Volume XIV, Issue 3 February 2021
Paly Skate culture, p. 22 @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
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on the cover:
Delaney Ball (‘23) gets some air time on her scooter. “There are no rules in skating or scootering so we can be as creative as we want,” Ball said. Read more on page 22. Cover photo courtesy of Sam Kaplinsky. 2
Boxing vs. MMA: The World of Combat Sports
Sweating with Strava
Paly Skate Culture
A Broke(n) Game
Women on the Rise
High School Superstar
Sports without Fans
Viking Tries Sports Swap
Another Path to Play
The Final Word
47 Zander Darby (‘21) hits an absolute tank. Photo by Jenna Hickey. @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
Ready... Set... |
Sports have returned! After a long break, sports were finally able to start practices. Season one sports consisting of girls tennis, swimming/diving, cross country, and girls golf may have competitions starting as soon as March 15. These sports are allowed to compete in the purple tier. This year there will be no CCS or CIF playoffs. There are three seasons and certain sports can start officially practicing once the county is in that tier. Hopefully we will start to see some games soon. Photo by Jenna Hickey.
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Preparing for the Season
While baseball has started to practice, they are in the third season and can only start once the county is in the red tier. They are making the most of it by scrimmaging each other to prepare for a possible season. The team is split into two cohorts with freshmen and sophomores practicing Tuesdays and Thursdays while the upperclassmen practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday. During practice they focus on game-like situations as well as conditioning to get them ready for games. Photo by Jenna Hickey. @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
One year ago...
One year ago the boys varsity basketball team beat Sequoia High School 47-36 to clinch the CCS Division 1 title. The team also finished 12-0 in league to become the SCAL Champions. They were able to play in CIF but unfortunately lost to Wood High School. Photo by Jenna Hickey.
| FEBRUARY 2021
Volume XIV, Issue 3 February 2021
Viking Magazine Palo Alto High School 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301 650-329-3837 Email contact: email@example.com Viking, a sports magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Advanced Magazine Journalism class, is an open forum for student expression and the discussion of issues of concern to its readership. The Viking is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost. The staff welcomes letters to the editor, but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Advertising in Viking The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with The Viking, please contact the The Viking by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Printing Services 2,500 copies of The Viking are printed, six times a year (barring restrictions due to remote learning) by Folger Graphics in Hayward, Calif. Logo Font Courtesy of Måns Grebäck
EDITORS What’s Up Vikes, After a long winter, we’re back like we never left. Paly athletes have returned to action, putting in work on the practice fields to stay ready for the upcoming seasons. Though the state of competition is still up in the air with SCVAL’s sweeping decision to pull out of CCS (check out our editorial for our feelings on this decision. Hint: we’re not the biggest fans), we are proud to see the Vikes back on the field.
The return of Paly sports to practice has been a big boost for us here at Viking, because we love to write about you guys and your great experiences with sports. Pro sports are cool and all, but Tom Brady winning another Super Bowl or Steph Curry balling out of control aren’t specific to our experience as high school athletes. With the Vikes taking the field, we can get back to the funny and unique stories that make us great. Our cover story this issue covers a side of Paly sports that people don’t often talk about: skateboarding. We have some crazy sick skaters at Paly, and we want to share their talents and experiences with you guys, as well as challenge the often negative perception of skaters and skateboarding counterculture. We also have a story covering the rise of Strava, the fitness app that allows athletes to
track their progress, compare workouts, and talk a little trash. And if you want to see some of our staff members make fools of themselves trying out each other’s sports, check out our “Viking Tries”. Overall we think we put together a rocking issue and want to start out the semester in a big way. We got some big stuff cooking this spring (like our new podcast with some of the boys), and we’re ready to get after it in 2021. This is going to be a big year, and we’re psyched to have you guys along for the ride. Sko Vikes!
James Fetter Sophie Kadifa Luke Thieman
Let Athletes Compete In CCS In March of 2020, as lockdowns put an end to many high school seniors’ spring sports seasons, athletes from the class of 2020 expressed their disappointment in losing out on their last hurrah of high school sports. As is the case with everything about this novel virus sweeping the globe, almost no one would have predicted that this year’s seniors, athletes from the class of 2021, would be put in the same situation. But on January 21, the SCVAL (Santa Clara Valley Athletic League) board of directors voted to withdraw from competition in the CCS and CIF. This decision effectively bars athletes at Paly and the 13 other schools in SCVAL from pursuing the much-coveted CCS and State titles. SCVAL claimed the decision to withdraw from CCS and CIF was justified because it gave athletes in SCVAL an opportunity to play as many sports as possible. The SCVAL board of directors argued that the top priority is to get as
many student-athletes back in action as soon as possible, and Viking appreciates the effort made to jumpstart sports during these trying times. However, this decision was reached without consulting the student-athletes and does not take into consideration their championship aspirations. For seniors, their final season as part of a high school team is almost always the most special. To be denied the chance to compete for CCS and State titles is a slap in the face. What’s more, the current SCVAL threeseason schedule treats all sports with equal value, disregarding the fact that spring sport athletes missed out on last year’s season as well. Spring sport athletes will miss out on an opportunity to compete for CCS and State titles for the second year in a row. With this decision, spring sport athletes from the class of 2021 will miss the postseason for their final two years in high school. Is this really the parting gift we want to give our
seniors in their final semester? Recently, parents and students at Paly have rallied to petition the SCVAL to give spring sport athletes an opportunity to compete in CCS and CIF. Hundreds of emails have been sent in an effort to bring attention to the aspirations of studentathletes so that they may be given an opportunity to prove themselves. Viking urges SCVAL to listen to and consider the pleas of athletes at Paly and other schools in our league. The decision about how the season should be organized should be reached with input from student-athletes, as they are the ones who are most affected by the decision. The SCVAL board of supervisors should work to allow the Spring sports season (Season 3) to start on March 15 like every other spring sport in the state. It is not too late to give our athletes the opportunity they deserve.
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Pop Culture Grid Favorite Place to Travel Lexi Gwyn ‘21 Field Hockey
Favorite Genre of Movie
Can pop thumb out of socket
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning
No secret talents
Spain Danny Peters ‘22 Baseball, Football Oregon
Can do a backflip on ground
Coffee or Energy Drink?
Favorite Music Artist The California Honeydrops
Eva Salvatierra ‘22 Field The Velvet Hockey Underground
Dylan Elfsten ‘23 Basketball
Senior Athlete Favorite Memories
“My favorite memory was winning CCS and going to states for cross country junior year.”
- Katie Cheng (‘21) 12
“My favorite memory would probably be driving to matches with my teammates. One of my old teammates use to have a bus car that would fit 12 people and it was super fun to do carpool karaoke.”
- Myra Xu (‘21)
“My favorite sports memory at Paly was carpooling with my teammates to Gatos, having our pregame ‘Shots’ mosh in the locker room, and then beating them in just 3 sets.”
- Hyunah Roh (‘21)
10 Questions With
Viking Magazine had the chance to ask Paly girls’ volleyball player Kylie Mies (‘21) 10 Questions. We then asked her sister, teammate and friend what they thought she said. Here are their responses...
as told to AIDAN BERGER and JUSTIN BYER
Kylie Mies ‘21 Volleyball
Sophie Mies Sister
Hailey Callan ‘22 Teammate
Sukhman Sahota ‘21 Friend
Questions Hillary Cheung
Dogs or Cats?
Favorite Weekend Activity?
Mr. Peabody and Sherman
Best Class at Paly?
Favorite Team to Play?
Teaspoon or Boba Guys?
Pre Game Snack?
Glass of Milk
| OCTOBER 2020
The state of California has implemented tiers to help provide a guideline for the risk level in each county. Depending on the tier, certain sports are allowed to play and begin their season. Below is a layout of which given sports can start at each tier. The state of California has recently updated these guidelines, but as of February 21 Santa Clara County has not given a statement about new changes.
COVID PURPLE TIER CROSS COUNTRY GOLF TENNIS SWIMMING AND DIVING TRACK AND FIELD
RED TIER FIELD HOCKEY BASEBALL SOFTBALL GIRLS LACROSSE
ORANGE TIER FOOTBALL BADMINTON SOCCER VOLLEYBALL WATER POLO BOYS LACROSSE GYMNASTICS
YELLOW TIER CHEER BASKETBALL WRESTLING
Photos by Jenna Hickey
weird to not be able “ Ittoiscome in contact with my teammates, but any chance to be with them and play, I’ll take. ” - Zander Darby (‘21) Baseball
It’s great to get the “ opportunity to play again and to socialize with my teammates. - Noelle Burwell (‘21) Tennis
The World of Combat Sports by JAKE FOSTER, ZACH HAYWARD and ADAR SCHWARZBACH Photo illustration by ADAR SCHWARZBACH Combat sports are no place for the weak of heart. Traditionally, when fighters step into the ring or the Octagon, they enter a battle of life and death. Two of the most well-known combat sports are boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA). While in recent years MMA has remained competitive and loaded with fierce rivalries, boxing has undergone a transition from focusing on pure competition to only revolving around entertainment and money. In this story, Viking dives into the world of combat sports, analyzing their current and former states. @vikingsportsmag
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Photos courtesy of Creative Commons
packed arena overflows with raucous fans crowded around a 20 by 20 foot square ring. Entrapped within the ring’s ropes stand two glove-clad fighters, mercilessly trading blows. The sounds of the gloves hitting home on the opponent’s body are drowned out by the electrifying screams of the crowd. A true test of strength, character, and toughness, boxing combines worldclass athletes, brutal combat, and engrossing entertainment like no other sport. Boxing has been a popular sport for hundreds of years, taking root in the U.S. in the late 1700s. However, it was not until the rise of the legendary Muhammad Ali that the sport became a worldwide phenomenon, drawing fans of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. Ali began his boxing journey at age 12, when he vowed to take physical revenge on the man who stole his bicycle. This single, seemingly insignificant incident jump started Ali’s amateur boxing career, which saw him gain 100 wins and win two national Golden Glove titles by the time he was 18. Ali’s pro career resulted in 56 wins, 5 losses, and 37 knockouts, and his fights drew global appeal as well as helped bring about the “golden age of boxing” in the 1960s. Despite the money and fame that he gained, Ali remained humble and true to the sport’s core principles, as he fought for honor and respect. “The golden age of boxing” brought about by Ali’s legendary career led to a mass popularization of the sport, and the rise of new, younger, stars. One of these stars was Mike Tyson, who began his career vowing to avenge an Ali loss by defeating the same man who bested Ali. At first, Tyson fought for the same reasons that Ali and other boxers of his era did — the principles of dignity, respect, and honoring the game still reigned supreme. However, as Tyson rose through the ranks and rapidly
gained fame through his brutally quick and vicious knockouts, his motives changed. “Iron Mike” became entranced by money and fame, evidence of a clear shift in the sport of boxing. Opposed to the foundational morals of boxing, the sport increasingly became more about the paycheck and the flashing lights than anything else. After Tyson and the boxing culture transition of the 1990s, the boxers that followed represented a mix of the old and new customs. Some of the most successful of these new-age boxers were Manny Pacquiao and Floyd “Money” Mayweather, who currently has an undefeated record of 50-0. These boxers fought and still fight with the purpose of preserving their legacies and gaining respect, but also for the money, fame, and notoriety that comes with pro boxing. The culture of boxing has clearly undergone serious changes since its inception. The boxing climate of today is significantly different from the respective eras of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather. This can largely be attributed to the rise of “celebrity boxing.” What started as a way for YouTubers to settle online disputes by hashing it out in the ring has now created a completely new face for boxing. This revolution of entertainers who declare themselves “professional boxers” gained popularity when famous online personalities Logan Paul and KSI stepped in the ring for a 2018 bout that was purely for entertainment. A year later, a rematch between the two sold out the 20,000 person capacity Staples Center. It became clear that the legitimacy of boxing had taken a complete turn. Instead of trained, skilled fighters battling it out for glory, seemingly anyone with a name and following could enter the ring to attract fame and money. Boxing was now more than ever an industry revolving around entertainment, where people tuned
into fights merely for the fighters and not the game itself. A few years after the upsurge of celebrity boxing, the sport’s culture continues to shift towards entertainment. What was previously a battle of gladiators has now increasingly become an engine for creating and settling social media disputes. A key stimulator of this new trend of boxing has been Jake Paul, an extremely controversial YouTuber and social media personality. Unlike many of the professional boxers who came before him, Paul has minimal training and experience, and utilizes his name and wealth to generate popularity for fights. Last November, Paul and former NBA star Nate Robinson brought their online feud into the ring, fighting as the co-main event to the return of Mike Tyson. At the time, Paul was 1-0 in “professional” boxing matches, while Robinson only had a few months of limited fighting experience. Paul brutally knocked out Robinson early in the second round, effectively breaking the internet and sending waves through the boxing world. While it is customary for fighters to win graciously, Paul took his win over an underskilled and inferior opponent and claimed that he was “the biggest prize fighter on the planet”. He then proceeded to call out big-name fighters, notably Conner McGregor and his understudy Dillon Danis, to fight him, a bold move for a fighter with a single professional win. Paul’s antics represent the difference between the current state of boxing and the sport of old. Instead of fighters being humble and competing for their love of the game, many of the fighters of today, like Paul, only enter the ring to generate must-see TV and leave with a bag of money. The boxing and entertainment industries have become increasingly intertwined, begging the question of how long it will be until the original core principles of boxing disappear – forever.
Competition in the Cage
t the same time that Mike Tyson was becoming the most feared man in boxing, another combat sport was in its infancy. In 1993, while Mike Tyson was in jail plotting his comeback, the UFC held its first event. In the 28 years since, the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) have steadily grown into a global phenomenon. Although boxing still generates more revenue, MMA is on a fast track to eclipse its combat sport counterpart, and is already the leader in terms of pure competition within combat sports. But the question is, why? January 23: the return of Connor McGregor, one of the most polarizing figures in all of professional athletics. The fight, pitting McGregor against Dustin Poirer, reportedly tied for the secondmost pay-per-view buys in UFC history. However, it did not go as planned for McGregor. Poirer employed a masterful strategy, utilizing low calf kicks, to systematically dismantle McGregor before handing him the first knockout loss of his career. While shocking, the aftermath of McGregor’s stunning defeat helps highlight the differences in boxing and MMA culture. In every competitive sport, the loss is an accepted part of the game. In most sports, a team’s record is reset at the end of the season and they begin the next year 0-0. This acts as a way to give these teams a new beginning. In combat sports however, a fighter’s record lives on with them for their entire career. If a fighter loses their first fight, years before they even reach a major promotion like the UFC or Bellator, that loss will always be displayed on their record. In MMA, fans understand that loss is a natural byproduct of competition. Half of the fighters on the card will take a loss on any given Saturday. It is accepted that fighters don’t have a chance to “reset” their records like in other pro sports. In boxing though, this simple rule of competition is not accepted. If a fighter takes even a single loss, promoters will blacklist them, and the fans will no longer tune-in. To remain relevant following
the defeat, a boxer must already have already been competing for world championships. Because of boxing’s inability to accept failures, promoters will take promising young fighters and get them 20 fights with untalented opponents, just to pump them up to a perfect 20-0 record. This number, 20-0, is the unspoken standard at which a promoter can now create a sense of false legitimacy around an athlete and market them as “the next big thing.” This destroys any sort of competitive architecture that would allow fighters to rise through the ranks and establish a clear and fair pecking order. With the so-called “best” fighters refusing to risk their “0” in the loss column, boxing is unable to match up its best fighters and show who’s truly at the top of the sport. However, this standard isn’t true in w. Coming into January 23, Connor McGregor had a record of 22-4. Jorge Masvidal, the 2019 fighter of the year, currently holds a professional record of 35-14-2. In fact, only one fighter in the history of the sport has ever been deemed to have an undefeated record: Khabib Nurgadamedov. So why does all this matter? In short, by allowing competitors to remain relevant even in defeat, MMA can put on the most competitive fights available within the sport, because fighters do not fear that defeat will lose them their livelihoods. One thing MMA and Boxing have in common is the card system. The card is the series of fights that happen at a given event, culminating in the main event. Both sports also employ an undercard, consisting of lesser known, younger fighters. The undercard is made up of three fights, but is rarely watched. When it comes to fighter pay, the disparity only grows. Figures can be even more lopsided with the two fighters in the main event walking away with up to 70 times as much cash as the six undercard fighters combined. When so little attention is paid to the undercard, it’s hard to build up the sport’s next crop of talent. MMA understands
that to build for the future, their young fighters need a platform. The average UFC card has 14 bouts, eight on the “prelims” or undercard, and six on the main card. With more opportunities to be seen by fans, even the casual viewer can’t help but pick up the names of a few up and coming fighters, making it that much easier for MMA to develop new stars. In the world of professional athletics, the pay-per-view model is used only by combat sports. In essence, a fan has to pay a fee for every event they would like to watch. Boxing and MMA pay per view range from $50-100 for a given event. Considering this is a pretty hefty price tag for just one night’s worth of entertainment, it can be hard to draw in new fans. In boxing, every single notable event (with a few exceptions) is a payper-view. In MMA, pay-per-view events happen at most once per month, with quality fights being live-streamed at least 2-4 times a month. The net of this all is that once again, MMA is able to get more eyes on their product. Casual fans can be more easily indoctrinated into the sport, picking out fighters to root for without having to pay exorbitant fees to see them. All told, boxing and MMA are the two premier professional combat sports. Will boxing fans still tune in to watch true competitors like Canelo, Fury, Wilder, and Crawford? Yes, undoubtedly so. But in the modern era of boxing, the new viewers’ first experience with the sport is much more likely to be the product of yet another experiment with celebrity boxing. Although in the short term this might be profitable, it is not a sustainable business model for long-term industry growth. MMA’s ability to learn from some of boxing’s pitfalls, like undervaluing prelim fights, or not forgiving fighters for losses, has allowed the sport to continue down the path of competitiveness. Because fighters compete against the best and have a spotlight even as rookies, MMA is able to build for the future and put itself on track to become the world’s leading combat sport.
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CAN THESE ATHLETES KEEP THEIR RECORD(S) ON LOCK?
CONSECUTIVE WINS IN WOMEN’S BEACH VOLLEYBALL
MISTY MAY-TREANOR & KERRI WALSH JENNINGS Michael Phelps is hands down the most well known swimmer of all time and has recorded 23 Olympic gold medals— plus three silver and two bronze—in four Olympic Games from 2004 to 2016. Despite Phelps holding many Olympic records in individual races, we consider his most prominent record the amount of Olympic gold medals ever won. We believe this record can be considered unbreakable because the runner up only has nine gold Olympic medals.
OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS IN MENS SWIMMING
The numbers behind Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in beach volleyball are almost untouchable. Known as probably the best women’s duo in beach volleyball history, they have three consecutive Olympics gold medals and 21 consecutive wins. The two strong women have been dominant athletes and outstanding role models for young women worldwide.
For more than three decades, Hank Aaron was known for hitting the most home runs in MLB history and breaking almost all of Babe Ruth’s records. Even though most of the records he held have been topped today by some other current or recently retired MLB athletes, Aaron still holds the MLB record for the most career runs batted in (RBI) at 2,297. We reflect on his victories to honor his raw talent and dedication to the game of baseball, as Aaron died on January 2.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL CONSECUTIVE WINS
UCONN WBB 18
The UConn women’s basketball team holds the record for the longest winning game streak. The 111 game winning streak spread over almost three years, with two National titles won. The Huskies streak started with a 96-90 win against Creighton on November 23, 2014, and it was ended three years later by Mississippi State during a March Madness tournament. As the competition level for division one women’s basketball has increased tremendously, more top recruits want to establish their legacy at other top universities. Therefore, we may never see a single program as talented as UConn. |
MOST RBI’s IN MLB BY SINGLE PLAYER
by EVE DEGERONIMO, HANA ERICKSON and ANNIKA SHAH All photos courtesy of Creative Commons
TOTAL NFL RECEIVING YARDS BY A SINGLE PLAYER
JERRY RICE 49er legend Jerry Rice holds the record for most career receiving yards at 22,895 yards. Even with the NFL increasing its emphasis on the passing game, no current wide receiver is anywhere close to Rice’s impressive numbers. Rice retired at age 42, which is rare for wide receivers. Yet, throughout his 20 NFL seasons, he was lucky enough to be led by Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks throughout his entire career.
FASTEST GIRLS CCS 100-YARD FLY
AT LEAST ONE GRAND SLAM IN 3 DIFFERENT DECADES
SERENA WILLIAMS Serena Williams is the only female tennis player who has won one grand slam in three different decades. Those include the 1999 U.S. Open, 10 grand slam titles between 2001 and 2010, and 12 grand slams from 2010 to 2020. The record she holds may be unbreakable because Serena can potentially extend her grand slam wins into four decades, as she has said that she doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.
Paly alum Jasmine Tosky set the Central Coast Section (CCS) record for the 100-yard fly at the 2011 CCS Championship when hitting 51.92 seconds during prelims, beating Misty Hyman, the previous record holder that she set in 1996. That same year, Tosky was named Swimming World Female High School Co-Swimmer of the Year. After graduating from Palo Alto High School, she continued her career at USC. She was an All-American and Pac-12 finalist many times, and also went to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she was a finalist in the 200 meter individual medley and won gold at the 2011 FINA World Championships as part of the 800 meter free relay.
REED MERRITT CCS DIVING
Pa l y alum Reed RECORD Merritt won league all f o u r years at high school. He set the Central Coast Section (CCS) record in diving during his senior year with a score of 594.90 for 11 dives. He beat his school record with 559.90 points from the season before. After Paly, Merritt attended the University of Texas in Austin to dive and study Aerospace Engineering. He accomplished a lot as a Longhorn, with his most prominent being a 2019 NCAA Championship qualifier and placing eighth on onemeter at the 2018 USA Senior National Championships. @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
SWEATING with STRAVA by HENRY BOLTE, JOSH BUTLER and LIAM NAGESH Strava is a unique fitness app that is used by many Paly athletes to track their workouts. The use of the app has exploded during the pandemic.
t’s New Year’s Eve. Fireworks light up the sky and many turn to a night of celebration. Despite the care-free nature of these festivities, there is a serious side to the night: your New Year’s resolution. Most likely, you decided to make it your New Year’s Resolution to lose some more weight and become more active, quite a common one (there’s a reason there are so many Peloton ads around Christmas time). Fast forward to today. Have you been sitting in the warm confines of your home watching Bridgerton or jogging like you promised yourself you would? It’s understandable that you haven’t kept to your resolutions, m a n y people fail to do so.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Miller
However, if you truly don’t want to spend back again, and now practices have, for next year making the same resolution the most part, resumed. However, there to maybe lose some pounds, you must are significant restrictions and most download Strava. students have limited hope of actually If you’ve ever found yourself competing this year. Because of the unmotivated to go on a run or track your upheaval and chaos in school athletics, exercise in a more analytical way, then you many students have turned to working have to join a out with the aid multitude of of Strava, citing Paly athletes the positives and download of being able “[Strava] enforces the Strava. to track their S t r a v a , progress and idea that running more the selfkeep them miles, no matter the proclaimed accountable to social network their fitness. quality, is a good thing.” for athletes, “Since dance -Jimmy Miller (‘22) has combined practice is social media not in person with fitness, a n y m o r e garnering a and isn’t as large user effective, I’ve base. Boasting started to do more than simple GPS technology, the more at home stuff,” Riley Herron (‘22) app allows athletes to track all sorts of said. “I think a lot more people, like data, such as heart rate, overall effort and me and my friend have started using speed. [Strava] during this quarantine to try and Additionally, Strava allows you to stay active when things aren’t in person challenge yourself by competing with anymore.” others, completing challenges or hitting While Strava is a fitness app, it allows new milestones. Whether creating art by you to track your friends runs or bike traveling along certain routes or chasing rides and give them “kudos”, effectively the King/Queen of the Mountain (the creating an online community for athletes award given to an athlete with the fastest amongst its 55 million users. time for a given segment of a route) “The app is super cool because it’s like what was once the chore of exercise a social media platform and you can has transformed into a competitive, fun see what kinds of stuff other people are adventure. doing and get inspiration,” Herron said. The fall season for Paly athletics has Strava has especially seen a meteoric been pushed back, stopped, pushed rise in popularity during the seemingly
never-ending pandemic. A lot of people, a more expensive activity such as cycling, especially teenagers like cross country the app does these individuals no favors. runner Jimmy Miller (‘22), have capitalized Strava offers a free service, but also a on the amount of free time they would subscription package that allows users normally have spent socializing working to view segment analysis and your suffer out. With Strava, users gain access to score, which helps you know when to new and exciting take off days. routes, document Further, the their work outs, app works and track their best with a “More people have started progress and smart watch, fitness levels. of which using [Strava] during “I like Strava the range quarantine to stay active because it in price is simplifies the between when things aren’t in process of $200 and person anymore. tracking my $ 1 , 0 0 0 . miles run each While Miller -Riley Herron (‘22) week,” Miller does use a said. “Others watch, he I know love thinks the Strava because it paid features motivates you when someone gives you for Strava are non-essential, and he kudos.” himself opts to use the free version. However, the app is not without its Aside from the financial costs, the social downsides. While there are already media aspect of the app does present systemic barriers that prevent people of some negatives. Miller is especially lower economic status from engaging in concerned with the performative nature
of some workouts. “[Strava] enforces the idea that running more miles, no matter the quality, is a good thing. This can lead to the association between high mileage and success on race day, which doesn’t exclusively correlate, especially for younger runners,” Miller said. Despite these drawbacks, the app is still seen favorably by Herron, who cited the app as integral to her motivation and keeping her active during the extended period of restrictions, a point Miller echoed. “Runners or non-runners, especially those looking for a way to hold themselves accountable to working out, should use Strava,” Miller said. With so much uncertainty in the world today, it’s nice to find certainty and routine with Strava. What are you doing at home reading this instead of running like you said you would? Go download Strava and start collecting some kudos.
Using Strava’s GPS tracking technology, James Fetter (‘21) developed his artistic talents by creating this battleship. @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
culture by PARKER BATES, IAN COMEY and RYAN LEONG Photo by Ryan Leong 22
n a typical Saturday afternoon, kids pile into the skate park on the outskirts of Greer Park in Palo Alto. Young men and women in baggy cargo pants, jeans and graphic t-shirts whiz by on wheels, dropping confidently into the bowl. Gliding around the park’s smooth and graffiti concrete, they execute elaborate tricks with ease and certainty. Despite the differences that may separate them outside the park, they come together for hours at a time for their shared love of skating. It has long been known that the attention of mainstream sports is dominated by the popularity of basketball and football. As a result, several other sports are left out of the spotlight, operating in a niche corner of athletic competition. Though these sports often remain out of the
public eye, the technical skill required to excel in them undeniably matches up with that of football and basketball. One such sport is skateboarding, and it’s beginning to break out of its niche and into the mainstream. Not just through national and Olympic competition, but through modern pop culture as well. It can be as extremely casual or as fiercely competitive as it wants. The negative stereotypes attached to it are beginning to fade away, and millions of people are gleefully participating and watching it. Since its inception in the 1950s, skateboarding has evolved significantly in the last seventy years. Until 1959, early enthusiasts of the sport were forced to make their own skateboards due to the lack of commercial products. Though this might be seen as a step back, it
“it’s an escape, and has the power
it makes us all happy,
to distract us we have going on.” - Owen Rice '22
spurred the creativity and freedom that exists at the core of skateboarding. Some made their skateboards with homemade crates of wood with roller derby skates attached at the bottom, while others opted to use wooden pallets with clay wheels. There were no boundaries and no limits to what one could do with their board. This carefree attitude, integral to the identity of skating, has continued on to this day most notably in the tricks that only talented skateboarders can pull off. Skateboarders have even adopted their own language over time to describe the various tricks and moves one can perform. Words like kick flip, heel flip, front side 180, and power sliding may not come as common knowledge to most, but are considered second nature to the kids at the local skate park. One of the most commonly known tricks is referred to as the “Ollie”. From the outside looking in, it looks exceedingly simple. You push down on the back end of the board and use your other foot to slide up on the board, causing you to hop into the air for a brief moment and land to the sound of a satisfying pop. But once you step onto the board and feel the grip tape securing your feet, the simple trick becomes a lot more daunting. You need coordination, timing, and finesse to pull it off smoothly. Anyone can push the board and ride it down their driveway, but the skill ceiling of skating requires another level of
Photo by Ryan Leong @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
dedication and practice that rivals that she was around 13 years old and first of the most intensive sports. However, started off learning tricks from youtube. despite the high level of skill and In her experience, scooter culture and creativity present within skating, there skate culture have similarities. remains push back from the mainstream “Skating and scootering has influenced audience. For the longest time, fashion, music, and even how we skateboarders were looked at as nothing talk. There are no rules in skating or more than groups of lazy, uneducated, scootering so we can be as creative as punk kids, who had the wrong priorities we want and do basically whatever we in life. Paly senior and avid skateboarder want,” Ball said. Sam Mutz, describes his view and Ball influences her style around experience of these stereotypes. skate culture and finds “There definitely is a stereotype about creativity in all aspects skateboarders that can be easily broken, of skate and scooter but it definitely exists because of people culture. Since there that aren’t very familiar with the culture,” aren’t any rules or any Mutz said. ways that skateboarders And while negative stereotypes have to specifically do about skateboarding still exist today, something, the world is people have begun to appreciate and their playground. Skateboarders can change their preconceived notions of now create videos to post online that skateboarding. Skateboarding icons showcase their creativity. like Tony Hawk have helped progress “Scootering is a work of art because skateboarding and move past old there are no rules. You have to be stereotypes. Fast forward to present day, creative and do things that other people and skating has seen unprecedented would never think about,” Ball said. levels of mainstream media attention Junior Owen Rice, an avid skateboarder with more and more people being like Mutz, shares similar ideas about the exposed to the raw beauty of skating. creativity of skating. “Skateboarding as a whole could be “Skateboarding is so many things, so described as an art, but there are art forms many people, and so complex that within every aspect of skateboarding,” it is very hard to define,” Rice said. Mutz said. “Most importantly to many including Katherine Thomsen ('22) also finds the myself, it’s an escape, it makes us all beauty in skateboarding and is intrigued happy, and has the power to distract us by different styles of skating. from whatever we have going on.” “I definitely see skating as an art form, While the clothing and board choice of everybody skater has a different style, skaters might seem as obvious forms of that’s what I love about it,” Thomsen said. artistic expression, many skaters will tell Another major aspect of skateboarding you that because of how much time and are the accessories and gear that help effort skateboarders put into their craft, skateboarders express themselves. Some the biggest artistic expressions are the ways that Mutz and other skateboarders express themselves is through the board that they ride, the wheels that they put on that board, and the clothes that they wear. “It’s a custom fit to who you are and what kind of skater you want to be. What you wear is a reflection of your personality and even how you skateboard,” Mutz said. Similar to Mutz, sophomore Delaney Ball has taken up an adjacent sport, scootering, and was intrigued by the different aspects of this unique sport. Ball started scootering when Photo Courtesy of Delaney Ball 24
things that you don’t see at first glance. In s kat eb oard ing, while the tricks that do the most flips and spins seem the coolest, the ones that are done with the best style are the ones that amaze skateboarders around the world. “Specifically your style, is something that you control,” Mutz said. “It’s very specific and if you watch skateboarding for a long time, you can really notice differences in Photo by Ryan Leong people’s style and that becomes what people notice. Not necessarily disregarding what tricks you are doing, but on top of that, how you are doing them and the creativity within them.” Mutz’s love for skateboarding and the artistic values that it offers is something that he and countless other skateboarders
can’t seem to get enough of, and is why he, alongside other skaters, continue to work on their craft every single day. “There are just so many ways to express who you are and that really is what art is to me,” Mutz said. Skateboarders of this generation are constantly redefining the narrative that has been surrounding them ever since it became popular decades ago. What used to evoke a negative stereotype is changing profusely as more and more young kids are becoming interested in skating as a creative outlet. The recent upsurge is being recognized by the public eye and is undoubtedly resulting in a positive response that has never been seen before. Skating is not easy and requires practice as any pro-sport does. Encouraging kids to hop on a skateboard is just as beneficial to their mental and physical state as picking up a basketball or jumping in the pool. As the pandemic continues and sports are kept under strict regulations, skating can be a perfect way to stay safe and enjoy the outdoors. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t “Ollie” on your first day, practice makes perfect and success lies between you and your board.
“There are no rules in skating or scootering so we can be as creative as we want and
do basically whatever we want.”
-Delaney Ball '23
Photo courtesy of Katherine Thomsen @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
A BROKE(N) GAME The toxic spending culture plaguing athletes
Professional athletes earn exorbitant salaries, but a remarkable number of players have financial challenges within a few years of retirement. What currently exists to combat this cycle? Why aren’t the current efforts enough and what changes can be made to give athletes long term financial security?
by DAVID GORMLEY, GREG LAURSEN and ROEI ZIV Art by GREG LAURSEN
hy do professional athletes, some of the highest paid people in the world, disproportionately go bankrupt? It’s easy to look at players who have made extravagant or frivolous purchases and dismiss their financial woes as a result of nothing more than poor decision making. However, the reality is that the unique career path, nature, and culture of pro athletes poses a number of challenges to their long term success. A primary obstacle that athletes face 26
for financial well being is their short and volatile careers. A typical pro athlete spends about 10 years in the league, but in some sports, such as the NFL, that number goes down to three years. While their earnings are far greater than the average worker, their careers can be ten or more times shorter. The challenge of a brief career is twofold; not only are athletes making money for a shorter period of time, but their earnings need to stretch across a much longer retirement period. According to CNBC,
around 78% of NFL players go broke or struggle financially within two years of their retirement. Consistency also poses a challenge for athletes. An injury or cut notice could occur at any time and end a player’s cash flow permanently, which would force them to entirely restructure their financial plans. To make matters worse, many players lack the education or experience to pursue viable careers outside of sports if their playing careers fail to pan out. Mark Ogden, for example, was destined
Mike Tyson famously purchased a white bengal tiger
to be the next big thing in the NBA when to poor decision making. In an article for players are particularly susceptible given he was drafted in 2007 by the Portland RBC Wealth Management, Jay Liberman their youth and ignorance. Trail Blazers over Kevin Durant. said he believes that this is a primary Perhaps the largest hurdle for athletes However, a obstacle between is the culture surrounding spending for series of injuries athletes and sound pro players. Athletes are in the show “Vast sums of inhibited his decision making. business and are expected to live lavish money flow in when rise to stardom, “Some of them lifestyles. There is competition off the as he only come into money field to outdo on-field rivals with grander the athlete has managed to at the age of 18,” houses, flashier cars, and jewelry with the least financial play 101 games Liberman said. “It’s even more bling. This may seem like in the league. almost inconceivable nothing more than peer pressure, but it know-how” He was primed that anyone that age becomes problematic when combined to make a would have a good set with the confluence of their extreme fortune, but of financial skills.” youth and large salaries as it incentivizes retired with little to The competitive the excessive spending and lifestyle that show for it. nature of pro athletes also poses is simply impossible to maintain. Perhaps the most unique quality of challenges to their financial security. Another cultural challenge is the ‘thank a professional athlete’s career arc is An unrelenting desire to win often you’ purchase. It’s common for athletes that they enjoy a rapid increase in net extends beyond the field. Competition to give extravagant gifts to those who worth at the beginning of their career. for the flashiest car or p i e c e helped them along the way, but many Typically, healthy financial habits are of jewelry rarely are too generous acquired over time and peak as the leads to responsible with their money. “Actively earning worker’s salary is peaking at the end purchases. Gambling While there is money mitigates the certainly of their career. In sports, the opposite addictions also run value occurs. Vast sums of money flow in when rampant throughout in getting one’s perceived damage the athlete has the least financial know- pro leagues as parents into a nicer of excessive how. For many people, taking calculated athletes are enabled neighborhood financial risks is healthy at the beginning by their own with a new house, spending” of their career, but for athletes a risk that fortunes. Michael oftentimes there fails to pay out can be catastrophic. For Jordan, Pete Rose, are too many athletes, it sometimes only takes a few and Charles Barkley all people who feel poor choices to squander a fortune. A famously suffered from an addiction to like they deserve a slice of the pie. For restaurant venture under one’s name gambling. According to Barclay Palmer young athletes with a poor conception of sounds enticing, but a failure could have from Investopedia.com, athletes who money and value, it’s easy to pay a little detrimental consequences on future lose it all often share similar tendencies. too much back to a few too many people. financial stability. Bankruptcy is frequently accompanied by Lastly, the pro athlete culture is filled Oftentimes, the nature of players substance abuse and domestic violence with conning people who don’t have the themselves poses a challenge to financial among pro players. Lots of money can best interests of the athletes at heart. Far success. Many are young and are prone lead to big financial errors and pro too often, players fail to consult advisors @vikingsportsmag
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NBA star Anthony Davis attends the league’s Rookie Transition Program in 2012
before putting their name on a new restaurant venture or a business plan that is typically riskier than the players perceive it to be. Sometimes fellow athletes present the riskiest propositions. An early mistake at the hands of a con man can be financially devastating. During an athlete’s career, actively earning money mitigates the perceived damage of any of the aforementioned forms of spending because players will typically remain out of debt. However, it is challenging to regress and spend less lavishly later in life when the players need to make their money stretch. This is why athletes often stay out of financial trouble during their careers but fall into debt within a few years of their retirement. Perhaps most troubling is that athletes are equally likely to go bankrupt no
By The Numbers
50 2 78
Million dollars: the amount of money lost gambling by former Pro Golfer John Daly Million dollars spent on a watch by UFC fighter Conor McGregor Percent of NFL players have financial difficulties within a few years of retirement
matter how long they play or how much are important for athletes. The program they earn in their careers. All-stars with focuses on breaking down broad strokes long illustrious careers are just as likely topics alluding to the keys of a long to fall into debt as their second or third and healthy career as well as life after string backups. This suggests that athlete basketball. spending is not proportional to needs, as The RTP is a four day seminar, with most would agree almost all pro players panels of guest teachers including current have their basic necessities covered, and former NBA players that talk about but proportional to the s a l a r i e s their own experiences and mistakes. themselves. That is, Rookies listen to the spending for the information given “The RTP was started similar to if it was a sake of spending. The unique nature in 1986, yet- still 60% college class, except of the professional of NBA players will it is a year’s worth of athlete, their salary, material squeezed go broke within five into four days of and culture make long term financial instruction. years of retiring” success challenging. While financial But as much as literacy is a topic we hear about the during this seminar, stories of devastating losses, we rarely it is likely washed out by the multitude acknowledge the success stories. of concepts about dieting, nutrition, Thousands of athletes live luxurious lives relationships, and more. It does not without worry of financial ruin. Many even seem likely that anyone would be able grow their net worth during retirement to develop a deep understanding of a through careful investment and saving. topic, particularly financial management, More players deserve to live comfortable in just four days. lives given the sacrifices they have made, It is not clear as to what financial which begs the question: What currently management classes are available after exists to break the cycle of broke the Rookie Transition Program. Individual athletes? teams are supposedly responsible The most prominent form of financial to touch on the topic of financial education for professional athletes management unofficially. The NBA comes from the NBA. In the league, and NBPA (National Basketball Players the main solution for the financial Association) state that there are lessons management crisis is the Rookie given throughout the year, but no official Transition Program (RTP). times or transcripts are released. Players The RTP provides newly drafted can also opt into taking a year long course players with a course that covers a taught by Jamila Wideman, the NBA’s variety of subjects that the league feels Vice President of Player Development,
but these courses are not required. of evidence, it is time to shine light on Professional athletes’ contracts are the negligence of professional and lengthy and often include confusing collegiate sports leagues when it comes language about signing bonuses, to the lack of education about financial timelines and deal-breakers. It becomes management. difficult for players to realize what they Given the financial challenges that pro owe for taxes and other payments, which players face, there is no straightforward can cause them to have a false sense of solution that would create more the money in their pockets. Players are responsible athletes with the snap of a often supposed to find an agency to finger, particularly considering the depth represent them and help manage their of the problem. However, there are steps salaries, but oftentimes rookies, high on that can be taken now in order to ensure the feeling of receiving a multi-million long-term financial stability for players. dollar contract, are taken advantage The main aspects of an athlete’s life of by these sports that may be management causing a lack of “Current athletes play financial literacy agencies. The RTP, which a role in creating an comes down to a has been around spending-heavy environment where culture and a for 30 years, fails to educate rookie future stars are primed lack of financial players on the tion for long-term success” ein d u c acollege complexity and importance of their programs and personal finances. the professional This sets players up for a lifetime leagues. of financial struggle and fighting to stay First, without a change in culture, out of bankruptcy. The RTP was started in success is unfeasible. Aspiring athletes 1986, yet still 60% of NBA players will go see their favorite players flaunting their broke within five years of retiring. new New York City penthouse, or their The percentage of athletes who go new, million dollar watch. This is not to broke make it clear that the RTP, the say that professional athletes should not best financial program in all of pro be allowed to flex the items they earned, athletics, does not work. After decades but rather that prominent figures in the
Percent of NBA players who go broke within five years of retirement Days: the maximum time that NBA players receive financial literacy training Percent of American universities require students to take finacial literacy courses
sports world, who are role models to so many, should talk publicly about the importance of being responsible with your money. Current athletes play a role in creating an environment where future stars are primed for long-term success. This change has to start by leaders of sports organizations at the college and professional levels. These organizations need to not only recognize that this is a serious issue that needs addressing now, but also to start to take real steps to strive for change. The NCAA must mandate a certain level of financial literacy for an athlete to be eligible to play in college. There are far too many athletes who leave their respective universities after a little over
“I think it’s important for young people to really understand how to spend money — including how to better self-evaluate needs and wants — to make truly informed decisions versus spending from pure emotion.” - Serena Williams in NBC News
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“It was his uncles who taught him about saving money: ‘If they gave me a dollar, they’d be like, ’Nephew, just spend 35 cents of it and keep the other 65,’ James says. ‘So I’m [now] always in my head about saving.” - Lebron James in MarketWatch.com
a year without a degree or any sort of be frequent, short, and continuous financial management training. Among throughout the careers of these athletes, all of the unreasonable NCAA guidelines rather than crammed educational that student athletes must follow to retain sessions in their rookie years. They their eligibility, something as beneficial would be similar to aforementioned for these young people as financial college programs in that they would be literacy training should be mandatory. a combination of meaningful financial These financial literacy courses would education accompanied with exposure not only include what basic education to the possible outcomes of a lack of of responsible saving or investing in financial responsibility. your future would look like, but also However, the content of these courses examples of what happens when you’re must extend beyond the typical money not responsible with the money you matters class. According to Susan earn in your Bradley, a career. While member of not all players “The best way... to make a the Financial who undergo difference is to help them EA dduvci as toi or ny the training will understand what we call find themselves Board for in professional the NFLPA, their ‘money story.” contracts, the in a recent -Bradley information article for provided would RBC Wealth certainly serve them Management, regardless of their future career. these types of courses often fail to have With foreign athletes becoming an impact on player’s spending and more and more prevalent in American saving habits. professional leagues along with a “In reality, the culture they live in is generation of young athletes who don’t pretty tough to crack,” she said. see college as their only option coming Bradley believes that the most effective out of high school, programs for financial manner of education must delve into the literacy must happen in professional roots of athlete’s perception of money. leagues such as the NBA and NFL as “The best way I’ve found to make a well. These initiatives would have to difference is to help them understand 30
what we call their ‘money story,’ which is basically the hardwiring they learned as a kid,” Bradley said. With an understanding of what formed their innate beliefs and tendencies regarding finances, Bradley believes that players develop an increased capacity for sound decisions. This marks yet another challenge with the current athlete culture: some of the elements of athletes’ ‘money story’ are created as a result of seeing their favorite players’ spending habits as a child. This acts as a double edged sword. If the spending culture persists, future players will likely have some of the same challenges as today’s stars. However, if there is a shift in the way athletes manage their money, it may have a positive influence on the ‘money story’ of tomorrow’s athletes. The life of a professional athlete comes with many benefits: playing the sport you love, being a role model to so many young kids, and of course, the tremendous amount of money that the industry holds. As the sports world continues to grow, the amounts of money made by players will only go up. A change in culture and programs that teach athletes, both young and old, what financial literacy looks like will allow the athletes of the future to find long-term financial success and security.
o en m W on the Rise by EMILY NEUMANN, ANIKA CHANG and HAILEY BECK
Women coach fewer than half of sports teams, not to mention even fewer male teams. It’s time for that to change.
All photos courtesy of Creative Commons @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
in her seventh season on the Spurs’ even notice her because she just goes coaching staff. She was a six-time All-Star to work and does what’s asked. Because in the WNBA, playing with both the New of that, she’s someone we’d like to keep York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars. around.” On top of being the only female on Hammon has now officially been a part of San Antonio sports organizations for staff, she’s also the league’s first openly LGBTQ+ coach, coming out publicly 13 years. Much like Hammon, who played shortly after her hire. Sowers’ gender basketball and sexual p ro f e s s i o n a l l y orientation before her have proved coaching career, to be great Katie Sowers, obstacles in the former offensive past. She had a s s i s t a n t previously lost for the San opportunities to Francisco 49ers, be a volunteer discovered her coach because love of football at “…If you continue to pursue sexual the age of eight. careers or hobbies you like to do, of Throughout her college and you put that passion behind o r i e n t a t i o n , yet, she years, Sowers played it, doors will start to open.” views these for various teams in the — experiences as Women’s Football Alliance, Alyssa Nakken what drove her a professional women’s to her current tackle football league. She played as quarterback for the Kansas City success. The same season she became Titans, and in 2013, Sowers also played with the US Women’s National American offensive assistant, the 49ers won the football team, winning the 2013 IFAF NFC Championship and moved on to Super Bowl LIV. This opportunity allowed Women’s World Championship. Following her retirement from her Sowers to become the first female and football career due to a hip injury in first openly gay coach in Super Bowl 2016, Sowers continued to seek out history. “It’s amazing what Katie’s doing…I’m opportunities to stay involved in the sport she loved. That same year, she happy for Katie,” 49ers wide receiver joined the NFL as a summer intern with Deebo Samuel said to the press. “I get a the Atlanta Falcons, working closely lot of questions [like] ‘how do you feel with Atlanta assistant head coach and about [Katie]’…but at the same time wide receiver coach, Raheem Morris, in Katie’s just one of the coaches. I don’t put organizing, conducting and concluding too much emphasis on ‘she’s a female coach.’ At the end of the day I don’t even practice drills. While Sowers was interning with the know how to answer that question cause Falcons, Kyle Shannahan, the current she’s just one of our coaches…I don’t head coach for the San Francisco 49ers, treat her different than anybody.” In the realm of baseball, Alyssa Nakken was the team’s offensive coordinator. In 2017, Shannahan brought Sowers to has made a name for herself on the San San Francisco as a part of the Bill Walsh Francisco Giants. Along with Sowers, Nakken represents San Francisco on Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Sowers continued to work with her professional sports team, not only “...she’s [Katie Sowers] the 49ers as a seasonal offensive making history but also putting the city just one of our coaches…I assistant up until 2019 when in the spotlight for holding two female don’t treat her different than she was promoted to full time coaches in different sports. This ongoing anybody.” trend in the bay area sets the stage for offensive assistant. — “Katie did a real good job for other cities to follow suit and give women Deebo Samuel us in Atlanta, [and] she’s done a coaches the opportunity they deserve. The Giants hired Nakken in 2014, really good job here,” Shannahan said in an interview with ESPN. making her the first woman to hold a “She’s a hard worker; you don’t coaching position in the major leagues.
arlier this month, Sarah Thomas became the first female NFL official to participate in the Super Bowl. Many other female coaches and referees have also begun to make a name for themselves in men’s sports leagues. The past decade has shown great promise for women in positions of leadership on sports teams, programs, and management. Making history one after another, people are starting to recognize that the talent women hold has long been overlooked. One of the largest money-making industries in the United States is spectator sports, with the majority of their profits coming from professional male sports. Up until recently, there has been an unspoken assumption that women are incapable of coaching male sports. However, women are breaking through this stereotype and our society is coming to terms that the ability to coach at the highest level is not limited by gender; being a leader and a brilliant strategist is what makes a coach successful. Becky Hammon made history this past December, becoming the first woman to act as head coach during a NBA game. During the regular season, existing head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich, argued with a referee over a no-call; his team was trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 52-41. Popovich received a technical foul and was ejected from the game with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter. Out of the five qualified assistant coaches for the Spurs, Popovich called on Hammon, the only female of the group. “He officially pointed at me… said, ‘You got ‘em,’ and that was it. Very Poplike,” Hammon said in an interview conducted by ESPN shortly after the game. Hammon is currently
Even with the abundant amount of sports offered at Paly, there are very few female coaches. Currently, there are no women coaching boys sports. Girls lacrosse, field hockey, and cheerleading are the only sports coached by women. Aanya Kumar (‘22) and Vienna Liu (‘22), two female athletes at Paly, aspire to continue as athletes and potential future coaches. They both agree in the importance of women leadership in both male and female sports. “Coaches aren’t just there to coach you,” Kumar said. “They are also role models and I feel like a lot of young girls need that guidance.” During the hiring process, Nakken was not the only woman considered for the spot. The Giants also interviewed Rachel Balkovec, who was later hired by the Yankees to serve as a Minor League hitting coach. Nakken joined the Giants along with Mark Hallberg; the addition of the two new Major League assistant coaches completed the team’s coaching staff of 13. Manager Gabe Kapler spoke highly of the two hires in a press release shortly after they joined the team. “Alyssa and Mark are highly respected members of the organization and I’m delighted that they will now focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse,” Kapler said. “In every organization, environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different. That’s why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team.” Previously, Nakken was a three-time all-conference first baseman and a fourtime Academic All-American on the softball team at Sacramento State. She then earned her master’s degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco. Nakken originally joined the
Kumar plays water polo and lacrosse at Paly, both sports coached by men, she has never had the opportunity of having a female coach. “Sometimes it’s hard because they don’t always understand things us girls go through,” Kumar said. On the other hand, Liu plays field hockey and soccer for Paly, both of which had female coaches this past year. “I think that having a female role model is extremely important [for] young female adolescents,” Liu said. “Growing up I have only ever had three female coaches and I think they have left an important impression on me. It is quite difficult to be something you cannot see.” Outside of Paly, Liu also plays for a club soccer team. From a young age, Liu has been on various club teams, most of which were coached by males.
Giants in 2014 as an intern in the baseball operations department and worked on projects relating to the amateur Draft, international operations and player development. Working in an environment dominated by men, the impact of Nakken’s appearance on the field will never be forgotten. She is one of many making history on men’s sports teams, setting an example for other aspiring women. Nakken spoke out to the younger generation of girls, encouraging them to follow in her footsteps in an interview with USA Today. “Whether you want to coach or be in a male-dominated industry, this shows that if you continue to pursue careers or hobbies you like to do, and you put that passion behind it, doors will start to open,” Nakken said. Along with Sowers and Hammon, Nakken shows the younger generations that gender does not define what you do. Girls of all ages look up to them as role models, their stories proving that women can pursue anything they want to. The impact these outstanding female coaches have on younger generations will set the future of women in leadership positions on men and women’s sports teams.
Upon comparison of her experiences with both male and female coaches, Liu acknowledges that based on gender, she doesn’t have a preference. “I think a good coach regardless of their gender is incredibly supportive and makes you a better player,” Liu said. In discussions of female coaching roles at Paly, Liu is in strong support with incorporating more female leadership and role models for female athletes at school as well as within the larger sports world in general. “It has been very normalized for sports coaches to be mainly male…Most coaches [are] previous competitive athletes [and female coaches can show] young girls what they could become,” Liu said. “I would one-hundred percent prefer more female leadership roles in sports.”
THROWBACK Photo courtesy of Sophie Kadifa
by HAILEY CALLAN and SOFIA LEVA
Photo courtesy of Aidan Berger
“My favorite aspect of Paly sports is being able to play with my teammates and represent my school.”
Photo by Jenna Hickey
Photo courtesy of Will Thomas
“My favorite memory playing when I was younger is when I was two and my dad would take me into our front yard to play wiffle ball.”
“When I first started playing lacrosse as a 3rd grader, I loved its physicality. No other sport I had previously played required as much contact, and it made the game that much more fun.”
Photo by Jenna Hickey
Photo courtesy of Keith Farrell
Check out these super throwback pictures of some of our Paly teachers playing their sport back in high school.
Photo courtesy of Christa Brown
“I made varsity my freshman year and was a starter. My senior year, my team went 19-0 and won the CA state championship.”
Photo courtesy of Liz Brimhall
Mr. Shelton Photo courtesy of Daniel Shelton
Ms. Brimhall “I loved high jumping and was always happy when I could score a few points for the team in a meet.”
Ms. Brown 34
Thursday Photo courtesy of Hillary Cheung
“My favorite thing about playing at Paly is being able to make great friends by combining both my school life and extracurricular hobbies together.”
Photo courtesy of Kaella Peters
We asked Paly athletes to give us one picture of them playing their sport when they were younger, and one of them now, playing on the Paly sports teams. New year, same sport!
“The highlight of my Paly season was going to the seaside tournament and going to the beach.”
Photo by Jenna Hickey
Photo by Jenna Hickey
Photo courtesy of Josh Butler
“My favorite memory when I was younger was definitely scoring my first touchdown. To this day it’s still the one I’m the most hyped about.”
Photo by Jenna Hickey
“On the baseball team I hit cleanup and started at first base, and I was named an honorable mention all-conference player.”
Photo courtesy of Brian Wilson
Photo courtesy of Lucy Filppu
Photo courtesy of Debbie Whitson
Photo courtesy of Christopher Farina
“A bunch of us seniors dropped our spring sport and learned how to play frisbee instead. We spent the winter learning to play then lobbied the school for varsity status, then made junior nationals and placed 3rd.” @vikingsportsmag
| FEBRUARY 2021
Seven years ago, Paly student Lily Zhang graduated as an Olympian. While being in the Olympics at such a young age was out of the ordinary a decade ago, the script has flipped now. The barrage of young athletes entering these competitions shows that a new era has dawned in the professional sports world: an era where young athletes are a force to be reckoned with.
by GRACE LI and MADHU RAMKUMAR art by GRACE LI
SUPERSTAR I n the months of late May to early June, a blanket of stress filled the air of Paly. With AP tests right around the corner, finals looming in the near future and sporting seasons entering their final playoff grinds, there was much to do for the typical student. However, sophomore Lily Zhang was dealing with a particularly unique task compared to her peers. In a
month from the beginning of summer break, Zhang was set to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Among a pack of seasoned table tennis championships almost twice her age, 16 year old Zhang was the youngest competitor fighting for her shot at gold. Zhang’s journey to the Olympics started at a very young age. Since 2007,
Zhang has competed in numerous state, national, and international competitions. In 2011, Zhang, along with her teammates Erica Wu and Ariel Hsiung, represented the United States at the Pan American Games. On top of winning a team bronze medal, Zhang won a bronze medal in the Women’s Singles event as well. In 2012, she participated in the London
Olympics. Though Zhang wasn’t able to medal in the competition, she came back to Palo Alto as the youngest player to ever compete in an Olympics Table Tennis Competition, and had quite a story to tell her peers. Zhang’s national achievements in her niche sport might be rare, but she is not the only one who has achieved such success. Young athletes all around the world have competed at professional events, all while still experiencing the trials and tribulations of high school. When looking at the professional sporting world, the age of competitors is only getting younger and younger. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, snowboarder Chloe Kim became the youngest woman to win a gold medal for snowboarding at the mere age of 17 years old. Landing record-breaking back to back 1080s, she dominated the half-pipe against competitors almost twice her age. Kim, Zhang, and many others represent a new era of sports, where age and seniority no longer determines winners from losers.
From an outsider’s perspective, it’s impossible to see the astronomical amount of work it takes for these athletes to compete at this level. The especially difficult balancing act of school and sports is something unique to the teenage athlete’s experience. Hunter Salisbury is the perfect example of this phenomenon. From a young age, Salisbury committed herself to the niche sport of archery. She attended thousands of local, state, and national tournaments that were all over the world. As a result, Salisbury holds the title of a world silver medalist, and had the honor of representing her country on Team USA. She also continued her archery career in college at Michigan State University. Salisbury’s climb to the top required that she make a lot of sacrifices at a very young age. “I would wake up before school and practice, then I would go to school, practice at the local club, and come home and do homework while I ate dinner,” Salisbury said. She also recalls the many social experiences that she had to lose due to her archery commitments. “I missed a lot of birthdays and friends parties, and friends from school never understood the commitment I had to make,” Salisbury said. Similar to Zhang, Salisbury’s national status had her paired against much older competitors for most of her professional career. “When I was young and not confident, I was always so nervous. After growing into the sport, it became more of an
“I don’t think that the rise in younger athletes is inherently problematic, but I do think it’s important for young athletes to not lose sight of what’s important.” - Lila Gorman
excitement and I felt like I was exactly where I belong,” Salisbury said. When asked about the waves of teens entering professional competitions, Salisbury expressed her approval. “I think it’s great! Talent is talent, no matter what age. If people are discovering their given abilities that early, it just gives them that much more time in their life to enjoy their sport and give back to it.” Though Salisbury and many others appreciate young talent, there are also those who show cautious optimism. Lila Gorman, an archer similar to Salisbury, believes it critical that young athletes stay focused. “I don’t think that the rise in younger athletes is inherently problematic, but I do think it’s important for young athletes to not lose sight of what’s important. People should not slack off on school unless they can be absolutely sure they can have a career in athletics,” Gorman said. Gorman also notes that the extensive pressure put on athletes as young as 12 or 13 should be monitored. “Athletes should go over and understand the trade offs they are making when they commit to their sport, and kids that are too young should not have too much pressure p l a c e d on them,” Gorman said. T h o u g h Zhang might have been one of the first athletes of her caliber to come out of Palo Alto, she is not the only one. In the years after her departure, Paly and other surrounding high schools have become a breeding ground for national champions. From more mainstream sports like the NFL or the NBA, to more niche sports like archery or ping pong, the trend is clear. Teenage national caliber athletes from Palo Alto and beyond are on the rise, and we have yet to scrape the surface of what these high school superstars can accomplish.
“When I was young and not confident, I was always so nervous. After growing into the sport, it became more of an excitement and I felt like I was exactly where I belong.” - Hunter Salisbury
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European Fortnite Pro Martin Anderson, who plays under the username “MrSavage”, is regarded as one of the top players globally. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.
by VIJAY HOMAN and TYLER STOEN
Addictive. A waste of time. Utterly useless. Video games have been called a lot of things by a lot of people, but there is one thing that many would hesistate to call them: a college sport.
hen you picture video world where, much like traditional sports, gamers, many people the next generation of talent will come often imagine someone from. huddled in a dark room Video games have long been seen by with no human interaction. However, colleges as a red flag due to the stigma this is far from the truth of competitive surrounding it. Colleges may claim that and even casual gamers. Competitive “those who waste their time with such gaming is similar to professional sports trivial activities must be unfit for more in the sense that players interact with advanced education, because they’re other members of the community and not fully committed to their studies”, and create lasting friendships so on. However, through the video game. the truth is that Your attention has Although people find video many colleges to shift from playing have begun to games to be disconnecting around your own style form from society, it actually does gaming the opposite in many cases. teams which they to playing to your According to a study teammates’ strengths recruit students for, conducted by the Pew and players with and helping the team professional-esque research center, 91% of succeed as a whole. players play with others skills have become that they are connected sought after by - Tango with online, or from other schools. activities. This new frontier The rise of video games in the last for collegiate gaming includes a former decade has led competitive gaming to Paly student and participant in Paly rise into twenty-first century mainstream Esports Club, who plays under the media. With teenagers and young username “Tango” and preferred to stay adults at the forefront of this rise, the anonymous. He began as a member of the competitive gaming frenzy has spread Paly Overwatch team, which competes in into colleges and universities across the the High School Esports League against
other high schools in the nearby area. Like many competitive gamers, he went from simply playing for fun or with other random players to being on a bonafide team. This transition meant that there were different expectations than he was used to. “Usually when playing solo or with friends, you aren’t really focused as much on the team aspect of the game ... Now that you’re playing with your peers in a semi-serious environment, your attention has to shift from playing around your own style to playing to your teammates’ strengths and helping the team succeed as a whole,” Tango said. Aside from having to mesh with a permanent group of teammates, another significant part of joining the team was controlling his criticism. Almost all players across every game experience toxicity, whether it be verbal or in-game. It happens so much that in solo queue games, many players expect or resort to that type of behavior by default. However satisfying it may be to make fun of a random person online, it can be detrimental to growing as a unit. “Once the teammates in your games are people you actually know and you can’t
flame for being incompetent, you really have to change the way you approach the game and try to provide constructive feedback to others rather than harshly tear them down,” Tango said. The high school gaming experience is also significantly less competitive. Most high school teams are much less selective, resulting in a wider skill difference among players. When he was on the Paly Overwatch team, Tango was one of three players who ranked in the top 5% of the leaderboard, while the others were in the lower 50%. This can be frustrating for some players, because it takes more work to be able to actually compete with other teams. While the HSEL, or High School Esports League, is a significant stepping stone towards collegiate play, not all players participate. It is just as common for players to grind in solo-queue and not make it onto a collegiate team. Some students have even been offered scholarships to attend colleges and play as a member of their esports program. There are a few different categories of games which schools offer scholarships for. Multiplayer online battle arena games, such as League of Legends or Dota 2, are a bit older but nonetheless a timeless treasure of the gaming community. First person shooters like Valorant and Overwatch are the more popular genre for recent games, and their popularity has seen many schools create new teams for competition. For Tango, he enrolled at New York University, where he recently played as a member of their Overwatch team. Although he was not recruited specifically to play esports at NYU, he walked on for his freshman year. “I saw a post about various gamerelated Discord servers on the NYU subreddit … one thing led to another, and one of the managers reached out to me and offered me a spot on their Overwatch team … I always saw it as a possible option going into my freshman year especially since it would help me get to know more people in a completely new environment,” Tango said. During his time so far in the esports scene, gaming has positively impacted his life as a young adult and student. “Benefits like leadership, cooperation, and sportsmanship skills can be gained from esports just as well as any other sport such as basketball or football, not to mention the amount of connections and friendships that are formed as well,” he said.
Gaming Terminology Over the past decade, gamers have created their own “language” which they use to talk to fellow players and on rare occasion, this language bleeds into popular culture. The terminology they use mostly comes from twitch, a platform where pros and unique creators produce gaming content for their communities. Many of these terms originate from the early Dota era and have developed new meanings as games have evolved, but there are also plenty of new terms gaining popularity.
AFK stands for “away from Ping is the measure of time in keyboard”. This suggests that a milliseconds of how long it takes an player is temporarily unavailable. input to your computer to reach This could also mean that a someone the server. A higher ping value is not contributing to the team corresponds to more in game “lag” and is at that point essentially not or delay between inputs you make on there. the device and how your character responds. 2. Smurf A smurf is someone who has experience at a particular game, yet makes a new account to play against other players below their skill level. This can be infuriating for new players, but it serves as an ego boost for those who are “smurfing”.
A buff to something is making it more powerful in some way, while a nerf is making something weaker. Usually buffs and nerfs are used to balance certain aspects of a game.
RNG stands for “random number generator”. It is generally used to refer to something happened by chance or is not determined by level of skill. Ex. “I have such bad RNG”
To int is to die repeatedly, intentionally or otherwise, in an attempt to change the games outcome. If a player is losing the game for their team, they are “inting”.
To throw or grief refers to when someone actively loses something for their team. The term throwing is used in other areas such as standard sports, but greifing is solely used in gaming
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Sports Without Fans
Sports continue amidst the pandemic, with different sports taking different approaches. We take a look at how certain teams in the National Football League have adjusted to these new conditions.
by JACK ELARDE, CAYDEN GU and JUSTIN GU or the first time in NFL history, home teams have lost more games than they have won. This comes as no surprise given that COVID-19 has forced teams to either limit the number of fans that can attend games or bar them entirely. Home stadiums having fewer fans has an apparent correlation to teams losing more home games than usual. As football continued during the pandemic, all teams instituted new restrictions on their fan-attendance policies. According to Pro Football Reference, only 1.2 million fans attended professional football games in total this year, which represents a dramatic decrease from the 17 million who attended games last season. This past
season, home teams had a combined record of 127 wins, 128 losses, and one tie. On the other hand, throughout the 2019-2020 season, home teams combined for 132 wins, 123 losses, and one tie. Some teams have been impacted more by their local coronavirus policies than others, one of which being the local San Francisco 49ers. Last season, en route to an NFC title and Super Bowl LIV appearance, the 49ers won six of their eight home games. However, they went 1-4 in their true home games this season (and lost all three games they played after temporarily relocating to Arizona). At first glance, it may seem as though the primary reason for the decline in performance is related to injuries, as
many of the key players who fueled the success of last season have missed multiple weeks. However, the 49ers found success on the road; they won five of the eight games they played as the visiting team, which implies that the team itself still would have been capable of playing well. Instead, a lack of home field advantage has plagued San Francisco. Santa Clara County guidelines prohibited fans from attending any of the home games. A Harvard study has revealed that for every 1,000 people in attendance, the home team’s scoring advantage increases by 1%. The coronavirus restrictions essentially eliminated any home field advantage the 49ers would have had. One team that appears statistically unaffected by coronavirus restrictions is the Cleveland Browns. At 40%, the Browns’ home field record since 2003 is second to last in the league. This year, however, Brown’s FirstEnergy Stadium held games at only 18% capacity. While the decrease in fan attendance would seem negative at first glance, the Browns performed better and even clinched their first playoff appearance since 2002, ending the NFL’s longest postseason drought. Led by first-year coach Kevin Stefanski, the Browns have gone an impressive 6-2 at home and 5-3 on the road, a notable increase from 4-4 at home and 2-6 on the road in 2019. Although the Browns improved this past year and had the fourth easiest
strength of schedule coming into the 2020 season, the Browns were evidently one of the sole beneficiaries of the coronavirus. First and foremost, because the Browns had one of the least stringent coronavirus restrictions, the Browns had an edge over the many teams that could not host fans at all. In addition, perhaps the lack of home field advantage at other stadiums helped the Browns win. On the road, the Browns scored 10.6 more points than expected compared to 9.3 points more than expected at home. Thus, although the Browns played better than projected, they performed even better during away games where the traditional effects of home field advantage were nullified. Although we can see how home field advantage with fans can affect professional teams, fans and home field advantage also plays into high school sports. Trisha Razdan (‘21), a senior on the volleyball team, feels that home field advantage is something she looks forward to when competing. “Home field advantage gets me hyped up for sure. I love our gym and it’s the
gym we practice in so it’s easy to bring the hype from practice into games,” Razdan said. Having fans in attendance can directly impact how well the athletes compete. Former Paly basketball player Ryan Purpur (‘20) believes that having fans in attendance contributes to the performance of players. “Playing with no Photo courtesy of Creative Commons fans this year will be extremely tough for the players. I know attendance in the past. Senior pitcher for that a lot of my energy during games the Paly baseball team, Ryan Harvey (‘21), came from the fans. The loud chants and thinks that no fans in attendance will not cheers give you a boost of adrenaline affect the performance of the baseball team. like no other,” Purpur said. “Baseball doesn’t have student fans The lack of fans is seen to have an to start so the lower attendance will not impact on many athletes, but some sports may be less affected by the change really impact the atmosphere at baseball because of the already limited student games,” Harvey said. In many sports, both professional and at the high school level, home field advantage plays a significant role in a team’s success. Many teams, including the 49ers, have suffered from playing in empty stadiums. Others, like the Browns, have interestingly improved during COVID. Ultimately, the energy the fans bring can change the outcome of games and is one of the reasons athletes love playing their sports. Although many teams will see their home field advantage diminished due to the ongoing pandemic, hopefully the thrill of playing with fans will return soon.
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by PHOEBE KIM and VICTORIA SOULODRE
In this issue of Viking Tries, we decided to put our athleticism to the test by completing different drills in sports that we aren’t familiar with. Six different members of the Viking staff came out to play; Victoria Soulodre (‘21) and Phoebe Kim (‘22) swapped softball and lacrosse, Jackson Bundy (‘21) and Jenna Hickey (‘21) swapped football and gymnastics, and Adar Schwarzbach (‘21) and Annika Shah swapped wrestling and basketball. We ranked each other’s performance out of five stars based on three different categories; effort, execution, and overall gameplay. Here’s how it went. All photos courtesy of Karen Hickey
Jackson Bundy & Jenna Hickey: While both football and gymnastics require an immense amount of athleticism and strength, we put them to the test and see if they could translate any of their skills over to the other sport. Bundy started off the swap by attempting to do a basic somersault. With Jenna’s coaching and supervision, Bundy started off on the right foot. “For someone who isn’t that flexible, I was doing my job” said Bundy. After Bundy’s amazing attempt at sommer saults and handstands, Hickey attempted to learn some football skills from one of the best. “Football is a lot more technical than I thought it was,” Hickey said. “It takes a lot more work than you would think.” Bundy received 4 stars for effort, 2.5 stars for execution, and 4 stars for overall gameplay, while Hickey received 4.5 stars for effort, 3.5 stars for execution, and 4 stars for overall gameplay. 42
Adar Schwarzbach & Annika Shah: Wrestling and basketball, Although both sports require game IQ, skill, and patience, these two sports differentiate greatly. Shah began the swap by attempting to execute wrestling footwork and technique drills. “Wrestling is very technical and mental, I gained a lot of respect for wrestlers,” Shah said. Once Shah demolished the skills Adar had taught her, they
moved on over to the court. “Once we got onto the court, my natural killer instinct came out, the inner beast took over,” Schwarzbach said. Schwarzbach received 5 stars for effort, 5 stars for execution, and 5 stars for overall gameplay and Shah received 5 stars for effort, 5 stars for execution, and 5 stars for overall gameplay.
Victoria soulodre & phoebe kim: Girls lacrosse and softball are both non-contact sports that require extensive skill and precision. In order to determine each other’s athletic prowess, we created targets for us to hit. This would help us decide who had the better accuracy, execution, and technique. Kim began the swap by attempting to hit softballs off of a tee with as much power and speed as possible. After a couple of attempts at bat, we shifted over to throwing. “I was surprised at how quickly Phoebe was able to pick up the sport, she was throwing far after only a couple minutes,” Soulodre said. Kim got her chance, now it was time for Soulodre to face lacrosse for the first time. “I realized softball is very similar to lacrosse in the catching aspect, except you trade a stick for a glove. Victoria got the hang of shooting and catching after a few attempts and I think she will definitely be the next Paly lax star,” Kim said. As for Kim, “she definitely could come out and play on the field, her skills are promising and overall she’s a great player,” Soulodre said. Kim received 5 stars for effort, 4.5 stars for execution, and 5 stars for overall gameplay, while Soulodre received 5 stars for effort, 3.5 stars for execution, and 4 stars for overall gameplay. @vikingsportsmag
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Photo courtesy of Abby Ramsey
Another Path To
By JENNA HICKEY and ELIF TURGUT Many students participate in high school sports, yet only a small number go on to play in college. Those who don’t commit either quit or find another path. One such path is club sports. These teams are less strict and less of a time commitment for students than varsity sports. Club sports allow them to continue their sport while being able to focus on their academics. This is especially relevant today due to a recent wave of colleges cutting varsity sports, which in turn has added more opportunities for club sports.
aly is known for its championship to a varsity sport however, does not winning sports teams, top-notch decrease the amount of competitiveness. sports facilities, and committed While some teams are non-cut, others student athletes. According to have tryout processes such as the one U.S News, 55.5% of Ramsey had high schoolers play sports and that percentage continues to slowly rise. Of those 55.5% only 7% make it to college sports and only 2% play for a Division l team. Playing a varsity sport is a serious time commitment. These athletes wake up early in the morning and train long hours every day. Most high school students will either quit before college or find another way to pursue their sport. One of those ways is joining to go through. a club sport in college. These Esme Stotland clubs are a step up from Photo courtesy of Abby Ramsey (‘19) was able intramurals, but a step down to walk onto the from varsity. These teams compete club water polo at the University of against other schools in or near their Colorado Boulder. state and depending on what sport you Some club sports even compete play, there can also be regional and at the varsity level. For example, the national competitions. Practice times University of Washington-Seattle doesn’t can vary from once a week to five days a have a varsity wrestling team so the week and can last for one to three hours. club wrestling team competes at the This pathway is beneficial for many highest level and wrestles against varsity students as it gives them more time to focus on their academics. The shortened practice times will give them time to finish homework or study for a test and they get to continue a sport they love at a competitive level. One Paly participant in college club sports is Abby Ramsey (‘19). Ramsey played varsity lacrosse for Paly and knew she wanted to continue playing in college. “I didn’t want to stop playing lax, but didn’t want to go D1, so club lax was the best in between option,” Ramsey said. Ramsey decided to try out and made the team. The three main differences between club and varsity sports in college is the flexibility, the level of funding and the access to amenities. Decreasing the practice time compared
wrestlers from other schools. Many club sports are funded by students with maybe a little support from the school. These teams do not get revenue from TV appearances, ticket sales, or concessions stands like varsity sports. “Financially we are funded by donation as well as a budget. But we do fundraising every year,” Ramsey said. Similarly, Stotland’s club team is almost completely paid for by the students. “At CU, we receive some funding but most of it comes from dues,’’ Stotland said. Many schools provide varsity athletes with athletic trainers, training facilities, and academic support. Some schools do not give club sport athletes access to these facilities while others do. “I do think club sports should get varsity amenities,” said Ramsey. “At least for my club lax team, we take our practices and
I didn't want to stop playing lax, but didn't want to go d1, so club lax was the best inbetween option -Abby Ramsey ('19)
Photo courtesy of David Hickey
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everything very seriously.” club sport compared to lacrosse and decision to cut some of their varsity On the other hand, Stotland and her water polo and may be seen more as sports. This may cause a trickle effect club water polo team do have access to an intramural, according to Taylor, that and increase club sport participation by varsity amenities. doesn’t stop them from practicing hard. experienced athletes, as those athletes “At CU we do “Right now, [we will drop down a level to continue to Photo courtesy of Esme Stotland have access to practice] once pursue their sport. varsity amenities a week due Club sports also help a student choose like trainers and to restrictions a college based on academic fit over facilities which athletics. For I think makes both Ramsey sense and we and Stotland, are very grateful joining a club for it,” Stotland team was not said. a defining Some other factor when benefits of choosing joining a club their college. team include “It was getting a mental not a make break, getting or break to experience decision, but a new sport my school and meeting a has a really new group of good club friends. lax program “I think what and it was Photo courtesy of Julia Taylor I enjoy the an added most is getting f r o m benefit,” Ramsey said. a break from COVID-19, Similar to Ramsey, Stotland said it did my busy life but in the not affect her decision when committing at practice, past we to a college but it was an extra plus. t r a v e l i n g w o u l d Taylor is grateful for the community the around to have three ultimate frisbee team has given her. Photo by Jenna Hickey different states practices a “Without my frisbee community, I with my team, and having a great group week for 2-3 hours each,” Taylor said. honestly don’t know where I would be of girls that are all together because we Joining a club sport has given all three today,” Taylor said. love the same sport,” Ramsey said. girls a new group of friends. They are Attending a new school with new Many schools have a wide variety of close with their teammates and are even people and not a lot of familiar faces is a fun and exciting sports clubs to join. moving in with their teammates next challenge for anyone. For Taylor, joining For example, you could participate in year. the team helped her find her people. archery, quidditch, wakeboarding and “Literally 99% “I wasn’t even tug-of-war. Julia Taylor didn’t even of the most on the team know ultimate frisbee existed until she important people my freshman got to Purdue University. in my life are either year and Taylor decided to join after her my teammates or I really freshman year when some of her friends play for the men’s struggled participated and really enjoyed ultimate ultimate team,” to make frisbee. Taylor was also looking for Taylor said. “I live connections another community to join. with all frisbee on a college Ultimate frisbee may not seem like a people and spend c a m p u s ,” almost all of my time Taylor said. with frisbee people.” “ W h e n Similar to Taylor, Stotland is also moving I joined frisbee, I was immediately in with her teammates. welcomed with open arms and love “My social circle is mostly my club these girls so much.” friends, I’m even moving in with some of All in all, playing in a club sport is a great them,” Stotland said. opportunity for athletes to continue their Ramsey has also found teammates to career without the stress of being fully live with in the upcoming year and feels committed to a college sport. It’s a great she has made some of her best friends way to make friends while also getting though the lacrosse team. exercise and having fun. With the pandemic and financial troubles, many schools have made the
Without my frisbee community, I honestly don't know where I would be today -Julia Taylor
The Final Word Paying College Athletes
by VIJAY HOMAN and JACK ELARDE
any of those who play college athletics don’t just do so for themselves. They do it for their family, friends, and others who they can help out by making enough money to support them. And while it is a noble cause, some schools choose to take advantage of it, and offer players benefits such as money or cars to come play at their schools. For a kid who’s never been able to play sports for money in their life, its a hard offer to turn down. Yet, while it may seem like a great option in the short term, the long term detriments can come back to haunt many players. The most recent occurrence of such violations of NCAA rules was at the University of Tennessee, where the football team was found to be handing cash to recruits in McDonald’s bags. The way this portrays the University is deplorable — it shows that they were so confident they wouldn’t get caught or indifferent about the consequences of being convicted that they chose to get sloppy. Herein lies the problem with this situation: for a school that is expected to compete with a top tier programs, recruiting can be a crapshoot. Undoubtedly there are other schools that do promise unfair benefits and don’t get caught, so to not offer any would put a school a step behind the others. In their eyes, offering to pay recruits is worth the risk because there is a fairly low chance that they will get caught, and if they do, the punishments from the NCAA aren’t completely devastating. What is currently happening at Tennessee is the template for how these situations usually go. First, the administrators clean house. The staff, in this case head coach Jeremy Pruitt and others, were fired. Afterwards, players begin to look for new places to play, so as to not be associated with a school that will undoubtedly be sanctioned and reprimanded for its actions. To date, 16
players have already transferred to other schools, with 7 more in the portal. A new coach is then hired (for UT, former UCF coach John Heupel), the punishments from the NCAA are announced, and the University gets ready to rebuild. This isn’t the first time that this cycle has happened, and it won’t be the last. The goal for schools like this is to get as many recruits as they can for as little as possible, and refrain from getting caught. For the vast majority of schools it works out, but for a few it hasn’t. One serves as the cautionary tale for all other major programs: SMU. At Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, football was all the rage. The tiny school of about 6,000 students was ranked near the top of the standings for many years in the early 1980s. Players like Eric Dickerson, a future hall of famer, led the Mustangs to incredible season after incredible season, only for it all to come crashing down in 1987, when the University was handed the “death penalty”. It was determined that SMU had been lavishly spending on their athletes, even helping Dickerson sport a 1979 all-gold Pontiac Trans-Am. As a result, the University was suspended from playing football for the entire 1987 season, and handed severe restrictions for the next one. Yet, life went
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons on at SMU, and although they never reached the same level of dominance, the effect on their reputation didn’t last long. Not every recruit is paid to play in college, but the ones that are usually have a very large impact on the games they play in. In order to stop this embarrassingly obvious cycle from occurring even more, the NCAA should make some immediate changes. First, they should announce that the “death penalty” will become the default punishment for teams found to be paying recruits of players. In the history of the NCAA, the penalty has only been levied 5 times, and at this point teams that are caught are almost certain that it won’t be imposed. With this action, the NCAA will increase the risk-reward ratio of paying recruits. Secondly, they need to increase the availability of players to profit off of their own likeness. With more money readily available, players won’t have to commit to schools who simply have the deepest pockets. This problem has been on the backburner of the NCAA’s stove for a while now. Yet, with more and more rules being changed to benefit the players, it’s about time that we looked at recruiting too.
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PALO ALTO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PALO ALTO HIGH SCHOOL 50 EMBARCADERO ROAD PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA 94301
Jenna Hickey (‘21) prepares to hit the ball during this issue’s Viking Tries, where Viking staff members try out each others’ sports. Photo courtesy of Karen Hickey.