Tag Archives: Commentary

How bad calls from NFL referees continue to decide the outcome of games

In a forever-changing game, there is one reoccurring problem that has NFL fans like myself shaking their heads in disappointment. That problem is that on almost a weekly basis, at least one game is plagued with terrible calls that, on some occasions, have even decided the winner of a game. While some may argue that this is a common problem that can’t be solved, there is no doubt that bad calls in important division games and playoff games have fans calling for a solution. In this piece, I will provide examples of the worst cases in which NFL referees’ bad calls have decided essential games.

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Roughing the Passer

Many would argue that the quarterback position is the most critical position on the field. Increasing the frequency of roughing-the-passer calls prevents the league’s star QBs from being injured and calling to the backup QBs. In the wake of this, these calls’ consistency is questioned. NFL fans have seen times when a seemingly legal hit is called roughing the passer, and an illegal hit is not called. The official rule is that any hit to the legs or around the head area warrants a roughing the passer call. Defenders are allowed “one step” toward the QB after the ball is thrown, and more than one step warrants a roughing the passer call. Defenders also cannot hit a QB with their full body weight. While these rules seem fair and straightforward, NFL referees have shown otherwise.

One example of a bad roughing the passer call was a week 5 matchup of the 2022 regular season between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. While the Falcons were trying to make a comeback late in the 4th quarter down six, star Defensive Tackle Grady Jarrett made a huge play, sacking QB Tom Brady. Jarrett wrapped up Brady and spun him to the ground, a seemingly ordinary sack that would have forced a Buccaneers punt on 4th down. This was flagged for roughing the passer and gave the Buccaneers a first down, allowing them to chew the rest of the clock out and stall out a Falcons comeback.

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Pass Interference

Another penalty that causes controversy for NFL referees is the pass interference calls. Like the roughing the passer penalty, pass interference gets called on an inconsistent basis where sometimes it gets called when it shouldn’t, and other times it doesn’t get called when it should. Pass interference rules state that a defender cannot initiate illegal contact that causes an unfair chance for the WR to make a play on the football. Holding, pulling, pushing, tripping, grabbing the facemask, and tackling the WR are examples of what would be called pass interference.

An example of a missed call was the 2018 NFC championship game, late in the 4th quarter, a wheel route throw from QB Drew Brees to Wide Receiver Tommylee Lewis was disrupted early from a hit by Rams Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. Instead of a pass interference call that would have set up the Saints’ offense with first and goal, they faced a 4th and long and had to settle for a field goal. Brees would throw an interception in overtime and allow a game-winning field goal to send the Rams to the super bowl. Many fans believe the Saints got cheated out of a super bowl appearance based on this one play alone.

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Catches and Non-Catches

NFL referees seem to have different ideas on the criteria for what is a catch and what is not. While roughing the passer and even pass interference have been more recently arising problems, the catching criterion is a problem that has been ongoing for a long time. The NFL states that if a receiver maintains possession going to the ground and the ball comes out after, it is a catch, but if the receiver doesn’t maintain control and the ball hits the ground, it is not a catch. While it can usually be determined if a receiver has possession or not, there are some cases in which a ruling is disagreed upon.

One example was a 2014 NFC divisional game between the Packers and Cowboys. With time winding down and the Cowboys finding themselves at a 4th down, QB Tony Romo takes a deep shot to WR Dez Bryant, which is caught. Bryant took a few steps towards the end zone with the ball securely in his hands before going to the ground, where the ball popped up but back into his arms. This was initially called a catch but was overturned after a review. This was especially surprising because, in terms of reviews, NFL referees need a clear view that the initial call was wrong, which there appeared to be none. Under the “rules” set by the NFL for catches, this should have been a catch.

It is clear from these calls that NFL referees have made that something needs to change. Two of these instances were in the playoffs and were the deciding factor in both games. NFL fans agree that action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening again because bad calls happen more than they should.

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Stephen Avara, Junior

Stephen Avara is a junior member of the Multi-Media Journalism class.

Why A.I. generated art won’t replace human artistry

The art world was forever changed when programs like Dalle-2 and Midjourney came to the public’s attention. These programs use A.I. generation to create images based on text prompts that you input. This allows anyone to make almost anything they can think of with only a sentence or two. While this is incredible in its own right, it has also caused some concern in the art world. That is, whether or not A.I. image generation will advance to the point where it could replace human artwork.

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Some of you might not know what A.I. image generation is or how it works, so allow me to explain it. A.I. Image generators are programs that use algorithms based on pre-existing images to create whole new images from scratch. This could assist with sketching out artistic works, mass production of marketing applications, and helping artists develop new ideas for artwork.

However, despite the impressive technology displayed, there are a few aspects of A.I. image generation that make it unlikely that A.I. artwork will replace human artwork anytime soon.

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One fact is how the images are created. An A.I. uses existing images to develop the generated images’ look, layout, and style. So the end results are only based on the already existing images, giving the user less control of the end results of the generation. Art created by humans has the benefit of designing. Artists can draw the picture how they want, where everything is placed, and use their own personal style.

Another reason A.I. art will most likely not overtake human art is that A.I. generators use existing images, and the images used could potentially contain copyrighted material. This causes images and artwork created by A.I. programs to be unsettled regarding copyright laws. Making it difficult for these types of images to find mainstream success.

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Such as the case of what is happening with Getty Images. Getty images chose to put a ban on all A.I.-generated art and pictures. The reason for this ban stems from the uncertain copyright laws and complications that seem to plague A.I.-generated art.

A final reason A.I.-generated art won’t replace human art is that artists aren’t receptive to A.I. generation as an art form. An example was when a person used A.I. generation to create an image that won an art contest. Art community members were quick to criticize this, saying the man didn’t technically make an art piece.

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So what is the future of A.I.-generated art? If it won’t replace human art now, will it later? Well, it is safe to say that the issues that revolve around A.I. generated art are slowly being fixed up. As time passes, copyright issues will be cleared up, and more control will be accessible over how the image is laid out. In the future, A.I. generation programs might serve as tools to assist more artists in the creative process. But when it comes to the actual creation of art, humans succeed in some areas that machines simply can’t.

Aidan Bajadek is a Junior member of the MultiMedia Journalism class.

Understanding and talking thoughtfully about race

Race is so deeply felt in this country comparatively as a form of identity, and many find solace in their roots or become defensive over misrepresentation. As Americans, we believe it to be our greatest divisor or our only hope at integration. In this melting pot of a country, why do we find it so important? At the end of the day, identity is what everyone finds the most important. Being able to be uniquely you regardless of your story, ethnicity, nationality, or race and still find acceptance is the ultimate goal.

When speaking about race, many people can give you a multifaceted answer that involves one of three usual rebuttals. The first is usually a brief explanation of their racial or ethnic background. Something along the lines of being “Black,” “white,” or “Native American.” The second answer is usually discomfort with the topic. Some people grow up with backgrounds confusing them or that make the subject of race uncomfortable and, therefore, not central to their identity.

The third explanation would be along the lines of their nationality. You see this example often with individuals of Asian descent, as it becomes simpler for most to identify with their country of origin. For example, when asking senior Mung Siam about how he identifies racially, he said, “If I was asked, I would tell people I am Asian, but as per my ethnicity, it would be Burmese.”

When asking fellow senior Braylon Sims, what was most important, Ethnicity, Nationality, or Race, he told me, “That really is a tough question.” In an attempt to be fully understood and characterized correctly. Race and its intertwined nature with identity are imperative to connect with another person. It is the first step to bringing culture into the play of relationships with others and figuring out why and how we think and act the way we do. When asking Chris Wright, a member of the Black community and fellow MSJ senior, which of his identities were the most important? He said being Black was “integral to his identity.”

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After that, I spoke to cross country runner and senior student Christopher “CJ” Johnson Jr on being light skinned seen as mixed, and how it affects his life and identity. Being light-skinned can cause confusion with people less acclimated, as many will try to make someone choose a side, not realizing they’re asking someone to deny a part of their whole selves. When asked whether he internalized his encounters and whether they made him approach situations or conversations differently, he said, “yeah.” I also asked how much race means to his total identity he said, “around 60%,” and it is “not the end all be all” to who he is.

I had asked CJ if race had played a role and, if so, how important. He said it “played a considerable role in figuring out who I am. Having a predominantly white and predominantly Black side of my family led to me having to balance the two. Leading to me more so leaning to the Black side.” I asked if anything led to him leaning to either side, and he said, “family and environment.” The environment seems to be the leading determinant of what makes you in many cases. It is not news that children are products of their environments in many cases, and support and nurturing, will determine their roles as mentors and adults later in life.

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When speaking to these students, it is easy to see that even though race plays a massive part in their total identity, it seems to be the culture behind it that means the most to them. Analyzing the importance of their family structure and memories made. I am in no way saying that race is not important or that it defines a person in their entirety, but I am saying that it isn’t always the way things look but the way they are behind the veil.

Up to this point, I had been able to connect with and speak to other students my age, but I needed the perspective of someone with more profound knowledge about how race affects life. Knowing this, I looked to Mr. Shawn Turner for insight into race as it pertains to one’s identity and what he has noticed; being a Black man impacts someone’s upbringing, thought process, and interactions. My first question was how do you identify racially. Asking this question to a Black American is almost the same as allowing someone to differentiate themselves with their nationality. Being born and shaped by America completely converts the lived experience and, therefore, denomination by which you associate as a Black person. As a Black young man, I consider myself strictly Black/Black American. I do this because I cannot comfortably call myself African American since I have no lived experience in or from Africa.

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This allowed Mr. Turner to present the idea that, with being Black, in particular, things have context. Mr. Turner said, “I feel like, In professional settings, there is a tendency to want to say African American to identify a place where you came from and then the American piece.” He also said, “I learned to like Black more than African American.” He says this in comparison to white people and how someone whose family came from other countries would not have to be called an “Australian American” or otherwise because they’re being white, would just make them American as soon as they got here. Mr. Turner says, “I feel like as much as African American is used to dignify the Black population, it also feels kind of like a dig in a sense because I have to link you to where you came from and remind you of that but not necessarily do that in the other sense.”

I had asked Mr. Turner if there is any possibility to separate race and identity because many people have the question, ‘why is everything about race?’ or ‘how does it always go back to race?’ As people, we cannot remove any aspect of life and lived experience because it is at the expense of someone’s comfort, especially with race. Because of this, my question was not separate to remove, but separate from having varying levels of importance regarding what gets brought up or how we handle the two. Mr. Turner said, “When you talk about identity, you’re really talking about fractions…that part of my identity adds up to the whole me.”

He proceeds to also bring up the point that, “Race is the one identity of all of them that you can see. And you can’t look at me and see Christian or look at me and see those other things, but I think that’s where race has the most importance in terms of the consequences of your identity.” Mr. Turner says that you could see someone and see they are male or female but could not see that they are Christian. This is to say, a person could be seen as their race and judged as such, but it should not define them because everyone is made of the sum of their parts.

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Race can often dictate encounters and one’s portrayed image. Although the image always correlates with lived experience. How do you react to things because of where you came from? What caused your thought process? When analyzing race, the meaningful drawback almost everyone seems to find in some way, shape, or form, is heritage through the culture surrounding race. Knowing where you came from to order the steps in your direction. Race brings community and signifies growth. A person I do not look like, and they do not look like me, are inherently different for that fact. We can not live the same life from that factor alone on top of the difference in the family, area lived in, etc.

Race is one of those genetic factors that tie you to your person. Race is family, history, community, and individuality all at once. I find that better understanding yourself improves your quality of thinking and pulls specific ideas out of the dark. The next time race is brought up in conversation, make it thoughtful; understanding it is one step closer to finding out what it means to you.

Caleb Smith-Sims, Senior

Caleb Smith-Sims is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Why LIV Golf is growing despite the efforts of the PGA Tour

Beginning in May 2020, the PGA Tour saw a massive increase in viewers and attendance. Across the summers of 2020 and 2021, the PGA saw some of its highest TV ratings and a staggering 30% increase in views on NBC. All aspects of business looked good for the league, with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the growth of golf in the United States.

However, it was not all that pretty on the inside. Players disapproved of the hard-ball tactics by Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner. His unwillingness to assist the stars; the players’ frustration over course rulings painted a negative picture among professional golfers. 

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And so, with the founding of LIV Golf in October 2021, Greg Norman gave players an escape from the harsh and neglectful PGA. He launched the brand with the hopes of signing international stars to participate in the monthly invitationals. Norman found immediate success, signing fifteen of the world’s top 100 players in April. 

Though the more laid-back environment proved a large part of the players’ decisions, Norman received tremendous financial support from the Saudi Arabian government. The kingdom provides all the guaranteed contracts and purse money for each tournament. For players on the bottom tier of professional tours, this supplied a substantial raise from their usually volatile salary. 

All of these factors make life for professional golfers much easier. Usually, players outside the top 100 struggle to obtain fair wages for their families. At most PGA tournaments, the competitors that finish toward the bottom only make about $50,000. If you add tournament entry fees and playing expenses, some players barely squeak by with a profit. However, the LIV Golf tour allows every player to make decent money and support their families.

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In addition, a less-demanding schedule allows older players to spend more time with their families. The PGA Tour only provides a two-week offseason and hosts a tournament every weekend during the season. LIV Golf organizes tournaments once or twice a month, permitting players to go home and see their families.

The simpler and quicker format of LIV Golf makes playing golf more enjoyable for all players. A shotgun start—where everyone tees off at the same time—decreases the amount of time on the course. Players can play five-hour rounds and leave instead of having to wait so long to tee off. 

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Through COVID, the PGA Tour looked to grow the game of golf but did not listen to the needs of its players. However, LIV Golf provided an escape for frustrated competitors and created a more player-friendly atmosphere. They exposed an ignorant organization and gave players a modern, more enjoyable experience on the golf course.

Alex Kwas is a sophomore member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

A deep dive into the slow death of American public transit

I’m sure that at some point during your MSJ commute, either to or from campus, you’ve seen the buses around Irvington. It’s not an uncommon sight either, which makes it all the more shocking to learn that only 5% of Americans use public transportation as their primary mode of travel. A significant reason for that is how inefficient and neglected they are.

On paper, public transportation should be much more mainstream. Cars generally take up 17% of annual household expenses, giving public transport an edge in terms of cost, and with fewer people driving themselves, carbon emission levels would generally go down. Public transportation generally seems like a better alternative to cars. Still, most of these modes of transit have become forgotten due to the rising car-centric nature of the United States, and as a result, the quality of their services have stagnated.

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Even in my own experience, American public transport, with the exception of subways, feels inefficient and inadequate. Not only are most trains too expensive for what they give you, but buses always seem behind and almost always have some arbitrary rule or schedule that makes them inconvenient. But why is this? What led to the downfall of a system that is so prevalent in other countries?

After World War II, veterans were sent home with a sizeable sum of money through the GI Bill. The significance of this cannot be ignored, as that money allowed most Americans to buy houses, which led to the creation of the suburbs, residential areas often outlying cities.

More often than not, people from the suburbs would work in the cities, meaning they would need a means of getting there and back. While cars did exist before World War II, the need for them then wasn’t as great as it became after the creation of suburbs. With the GI Bill allowing most Americans to afford cars, the explosion in car ownership was inevitable. As time passed, families would start the tradition of each new generation owning a vehicle, ingraining automobiles into American culture and society.

In fact, cities themselves were shaped by cars and highways, literally and figuratively. Streetcars are a perfect example, as the cabs and rails used to be around every corner of nearly every city. However, as the influence of cars began to spread into cities, the rails were paved over, and most cabs that once rode them were bought out and scrapped. While a few are still in operation today, they aren’t nearly as widespread as they were over 70 years ago.

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In terms of the actual shape of cities, they were usually grids, making it easy to get around on foot or by the now defunct streetcars. While the grid shape is still somewhat visible in today’s cities, the curved lines of highways carve into the once-uniform streets of the cities, disturbing the efficient system that public transport once had.

This efficiency, which can be seen in the public transport systems of other countries, is notably absent in the United States. More specifically, most American buses and subways only succeed at moving outlying communities into city centers and fail to connect the communities themselves to each other.

In 2022, America has been shaped by cars, leaving most modes of public transport to fall by the wayside, not only because of the increase in car ownership but also due to America’s geography. High-speed rails flourish in places like China and Japan, often reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour due to their area’s relatively flat geography. In contrast, in the United States, rougher geography leads to more difficulty, time, and cost during construction.

Cost is a significant reason that trains specifically have been neglected, and it’s not hard to see why. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which supported the construction of the Interstate highway system, granted a whopping $175 million to their construction. Accounting for current-day inflation, it totals just under $2 billion, a gargantuan sum of money that our government isn’t exactly keen on spending nowadays.

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A recent example of this can be seen in California, through their “train to nowhere,” that cost over $5 billion. Beginning in 2008, the high-speed rail project aimed to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles and eventually connect the entire west coast. However, after 14 years of work, the project is still in indefinite limbo due to its lack of support from the government.

The car-centric nature of the United States, developed over decades of change, has seemingly left public transport in the dust, and despite volatile gas prices, it doesn’t seem like that fact will change any time soon. It’s a shame to see that a system with such potential has been neglected, especially since – if a few slight changes in American history were made – things could have turned out very differently.

Alex Magno is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.

Is Marvel getting worse?

Captain Marvel, Thor the Dark World, and The Eternals. That’s a list of just a few of the low-quality Marvel movies. In my opinion, Marvel has only worsened since the release of Avenger’s Endgame. However, there’s still hope. If you’re a lifelong Marvel fan like myself, chances are you are caught up with all the movies, or have read enough about them, whether in the comics, or online. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was recently released to rave reviews and big sales. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3, are all some of the new upcoming movies that Marvel is releasing. That doesn’t include all of the movies or TV shows.

Photo Credit: Igor Bumba on Unsplash

Whether you agree or not, Marvel hasn’t been the same since 2020. After a disappointing phase 4, Marvel should be looking to bounce back. Blame Covid all you want, but there is more that we as fans fail to see. I still will go to the theaters and see Marvel movies in action, but I have not gotten the same nostalgia as I did in Marvel’s “peak.” Spider-Man: No Way Home and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings showed promise, but I think Marvel has much work left.

I have found the recent Marvel production to be underwhelming. They were given a large budget to create these films and TV shows, but none gave me the great experience of watching the Marvel universe unfold in front of my eyes. I want to tell you all now I think Thor: Love and Thunder was a bottom 10 Marvel movie, and Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness was average. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to lose some of the beloved characters and cast, such as Chris Evans (Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), and Tom Hiddleston (Loki), but the show must go on.

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However, with the release of new DC movies, such as The Batman and Black Adam, a question remains: Is Marvel getting worse? Marvel seems to be going in that direction. Looking at the reviews or having an opinion is one thing, but the numbers show the reality. Avengers: Endgame, Black Panther, and Spider-Man: No Way Home have made the most money at the box office. Other than that, not much production.

In my eyes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be one of the greatest movie franchises of all time, which is why I have been disappointed with the newest releases of movies and shows. They seem to be becoming more satirical, and the fight scenes are getting worse. For example, She-Hulk and Thor Love and Thunder are written to make the audience laugh, but they take things too far. Thor Love and Thunder only had 3 notable fight scenes, which is not the pacing I was expecting compared to Thor Ragnarok or Captain America Civil War.

Photo Credit: Marcin Lukasik on Unsplash

Marvel is great, but they could be in serious trouble if they don’t keep up the high production while maintaining good reviews on their films. From one fan to the next, let’s hope Marvel doesn’t lose a fan for the wrong reasons.

David Cohn is a Senior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.