In this week’s edition of AtD, we debate Donovan McNabb’s comments on African-American quarterbacks, the media’s coverage of baseball steroid scandals and the driving force behind the women’s soccer team’s success. Arts & entertainment editor James Queally, sports editor Allison Singer and correspondent Steve Cohen are the contestants and news editor Brandon Lee is the ref.
1) McNabb said in an HBO interview that African-American quarterbacks are under more pressure to perform well in the NFL. What do you think about his comment? Is it true?
JQ: While I do not agree with McNabb’s comment that African-American quarterbacks are under more pressure to achieve in the NFL, I can at least see where he is coming from. Quarterback has been a predominantly white position for as long as I can remember. When you think of the NFL’s great quarterbacks, you think of names like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Steve Young, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady: all white guys. In the last decade, guys like McNabb, Michael Vick and Steve McNair have emerged as very talented African-American QBs, but until one of them etches their name in the history books alongside the Montana’s and the Manning’s (not Eli) of the world, they will feel more pressure. However, the pressure does not come from the league and its fans. It comes from within, from an inherent desire to break the racial divide at the position.
AS: I don’t feel the media or the NFL puts added pressure on African-American quarterbacks. However, African-American quarterbacks may put added pressure on themselves. McNabb’s comments extend way past football. In sports, in schools and in the workplace, African-Americans have said they feel a constant pressure to perform well in order to break racial stereotypes. If in fact the NFL has discouraged African-Americans from becoming quarterbacks, as McNabb both said in his interview and stood behind afterward, then I can see where he and other African-American quarterbacks feel the pressure comes from.
SC: I do not think this is true by any means. Quarterbacks in general are under more pressure than most players in the NFL whether they are black or white. It depends on the situation that the team is in. Quarterbacks are the leaders on the field. If an offensive unit does not perform well, the first player to be scrutinized is the quarterback. A perfect example of a white quarterback under pressure would be Eli Manning. He is constantly being criticized and being watched closely by the media, fans and coaching staff who are judging him and comparing him to his brother.
BL: Queally gets 3 points. I agree that until an African-American QB puts his name along with Montana and Unitas, they’ll feel more pressure. 2 points to Cohen for saying that quarterbacks in general are scrutinized, regardless of skin color. Allie, there’s more to it than just African-Americans putting pressure on themselves – 1 point.
2) Human growth hormone has been taken by or shipped to Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus. The media and the fans aren’t making a big deal about it, while Barry Bonds is still hated by everyone outside of San Francisco. Why do you think that is?
JQ: Namesake. Come on, in terms of baseball superstardom, who would even mention Ankiel or Glaus in the same breath as the so-called “home run king”? At the time Glaus allegedly used steroids, he was rehabbing from a shoulder injury and playing average to mediocre baseball in Arizona. His All-Star game appearances and World Series ring were already in the past. I’m surprised that Ankiel hasn’t garnered more media attention and hatred considering his re-emergence from the minors was this season’s “feel-good” story. But the fact of the matter is the steroid allegations against Bonds have tarnished what many consider to be the most sacred record in professional sports. Bonds’ notoriety will never allow him to escape the media’s eye and the fans’ eternal ire. Steroids will be his cross to bear for the rest of his life.
AS: Neither Ankiel nor Glaus are about to become the new all-time home run leader. Bonds’ situation was made a big deal by the media because of his impending success. Though there have been instances of steroid use in baseball before – and plenty of them – Bonds was making a run for the record books. Another reason why Ankiel and Glaus aren’t making many headlines is because of the precedent Bonds’ case set. We find out he took steroids and many of us frown upon it, but it doesn’t change the fact that he holds the home run record. Bonds’ story makes it clear that while steroid use is now banned, players cannot be punished for their actions prior to the year the ban was created. Ankiel and Glaus were sent shipments of HGH a year before the ban: case closed. Many outraged fans are bringing up racial discrimination on the part of MLB, but I’d like to think it has much more to do with Bonds’ success and the precedent he set. Hopefully I’m not being too naive.
SC: The reason nobody is paying attention to Glaus and Ankiel is because while they might be good players and great athletes, neither of them are the high profile player that Bonds is. Bonds now holds one of the biggest records in sports. A record that was held by the likes of beloved players like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, who both played baseball at a time when performance enhancing drugs either didn’t exist or weren’t associated with sports. For crying out loud, the Babe broke the record on beer and hot dogs. Bonds tarnished the career home run record and his own reputation and that is why he will be remembered as the head of the steroid scandal more than as the player who owns the career home run record.
BL: All of you mentioned that Glaus and Ankiel aren’t in the same class as Bonds. 3 points to Cohen for mentioning old-time heroes in Ruth and Aaron and that the home run record is one of the biggest records in sports. Queally also mentioned that the home run record may be “the most sacred record in professional sports” and the “feel- good” story of Ankiel – 2 points. Allie, steroids were banned from baseball in 1991, so he can be punished if it can be proven he took them – 1 point.
3) The women’s soccer team is currently 5-0. What is it that makes them play so well? Last year they lost to Wheaton in the NCAA Division III championship. How far will they go this year?
JQ: The Lions are 7-0-1 because of their new offensive formation, which has netted them 33 goals this season while allowing one. They have switched to a 4-3-3 setup, adding an extra attacker, which has allowed them to keep pressure on their opponents. They have been scoring early and often this season, and just like in any sport, if you can get an early jump on your opponents, you can keep them off-balance and out of sync for the rest of the game. In last week’s game, the Lions were up 3-0 before the half, blitzing the Roadrunners with a persistent attack and burying them before they had a chance to get their bearings. If they can keep this pace up, there is no doubt in my mind that the Lions can take the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title and find themselves in position for a National Championship again come the postseason.
AS: Two reasons: a new formation and a solid core of returned players. The new formation adds an extra forward which has consistently opened up a greater number of scoring opportunities, and the coaches and players are raving about its success so far this season. The core of returned players – which includes senior defender Courtney Krol and sophomore forward Briann McDonough, both of whom have been recognized by the NJAC for their efforts this season – brings a wealth of experience to the field. A team bond takes time to form, but most of these girls have played together long enough to know each other’s abilities. The bond will undoubtedly expand to the newer players as the season continues (if it hasn’t already). As for how far the team will go, I say all the way. Why not? If they made it to the NCAA Division III championship last year, they can certainly do it again. Wheaton’s team is having a strong season as well and looks like it’s on the fast track to the championship game, but I say the Lions could take the title this year with their new formation and experienced players. I’m not going to shortchange what is indisputably one of the most successful teams in the division and on campus.
SC: The Lions are playing this well for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons would have to be because of the great play by the Lions’ defense, as well as their sophomore goalie Jessica Clarke. Clarke has only given up one goal in eight games this season. The College’s defense has allowed only 23 shots on goal in those same eight games. I don’t think there is any stopping these girls this year from winning the NCAA Division III championship due to their staggering defense and potent offense, which has outscored opponents 33-2 so far this year.
BL: Allie gets 3 points for mentioning the new formation and the wealth of experience on the team. Experience will be important when the playoffs arrive. 2 points to Queally for mentioning the switch to a 4-3-3 formation and added offensive pressure. Cohen mentions the great wall in Clarke but doesn’t note the formation change – 1 point.