» Daniel Kellner http://georgetownvoice.com Georgetown's Weekly Newsmagazine since 1969 Thu, 09 Oct 2014 18:59:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Carrying On: Holy mole-y!http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/19/carrying-on-holy-mole-y/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/19/carrying-on-holy-mole-y/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2012 04:09:05 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20927 When I first heard there was a mole at Fox News, I was pretty damn excited. For years I have hoped for a popular backlash against not only Fox News, with its blatantly fear-mongering conservative agenda, but all the major American news networks, which consistently embellish, distort, and manipulate facts to boost both network ratings and the political stances they subscribe to. But after a week of behind-the-scenes leaks from “America’s most trusted news network,” I feel little more than disappointment for a lost opportunity to instigate a desperately needed change in the culture of news.

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When I first heard there was a mole at Fox News, I was pretty damn excited. For years I have hoped for a popular backlash against not only Fox News, with its blatantly fear-mongering conservative agenda, but all the major American news networks, which consistently embellish, distort, and manipulate facts to boost both network ratings and the political stances they subscribe to. But after a week of behind-the-scenes leaks from “America’s most trusted news network,” I feel little more than disappointment for a lost opportunity to instigate a desperately needed change in the culture of news.

The mole, now unmasked as former O’Reilly Factor producer Joe Muto, has little to show for his popular stunt. Though he was eager to leave Fox News, he has essentially condemned himself to exile from the network news industry, and faces potential legal action for distributing footage to New York media blog Gawker. Not only does Muto’s alleged cash reward of $5,000 seem insignificant in the wake of a lost career, but his footage hardly produced a ripple in the battle to bring reliability and integrity to network news.

Did we really need these videos to learn that presidential candidate Mitt Romney is grotesquely wealthy? Was anyone unsure that Fox News host Sean Hannity is an unabashed right-winger? Muto admirably risked his livelihood to unveil the dirty secrets behind his former employers, but failed to reveal a single moment of substance.

Though I certainly question the ultimate success of his actions, I don’t mean to criticize Muto himself. Perhaps he considered the potential consequences for distributing more classified and condemning material, and felt it was not worth it on a personal level to turn his stunt into a crusade. He has already said he has more insightful information to divulge, claiming he has a “story that needs to be told.” Although I will certainly be listening, it remains to be seen how far he is actually willing to take his quest. If his recent interview with CNN is any indication, network news outlets will confront him with at least mild hostility to ensure the public sees him as a mole working for his own benefits, and not a whistleblower trying to put a stop to the injustices and corruption occurring on a regular basis in the newsroom.

The self-described “traitor,” “weasel,” and “spy” has hardly positioned himself for a defense against the public bashing he is going to take. As a former member of one of these news networks, Muto should have known better than to provide his critics with fodder to slander his name. The CNN anchor Howard Kurtz suggested that Muto is merely angling for a lucrative book deal after being a disgruntled employee with little chance for a promotion.

But even more saddening than the expected pounding Muto will take from certain network media sources, is that he is on his own. Perhaps reacting to the legal ramifications or inconsequential impact of his footage, others with Muto’s perspective have been slow to stand by his side. Several former Fox News employees who left the company and now work in the blogosphere have focused more on Muto’s upcoming struggles with the law and job market than on the issues he raises. Hence, they still fail to highlight the ever-more obvious reality that Fox News is a conservative channel, and MSNBC posits a more liberal perspective.
Neither company strays much from these bases in their news coverage and certainly not in their pointed commentary, which is often mistaken for actual news.

Consequently, I struggle to see this entire “Fox News mole” situation as anything other than a missed opportunity—a botched attempt to shed some light on real controversies within the inner workings of the major news networks. Nevertheless, there is still hope. There are undoubtedly more unhappy liberals (and even unhappy conservatives) working at Fox News who are tired of helping a company that makes money by misinforming Americans. Even Muto could have potentially more incriminating information to pass along than just a brief off-air clip and a few personal gripes about the FoxNation website. Hopefully, we haven’t seen the last of the network news moles, and others will be inspired to continue the fight against this troubling reality in a better coordinated manner.

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Hoyas set for spring gamehttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/18/hoyas-set-for-spring-game/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/18/hoyas-set-for-spring-game/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2012 01:25:10 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20870 As the football team prepares for its annual spring game this week, players and coaches are keen to combine their celebrations of recent success with determination to continue the steady climb to the Patriot League summit.

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Football season may still be a few months away, but excitement is already sky-high on the Hilltop. After years of being chained to the Patriot League cellar, the Hoyas (8-3, 4-2 Patriot League) defied preseason expectations in 2011 to finish just one game short of their first conference title. However, as the team prepares for its annual spring game this week, players and coaches are keen to combine their celebrations of recent success with determination to continue the steady climb to the Patriot League summit.

The program’s ascent has not been without bumps in the road, and this spring has been no different. In addition to the expected loss of several impact players to graduation, the Hoyas also introduced four new coaches, including a new offensive coordinator in Vinny Marino to replace the departed Dave Patenaude. Head Coach Kevin Kelly, 2011 Patriot League Coach of the Year, has found the transition to Marino’s scheme to be seamless, having described his new colleague as “the total package.”

“To the casual fan [the offense] is going to look very similar,” Coach Kelly said. “Coach Marino has done a great job blending last year’s terminology into his system.”

The Hoyas can expect more defensive continuity within coaching staff, but will still need to recover from the loss of several key contributors, including Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Schaetzke. Linebackers Robert McCabe and Jeremy Grasso will assume much of this responsibility as the new leaders of a defense that was instrumental to the Hoyas resurgence last season. While replacing the production and presence of a quarterback killer like Schaetzke will inevitably take time, McCabe and Grasso have helped inspire a determined work ethic this spring, laying a foundation for the program’s bright future.

“Their practice habits were awesome this spring,” Kelly said. “I really think that’s spilled over to the rest of the defense because the younger players we have really look up to those two guys.”

With senior leadership on defense and an injection of 20 years of experience from Marino on offense, the Hoyas look poised to challenge for the Patriot League crown once again. But it remains unclear whether the team can handle the burden of expectations, something it has altogether avoided in the past.

You can catch a glimpse of the 2012 Hoyas on Saturday at Multi-Sport Field as they play their final tune-up of the spring. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

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Double Teamed: Ozzie Guillen abuses sports’ big stagehttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/12/double-teamed-ozzie-guillen-abuses-sports-big-stage/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/04/12/double-teamed-ozzie-guillen-abuses-sports-big-stage/#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2012 04:27:37 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20777 Ozzie Guillen is more than just the manager of a professional baseball team—he is a figurehead and representative of the Miami community.

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As fans, we often insulate ourselves from the complex relationship between sports and society. The games and narratives offer an exciting and romantic experience, allowing us to escape from the trials of reality. And yet, sports can also painfully remind us of conflicts and struggles in the all-too-real sociopolitical world.

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen reinvigorated this idea with his remarks regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in a recent interview with Time. He ironically expressed his admiration for Castro (albeit referring to him colloquially as a “son of a bitch”) for his decades-long staying power, in spite of the frequent attempts to take his life. The immediate public outrage and embarrassment, especially within Miami’s large Cuban community, prompted both a comprehensive apology from Guillen—unusual for his outspoken character—and a five-game suspension to be enforced by the Marlins.

The reaction to Guillen’s comments underlines sports’ undeniable significance in the communities they engage. Guillen is more than just the manager of a professional baseball team—he is a figurehead and representative of the Miami community. While most around the country will get over his poor judgment in expressing his simplistic and rather childish understanding of Castro, Cuban-Americans and those living in the Miami area struggle to find forgiveness for his insensitivity and immaturity. As someone who holds such a prominent role in the public eye, he should know better.

His words are all the more discouraging given that he was specifically hired to foster stronger ties with Miami’s sizeable Latin American community. It only took him a few games to disgrace himself in the hearts and minds of this crucial group within the Marlins’ fan base, and his mistake could also not have come at a worse time for his employers. The Marlins entered this season oozing expectations, with a new ballpark, big-name free agent signees, and even a new name and logo to emphasize their commitment to building a new identity for the franchise.

Though our country upholds cherished laws regarding free speech, the organization was left with no choice but to administer punishment to its main spokesman for such a foolish moment. Further action could still be taken, as protests throughout the past few days by the Cuban-American community have called for Guillen to get his pink slip. Should the Marlins’ front office find its connection to the fan base irreparably severed with Guillen at the helm, the team may be forced to move in a different direction. His sincere and well-articulated apology seems to have only partially healed the wounds he ripped open regarding the incredibly delicate issue of Castro and Cuba.

However, it is difficult to believe that had Guillen been the manager of another team, one with a smaller Latino and specifically Cuban following, that he would have been met with the same vitriol and potential consequences for these actions. Surely he would still have been attacked in the media and required to express remorse, but it is unlikely that his job would be threatened, especially given the incredible hype that surrounded Guillen and the Marlins coming into the season.

We must also ensure that Guillen’s chastising is not misrepresented or misunderstood. It is important to consider the reaction to Guillen’s comments as a specific case of stupidity and insensitivity, rather than a condemnation of athletes speaking publicly about political and social issues in general. Guillen’s comments came from an ignorant and uninformed position completely unrelated to politics. Though harmless and even innocent in their intent, his words directed remarkable insensitivity to a prominent local issue, inflaming the scars of a long, historic struggle.

Athletes and coaches on a whole, however, should not be discouraged from entering in political and social discourse, as long as they can do so maturely, thoughtfully, and respectfully. This does not give anyone with an opinion the right to run his or her mouth, but rather that public figures should express informed, critical, conscientious opinions about important issues. As popular and revered public figures, these individuals have a considerable role to play in civil society, though few actually choose to do so, either out of disinterest or fear of a backlash. While it is important that such figures remain respectful and limit the negative publicity directed at their organization, they must also demonstrate the importance of remaining socially and politically conscious, lest our citizens and communities be taught that intelligently conversing about one’s political beliefs is a fault rather than an essential activity to maintain justice and progress. Otherwise, we all may become as ignorant as Guillen was during that interview with Time.

We love to lose ourselves in the world of sports, but we must be careful not to confuse it with reality. Though we may forget them for nine innings, daily struggles and hardships continue to exist around us. Our athletes, with their tremendous public influence, have a privileged chance to facilitate change. Let’s hope the fallout from this regrettable incident does not further discourage them from aspiring to be more than just sports heroes.

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Carrying On: Based on a true storyhttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/29/carrying-on-based-on-a-true-story/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/29/carrying-on-based-on-a-true-story/#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2012 07:49:54 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20726 It’s a beautiful dawn on Martha’s Vineyard (a.k.a. Amity Island), where a young woman dashes into the sea for a swim at sunrise. She paddles peacefully through calm open water, with not a care in the world. This must be heaven, right?

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It’s a beautiful dawn on Martha’s Vineyard (a.k.a. Amity Island), where a young woman dashes into the sea for a swim at sunrise. She paddles peacefully through calm open water, with not a care in the world. This must be heaven, right?

Then we hear it: duh-nuh… duh-nuh… The simple but iconic notes from the Oscar-winning score to Steven Spielberg’s thrilling 1975 masterpiece Jaws can only mean that danger is approaching. The woman may be free, but she has strayed into the realm of monsters, where human conscience and reason mean little. Nature has no mercy. Before we know it, this image of tranquility morphs into a murder of the most violent proportions. After failing and thrashing at the whim of an unseen killer, she is pulled under surface, stripped of every sense of the vitality she embraced just moments earlier.

Jaws is filmmaking at its best, constantly toying with the human emotions of fear and anticipation to prevent all but the most hardened and skeptical souls to come away unscarred.

Even more horrifying than the shark attacks themselves, however, is just how real and possible they feel. Few who have ever seen Jaws have gone rushing right back into the ocean, and I personally know several who struggle to get into a pool. One could argue that no film has had a more powerful impact on the psyche of the population as Jaws has, as an entire generation of swimmers thinks of that music and those atrocities every time they get into the water.

Subsequently, sharks have received the label of “man-eaters,” even by those people who can separate the movie’s fictitious embellishment of a shark’s thirst for human flesh from reality. Of course, most sharks are relatively harmless unless provoked, and most humans rarely encounter a shark outside the friendly confines of an aquarium.

Yet, even though it is unlikely for a shark to go on a killing spree, that does not mean it has not happened … or won’t happen again. In fact, the most prominent case of man-hunting sharks in the U.S. occurred in an area many Georgetown students know very well—the Jersey Shore.

From July 1 to July 12, 1916, four individuals were killed and seven more were gravely injured by sharks in a two-week tragedy that gripped the local population. These attacks have been credited as the inspiration for Jaws, though the Jersey Shore attacks were far less concentrated than those depicted in the Spielberg adaptation, in which one Great White terrorizes a single island community. But the reality of the Jersey Shore attacks elicits even more fear than their exaggerated depiction in the movies. While the people of Amity Island were held hostage by a crazed and oversized Great White in an almost supernatural scenario, the Jersey beachgoers were victims of an uncharacteristically aggressive bull shark population, a change in behavior that remains unexplained.

Not only is a group of hungry sharks much scarier than one, but the bull shark possesses the unique ability among these sea monsters to swim in fresh water, which allowed them to commit several of the Jersey Shore attacks miles inland within the state’s many rivers and creeks. In other words, no water was safe from the clutches of the real Jaws.

So, as a word of caution to those who think Snooki is the scariest thing you’ll see near the beach: tread carefully. Remember that Jaws actually happened, and much closer to home than you might think. I hope everyone has a nice summer. Happy Shark Week.

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Double Teamed: Goodell sets NFL standardhttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/22/double-teamed-goodell-sets-nfl-standard/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/22/double-teamed-goodell-sets-nfl-standard/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 04:05:44 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20585 Justice has been served, and while Saints fans might not be happy, this is an important step toward making the NFL a more safe and honorable league.

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Many have questioned over the years whether the punishments doled out by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have fit their respective crimes. Similarly, yesterday’s actions in the wake of overwhelming evidence that the Saints organization offered cash payouts to defensive players for inflicting game-ending injuries on opponents were met with considerable skepticism by the accused parties. The most high-profile of those punished, Saints’ Head Coach Sean Payton, was issued a season-long ban without pay, sending shockwaves around the league. But if these allegations are indeed true, then Payton got off easily.

Since he took over as commissioner in 2006, Goodell has campaigned persistently for increased player safety. Though well intentioned, his policies and punishments have not always met warm welcome from players, who feel that his strict interpretation of the rules has an overbearing impact on the culture and execution of the game. Rather than protecting players, many argue he has tried to control them, shaping the game to fit an idealized image of sportsmanship and safety instead of truly listening to the desires of the players themselves.

On Oct. 19, 2010, for example, Goodell fined three different players for dangerous hits during the previous weekend of games. “It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and of playing within the rules,” he said of the decision. Linebacker James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers alone was fined an incredible $75,000 for a hit that inflicted a concussion on an opposing receiver. Harrison was firmly defended, however, by influential teammate and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, who argued Goodell’s power was too unchecked and taking the game away from the players.

But there is no doubt that Goodell’s heavy-handedness has been necessary for the league, which has been increasingly criticized over the past few years, not only for high rates of injury, but also for the long-term health of former players.

Wednesday’s events offer no better example of this need for regulation and enforcement of on-field player conduct. These disturbing allegations not only demonstrate that players are being unnecessarily put in harm’s way, but also that this dangerous behavior is being encouraged—and even rewarded—by the front office and coaching staff.

This culture is both dangerous and immoral, as individuals’ careers are being put on the line. Hence, Payton’s surprise that he will miss an entire season and close to $8 million in salary is entirely unfounded. For putting the well-being of other players in jeopardy, he at least deserves to have his own welfare temporarily challenged.

Goodell has also done right by not merely naming a scapegoat, but tackling the problem on multiple fronts. While Payton deserves considerable punishment, he is by no means alone in perpetrating the bounty culture. The league has also fined and suspended Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, as well as removing the Saints’ next two second-round draft picks. The NFL has gone after the future of the organization, not paralyzing the team, but certainly curtailing its ability to improve personnel in the  offseason. Furthermore, the league has suspended former Saints defensive coordinator and current St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, demonstrating that individuals will be held accountable even after they cut their ties with the accused organization.

These sanctions set an important precedent for future cases in the league. While Payton and the Saints may be stunned by their punishments, they have hopefully learned an important lesson, along with any teams that may be committing similar violations. Their behavior was simply unconscionable, and thus required a hefty sentence. Justice has been served, and while Saints fans might not be happy, this is an important step toward making the NFL a more safe and honorable league.

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Carrying On: Capitalism on cablehttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/15/carrying-on-capitalism-on-cable/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/15/carrying-on-capitalism-on-cable/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2012 06:08:59 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20533 While surfing TV channels over spring break, I noticed a show on ABC called Shark Tank. A knock-off of a British and Canadian show called Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank provides entrepreneurs and ambitious small business owners with a chance to pitch their business or product to boardroom of “sharks,” shrewd, self-made millionaire investors with a considerable talent for making money. The contestants approach the sharks requesting a specific dollar amount for a percentage of their company, make their pitch, and wait to see if the sharks care to make them an offer. Many propositions are immediately dismissed as ridiculous and hopeless, while others are so potentially lucrative that the sharks will compete with one another for the contestant’s partnership.

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While surfing TV channels over spring break, I noticed a show on ABC called Shark Tank. A knock-off of a British and Canadian show called Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank provides entrepreneurs and ambitious small business owners with a chance to pitch their business or product to boardroom of “sharks,” shrewd, self-made millionaire investors with a considerable talent for making money. The contestants approach the sharks requesting a specific dollar amount for a percentage of their company, make their pitch, and wait to see if the sharks care to make them an offer. Many propositions are immediately dismissed as ridiculous and hopeless, while others are so potentially lucrative that the sharks will compete with one another for the contestant’s partnership.

The show has good entertainment value, as it combines dramatic negotiations with innovative thinking and feel-good stories about hard-working people just trying to taste the American dream. However reaching a deal with the sharks is almost universally seen as a good thing, despite people often losing over 50 percent of their business for a few thousand dollars. The sharks wield all the power, as they know that these people need their investments to fulfill their dreams, and, as a result, they are able to take advantage of just a about every contestant for the sole purpose of making these self-described “filthy rich” people even wealthier.

However, even more concerning is what the show reveals about the true nature of our brand of capitalism and consumer culture. With respect to the success of the contestants, the show actually does profess some positive principles, demonstrating considerable rewards for hard work, diligence, and innovation. It may appear easy on the show, but for the most part, those who come away from the shark tank with a smile do so because they have earned it with their sweat and brainpower. Even if they do lose a disproportionate amount of their business to the sharks, they still are able to earn a solid living with the investment they received on the program.

Nevertheless, with a closer look at the products and services actually being presented, we can begin to see the core problem highlighted by the show. Rather than creating items and investing in businesses that help improve society as a whole, the show encourages and rewards the invention of consumer goods that are utterly worthless to people except in their ability to provide very temporary and rather meaningless pleasure.

For example, one bright group of teenagers created a line of cheaply-made bracelets called “Flipoutz.” Each bracelet was made for approximately 69 cents, though they sold for nearly five dollars in retail. Hence, if the business were to become a success, it would mean people are wasting $5 for something that really isn’t worth more than the plastic it’s made with. The bracelet, like many of the items on the show, offers no utility and is simply another scheme, though well-intended, to get people to spend their hard-earned cash—cash they should be saving to invest in healthy foods, housing, education, and numerous other outlets that can improve one’s health and their society.

Of course, saving five dollars on a bracelet is not going to help pay your mortgage, but this example demonstrates a larger principle at work—that we, the consumers, frivolously spend our money on far too many useless things like novelty bracelets. This notion carries over to excessive luxury purchases, which, although we may use them in our daily lives, often far exceed what we actually need to live a healthy and enjoyable life. While voters lament the lack of affordable housing, crises in public education, and decaying infrastructure, they continue to buy numerous pairs of shoes, new clothes, touch-screen phones, and even cars that cost far beyond their families’ economic means. Not only do we diminish our own savings, but our money ends up in the hands of sharks, whose only plan for it is to create the next useless item or luxury product that we will indiscriminately spend on, and not to build schools, feed the poor, or provide a better work environment for their employees.

Consequently, while I appreciate the entertainment value of Shark Tank, it raises several crucial concerns about our consumer society. Though probably few would argue we place too much value in the acquisition of material goods, it is important that we start to understand the dire consequences of what may seem like meaningless transactions. If we can better orient our spending and investment towards the improvement of society, rather than the pursuit of useless goods, we will have found a broadly effective response to many of our nation’s core issues.

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Georgetown begin dance with clash against Belmonthttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/15/hopes-begin-dance-against-belmont/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/15/hopes-begin-dance-against-belmont/#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2012 04:00:09 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20484 After a tremendous regular season in which the Georgetown men’s basketball team exceeded every fan’s and analyst’s wildest expectations, the third-seeded Hoyas will take on 14-seed Belmont in the second round of the Midwest Regional in Columbus, Ohio on Friday afternoon.

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The madness is finally upon us. After a tremendous regular season in which the Georgetown men’s basketball team exceeded every fan’s and analyst’s wildest expectations, the third-seeded Hoyas will take on 14-seed Belmont in the second round of the Midwest Regional in Columbus, Ohio on Friday afternoon.

The Hoyas secured their tournament berth weeks ago, having solidly maintained their top-25 status since the fifth week of the season. Non-conference wins against Memphis (twice) and Alabama, in addition to a strong showing against perennial powerhouse Kansas at the Maui Invitational put Georgetown on the national radar after being overlooked in the preseason polls. The Hoyas rode their momentum into conference play, with early wins against Louisville and Marquette catapulting them into the top 10. But the grueling Big East schedule eventually took its toll on the Hoyas, as they finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the conference, before bowing out in the third round of the Big East Tournament to Cincinnati.

Given their body of work, the Hoyas are pleased with their seed. Nevertheless, that number matters little to the players, who are simply eager to get their tournament run started.

“All you want is to find out where you’re playing, who you’re playing, when you’re playing,” said senior guard Jason Clark. “This team has worked hard to get to this point. A three-seed in the NCAA Tournament is really big for this team.”

The Hoyas’ opponent, Belmont, is the largely unknown champion of the unheralded Atlantic Sun Conference. Even Clark admits he has never seen them play. But the Bruins nearly defeated two-seed Duke in Durham in their opening game of the season and kept pace with Memphis just days later before letting the game slip away in the second half. Given the Hoyas recent first-round struggles against mid-major opponents, this year’s team is especially wary of the dangers posed by the matchup.

“I’m very motivated,” Clark said when asked about the team’s recent tournament troubles. “That doesn’t leave your mind at all. You can’t wait to get back to this point so you can prove yourself.”

The Hoyas will have to channel that motivation into some of their signature, first-rate defense. Belmont boasts the nation’s fourth highest scoring offense at 81.5 points per game, largely due to their army of three-point shooters. Of their nine players averaging over ten minutes a game, seven of them are threat to shoot from deep at any time, while as a team, they have attempted the sixth-most three-pointers in the nation this year. Though juniors Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark lead the team in scoring, the Bruins are extremely balanced and love to move the ball and find the open man.

“They’re a very good shooting team,” said Clark. “Their offense puts you in tough positions, so if you help, they’ve got shooters.”

Regardless of the threat posed by Belmont’s potent attack, Clark and fellow senior Henry Sims will feel added pressure knowing this is their last chance at a tournament win before they graduate in May. After falling to Baylor in the NIT first round as freshman, followed by shocking upsets to Ohio and Virginia Commonwealth in the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament the next two seasons, the seniors are desperate to add a win to solidify their legacies on the Hilltop.

“It’s definitely on our list,” Sims said. “We failed at it the last couple of years. That is without a doubt on our list this year.”

If the seniors are able to check this important milestone off their list, the battle to prolong their careers becomes significantly more difficult. Looming in the third round is a matchup with either ACC squad North Carolina State or, more likely, the six-seeded San Diego State, which was ranked in the top 25 for large stretches of the regular season. If the Hoyas can overcome this hurdle, they could face a rematch with 2-seeded Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen.

But all of this is pure conjecture and wishful thinking for Hoya fans unless the team can overcome Belmont on Friday. For a battle-tested senior like Clark, the mindset going in is simple.

“You have to be on your A-game,” he said. “This is really crunch time.”

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Double Teamed: Reviving the Dunk Contesthttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/01/double-teamed-reviving-the-dunk-contest/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/03/01/double-teamed-reviving-the-dunk-contest/#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 04:59:00 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20388 Ideally, the negative publicity generated by the 2012 Dunk Contest will encourage a better product next year, but I’m not optimistic. The props will still be there, and the stars will still opt out.

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I love the Dunk Contest. I always have. The athleticism, anticipation, and excitement are largely unparalleled in sports—that is, when the competition is done right. Thus, as I witnessed the shambles of this year’s edition, I wondered how things could have gone so wrong. Though the contest was created to showcase the league’s most exciting stars for the enjoyment of the fans, it has devolved into an unwatchable charade of high-flying clowns, no more gripping than the trashiest of reality television programming.

Maybe you were still able to enjoy it, but right when TNT analyst Kenny Smith opened by interviewing P. Diddy to plug his new network, it was clear that the evening was heading downhill. Chase Budinger’s Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump costume was good for a quick laugh, but five minutes of build-up to see him dunk over the sub-six foot Diddy was simply a letdown.

I’m not one of these guys who loves to reminisce about growing up watching Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins go head-to-head every year in the ‘80s. I wasn’t even born when those guys were blazing the trail for a whole generation of dunkers. However, I did grow up watching Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and at least a dozen more former and current stars strut their stuff on All-Star Saturday. When you stack those names up against the 2012 field of Chase Budinger, Derrick Williams, Paul George, and Jeremy Evans, there’s no denying the event’s talent has been diluted.

The players, not the league, are at fault for this trend. LeBron James, undoubtedly the most glaring omission from the list of contestants since he entered the league in 2003, sets the precedent for NBA stars to dodge the event. LeBron even announced on television that he would be competing in 2010 before withdrawing his name from the field to allow himself to “rest,” despite mustering the energy to play in the All-Star game the next day. James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade have all shielded themselves under the guise of being self-proclaimed “game dunkers,” which, despite the hollow logic, apparently excuses them from the competition. What LeFraud and his boys are missing is that the dunk contest is not for the players, but for the fans. It’s a way for players to give back for the support they receive throughout the year, not for them to stroke their already ballooning egos.

Furthermore, even with their average ability, this year’s contestants didn’t even seem prepared to compete. Williams took more than ten tries on his final dunk attempt to realize that he was physically incapable of completing the off-the-backboard, between-the-legs move he was trying to do, as if he had never even practiced it. Budinger’s second dunk was an almost identical imitation of a power-windmill done by Williams earlier in the contest, as if he hadn’t been watching or had no backup plan. Not only do the competitors have less ability now, but their approach to the event is disrespectfully haphazard for one of the great NBA traditions.

Yet improving the field of contestants is only part of the problem for the Dunk Contest. The showmanship and props, which used to be tastefully sprinkled into the event, have now overwhelmed it. While it used to be cool to see Gerald Green blow out a birthday candle over the rim or Dwight Howard easily jam on a 12-foot hoop, now almost every dunk needs some kind of gimmick, often subtracting from the overall product. Paul George’s glow-in-the-dark dunk would have been awesome, if he had just taken off the neon Velcro and turned on the lights so people could actually see what happened.

To fix this mess, let’s start with a few basic rules. No more motor vehicles, stickers, costumes, or rap moguls in the Dunk Contest. Period. Instead, let’s give every dunker two or three minutes to just dunk, not once, but however many times and ways they can or want in the allotted time. Not only will this allow “game-dunkers” to just improvise as they would in the run of play, but players won’t have the time or incentive to build excitement with props and gimmicks before ultimately letting us down. Secondly, tell LeBron, D-Rose, and the rest of the “game-dunker” crew that they can’t play in the All-Star game unless they help save the Dunk Contest and partake next year.

Ideally, the negative publicity generated by the 2012 Dunk Contest will encourage a better product next year, but I’m not optimistic. The props will still be there, and the stars will still opt out. The only consolation I can take away from this year’s spectacle is that it probably can’t get any worse. Well, at least let’s hope not.

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Hoyas regroup for Gray Out against Villanovahttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/02/22/hoyas-regroup-for-gray-out-against-villanova/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/02/22/hoyas-regroup-for-gray-out-against-villanova/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2012 03:51:33 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20292 The annual matchup with the Wildcats is always a highly anticipated affair, due to a rivalry that stretches back to 1985, when the heavily favored and No.1-seeded Hoyas led by senior center Patrick Ewing fell in the NCAA Championship to the No. 8-seeded Wildcats

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Tuesday night offered the Georgetown men’s basketball team a cruel reminder of the unpredictability of Big East play. Despite entering their road test with Seton Hall as the No. 8 team in the nation, the Hoyas suffered their worst loss of the season, as the Pirates’ sweet shooting catapulted them to a 73-55 blowout victory.

In fairness to the Hoyas, any team would have had trouble with the Pirates on Tuesday night. Seton Hall shot 61 percent from the field, including a sizzling 8-13 from downtown. Senior point guard Jordan Theodore was un-guardable throughout the contest, connecting on all five of his three-point attempts to finish with a career-high 29 points.

“They played a terrific game,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Jordan Theodore played one of the best games that I’ve seen him play all year… He totally controlled everything, and tonight we just didn’t have any answers for him.”

The Hoyas had little to offer in response to their woes on the offensive end as well. Freshman Greg Whittington led the Hoyas with a pedestrian nine points, as the team shot 40 percent from the field and failed to produce a double-digit scorer for the first time all season. Meanwhile, sophomore point guard Markel Starks had one of the worst games of his career, making just one of nine shots to finish with a total of two points. This kind of struggle extended throughout the Hoyas’s starting five, as they managed only 24 points between them—five fewer than Theodore had by himself.

“I think that the frustration at the defensive end carried over to the offensive end,” Thompson III said. “They shot the cover off of it, and we didn’t respond like we normally do.”

On Saturday, they return to the Verizon Center to take on the struggling Villanova Wildcats (11-16, 4-11 Big East), a team in the midst of their worst season since Head Coach Jay Wright took over the program 11 years ago. While Seton Hall was inspired by their postseason aspirations, the Wildcats have little left to play for other than pride.

Nevertheless, the annual matchup with the Wildcats is always a highly anticipated affair, due to a rivalry that stretches back to 1985, when the heavily favored and No.1-seeded Hoyas led by senior center Patrick Ewing fell in the NCAA Championship to the No. 8-seeded Wildcats in one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history.

But this ‘Nova squad is a far cry from their NCAA Tournament teams of recent years, let alone that miraculous title winner. They are led by two experienced scoring guards in juniors Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek, who average over 30 points per game combined. Yet both stars, as well as the rest of the team, struggle with inefficiency, and the Wildcats have shot an atrocious 41 percent from the field this season, good for 277th in the nation.

The Hoyas will be keen to avoid another upset and as they look to secure a bye in the first two rounds of the Big East Tournament. South Florida has emerged half a game ahead of the Hoyas into the fourth spot after Tuesday’s debacle, but with a difficult schedule ahead for the Bulls, the Hoyas will certainly have the chance to make up ground. Tip-off against the Wildcats is set for 2 p.m. this Saturday at the Verizon Center.

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Carrying On: Longtime hostility against Iranhttp://georgetownvoice.com/2012/02/16/carrying-on-longtime-hostility-against-iran/ http://georgetownvoice.com/2012/02/16/carrying-on-longtime-hostility-against-iran/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 07:56:04 +0000 http://georgetownvoice.com/?p=20266 While watching the Republican debates over the past few months, I’ve been taken aback by the incredibly violent rhetoric that the candidates direct towards Iran. The three main contenders left in the Republican field, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, have all asserted they would use necessary military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center claims that at least 58 percent of Americans agree with the Republican candidates, including half of the nation’s Democrats. As a result, I’ve found myself wondering how Americans can be so eager to start another war after our more than 10-year debacle in Iraq.

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While watching the Republican debates over the past few months, I’ve been taken aback by the incredibly violent rhetoric that the candidates direct towards Iran. The three main contenders left in the Republican field, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, have all asserted they would use necessary military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center claims that at least 58 percent of Americans agree with the Republican candidates, including half of the nation’s Democrats. As a result, I’ve found myself wondering how Americans can be so eager to start another war after our more than 10-year debacle in Iraq.

Thankfully, the same poll revealed that many Americans, approximately 30 percent, staunchly oppose the candidates’ war-mongering ideology, taking lessons from Iraq and a growing sentiment that America overexerts itself in the affairs of other nations. Even Ron Paul, one of the Republican candidates, has recognized the painful short-sightedness of these calls for an intervention in Iran, highlighting the crippling burden on the American taxpayer to fuel our nation’s unequaled “defense” spending and the rapidly declining global perception of America as a just and moral leader of the free world.

And yet, even with his far more rational approach to foreign policy, Mr. Paul often fails to touch on the most crucial nuances of the American-Iranian relationship that lie at the heart of this issue. Though it is easy to see the potential negatives of an American intervention, we consistently fail to apply an Iranian perspective to the issue, which is critical in understanding both why American-Iranian relations continue to deteriorate and why an invasion is a morally bankrupt endeavor.

We are too easily dissuaded from critical thinking about this matter by the American media’s projection of Iran as an irrational and dangerous actor. In reality, Iran’s defiance of the West doesn’t come from an innate hatred of America, Jews, or cooperative foreign policy, but rather from a long history of exploitation of Iran by Western nations.

Much of what opened my eyes to this alternate perspective stems from a long and passionate conversation with an Iranian student while I was studying in London last spring. His uncle had been killed by chemical weapons supplied to Saddam Hussein by American manufacturers during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s, and he was keen to speak with an American about the relationship between our two nations. After explaining Iran’s history of subjection to Western demands, including the crippling sanctions and rhetoric that bombarded his homeland, he made the simple yet profound suggestion that it is Iran who is under an imminent threat—not the United States, Israel, Europe, or the rest of the Middle East.

With my curiosity piqued, I took several courses about Middle Eastern and Islamic history upon my return to Georgetown, hoping to validate the arguments presented to me in that London pub. Coupled with my own research, the startling narrative of Western-Iranian relations opened my eyes to the reason why Iran would be so defiant of the current world order. The more I learned about Iran’s past relations with the West, the more it became clear that the majority of Americans, especially those 58 percent who claim they want to go to war, fundamentally misunderstand this nation, its circumstances, and its people.

In fact, a CIA-led coup was responsible for silencing Iran’s first democratic revolution and reinstituting a monarchy in 1953, or that the United States continually propped up an autocratic regime with financial assistance for the subsequent 26 years until the Iranian Revolution in 1979. During the Iran-Iraq War, the United States worked to tip the war in Iraq’s favor, attacking Iranian oil rigs and naval ships, in addition to allegedly supplying arms and chemical weapons to Saddam.

In recent years, the United States has facilitated an international campaign to sanction Iran for human rights violations and the development of its nuclear program, a strategy that hurts the Iranian people far more than it does the oppressive regime. Meanwhile, the United States has surrounded Iran with dozens of advanced military installations, including a strong presence in the controversial Strait of Hormuz, through which over 20 percent of the world’s oil is transported. The U.S. has also helped train and finance the armies of Iran’s primary regional competitors: Iraq, Turkey ,and Saudi Arabia. Each of these practices was implemented long before Iran possessed nuclear potential, and perhaps Iran wouldn’t be so desperate to go nuclear if it had any sort of assurance of long-term security.

What the West tries to portray as Iranian aggression turns out to be quite the opposite. First and foremost, the Iranian people are interested in self-preservation and self-determination, something they have been deprived of throughout their history until 1979, first as a satellite territory of Middle Eastern empires and then as a puppet state serving Western interests. While it is impossible to condone the regime’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and disenfranchisement of women, it is even more ludicrous to suggest that Iran, which spends one ninety-eighth of what the U.S. spends on defense, needs to be invaded to prevent the proliferation nuclear terrorism or World War III.

Though it may surprise Rick Santorum, the Iranians are no more interested in being blown up than we are. It is time Americans, especially our politicians, realize this misconception, tone down the rhetoric, and seek an equitable relationship with Iran—one that doesn’t curtail their autonomy or diminish their say in global affairs.

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