Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seven Panthers Sign Letters of Intent

Wednesday Feb. 3 was National Signing Day for high school football players.

Across the country, thousands of high school athletes committed to play football at various colleges.

Elder High School was no different, where seven seniors signed their National Letter of Intent to play football in college.

Linebacker Corey Mason and kicker Tony Miliano signed with the University of Cincinnati. Wide receiver Tim O’Conner and offensive lineman Pete Bachman signed with Indiana University. Tight end Alex Welch signed with the University of Notre Dame. Quarterback Mark Miller signed with Ohio Dominican University and running back Adam Brown signed with Marian University (Indianapolis).

Keith Schenkel also signed his letter of intent to run cross-country for Xavier University.

Assistant football coach Craig James said that one or two other football players are still weighing their options and will likely end up playing football in college.

Miller said it has always been his dream to play college football.

Indiana, Akron, and Holy Cross initially looked at Miller but, “ODU jumped on me in the summer and I just went with them the rest of the way.”

“What I’m going to miss most about high school is playing on Friday nights at The Pit,” said Miller. “That’s one of the best things I’ve ever experienced and that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”

Regarding the transition from high school to college, Welch said he’d miss the people the most. “I’ve grown up with all these friends of mine, so leaving them and going away to college is something I’ll have to get used to but I definitely will miss them.”

Regardless, Welch is excited for the opportunity to play at Notre Dame. “It’s a big change in life but I’m ready for it and it’s going to be an awesome experience.”

Welch follows former Elder tight end Kyle Rudolf, who signed with Notre Dame in 2008. “Very rarely do you have two kids from the same high school and the same position that might get to play together on the field at the same time,” said Welch. “That’s going to be something very special. I’m looking forward to it.”

Charlie Weis originally recruited Welch to Notre Dame. “When Coach Weis got fired, obviously you would have some doubts and think about it (the commitment to Notre Dame) a little bit.”
Welch was familiar with new head coach Brian Kelly and his work at the University of Cincinnati. “ I knew he was a great coach,” said Welch. “Once he got a hold of me and we sat down and talked, my commitment was still solid.”

Friday, April 24, 2009

Additional Stories Written In College

1. This story ran in the UC News Record this past October.

Rutgers returns to Cincinnati
Matt Knochelman

Published: Thursday, October 9, 2008
Updated: Thursday, October 9, 2008

The past two seasons, the UC football team beat a ranked Rutgers team equipped with star running back Ray Rice. This time, the Scarlet Knights are without Rice and without a national ranking.

The Bearcats are scheduled to play Rutgers in UC’s annual homecoming game at Nippert Stadium Saturday, Oct. 12.
Student tickets are sold out, but the game will be televised on channel 12.
Rutgers leads the all-time series 7-5-1 over the Bearcats, but UC holds a 4-1-1 record over Rutgers at Nippert Stadium.
The Scarlet Knights played well against West Virginia on Saturday, but ended up losing 24 to 17, dropping their record to 1-4.
“Everybody wants to point to their 1-4 record,” said UC head coach Brian Kelly. “I want to point to the fact that in this league they’re 0-1, and they’re one game out of first place. They’ve got good football players and they’re well-coached across the board.”

The Bearcats’ defense will be focused on stopping junior wide receiver Kenny Britt, who caught a career-high 12 passes for 151 yards against the Mountaineers. Britt currently leads the Big East in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. Last year against the Bearcats, Britt had five catches for 92 yards.
The ‘Cats will also be looking to put pressure on fifth-year senior Mike Teel, who with seven interceptions and only three touchdowns, is having a disappointing season compared to the previous two years.
The Rutgers defense held West Virginia’s high-powered offense to 333 yards, its second lowest total of the year. Free safety Courtney Green recorded 13 tackles against West Virginia, one shy of his career high.
Against Rutgers, the Bearcats will look to establish the run. Last week at Marshall, UC gained 236 yards on the ground to help set up their passing game. Jacob Ramsey gained 99 yards on 17 carries, while freshman Isaiah Pead netted 60 yards on 11 carries.
Saturday’s game could have historical significance for UC.
Wide receiver Dominick Goodman needs one receiving touchdown to tie Jim O’Brien for UC’s all-time lead with 21.
And cornerback Mike Mickens’ 12 interceptions is one away from breaking Blue Adam and Jocelyn Borgella’s school record for career interceptions.

2. I wrote this story for an advanced reporting class in December of 2007.
2007 Solar Decathlon

The first ever Solar Decathlon was held in 2002 and was sponsored by the Department of Energy. The DOE’s third ever Solar Decathlon took place between October 12 and 20, 2007 at Washington D.C.’s National Mall. The results of the competition were revealed on Friday October 19, with Germany’s Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt coming in first place. The University of Maryland came in second place, followed by Santa Clara University in third. “I want to congratulate this year’s Solar Decathlon champion Technische Universitat Darmstadt and the 19 other teams for their innovative designs and application of solar technologies. The Solar Decathlon is a great demonstration of the ways in which technology, science and design can be blended in the production of net-zero-energy homes,” Department of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. “Promoting the early commercialization of solar and other energy efficient technologies will help secure America’s clean energy future.”
The University of Cincinnati, which took place in its first-ever Solar Decathlon, wound up finishing 15th out of 20 teams. UC student Terron Austin helped cover the event for the News Record. His basic tasks were to talk to visitors and newcomers. He was also, “assigned to report on innovations, new equipment, heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems.” Austin did not find the results discouraging. “I was actually not surprised,” said Austin. “I expected them to make it into the top ten, (but) there were other circumstances the judges were looking for.”
Teams in the competition were judged on ten different aspects. Architecture was worth 200 points, while engineering and market viability were each worth 150 points. Communications, comfort zone, appliances, hot water, lighting, energy balance, and getting around were each worth 100 points. UC scored 5th overall in architecture with 181 points, and earned a perfect score of 100 in energy balance. Overall, the UC solar house scored 830.865 out of a possible 1200 points. The first place German team scored 1024.85 points and earned a perfect score in four different categories, including energy balance.
UC’s 3 goals for this competition were to transform the way people think about dwelling and energy efficiency, inform how its energy systems work, and perform as a work of art. The house runs off of 68% solar thermal energy and 32% electric energy. According to UC’s Solar Decathlon website,, “The singularly greatest innovation in our house is the complex system that uses evacuated tubes to create hot water. The entire south face of our house is covered in fifteen Sunda Seido 2-8 Evacuated Tube arrays. Seido 2 tubes were chosen for their superior thermal performance, flow-through design and availability in the United States…In colder months, warm water will also flow through a radiant floor, gradually heating the house comfortably from the ground up. The radiant floor provides an even distribution of heat and fairly constant temperatures with respect to time. The radiant floor will minimize heating demand from the fan coil unit, which makes for a more comfortable living environment without the unsettling effect of air blowing around.”
The solar house features a monitoring system to verify that the various electrical, heating, and cooling systems are working correctly. The house is also very cost effective and easy to transport. It is also easy affordable to upgrade. UC’s solar house has 4 distinct upgradeable versions: the Simply Green, which is the starter model and priced at about $340 per square foot; the Temperately Tubed, which is upgraded by added thermal heating and cooling for about $443 per square foot; the Premium Panel, which contains solar PV panels for electrical and thermal power and costs around $439 per square foot; and the Solar Supreme version, which would include solar electrical and thermal energy systems for $542 per square foot. All of these features made the UC house an interesting and unique addition to this year’s Solar Decathlon.
Regardless of the final results, this was definitely a great learning experience for the UC students who took place in this event. “It opened my eyes that these types of competitions are important to the future of eco-housing living,” said Austin. “In a very short amount of time, we could be living in solar houses.” Asked if UC is likely to compete in the next Solar Decathlon, set to take place in 2009, Austin said, “As far as I know, I believe so, but I’m not positive. I would hope they are interested and want to win.”

3. I wrote this story for a Columns and Reviews class, which was taught by the Cincinnati Enquirer's Jim Knippenberg, in May 2007.

In Cincinnati, football is over until July. The Bengals finished a rather disappointing season by losing their last three games to Super Bowl champion Indianapolis, Denver, and hated rival Pittsburgh. The Bearcat football team capped off one of the best seasons in team history with a 27-24 win over Western Michigan in the inaugural International Bowl. The Bearcat men’s basketball team, which hasn’t won a game in over a month, might as well just forfeit the rest of their games. Cincinnati doesn’t have an NBA or NHL team. That leaves us with baseball.
Spring training has begun, and hopes are high all around Major League Baseball. I’m generally interested in baseball up until the All-Star break, when NFL mini-camps open and my focus once again turns to football. Nonetheless, it’s only February and the Reds are about to begin playing.
Last year wasn’t too bad for the Reds, who finished 80-82, barely missing the playoffs in the horrid National League Central. Who won the World Series? The St. Louis Cardinals, the Reds division rival who barely edged the Reds out of the playoff race with an 83-78 regular season record. This just shows that no matter how mediocre a team is during the regular season, they can always heat up in October and win it all. That’s a good sign for the Reds, who have continued to improve over the past couple of seasons.
Pitching has always been a problem for the Reds, but second-year General Manager Wayne Krivsky has helped the cause by resigning top pitchers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. This may also be the year that top-rated pitching prospect Homer Bailey makes the transition from the minor leagues to the majors.
A few other major transactions have been made so far this off-season. Catcher Jason LaRue (who couldn’t hit a single if his life depended on it) was traded to awful Kansas City for a player to be named later. Newly acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez, left-handed reliever Mike Stanton, and utility man Jeff Conine should all have positive impacts in the upcoming season. The Reds also picked up outfielder Josh Hamilton, the number 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft. Hamilton succumbed to drug addiction shortly after being drafted by Tampa Bay, but went through rehab and is now clean. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can still play up to the standards that surrounded him in 1999. Manager Jerry Narron said, “I don’t think there’s anybody here with the combination of power and speed and throwing arm.”
In addition to these new faces, returning players include: catcher David Ross, first baseman Scott Hatteberg, second baseman Brandon Phillips, shortstop Juan Castro, third basemen Edwin Encarnacion, and outfielders Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, Chris Denorfia, and Ken Griffey Jr.
The team is definitely in much better shape under second-year owner Bob Castellini than it was under penny-pinching Carl Lindner. Castellini knows how to win. He also knows what he wants. He cleaned house and brought in his own staff. He’s not afraid to make a move. He’s backed by a good GM in Krivsky, and a manager the players can relate to in Jerry Narron. I feel that a new wave is here. No more fourth and fifth place finishes for the Reds anymore. This is a new era in Cincinnati. The Bengals have already been turned around by Marvin Lewis. The whole city has come to rally around them. Now, it’s time for the same transition to happen to the Reds.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The "Great" American Pastime

Last week, Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini did a radio interview on 1530 AM with Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist/ radio host Paul Daugherty. During the interview, the relation of baseball to the economy was brought up. Castellini acknowledged the slumping economy, but said that baseball is definitely the cheapest of the four pro sports. “You can get tickets as cheap as $7,” he said. He noted that baseball games are cheaper than going to the movies, and mentioned that people can bring their own food and non-alcoholic drinks to the games, as long as they are still factory sealed. Castellini has a lot of true points, but of course he is going to downplay the cost of attending a Major League game, since he is the multi-million dollar owner of the team. He didn’t mention the high cost of parking, the price of beer, the price of fan merchandise, and the fact that most people are willing to spend above and beyond the minimum $7 ticket price to avoid sitting in the nosebleeds.

A recent Seton Hall/ESPN Sports Poll asked respondents a number of questions about pro baseball and its relation to the economy and steroid use. 22 percent of respondents said that the biggest problem with Major League Baseball was that it cost too much to attend games, while 40 percent that that the biggest problem was that the players make way too much money (in an economic recession where “regular” people are constantly forced to cut back). Despite the economy, only 8 percent of respondents said they would attend fewer games this season, while 77 percent said they would attend about the same amount. However, of those who did say they would attend fewer games, 74 percent said it was because of the economy.

I sent out listserv e-mails to all the UC journalism students, asking questions like, “will the economy affect the number of baseball games you attend each year?” and “if you still go to some games, will you spend less on concessions or merchandise?” Unfortunately, no one responded. So, here is how I feel about this. I have been attending baseball games for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, my mom would drop my friends and I off at Riverfront Stadium for afternoon games and we would take the bus back. In 1999, I attended over 30 games, including the One-Game Playoff that the Reds lost to the Mets. My parents are both also huge baseball fanatics. My mom and I have tickets to Opening Day (on April 6th against the Mets) for the fifth straight year. I have attended many games in years past (last year I went to about 7 or 8 games), and this year will be no different.

I have always, and will always continue to be (at least until I become a millionaire) economically minded when I’ve attended sporting events. I don’t necessarily always buy the cheap seats, but I would also in no way ever buy the most expensive. I usually expect to spend between 10 and 15 dollars for a ticket. I also usually try to find a parking spot on the street. This isn’t always possible, so if I need to park in a lot, I try to choose the cheapest one, usually for about $5.

I also almost never buy food at baseball games. I make sure that I eat enough before the game to wrangle my appetite until afterwards. If I have the itch to drink some a beer, I pre-game beforehand. There’s no way I’m going to spend $35 on 5 beers just to feel a buzz. What a waste of money that would be! Now, if the Reds had dollar beer night like the Cyclones hockey team does, I would probably go to a lot more than 8 games a year! Back to the point, I usually buy bottled water ($1) or peanuts ($2-$3) from vendors outside the stadium if I have the urge to bring a snack or beverage into Great American Ballpark. As long as ticket prices remain reasonably affordable, I will continue to go to as many Reds game a year as I can fit in to my busy schedule.

Last season, the Reds were 23rd in league attendance with 2,058, 632. Compare this to the league leading Yankees and Mets, who each had over 4 millions fans. The Reds had just a few thousand fans less in 2007 and were 24th in the league. Cincinnati attendance figures fluctuated from year to year between 2001 and 2008. However, I find it interesting that last season’s attendance was slightly greater than the previous season’s, despite the fact that the economy began its decline in 2008.

Even more interesting, according to an article, “The '08 regular season ended with total attendance of 78,614,880 and an average attendance of 32,539 that ranks as the second-highest in history in comparison to last year's overall attendance of 79,503,175 and average of 32,785.” (3) So, even though MLB attendance as a whole slightly fell between 2007 and 2008, it was still the second highest all-time.

These numbers all ask the same question, “what recession?” As long as people have a job or a means of income, they will continue to come out and root for their team. They will continue to enjoy the great American pastime. However, with the economy being much worse off this spring than it was even last summer, will things start to change? Will people begin saving more money, opting to watch baseball games on TV rather than to make the long, and sometimes expensive trek to the ballpark? Only time will tell.





Future Bengals: Who Dey?

NFL free agency began on Friday February 27th with former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth signing a 7-year, $100 million contract with the Washington Redskins. To no one’s surprise, the Cincinnati Bengals started free agency slowly, doing very little on the opening weekend, aside from resigning: safety Chris Crocker, back-up running back DeDe Dorsey, and linebacker Darryl Blackstock. In addition to these three rather small signings, the Bengals have lost two starters in starting offensive tackle Stacy Andrews and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, one of the most prolific wide receivers in Bengals history. After these two players left, the Bengals re-signed running back Cedric Benson and signed veteran receiver Laveraneus Coles to a 4-year deal. It seems likely that the Bengals are basically done signing major free agents this year, so they will have to fill major holes at: offensive tackle, center, wide receiver, defensive tackle, and running back must be filled through the draft, in addition to increasing the depth at all other positions.

The 2009 NFL Draft is set to take place on Saturday April 25 and Sunday April 26th in New York City. The NFL is an extremely dynamic league, so even in between writing this paragraph and the next, a number of trades or signings could happen that could completely disrupt these predictions. Regardless, here is how I think the first 5 picks in the draft will go.

1. Detroit Lions- the first team to ever go 0-16 has the top pick in the draft. It is widely speculated that they will take Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with this pick. The next picks, in order, go to: St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Cleveland, and then Cincinnati at sixth. What the previous five teams do will obviously determine which players are available when the Bengals pick first.

2. St. Louis Rams- assuming that Detroit takes a quarterback, St. Louis is in dire need of offensive line help, so they will probably take Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe or Baylor OT Jason Smith.

3. Kansas City Chiefs were formerly in the running for a quarterback, but recently traded a second round pick to New England for quarterback Matt Cassell. Their defense was one of the worst in the league last season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they took Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

4. Seattle Seahawks- draft analysts initially speculated that Seattle would take a receiver like Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree or Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin with the fourth overall pick. However, they just signed Houshmandzadeh, so they no longer need to spend a first round pick on a wideout. Seattle will probably go with the safe pick and take an offensive lineman like either Smith or Monroe, depending on which of the two (if either) is still available. They may also go with a defensive tackle like Boston College’s B.J. Raji.

5. Cleveland Browns- the Browns are relatively set at offensive line, and they will most likely try to improve on defense. A defensive end like Texas’ Brian Orakpo or Florida State’s Everette Brown would help Cleveland’s pass rush, or a cornerback like Illinois’ Vontae Davis or Ohio State’s Michael Jenkins would help their pass defense. They may also look at tight ends or receivers, since Kellen Winslow was just traded to Tampa Bay and top receiver Braylon Edwards’ contract is up after this season.

What these five teams decide to do with their picks will directly affect what the Bengals can do. Assuming, like I’ve predicted above, that one quarterback, two offensive lineman, and two defensive players are gone by the sixth pick, the Bengals could choose to go in one of several directions. Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith was once considered to be one of the top players in this draft. Some people even thought Detroit would take him with the top pick overall. However, Alabama suspended Smith for this year’s Sugar Bowl for improperly dealing with a sports agent (which his team lost to Utah). He then chose to not work out at the NFL Combine and even left early without telling anyone. Although he may be physically gifted, his intangible characteristics, maturity, and motivation to be in the NFL are now being called into question. Regardless of this, Mike Brown may still choose to bring in this big, bruising, lineman (he did re-sign troubled receiver Chris Henry) assuming that Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe are gone. The Bengals may also look at Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher.

In 2008, the Bengals finished last in the league in total offense, but running back and wide receiver are likely out as first-round possibilities. Halfback Cedric Benson was just resigned to a 2-year deal. The Bengals could use a more talented backup than Chris Perry or DeDe Dorsey, but that can be addressed in later rounds. Although T.J. is gone, Chad Ocho Cinco isn’t getting any healthier (or happier), and Chris Henry is still a legal question mark, the Bengals just signed big-name free agent Laveranues Coles to a 4-year deal. They also invested three draft picks last year in receivers Jerome Simpson (2nd round), Andre Caldwell (3rd round), and Mario Urrita (7th round). They could also choose to draft a defensive tackle like B.J. Raji, whom the Bengals are reportedly very impressed with. Regardless of all these possibilities, I believe that if the Bengals are unable to trade down their pick, they will take Andre Smith. Smith, or any other lineman, will help fill the team’s biggest hole: protecting oft-injured Carson Palmer, the face of the franchise.

Assuming that the Bengals do take a lineman in the first round, I believe they will take a center (like Louisville’s Eric Wood) in the second round. They may take a running back in the third round. Although it’s unclear, I feel the Bengals would be wise to also draft a cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle, defensive end, and fullback in the later rounds.

In comparison to what I’ve suggested, different Bengals fans have different opinions. Most of the people who responded agreed that the Bengals offensive line was in dire need of a big tackle. Todd S. said that the Bengals should take, “the best offensive tackle available. Absolutely no wide outs.” Ohio State fan Tim M. joked that the Bengals should take OSU alum Beanie Wells, despite the fact that the Bengals don’t really need a running back. Getting back to the point, Tim said, “best o line available, Jason Smith. Never know with Mike Brown’s cheap ass, although I did say it was needed to resign Benson and Crocker. Coles was a good signing too.” Some other people had different opinions. Economically minded Don. W feels that, “they should draft an outside linebacker. But they should wait until the third or fourth round so they don’t have to pay him as much.” Matt S. said, “We should draft a backup to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick. I don’t care if we sign someone instead, as long as we don’t get that piece of crap Rex Grossman.” Matt can set his worries aside, since the Bengals just signed J.T. O’Sullivan to be Carson Palmer’s backup this season. A few other people opted to go with defense. Jon W. said, “Our pass rush was 30th in the league, we need a good defensive end like Julius Peppers or Mario Williams (who both have been to the Pro Bowl).” I suggested that Texas’ Brian Orakpo would be a good fit based on his logic. Jamie H. feels that if there is no one worth taking with the first pick, “they should trade down and take a linebacker like Rey Mauluga or James Laurinitis later on in the first round.”

Regardless of what people hope or think the Bengals should do, Mike Brown will do what he wants to do at the end of April. Last year’s draft has so far been a success, with picks like linebacker Keith Rivers, receiver Andre Caldwell, offensive tackle Anthony Collins, and defensive tackle Pat Sims positively contributing to the team’s performance. Let’s just hope that this year’s draft has the same level of success.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Roids or 'Noids


Two weeks ago, when the story broke that Alex Rodriguez took steroids, no one seemed to be too surprised. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro all allegedly took steroids. Jose Canseco, Andy Pettite and Jason Giambi, among others, admitted to using steroids. After Sports Illustrated reporters made it public that A-Fraud…excuse me…I mean A-Rod took steroids, it was really no surprise that he admitted this. Why? Because he doesn’t want to go to jail. Clemens, Bonds, and Tejada could all be facing prosecution for lying to grand juries. Naturally, Rodriguez saw this as the wrong way to go and decided to come “clean.”

At a February 17th press conference at the New York Yankees spring training facility in Tampa, A-Rod said that from 2001 to 2003, his “cousin” Yuri Sacart injected him with an over-the-counter substance from the Dominican Republic. However, after saying this, it has been speculated that the substance was, and still is actually illegal in the DR and that Sacart is not even Rodriguez’s cousin.

A-Rod has also admitted to training with Angel Presinal, a known steroids dealer who has been banned from all major league clubhouses. A-Rod says that he hasn’t trained with Presinal since 2003, the last year that he supposedly took steroids, but reports have linked A-Rod and Presinal together as recently as 2007. According to the New York Post, Rodriguez said, "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs. I knew what we were taking was potentially something that perhaps was wrong.” He then clarifies this by saying, “I didn't think they were steroids. That's part of being young and stupid. It was over the counter, it was pretty basic, and it was really amateur hour." (1) He also said that his best years came before and after his three steroid seasons, although he was voted American League MVP in 2002. He also feels that he should still be voted into the Hall of Fame based on his non-steroid years. Yeah…good luck with that, Alex!

Didn’t think they were steroids? Yeah right. Over the counter? Apparently not. Instead of owning up to his mistakes, A-Rod is just further shading the truth. He admitted to using steroids, so he “admitted” his mistake. However, he isn’t owning up to it. Not owning up to it is almost as bad as denying it. Obviously Rodriguez was aware of what steroids were capable of, and obviously he saw the same effects in his body after injecting the drugs.

On the flip side, another famous athlete recently admitted to drug use. What was he or she doing? Cocaine, speed, ecstasy, steroids? No, not at all. In contrast to A-Rod, Michael Phelps was “caught” smoking pot. Yeah…marijuana, a drug that grows in the dirt and a drug that is arguably safer than alcohol. A drug that does have some negative consequences, like the possibility of causing lung cancer, slowing down one’s reaction time (which is bad while driving), and giving someone the “munchies.” However, marijuana doesn’t make a guy’s testicles shrink and give people an insanely high amount of testosterone.

When the photograph of Phelps smoking a bong at a University of South Carolina party came out, Phelps, who won 8 gold medals while swimming at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, admitted his mistake. According to CNN, Phelps said, “I'm 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me, For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again." (2)

What is different between this apology and A-Rod’s? Phelps owned up to his mistkake. He admitted that what he did was wrong and that it was his own fault. He could have lied and said he was smoking tobacco out of the bong, or said that he was just posing with it for photography’s sake, but he didn’t. He chose to do the honorable thing and admit that he was wrong. Phelps lost sponsors and was suspended for three months as a result of his confession, but Phelps did the right thing.

Phelps’ biggest mistake was allowing the photograph to be taken. What he does at a private party is his business. However, he allowed the photographer to make it the world’s business. Phelps’ DUI conviction 4 years ago was arguably much worse than him smoking marijuana. Drunk driving routinely kills people, while marijuana does not.

If the shoe was on the other foot, if Phelps admitted to taking steroids during the Olympics, and A-Rod admitted to hitting a bong, things would be very different. Not only would Phelps be disgraced and stripped of his medals, he would be banned from organized swimming forever. The United States, as a whole, would also be disgraced at having the most decorated Olympic athlete in its history de-medaled. Nothing would happen to A-Rod. He would maybe look stupid or immature, but nothing else would happen.

Fortunately for Phelps, the shoe is not on the other foot. Phelps’ mistake will eventually be forgiven, and he will go on to dominate the next one or two Summer Olympic Games. A-Rod’s legacy, on the other hand, is tarnsihed. Rodriguez will not be voted into the Hall of Fame and people will no longer see him in the same, awestruck light. If this were swimming, he would be banned, but not in baseball. No, in baseball you get banned from the game for life for betting on your own team, but you get a slap on the wrist, or nothing at all, for using intravaneous drugs that noticably improve your athletic performance.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Future journalists of the world

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a simple enough question that we are all asked at some point during childhood. Some people decided their future career choice at a young age, while others enter college still unsure of what they want to do with their lives. This holds true for journalists as well. For whatever reason, each prospective journalist has his or her own unique reason for wanting to get into the business.

As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed writing. Throughout grade school and high school, my teachers consistently praised my writing as well. Senior year of high school, I took a class writing for my school paper. I really enjoyed the world of journalism and decided that I could see myself writing for a living. I entered college the following year. I had wanted to go to law school from an early age, and initially majored in political science just like me uncle, who is now a judge. After a few quarters of poli-sci and a few News Record articles, I decided that journalism would be a more viable career option if I failed to make it as a lawyer. So, now I am a few quarters away from graduation, still unsure about attending law school, but definitely sure that I chose the right major.

I have always loved sports and have been reading Sports Illustrated and the Cincinnati Enquirer for years. My dream job would be as a writer for SI. I would also love to write for ESPN The Magazine, The Sporting News, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Los Angeles Times, or Amusement Today. I figure that if I do go through with law school, I could occasionally freelance for a newspaper or magazine.

With the current economic recession and the transition from paper to Internet news, I am somewhat worried about my job prospects after graduation, which right now is looking like March 2010. I believe that there will always be journalism jobs available, but they won’t be where I want and for what I want. I’m worried that the only job I’ll be able to get is covering some minor league baseball team in South Dakota or being a news reporter in Smalltownsville, Nebraska. This would be in stark contrast to my dream of working in a big city (like Cincinnati, New York, or LA) and writing for a widely read publication or covering a major league sports team. These are of course just my opinions on being a journalist.

I sent out listserv e-mail to the UC journalism majors. Twelve of the responses are listed below. Each person had a unique and interesting response to the questions of, “what do you want to do with your degree? What is your dream job?” and “With the economy in a recession, are you worried about future job prospects?”

Melissa K wants to go into the book publishing industry and would love to live in New York City. About future job prospects, she said, “I am a little fearful with the economy but I have hope for the future. I don't think people are going to stop reading books.”

Rose D. would like to write for a magazine like Entertainment Weekly or TV Guide. Her dream job, however, would be to write for a TV show. She has no faith in future job prospects, saying, “I am very worried about my job prospects. I have a journalist friend who lives in New York who has been looking for a job for two whole years. Now my "back-up" plan of being a journalist seems just as ridiculous as being a TV show writer.”

Bethany R. is still deciding her course of action. Her three interesting plans for using her journalism degree involve:
“A. I'm going to move to the Caribbean and start a pineapple picking plantation. All I want to do is pick pineapples and drink good rum underneath the stars.
B. After graduation, I'm going to fall in the fetal position and cry out of frustration and anxiety.
C. Pray that someone will hire me. I don't care where, I just want a job.”
These all seem like very “interesting” (yet sadly viable) options. Realistically, her dream job would be to be either an “off-beat music magazine editor” or an editor Bon Appetite. Bethany was confident about the existence of future job prospects, “I've been searching around online and there are plenty of jobs out there for journalists; they just have to know where to look. Small town papers are hiring right now and they are prospering despite what people say about the newspaper industry. People can't get their local news from national publications and because this, Podunk papers in Kentucky and Texas are thriving and hiring. However, my fall back jobs are garbage man or pineapple picker.”

Marielle M. would like to get into the magazine or public relations industry, ideals writing for a fashion/beauty magazine like Elle or Lucky. However, she is very worried about future job prospects and feels that she is, “going to need to develop some good connections in order to receive a satisfactory job, and definitely for my dream job.

Nayla P. also wants to be in the magazine industry, but dazes out at the thought of hopefully writing for High Times. Nayla is worried about future job prospects, “but I try to live in the present, and hope for a better future.”

Tiffany B. would like to write features for a magazine. She doesn’t have a current “dream job” and doesn’t really care where her future paychecks come from. She just wants to have a diverse career covering diverse stories and people. She is worried about future job prospects, noting that, “journalism was a hard field to succeed in when the economy was good, now that is seems to be in a continuous downward spiral I think that publishers will be forced to seed out the natural talent from those who have a "possible" talent.”

Amanda W. would like to write for a newspaper, although, “I am fully aware that it is a dying art. I may free lance for random magazines at my leisure but I'll try to avoid them for the most part.” She then goes on to counter this by saying that National Geographic would be her dream job. She wants to be able to, “travel and write freely about topics that are important to me. I don't care how popular the publication is - it's the doing and the living of the career that matters most.” She is worried about the economy but, “I have a plan B. I'll be an event planner who free lances on the side while fostering homeless dogs and/or cats and playing cameos in hot blockbuster movies.”

Keith R. has always wanted to be a writer, but chose journalism, “because it is a more viable career choice than my first love: creative writing.” He wants to write long narrative articles for magazines. He has kept busy through writing for the News Record and interning at a local magazine. He would love to write for National Geographic. He is hopeful about getting a future job, “I honestly don't feel that a finance major has any better job at landing a job than I do. I am still of the opinion that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Plus, why would you pursue anything other than what you love? If you go about building a resume and making the necessary contacts, the rest will fall into place. Then, if that fails, you can always consider putting off the inevitable by prolonging your education with grad school...”

Emily K. wants to write for a magazine and possibly explore radio. Her dream job is to write for Rolling Stone or to start her own magazine. She is not worried about future job prospects, saying, “if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way to make it happen. You might not find exactly what you want, but you'll make it work.”

Katelyn F. wants to write for a fashion magazine like Vogue, Harpers, Bazar, or Vanity Fair and would also like to start her own magazine. She also is not very worried about the economy.

Elizabeth L. is in the magazine track, but doesn’t want to move out of Cincinnati, “since marriage makes moving awkward for me, and since I did not spend five years in school for a day job, I'll probably look outside journalism for a career. Writing and copy looks like fun, or maybe copy-editing. At the very least, studying journalism has sharpened my writing skills.”
Elizabeth game some insight into the economic situation, saying, “ I wonder if people are using The Economy as an excuse to give up on job searching, saying, "It stinks so I'm not even going to touch it." Whine, whine, whine. The fact is, even if we sink into a second Great Depression, with unemployment around 20%, there are still a lot of other countries in the world that would trade places with us in a millisecond. And not just third world countries -- Italy would love to have our current unemployment rate.”

Susan L. would like to work for a magazine like National Geographic. She is worried about the future, saying, “I was hoping that over the next few years things would start to clear up but it doesn't seem like that will be the case.

The majority of these respondents would like to work in the magazine industry. This is not a surprise, since the newspaper industry is on the decline, while the magazine industry remains relatively stable. National Geographic seems like a particularly popular choice. I was somewhat surprised that none of the respondents said that they would be interested in becoming a sports writer. However, nine of the ten respondents were females and the majority of writers at sports magazines are males. Regardless, the future of journalism is overall filled with prospective magazine writers who are somewhat worried about future job prospects.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pizza, Anyone?

College is a very fast-paced time in life. Students are constantly running around, often more worried about their academics or extracurricular activities than their health. Since life can get pretty hectic, college students don’t always have time to sit down and eat a nourishing meal. This is where pizza comes into play. Although pizza may not be the healthiest food out there, it is very convenient since it is easy to eat on the run. Pizza also generally contains foods from the five main food groups: breads (crust), dairy (cheese), fruits (tomato sauce), vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc.), and meats and proteins (pepperoni, sausage, bacon, etc.). Pizza is also relatively inexpensive (about $15 for a pie that can feed three or four people) and can even be delivered to a house or dorm room. It is due to all of these reasons that pizza is such a major hit with college students.

According to, “with sales expected to reach $566 billion across 950,000 locations, the restaurant industry is a driver of the U.S. economy.”
The same website lists Pizza Hut as the largest pizza company with 13,000 locations worldwide. Domino’s is the world’s second-largest pizza chain with 8,600 units worldwide, grossing $1.5 billion in revenue in 2007. Papa John’s is the world’s third-largest pizza company, encompassing 3,330 units worldwide for about 1.1 billion in profit in 2007. Little Caesar’s is the world’s fourth-largest pizza company with 2,300 units worldwide.

Cities like Chicago and New York are famous for their pizza places. Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas and New York-style pizzas containing huge slices and lots of toppings are signature styles in the pizza industry. Cincinnati is also a city with a deep pizza history. Cincinnati’s signature pizza company is La Rosa’s, whose products and sauces can be shipped all over the world. With over 70 locations in the tri-state area, La Rosa’s has been serving the Queen City for over 50 years. Queen City Pizza, Trotta’s, and Adriatico’s are just a few of Cincinnati’s many other signature locations. Cincinnati is a city of diverse flavor, and its pizza places definitely contribute to this flavor.

I posted a survey on Facebook on January 26th that asked the question, “What is your favorite pizza place.” I received many responses, most of which were from college-aged people. In the survey, Papa John’s and LaRosa’s were tied as the top two favorite pizza places, each taking 27% of the overall vote. “La Rosa’s is chronic,” said 21 year-old Matt Schehm. “You can’t beat their selection of food, especially the calzones.” Alyssa Gerdes, on the other hand, feels that, “Papa John’s has the best cheese and the best crust.” Donato’s was third with 16% of the overall vote, followed by Pizza Hut with 11%. Dewey’s, Adriatico’s, and Marion’s (in Dayton) rounded out the field with 5% each. Twenty year-old Chris Greene says that Adriatico’s, which is located on Jefferson Avenue near UC’s campus, has, “awesome pizza. You gotta try it!” Most of the people who took part in the survey were in their early-20s and were from the West-side of Cincinnati.

It was not very surprising that La Rosa’s was one of the favorite pizza places, since most of the people who responded to this poll were from Cincinnati. Cincinnatians are loyal to their city, and this includes being loyal to local eateries. I work at Papa John’s, so it made me feel confident about future business prospects that Papa John’s was tied for the favorite pizza place overall. The main thing that surprised me was that Domino’s, the second largest national pizza chain, received no votes at all. I was also somewhat surprised that the world’s largest pizza chain, Pizza Hut, came in fourth place overall.

Best of polled people all over the city of all different ages and backgrounds about their favorite pizza places. Dewey’s Pizza was awarded the best local chain pizzeria, while Adriatico’s was named the best single-location pizzeria for 2009. Dewey’s was also named the restaurant with the best salads.

A Cincinnati Citysearch article also ranked the top ten Cincinnati pizzerias. Bravo Italian Kitchen in West Chester came in first, followed by Pomodori’s and Adriatico’s. Dewey’s was fourth, La Rosa’s was seventh, and Donato’s was ninth. This too was in high contrast to my Facebook poll, in which no one voted for Bravo Italian Kitchen or Pomodori’s. This could very well be because both of these pizza places are on the east side, while most of the respondents were West Siders. It is also less expensive to pick up a pizza or have it delivered, rather than to go out and eat at a restaurant. So, college kids (in this case West Siders) are more likely to go pick up a pizza from their local La Rosa’s or Papa John’s than to drive across town and spend tons of money at Pomodori’s or Bravo Italian Kitchen.

Regardless of what their favorite pizza place is, college kids love pizza. They love it for the taste, for the convenience, for the price, and for the fact that it contains food from each of the five food groups. College kids also like going to pizza places to hang out and eat with friends and classmates. Cincinnati may not be Chicago or New York, but there are definitely a large variety of pizza tastes available here. Like with anything else in life, different people with different demographics enjoy different things. College kids may like to eat different things than older people. West Siders may enjoy eating at different places than East Siders. However, despite all these differences, one thing is similar: Cincinnatians like to eat pizza.