The United States is making Champions League History

Written By: William Morales

Captain America has done it again, and no, this isn’t referring to superhero Steve Rodgers. This is referring to the 22-year-old soccer sensation named Christian Pulisic. The young man known for captaining the stars and stripes. The talented youngster that plays for Chelsea Football Club in West London. Day-by-day Pulisic is making history all over Europe as an American soccer player. 

  Two seasons ago after joining Chelsea, Christian Pulisic took England’s domestic league, the premier league, by storm. Tallying a total of 13 goal contributions in 25 games is a fine first season in a difficult league to adapt to. Although his second season hasn’t been as productive, he has come up with two of Chelsea’s most important moments in the past 9 years. Last week he had a thrilling finish against a tough Real Madrid side to force a 1-1 draw, and this week a brilliant tie-settling assist to send Chelsea through to the finals of the Union European Football Association (UEFA) Champions League. A feat that Chelsea hasn’t reached since 2012, the last time the Blues defied all odds. 

If Christian Pulisic features in the final on May 29th (which he should), he will become the first American in history to play at this stage of the competition. Now if you didn’t know, the Champions League final is the Superbowl of European football, except all of Europe is literally watching. The stage is set and Pulisic has a chance to represent the United States on debatably, the biggest football platform in the world.

The Hershey, Pennsylvania native will be making history, and he has been setting soccer on fire for about 6 seasons now. Having signed his first professional contract at age 17 with top German club Borussia Dortmund, he has contributed heavily, and has also paved the way for more young Americans to start careers in Europe. An all-time high 51 American players are currently playing away from the United States, with all but two of these playing in Europe. As the 2026 world cup in the United States approaches, Pulisic has done a great job at being a role model for his national team teammates.

In recent weeks, Pulisic has reassured fans that he is growing in confidence: “It’s amazing at the moment, I’m feeling confident and the team is feeling this way as well.” (GOAL)

His charisma and belief in his own abilities is great to see, and for younger fans at home it’s nice to see an American being interviewed after big games. It’s a name fans will hold dear for years to come. 

It’s great to hear a player speak so confidently, but also reassuring when the coach echoes that confidence. Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was also Pulisic’s head coach at his previous club Dortmund. He can also sense the talent in his play: ““I feel him stronger and stronger, more self-confident and he can be a decisive factor in the next game with his speed and ability to dribble, and his ability to arrive in the box in dangerous situations, and balls from the side, and crosses he has the feeling to arrive and score.” (NBCSports) 

After a lifetime of Americans sticking close to home and playing in the Major League Soccer (MLS), some of the country’s younger stars are making a name for themselves in Europe. Participation in the Champions League alone is impressive but helping a team travel to the finals is unbelievable. Pulisic brings his own flair to the game and as he continues to make headlines, people begin to realize that the beautiful game is making its way over to the states. The new generation is going to make a name for themselves at home and around the world.

 

Women’s March Madness is Truly Mad

Written By: William Morales

Each year millions of basketball fans lust for March and the beauty it holds; and no, I’m not talking about Spring. The month that begins with 15 million brackets being created, and ends with the nets being cut down is debatably the most popular sports time of the year. March Madness is here in full swing, underdogs are continuing to upset the big boys, and Gonzaga is still undefeated. But what about the women’s tournament? What is happening over there? Of course, their games are running smoothly, but the NCAA has really caused a ruckus with the off-court facilities and amenities the women have been granted.

 

Take a look at the difference in these gyms. The top picture shows the gym the men use, while the bottom image is the equipment the women players were given. Besides the fact that this is almost laughable, it’s embarrassing to the NCAA and has since been a top trending topic on social media. Lynn Holzman, the NCAA vice president, said that this was due to “limited space inside a controlled environment.” (GlobalNews) If this was the case, why wouldn’t they create the space, rather than give different standard areas?

 

When this picture was posted, the internet took immediate notice, and millions of people were giving their opinions. Many WNBA and NCAA players shared their two cents as well. Sabrina Ionescu, the 2020 National Player of the Year, tweeted: “…Thought this was a joke. WTF is this?!?” (CBS) Both Will Abrams, Director of Player Development at Rutgers University, and Kendric Lindsey, a USC digital creator, were at the facilities and took videos of empty rooms in the complex and questioned the “limited space”.

 

Fortunately, after a week of internet mayhem, the NCAA restructured the gyms to give both the men and women an equal playing field. However, the NCAA then got beheaded again for what they called “swag bags”. The swag bags were simply huge goodie bags and baskets given to each player, except one tournament was gifted much more than the other. Surely, after the first gym incident, you could figure out which group got which merchandise. The difference is more than noticeable and Holzman did have her reasons: “The weather is different in San Antonio than it is in Indianapolis.” (CBS) Although the statement is true, it doesn’t account for why none of the women’s tournament merchandise was labeled with “March Madness” or “The Big Dance”.

 

To date, the NCAA hasn’t stated a plan of action to fix this issue. But it is making players and fans happy that the association did take action by the public’s insistence through social media. From an outside perspective, it is still nerve racking that the NCAA had plans as such from the start and it took thousands of complaints to make a change. Social media has played a huge part in overcoming obstacles and has truly helped in a situation like this. It’s important to remember that even if it isn’t affecting your life, you could always take part in pushing for change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meyers Leonard and the Gaming Community: A Shared Responsibility

Written By: William Morales

Location: New Jersey


(Via Getty Images)

The impact of a simple word over someone’s life is astonishing, but is it always deserved? Meyers Leonard, a 29-year-old former player for the Miami Heat, is now sitting on a scalding hot seat. Not only is he a basketball player, he is an avid gamer and was also a member of the notable Faze Clan, the famous gaming team. On March 9th, both of his passions were taken away from him in a split second.

 

During a livestream of  Call of Duty Leonard became very frustrated and uttered a very derogatory, anti-sematic remark. In seconds, his foul language had flooded social media, and in the following days he was removed both from the Miami Heat and Faze Clan. He was recently traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team stated, “Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization.” (The Washington Post) As we speak, Leonard is attending events with members of the Jewish community, Rabbis and Holocaust survivors, to gain a stronger understanding of the Jewish culture.

 

You may think: “He simply made a mistake and was just being stupid, all gamers do this!” This statement is very popular within the gaming community who, by the way, does a poor job of monitoring gamers’ use of language and terminology. 

 

Video games have been gaining momentum for more than 30 years, and wireless communication in gaming has been around since 2000! The threats on video game communications have been happening for as long as the former has. Companies such as Microsoft and Sony, the respective owners of Xbox and PlayStation, have made comments on monitoring the community, but no true action has taken place. According to Gamerant.com, “Voice chats can now be recorded by other users and are subject to moderation. Not only that, anyone who uses the PS4 Party Chat System has to agree to their voice being recorded.” This change had great intentions however it led to many complaints from the community. Gamerant.com also mentioned that “PS4 players now have to agree to their voices being recorded in order to use voice chat features, even if they just plan on using the party chat feature with friends.”  

 

It’s difficult to ignore this matter but honestly this is much bigger than just one gamer no matter how famous he is. The world of gaming is swamped with racial, anti-sematic, and prejudiced language that is being heard by younger gamers. These video game lobbies allow players of any age to interact together, with very little limitation on what could or should be said. Offensive words/language used will only be addressed by company support teams if the player is reported multiple times. 

Online gaming has brought much joy to the lives of its participants; however, it has also become a place where people are tearing apart their own futures, and the lives of others. In this community and this world, the last time might be one time too many.

 

Sony and Microsoft have found difficulties making changes due to interferences with the first amendment. Although these are difficult issues to resolve, these top two gaming companies have a responsibility to address it; this isn’t impossible.

(Via Getty Images)

While Leonard should be held to a different standard from others, it’s important to understand he was simply “just being dumb”. In a recent statement, Leonard said, “I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. This is not a proper representation of who I am.” In a comment to The New York Times, his teammate Udonis Haslem, a member of the Heat for TWO DECADES, said the following in an interview, “We can’t tolerate that here. Right is right and wrong is wrong,” and follows up by saying, “I’ve never heard him use any language that made me uncomfortable at all.” Other players and coaches who have commented on the matter, mentioned similar statements. 

 

Censorship is a very sensitive issue regardless of the subject or method used. We must be aware of how we express ourselves while enjoying the freedom to do so, and those of us who are in the public eye need to be more aware of that fact.

NBA All-star Game and All Stars Riddled with Discrepancy

Written By: William Morales

Location: All Star Weekend;  Atlanta, GA

 

Every year since 1951, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has selected the top 24 individuals in the league to participate in the All-Star Game. For the first time in history, some of the all-stars do not want to play. Some of the biggest names in basketball, including Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard, De’Aaron Fox, have publicly stated their discrepancies with the upcoming event in Atlanta.

 

The biggest name in the league and one of the All-Star Game captains, Lebron James, had a word or two for the NBA:

“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James said after recording a triple-double in the Lakers’ 114-93 win over the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.” (The Guardian) 

(Via Getty Images)

 

Lebron later expressed his concerns are due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the league’s problem with having an All-Star Game throughout the first two months of the season. The front-runner for MVP also called the event “a slap in the face” and mentions he will miss his 5-day break that was going to be in place without the game. 

 

Chris Paul, an All-Star Game reserve, also had his own two cents to put in. Paul agrees with Lebron, however he has also taken into consideration the opinions throughout the league: 

“I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the league that lives without their family. So, guys look at that break as an opportunity to see their families. It’s a lot of different things going on right now. But you just hope that guys understand that decisions that are being made – especially as far as, the union has always got the full body of players in mind. But emotions happen. Guys have feelings. And you’ve got to be able to express them. And I respect that.” (ClutchPoints)

Chris Paul is the President of the National Basketball Players Association, so he works diligently to oversee approximately 450 players. He has worked with the NBA to explain these views, but at the end of the day, the All-Star Game has been viewed as the best option at this time. Chris Paul discussed the ins-and-outs of these ideas to Lebron, Steph Curry, and other all-stars. 

These concerns are of high priority for the NBA; when the literal face of the NBA, Lebron James, states his problems with a decision, it will cause upheaval through the basketball community. One day after Lebron showed a lack of compliance, De’Aaron Fox, star point guard for the Sacramento Kings, did the same:

“If I’m going to be brutally honest, I think it’s stupid… Obviously, money makes the world go round, so it is what it is.” (NBCSports)

(Via Getty Images)

Fox also complained about the idea of having an All-Star Game if the league clearly wants the players to continuously stay healthy. He says, “We have to wear a mask and do all this for a regular game”, and questions why even host the event. He makes valid points, although they may have been somewhat abrasive. 

 

The largest mumbling around the league was mentioned by De’Aaron Fox and is also pretty obvious to the NBA fanbase: The All-Star Game revolves around entertainment and enjoyment, as it truly doesn’t mean much, but it does bring in boatloads of money. In the most recent All-Star Game, 8 million viewers tuned in and with advertisements, the NBA and TNT each received a share of $24 million earned. The apprehension with the All-Star game includes both the health and the money being made. The players will be participating, but the real question is: How many of the players will have their head in the game?