The SUPER Super Bowl

The SUPER Super Bowl

A Ballerina's Pointe of View

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For most of my life, Sunday afternoons in winter have meant lacing up my pointe shoes and putting on my game face. No, not for football, but for "the summer intensive." Dancers across the country (and internationally) vie for a coveted spot at a top ballet school. This year, I am not competing for such a spot and finally had time to sit and watch the always-hyped Super Bowl! My fellow dorm-mates watching with me, quickly labeled the low-scoring game as "underwhelming." Perhaps in an effort to justify my time spent in front of the TV, this dancer/writer made an effort to see what was "super" about this year's Super Bowl.

As a student at USC, I was cheering for the Rams! Not only are they an LA-based team, but they play home games at the LA Coliseum, the same venue as our own football team. I will admit it was a painful experience to watch them walk away without even one touchdown; even friends on USC's football team admitted to me that they did not watch the game past half-time.

However, despite everyone's deadpanning of the game, I found joy in watching it from start to finish. I did not do this because I thought the Rams would make a comeback. What I found is that I genuinely enjoy watching football and studying the movements of the players -- there is an athletic grace that can be found in most plays and the moves can be broken down into balletic steps. (In fact, football players see improvements in their game when they take ballet. But that topic is for another article. Stay tuned!) I love it when the slow-mo replays show the positions the body takes -- the height of the jump, the split in the air, the jukes left and right, the balance and agility, and even a lunge to tackle. All such movements appear to embody dancing to me; I loved analyzing the movements and thinking about how the athlete could have moved differently for a more successful play.


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Another "super" aspect of the low-scoring Super Bowl game is that defensive plays were given a chance to shine. A friend of mine and member of USC's football team, Solomon Tuliaupupu, relished the game. He said, "Being a linebacker, I actually enjoyed the long drives where the linebackers had to constantly play their assignments correctly or risk letting a big play go." Solomon also explained "a lot of powerful movements on both sides of the ball from both teams." That doesn't sound boring, does it? A high score is not necessarily an indicator of an exciting and skilled game if you change your view. Bringing this back to dance, a soloist or prima (in this game, for example, the prima could be likened to the famous Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) may initially seem to receive all the glory and audience accoladesbut it is the corps de ballet, the dancers in the back that support the cast and allow for the storyline to continue.

How can I continue discussion of the Super Bowl without mention of the ads? Even these, with their nostalgic touches seemed "standard" and "nothing special" to my friends. I, on the other hand, LOVED the dancing. In the Expensify commercial, the viewer is immediately drawn into the bold moves and music, because it was a literal music video featuring Adam Scott and 2 Chainz. As a dancer, I appreciate the incorporation of dance into mainstream media. As seen in this music video ad, the dancers enhance the overall performance and this commercial made it "actually cool" to do your expenses through Expensify. A second example would be the one for the NFL. In the star-studded NFL commercial, I found it so entertaining how all the players moved and turned like a choreographed dance.

Finally, many even gave the halftime show a so-so rating. The NFL played it safe with an apolitical performer in Adam Levine. In these divisive times, I did not mind that. I actually do not think anyone would have received a positive review, given the controversy with support for Colin Kaepernick and several big-name performers declining the opportunity to perform.

In conclusion, although it won't go down as the most riveting game, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. From the game to the commercials to the half-time show, it was an afternoon of PERFORMANCES -- not too different from a dancer having to perform in front of a critical audience. Sometimes you won't win over your critics right away, but longevity and perseverance onstage will bring respect. I will definitely watch again next year to see which coaches and players have the grit to be there for the curtain call.

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Everything The Student Athlete Loses When They Move On From Sports

Enjoy it while it lasts.

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We used to call it "flipping the switch." You would go through eight hours of school (somehow) and then your mentality would automatically change. The worries and stress from the school day would dwindle as you put on your cleats and begin to warm up. Anything that was going on in your life didn't matter when you hit the dirt. You create lifelong friendships with the girls you spent every day with for months at a time. Teammates who see you susceptible after a bad game and on cloud nine after one of your bests.

You develop a routine and superstitions. Hitting your bat on the inside of your cleat before you hit, chewing a certain type of gum on the volleyball court, how many times you spin the ball before you shoot a free throw, whatever your quirk was, you 100% believed it would make you play better. You practice in your free time with your dad, devote three to five months of your school year to a team, and play all summer long with your travel team as you live off hotel breakfast. Then one day, it's all over.

It is a feeling that nobody can prepare you for. They say enjoy it while it lasts but you never really understand what you'll be walking away from when you play your last game and hang it up for good. You lose a part of yourself when you're no longer an athlete. I forgot what it feels like to be competitive and be a part of something that is bigger than myself. It has been two years since I've played my last softball game and not a day goes by when I don't miss it. I didn't play because I wanted to go pro or even to the collegiate level, but I played because it was an escape and helped me become who I am.

You begin to forget what it felt like to hit the sweet spot on a bat, what it sounded like to have an audience cheer for you as you stand alone on second base and see your family in the stands, to hear the metal spikes of your cleats on concrete when walking in the dugout. It's simple things about the game you love that brought you pure joy and an escape from the world and the thoughts in your head. Batting practice was always mine. Focusing on nothing but the next pitch and how hard I could hit it.

When you have to watch the game from the other side of the fence, you realize how much pressure you put on yourself when you played. It's just a game. Make as many memories as you can and enjoy every inning because when you leave sports behind you have to find your inner athlete in other things. Create a workout routine, joining a club sport or intramurals, or even becoming a coach. As much as I miss the sport, I am thankful for everything it brought me. It taught me how to be a good friend, respect others around me, and to push myself to discover what I was capable of.

So, enjoy it while it lasts.

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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