances. It always seemed like Sanders had the momentum and was more popular than Clinton. Because of those e-mails that just keep coming up, we now know that from day one of the campaign the DNC worked in several ways to take support away from Sanders and bring it to Clinton. No wonder some democrats were so bitter.

The last thing I want to mention is the factor of so called “PC culture” on this election. Trump supporters on the internet will have you believe that they “Meme’d a man into the White House”, and while they were a factor I don’t think it’s as prominent as people think. The internet community was perhaps the most enthusiastic about Trump, diving deeper into the Clinton e-mails than any journalist did, and even using them to create their own conspiracy theories. In the end, the internet became the primary way for Trump supporters to not only share misinformation and fake news stories, but also a place for them to express uncensored, anonymous opinions on Clinton. In that way, the internet was a big factor, but I don’t think it swayed many voters.

It does seem like there is some rebellion towards PC culture among the internet’s Trump fans, but it’s much less focused than the push was to get Trump to the White House. Mostly, I think the DNC should move away from using celebrities and musicians as advocates for their candidate. It is clear that there is some fatigue on the part of voters when it comes to being told how to think, especially by someone who they perceive to not be struggling at all. I can see how that would anger some people, and who really knows if there’s anyone out there that was convinced to vote for Clinton by Beyonce.

It may not have been one factor that sunk Clinton’s campaign, but it’s clear now that with all these negative issues piling up, she needed to be much more bold in her campaign. Democrats suffered mightily because of this, not only losing the presidency, but control of the Senate as well. Now the Republicans will have the White House and Congress. The party really needs to understand that they failed the people in this election. There was a candidate that was clearly the favorite in the democratic primary, and the party ignored him because they believed it was somehow Clinton’s “Turn”. That attitude has to change. The party has also come too close to resembling the old Republican party. Corporate interests are now supremely important to BOTH parties, and it never used to be that way. Huge, fundamental changes are needed in the party’s structure if the democrats don’t want to face eight years of President Trump.

The Life of a Cubs Fan After a World Series Win

It’s been almost a month since the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, and it’s still surreal for me to type out those words. I’m not exactly a long-suffering Cubs fan as I’m still relatively young, but I’ve endured some heartbreak and faced plenty of ridicule from fans of opposing teams. I’m also close with some relatives that are more qualified for that “Long-suffering” title. Having that all wash away in an instant was an absolutely amazing experience. It will also forever change the way I watch sports and feel about them in general.

I was always a superstitious sports fan, and it was the worst for me with the Cubs. Any year that the Cubs made the playoffs, I never wanted to make a proclamation along the lines of “This is a great team, they can really go deep in the playoffs this year!”  That’s not even really a bold statement like predicting the team will win the World Series, but I still thought that getting too cocky would somehow curse the team. I didn’t necessarily believe in the Curse of the Billy Goat, but I can definitely understand why people did believe it up until about a month ago. Even this season, with the Cubs fielding one of their most talented teams ever, I never wanted to be confident about their ability to win it all.  The team consistently proved me wrong.

The 2016 Cubs often chanted “We never quit!” after winning big games and reaching milestones throughout the season. It fit perfectly with what happened to this team in the playoffs. In the NLDS, the team started out well, but was facing the momentum shifting over to the San Francisco Giants down 5-2 in the top of the 9th inning in game 4. If the Cubs had lost that game, they would’ve faced a winner-take-all game 5 in Chicago against arguably the best playoff pitcher ever, Madison Bumgarner. Instead, the team decided to end the series then and there, scoring four runs in the top of the inning and going on to win the game 6-5.

The Cubs then went on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. The team was shutout in two straight games and down 2-1 in the series before their bats came alive and they rallied to win three straight games. All of a sudden, the Cubs were in their first World Series since 1945. They would face The Cleveland Indians, another team with a long championship drought (69 years). The seven game series was an instant classic that featured the Cubs rallying from down 3-1, winning three straight games for a second straight series, including a thrilling game 7 that took extra innings to decide. The final game of the series will go down as one of the best baseball games to ever be played. The Cubs jumped out to an early to a 5-1 lead, but would eventually squander that lead in a fashion that seemed so typically like the Cubs. They gave up two runs on a wild pitch to make 5-3. Even after adding another run on a David Ross home run, the Cubs couldn’t hold the lead. The Indians’ Rajai Davis hit one of the most clutch World Series home runs ever in the 8th inning to tie the game 6-6, and send Cubs fans into agony. However, the Cubs were able to hit the reset button during a rain delay that featured a team-rallying speech by outfielder Jason Heyward. They scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning to make it 8-6, and went on to win the game 8-7. Just like that, the Cubs went from lovable losers to champions. It’s an odd feeling, but it’s also really great.

I always hoped I would be alive to witness a Cubs championship, but I never expected it. I bought into the whole “Perennial losers” narrative about the Cubs, and I let superstition make me think that I could never believe in the team I rooted for. But having that all go away in an instant was worth the years of heartbreak. To see a city collectively lose their minds celebrating, but also reflect on how lucky we are to see this when so many other fans didn’t make it to this moment was special. I loved the experience of watching the Cubs win, but it was also way different than I ever imagined it would be.

2016-11-03t145550z_561255946_nocid_rtrmadp_3_mlb-world-series-chicago-cubs-at-cleveland-indians

The Cubs were the best team in the league in 2008 when I was in college, and I thought that if they somehow made it to the World Series, I would be there in the stadium when they won it all. They got swept out of the playoffs in the first round that year anyway, but as time went on I realized I didn’t need to be in the stadium or in the heart of Wrigleyville to enjoy a Cubs World Series. I lost my younger brother to cancer in May, and it has changed my perspective on a lot of things. I wanted the Cubs to win this World Series not only so I could see it, but so that maybe it could take some attention off the pain my family is going through this year. My brother wasn’t a big Cubs fan, but I know he would’ve enjoyed seeing Chicago go crazy for the team. In the end I was happy to be watching the game on the couch with my mom, stepbrother and stepdad.

Being around my family seemed to be the only appropriate way to watch game 7 of the World Series. It was a crazy game, and I even stopped watching for about five minutes after that Davis home run, but I’m glad I came back into the living room. It was important to me to see my stepdad, a diehard Cubs fan for over 60 years, experience a Cubs World Series win in his lifetime. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be when they won it all. I was jumping around screaming and hugging my family, and my stepdad simply stood up with tears in his eyes and said “I have to go to bed now”. It was actually pretty late since the game took over four hours, but I didn’t expect that reaction. After thinking about it for awhile, it finally makes sense to me. He had seen so much heartbreak over the years: 1969, 1984, 1989, 2003, 2008, and the list goes on. He was even at game 7 in 2003 when it seemed the Cubs were going to make it to the World Series, but fell short. I think when the team finally won it all, the moment simply overwhelmed him. I understand that, but I will never understand it to the degree he does.

This was the first sporting event I truly shed tears over. It is a cathartic event for many Cubs fans. We celebrate, but we also mourn all the Cubs fans close to us who came before us and didn’t get to see this. For me, it’s my brother. Pretty much every Cubs fan has one, or more. For my stepdad, I’d imagine it’s a lot. With all we’ve been through this year, it’s bittersweet in a way. But I wouldn’t change this moment for the world. The Cubs are World Champions. Say it with pride. All my years of sports superstition, all the worrying, all the overreaction is all gone now. I feel like I can just enjoy sports as a genuine spectator now because I’ve experienced the greatest victory any team I root for can accomplish. It’s a damn good feeling.

UFC’s Ownership Change Could Pave the Way for Fighter’s Union

In July, UFC President Dana White announced that the company’s co-owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta had sold their majority ownership stake of the company to representatives from WME-IMG group for over $4 billion. While White also some of his small ownership stake, he struck a deal with the new owners to stay on as the UFC’s president. This ended a 15-year era in which the UFC went from a dying organization operating out of smoky bars to hosting a huge pay-per-view event in a brand new Las Vegas arena. But with the Fertitta brothers moving on to other possible ownership opportunities, it means that two of the most anti-union operators in sports are no longer at the helm of the UFC. It won’t be easy, but now seems to be the best time in the UFC’s history for the fighters to band together and unionize. There have been some fighters who have publicly expressed their changing attitude towards the UFC after seeing how much money the company pulled in for the sale, but others remain skeptical. With all that being said, the path to a UFC fighter’s union is still an uphill battle, and some huge stars may have to take a risk to start a revolution.

About a month after the UFC announced they sold the company to WME-IMG, a new organization called the Professional Fighters Association launched their website with a specific message for UFC fighters. A press release featured on the home page of the site made it very clear what the association’s intentions were.

“The Professional Fighters Association (PFA) has been established today to represent the collective interests of the fighters employed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC),” the release said. “It is the goal of the PFA to organize these hard-working athletes so that they may collectively bargain their terms and conditions of employment pursuant to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The PFA will not only be a union of fighters, but it will be governed solely by fighters… The scales have been tipped in favor of the UFC for too long. It is time for the fighters — the one’s responsible for the UFC’s success — to receive their equal share.”

The release talked a big game, but there have been attempts at forming figher’s unions before, and they all fell flat. The difference between those efforts and the efforts of the PFA is who’s at the helm for the association. Jeff Borris is the president of PFA, and a powerful sports agent who represented some of baseball’s biggest names–including Barry Bonds. Borris has been through multiple labor stoppages in different sports leagues with his clients. In an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani, Borris explained that a meeting with Dana White and fellow agent Lloyd Pierson was what made him want to start a fighter’s union.

“He kind of scoffed at the idea [of a union]” Borris told Helwani. “I walked out of the meeting and I turned to Lloyd and told him ‘I’m gonna unionize these guys.'”

Borris hasn’t been shy at all in communicating with UFC officials after forming the PFA. He was front and center at a press conference the UFC held for the UFC 202 event, and was later asked to leave the media day for the fighters.  He called new UFC owner and fellow famed super-agent Ari Emanuel in hopes to open a line of communication and get the new ownership’s view on the possibility of unionization. According to Borris, the call didn’t go very well.

“He, in a tone only my wife speaks to me in, says ‘Don’t ever call me again. I don’t want to speak to you. I don’t want to have anything to do with you,’” Borris told Helwani. Borris claimed he then sent Emanuel the following text message:

“I think that’s unprofessional. I’ll let you get away with that now. But once we become a union and we’re certified by the National Labor Relations Board, you’re gonna have to take my phone call and you’re gonna be forced to.”

Jeff Borris at UFC 202 press conference

Jeff Borris at a UFC  press conference

I certainly respect Borris’ confidence and drive to get this union going. However, what he needs the most and has very little control over is the attitude of the fighters themselves. UFC as an organization has a terrible reputation when it comes to fairly compensating fighters. Fighters are employed by UFC as independent contractors, but also must abide by a uniform code and cannot have outside sponsors on their uniforms as they did in many years past. With this desperation for fighters that are lower down the card to make more money, it leads to a more cutthroat, everyone for themselves attitude rather than a unified ideology. Take UFC 200 for example. The UFC’s biggest draw, Conor McGregor, was removed from the event for failing to meet media obligations set by the UFC. Instead of fighters using their voices to say how unjust it was that he was removed from an event for not traveling extensively to press conferences, fighters begged Dana White to take his place for less money than McGregor would’ve made. It will take a lot of work to convince fighters that they should risk their spot in the UFC to stand up against their bosses and demand more money and benefits.

There haven’t been many fighters that have spoken about joining the PFA or throwing their full support behind a union. A big name like McGregor may have to get involved to put any real power behind the big unionization effort. However, some fighters have taken time to speak out for the need for a fighter’s union. Women’s bantamweight fighter Leslie Smith has been a longtime proponent of a union. Recently Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone said he was on board for a fighter’s union. Cerrone was fined by Reebok for wearing an American flag patch on his fight shorts, a patch he’s worn for every professional fight he’s had.

“It’s like, if guys are getting fined or guys are acting up, we work as a team of fighters to decide should he get fined, how much should he get fined, so it’s kind of another family to fall back on and approach a situation that we have problems with,” Cerrone told MMAFighting. “Right now we have no say.”

While there is some momentum for a union to be started by the fighters, it’s still in the very beginning stages. There are a lot of benefits to a fighter’s union, but it might greatly cut into the UFC’s profits. Since the UFC isn’t publicly traded, their books aren’t open to public view–thus, no one really knows how much unionization by the fighters would hurt the UFC’s bottom line. However, in my opinion it is essential that the UFC eventually allows the PFA to create a formal fighter’s union. The UFC says they signed an exclusive uniform deal with Reebok to make the sport more legitimate and like the NFL, NBA, etc. All those professional sports leagues also have player’s unions. They come to a collective bargaining agreement every few years and split revenues almost evenly among players and ownership. The UFC is nowhere near that and in my eyes it makes them less legitimate as a sports league. A lot has changed recently in the UFC, and the need for a union and collective bargaining is higher than ever now that the public and the fighters know exactly how much the organization is worth. What lies ahead is a long battle between Borris, fighters, and the powerful bosses of the UFC. It will likely be reminiscent of one of those brutal five-round fights that have made the UFC so famous.

The US Media is Making an Already Messy 2016 Presidential Election Much Worse

In an election year featuring two politicians who are the two most unfavorably rated candidates in US presidential election history, the people who are supposed to inform us as a public are failing at their job. At the same time, Americans are consuming news differently or not at all, leading the candidates to find new ways to get their messages across. The result is a horrible mess of news coverage that shows no sign of stopping or changing in how it is presented. Recently released studies are now showing just how much the media is failing. However, due to the changing structure of media, their job isn’t just to inform anymore. The pursuit for ratings and page views have corrupted how the media covers events, especially something like an election, and now there’s proof of just how bad of a job they’re doing.

There has been a big boom in the rise of social media, and other alternate forms of communication that the biggest media companies in the world have jumped on in hopes to transmit their message to more people around the world. However, the most popular forms of media remain to be those referred to as “Traditional media” like television, radio and newspapers. Even for those huge media companies that are trying to latch onto new media forms however they can, the public are still getting the bulk of their viewership through television, whether it’s cable or local news. A 2015 study by the American Press Institute found some alarming facts. First, it found that many Americans don’t delve deep into news they do consume. Only about 40 percent of Americans surveyed in this study said that they spent time delving into news past headlines that they read, and even then it was usually later on in the evening when they consumed more news about stories they had heard earlier in the day. There are over 50 percent of Americans surveyed in this study that admitted they either just glanced at news headlines or consumed no news at all. That is alarming, but not exactly surprising. It is consistent with the percentage of people that stay home and don’t vote on election day. This study also showed that most Americans still rely heavily on television to provide them with all of their news. Although there are a lot more Americans using alternate devices to get news, almost 90 percent of those surveyed by the API said they get at least some news from television. In addition, almost 90 percent of Americans said they got most of their news directly from news organizations rather than other methods that may involve more effort or research. Check out these graphs below from the API for more information.

PersNewsCycle-Exhibit-_03

 

PersNewsCycle-Exhibit_04

So what does this all mean in terms of the 2016 election? Well, based on another I found it seems as if this would probably be the worst time in history to be relying solely on television news or mainstream sources for your only source of news. A new study from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media evaluated the entire presidential election cycle from the very beginning. They studied statements from eight media companies: CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC,The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. What the study revealed was a heavy bias towards Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. What’s interesting about this study is that although it notes a large bias, it’s mostly the media’s obsession with framing a winner and a loser that skews them in favor of Trump, not a more nefarious intention like them actually wanting to make more people support him as a candidate. Throughout the entire campaign, the media continuously discussed Trump because he was steadily rising in the polls, and winning a lot of republican presidential primaries. This caused a lot of favorable Trump coverage, especially early on in the election cycle. In addition, there was bias in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Most of this coverage occurred when Clinton was still locked in a tight primary contest with Senator Bernie Sanders. One thing Sanders supporters long complained about was the lack of media coverage for their candidate during the democratic primaries. This study confirms that there was something to that. Here are some graphs below from the Harvard study that shows how each candidate was covered in specific time periods:

Start of Republican Debates:

 

figure-4-768x434

 

Super Tuesday Period:

Figure-6-768x417

Democrats- Middle of election cycle:

Figure-9-602x310

Last month of presidential primaries:

Figure-11-768x427

While these graphs show an alarming trend in terms of a lack of equal coverage from the media, perhaps even more alarming is the Harvard study’s analysis of the actual content of the media. The study found that throughout the entire process of this election, the media has heavily covered campaign strategies, internal campaign conflict, winning and losing, or actual campaign competition. The Harvard study found that of all media coverage studied, only 11 percent of the media’s content covered actual policy positions, leadership qualities or personal and professional history. To me, this is simply astounding. The American media has become simply infatuated with covering Donald Trump, and they’ve also realized that doing so will result in their best television ratings possible. Additionally, the media has a seemingly never-ending obsession with making every story simple with one winner and one loser. The constant stream of coverage and need to declare someone a “winner” or “loser” even when there is no real contest like a primary going on has hurt the public, as well as these media company’s reputations. There is really no explanation for Trump getting more coverage than both Sanders and Clinton when those democrats were still locked in a primary battle. It is either bias, or sheer laziness by the media in that regard. With more and more news companies being parented by larger corporations, it has become apparent that ratings are a far more important priority to these news organizations than simply informing the public.

We have long relied on the media to inform us, and keep us aware of all that’s going on in the world around us. It is unfortunate to say that I believe the media is now totally failing us in that regard. Of course, there are still many sources of news that are great, unbiased companies that have quality reporters. However, not many of those of those companies have an outlet on American TV. This article is not meant to inform you on what news you should read or watch, but if I had to make a suggestion I would say that BBC News-US and Canada edition is a good place to start. However, my main tip would be to just get news from many sources, and don’t just read one article or watch one story about a subject you are interested in. It takes time and effort to fully inform yourself on a subject, and a lack of time is what a lot of Americans face when it comes to consuming news. It is for this reason that many Americans look to television as their primary source for information. It is clear that in this regard, the news outlets that most Americans turn to for the purpose of information are completely failing to inform them. It will take a sea change in media to reverse this trend, and unfortunately I don’t know if that’s coming any time soon.