Why The U.S. Leading The Medal Count In The Olympics Is A Big Deal

Why The U.S. Leading The Medal Count In The Olympics Is A Big Deal

Especially in this summer of despair.
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The Olympics is an event like no other. It’s the one time every four years the entire world comes together to celebrate talent, athleticism and the power of human perseverance. Athletes of all sports, backgrounds, races and countries are brought together in a true battle of the best of the best. The notion of the Olympics in Rio was the only thing keeping many people from losing their minds this summer.

It’s been a tough year in the United States, a violent year. The summer has been filled with some of the most heinous crimes a human being could commit against another human being. And the ongoing war between the political parties hasn’t made matters much better.

The nation has been very much divided this summer. People disagree, arguments break out, arguments turn to violence and hateful speech, and it has seemed as though nothing is a “winning” scenario. The rumors of Rio de Janeiro being “unsafe” for the Olympics just seemed like the icing on the crap-cake that was the summer of 2016.

Then, Team USA, with swimmer Michael Phelps carrying the American flag, walked out with gusto at the opening ceremony of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. Waving, smiling, with a shining sense of pride about them, our athletes were there to show the world what America is really made of.

I don’t know about you all, but I was touched. For the first time in a long time, I felt like we were going to be okay. We just had to hold on to moments like this. Moments where we feel on top of the world; where we know a whole country is standing behind us, rooting for us. Moments where we can all come together for one common goal: To win.

Team USA now leads the medal count with Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky’s wins Aug. 9 in swimming. Nine Gold, 8 Silver and 9 Bronze puts us above greats like China, Russia and Australia.

Whoever said winning wasn’t everything has never seen swimmer Cody Miller take home a bronze medal. I’ve never seen anyone that excited about third place.

But that’s the whole point. It’s incredible that the United States – or any country for that matter – has talented enough athletes to even compete, let alone place. And to be blunt, the athletes themselves and us as a nation have every right to celebrate. No, winning isn’t everything, but sometimes it helps.

We deserve to feel like “us” again. To feel like the best, be the best and be so extraordinarily happy that we forget – just for a second – the harsh times behind us, and no doubt, the rough times ahead.

If we can rally together to watch a bunch of sporting events, and cheer our country on, we can come together to conquer larger obstacles as well. And I have faith that we will.

Cover Image Credit: eonline.com

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No, Helicopter High Schools, Not Every Cheerleader Should Make The Team

We can't keep babying this generation.
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If you haven't heard about it already, a high school in New Jersey made a rule that states every girl that tries out for the high school cheerleading squad has to make the team. If this doesn't scream spoiled with participation trophy at the end of it, then I don't know what does.

This new regulation was put in place after a mother of a girl that didn't make the cheerleading squad complained to the school.

Many young women who put in the hard work were clearly upset about this order. What they had to say made complete sense, but it didn't make a difference to the mother that so badly wanted her daughter to be a cheerleader.

One of the fellow cheerleaders said, "I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment just to be told that it didn't matter anymore." Another expressed, "It is unfair to me and every cheerleader who earned their spots to change the rules after tryouts are over." Although these statements are clear enough, one young woman was especially upset. As well as the other cheerleaders, she went up in front of the school board in tears and said "I've tried my hardest-- and everything's going away because of one child who did not make the team and their parent complained. So now all my hard work has been thrown out the window."

Cheerleading on top of other sports takes demanding hours not only physically but mentally and academically. In order to be a top athlete on any team, you must do what is expected of you and more. These young women have more than likely spent most of their childhood and the beginning of their adulthood training for this sport, why would someone want to take that feeling of success away from them? I'll tell you why.

Nowadays, if someone isn't treated equally (even if they don't have the talent, technique, or expertise) the world and media breaks down into shambles and turns into a soup sandwich. Teams, corporations, and groups have been destroyed in recent years because someone who did not get their way wants to complain, although they aren't qualified.

For any other sport, there are only so many spots for people to play on the team. If too many kids are allotted a spot on the team, then some children will have to sit the bench. This alone causes crisis within the team because players get upset when they aren't getting playing time and this all falls back on the coach.

Playing sports builds character, dedication, integrity and other great traits. The reason these characteristics are obtained is due to the time that young athletes put in. If they don't have to make sacrifices and devote their time then these features will never be developed. Aside from winning and the feeling of success and triumphant teamwork, establishing these qualities and reaching for excellence is the reason why children choose to play sports.

Athletes work hard to earn spots, be mentioned in the newspaper, win awards, and get recognition for all of the outstanding things that they do. These things shouldn't be given to people that don't work for them.

Participation trophies shouldn't be handed out like candy, parents need to stop babying their kids, and mom's and dad's need to prepare their children for the real world. If we let this ongoing trend keep multiplying within households before you know it everyone is going to feel like they are entitled to everything... as if they don't act that way already.

Cover Image Credit: Macey Mullins

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Did The NFL Just Make Kneeling A Bigger Crime Than Domestic Violence?

I'm pretty sure hitting your wife is more deplorable than taking a knee during the National Anthem.
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Since the election of President Trump, NFL players have been the face of controversy. With players refusing to stand for the National Anthem, instead choosing to kneel as an act of protest, many people were not afraid to speak out against them.

Recently, the NFL announced that players present on the field during the singing of the National Anthem would be required to stand lest their team be willing to pay a fine.

Now you can have your opinion on whether or not that's just or whether or not that is the NFL politically leaning one way or there other. Frankly, that's not my issue here.

My problem is that players who are convicted of domestic abuse are only suspended for six games upon their first offense.

It seems to me that the NFL found the need to prioritize what qualifies as freedom of speech over the quality of human life.

The NFL's policy is a slap in the face to all of the wives, girlfriends, significant others, one night stands, and all other women who have fallen victim to domestic abuse by the professional athletes who were their partners. It's bad enough that the trauma they faced was only worth a six-game suspension. Now there's an actual price tag on kneeling, while these women continue to suffer in silence.

I have my opinions on the NFL's decision to start doling out this fine. But that's not what this article is about. This article is about giving a voice to victims of abuse. This article is about pointing out that our political quarrels are being put before conversations about the safety of actual human beings.

No one is being physically harmed when an athlete chooses to kneel.

You can call them disrespectful. You can call them privileged. But those men are not beating their wives and girlfriends.

The men on the field who abused those they supposedly love are standing tall while the Anthem is sung, and that's all people see. They don't see the man who took away a woman's innocence, pride, and drive.

People choose to see an act of political defiance as more offensive than a man hitting his wife.

The NFL will probably never see these words.

But someone will. And someone probably have something to say about how these are "two completely different arguments" and that we "shouldn't compare them."

Someone else will probably say something about how there are men and women fighting overseas for our freedom, and that these teams should be fined because their players are disrespecting the honor of those men and women.

I think those men and women are probably more disgusted by the fact that we continue to glorify men who intentionally hurt their significant others, just because they're good at throwing a ball and running up and down the field.

While the Constitution gives each and every one of us the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, religion, press, peaceable assembly, and petitioning the government, nowhere does it give us the right to physically harm another person. I think it's time the NFL took note of that.

There should be no policy of a "first offense" when it comes to domestic violence. I won't support an organization that fines its members for kneeling, but doesn't do more than bench them when they abuse another human being.

Ray Rice received a two-game suspension in 2014 for hitting his fiance. Colin Kaepernick knelt and then used his platform to become an advocate.

But Kaepernick's the villain here, right?

Really think about it before you answer that question. And maybe then take a page out of Kaepernick's book and use whatever platform you have to fight for the women who lost everything because powerful men beat the fight out of them.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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