The NFL, NBA and Social Justice

Ever since Colin Kaepernick sat and then later started kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, the backlash and reaction from the NFL, its fans and the political world generated a substantial amount of noise and controversy. On the contrary, the NBA has continued to prosper and go without notable issues regarding social justice and protest with a somewhat restrictive rule regarding the national anthem. Nonetheless, the two professional leagues couldn’t further apart when it comes to a consensus on what athletes should or shouldn’t be able to on an international stage to protest social justice. The persisting lack of trust and agreement between the NFL and its players leads athletes to feel the need to protest and at the same time know their protest will likely generate substantial media and league backlash. Not to mention it could potentially end their career in the NFL (Graziano).

In response to players’ national anthem protests the NFL generated a rule that didn’t satisfy the players and consequently multiple coaches said they wouldn’t reprimand their players for kneeling because they don’t agree with the league rule. The rule, which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said was “unanimous”, received backlash from owners soon after its announcement. It “requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer”(Seifert and Graziano). San Francisco 49ers owners Jed York announced his difference of opinion just hours after the NFL released its response to the anthem protests. Furthermore, New York Jets owner Christopher Johnson said, he’ll never fine a player who violates the rule (Graziano).

The owners’ disagreement is fueled primarily from the fact that this “unanimous” rule doesn’t address the athlete’s desire to use their elevated platform within sports to be an advocate for social change. In The Guardian NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about how individual accolades were a secondary goal in his mind to using his status as an athlete to stimulate discussion about social issues. “But that wasn’t my only goal. The even greater significance those records had to me then, and has to me even more now, is in providing a platform to keep the discussion of social inequalities – whether racial, gender-related, or economic – alive and vibrant so that we may come together as a nation and fix them” (Abdul-Jabbar). Remaining in the locker room during the anthem does nothing to advance the goals of athletes who kneel as a way to try and shed light on our nation’s pitfalls.

NFL players feel “disposable” and misrepresented by the league and thus feel the need to protest (Graziano). Any solid relationship requires trust, and when you have players like Kaepernick, who essentially had to sacrifice his football career because he advocated for change, that hurts players’ belief in the NFL as an organization to accurately represent its athletes. If we take a look the “I Can’t Breathe” protest in the NBA, we can see that both kneeling and the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts are protesting essentially the same issue: police brutality specifically against African Americans. NBA stars such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Kobe Bryant wore the shirts in pregame warm ups back in 2014. The “I Can’t Breathe” shirts reference the final words of Eric Garner, an African American horticulturist, uttered before dying from suffocation after an NYPD officer put him in a choke hold while arresting him (The Guardian) and (Adande). No fines or reprimands were handed out to any of the players who wore the shirts in pregame warm ups. Furthermore, according to Steve Ginsburg of ESPN Des Moines, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he supports players voicing their opinions on social issues (Ginsburg).

A statement like the one made by Silver following a form of social protest further aligns the NBA with its players and strengthens the belief and trust the players have that they are properly represented by the league. On the contrary, NFL players are forced to live in fear of losing the opportunity to play football if they were to participate in a social justice protest. Kaepernick is a prime example of how negative backlash from the NFL and especially President Trump endorsement of the rule, framed the former 49ers quarterback as “anti-America” or “anti-military, which has nothing to do with what he’s protesting.

The difference between the two leagues is that the NBA prioritizes its players and their representation, whereas the NFL feels separate from its players and consequently there’s a trust shortage which has created a contentious relationship between the league and its athletes.

 

 

Examining Curt Flood Lawsuit against the MLB and the History of the Reserve Clause

Curt Flood’s 15-year career on the field in Major League Baseball (MLB) spoke for itself. The former center fielder finished with a career batting average of .293 and was a three-time all-star, in addition to winning seven consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1963 to 1969 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Flood won three Pennants and two World Series rings while a part of the Cardinals organization (Barra). Despite the championship victories and prestigious awards, Flood’s actions following the conclusion of the 1969 season would garner the most notoriety.

At the end of the 1969 MLB the Cardinals traded Flood along with Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson, and Cookie Rojas. At the time a majority of people viewed the trade as a swap of two stars, Flood and Dick Allen. Only this trade in particular differed from every other because Flood refused to leave the Cardinals (Barra).

In addition to refusing the trade, Flood contacted his lawyer and decided to sue the MLB. Flood intended to challenge the reserve clause. Not only was the reserve clause “a form of indentured servitude that dehumanized players by turning them into tools of labor,” it also used ambiguous language that essentially said, “that if you played for a team, you must play for that team the next season as well” (Barra and Craig). William Hulbert, a member of the Chicago Board of Trade in the 1870s, played a prominent role in creating National League of Professional Baseball Clubs in 1876. The idea behind it being that a more condensed and unified organization would help put baseball at the forefront of American entertainment. However, owners’ actions following the creation of conglomerate would put the players at a severe disadvantage.

Owners had all the control, essentially creating miniature monopolies each team within the larger organization. As a result, owners, like anyone in position of power, tended to abuse their power. Though the newly formed organization achieved original goal of bringing popularity to professional baseball, owners worked together to try and find a way to limit the dollars earned by players while the popularity of the sport was growing. The result, a reserve clause that prohibited players from entering free agency. Owners argued universal fair pay across the league would result because players wouldn’t be able seek out alternative contracts with other teams (Craig).

As one can probably imagine, there were numerous players who fought the clause. Henry Lucas, a former baseball executive and owner of the St. Louis Maroons, called the clause, “an outrageous and unjustifiable chain on the freedom of players.” Lucas created the Union Association, which disintegrated shortly after its inception due to the monopolistic control that the National League had over baseball. Another effort abolish the power of the reserve clause was made by Giants shortstop John Montgomery Ward (Craig). Unfortunately, any attempt to stand up against the monopolization of baseball ended prematurely due to baseball’s exemption from antitrust laws. Marvin Miller,  founder and executive director of the Players Association at the time of Flood’s case, said it’s like the courts were saying “Yes, you’re an American and have the right to seek employment anywhere you like, but this right does not apply to baseball players” (Barra).

Though Flood’s suing of the MLB ended unsuccessfully, the way he approached the case was unprecedented, documented in both Allen Barra’s piece in The Atlantic and the HBO documentary: The Curious Case of Curt Flood, Flood asked Miller if it would benefit other players. “I told him yes, and those to come. He said, ‘That’s good enough for me.” Flood’s willingness to essentially sacrifice his career for athletes to come shows his investment in player’s rights in athletics as a whole. Flood’s case occurred without support from his teammates. At the hearing only, Jackie Robinson and former Tigers’ first baseman and league executive, Hank Greenberg. Many players, including Flood’s teammates, feared that owners would retaliate following the suit.

The conversation between Miller and Flood is one of only pieces of evidence that provides insight into the details of the reasoning behind Flood’s decision (Barra).  One thing is for sure, Flood’s stubborn and sacrificial approach in the fight against the MLB’s rules which subordinated and took advantage of players should be celebrated because not only did it lead to the abolishment of the reserve clause, it gave birth to modern day free agency as we know it today.

 

Colorado beats Sacramento State 59-45 in defensive battle

The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team hosted the Sacramento State Hornets Saturday night at the CU Events Center. Colorado extended its winning streak to six games following a 75-58 victory over the Hornets.

Junior forward Tyler Bey starred in the MGM Main Event Tournament in Las Vegas on Nov. 24 and 26. The Las Vegas native recorded back-to-back double doubles in a pair of victories over Wyoming and Clemson. The Buffs were forced to come from behind against Clemson, but eventually pulled off the win in the closest margin of victory this season (71-67).

Collectively, Colorado didn’t play its best basketball on the offensive end, shooting relatively low percentages as a team in both contests at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Defense won the game for the Buffs against Clemson in the final minute, with junior guard McKinley Wright IV stripping the ball from a Tiger guard and earning a trip to the charity stripe.

Head coach Tad Boyle prioritized defense against Sacramento State, starting sophomore guard Eli Parquet instead of sophomore guard Daylen Kountz at shooting guard Saturday night. Parquet, a native of Beaumont, Texas, is known for his defensive intensity and recently his three-point shooting ability.

Boyle talked about the decision to go with Parquet over Daylen after the game. Parquet’s defense being the primary reason for the switch.

“Elijah Parquet is probably our best perimeter defender other than McKinley (Wright IV) and you could maybe make an argument for D’Shawn (Schwartz),” Boyle said. “So, we know that Eli is going to give us that (perimeter defense). “It also allows McKinley maybe, not to take a break, but McKinley is always drawing the team’s best perimeter defender, usually in the back court. So, it allows us to put Eli on that guy from the get go and hopefully get McKinley going offensively.”

Colorado forced a shot clock violation on the Hornets first possession. However, three turnovers on the Buffs’ first three possessions led to somewhat of a slow start offensively for Boyle’s squad. Wright IV scored the Buffs’ first six points with a pair of contested layups and a jump shot.  Colorado led 6-2 at the under 16 timeout.

The Buffs finished the contest with 19 turnovers and only ten assists. Sloppy play on the offensive end had Boyle upset postgame because the talent is there, it’s just a matter of execution and running quality offense.

“I need to apologize to any Buff fan that came out and watched this tonight because it was it epitome of winning ugly,” Boyle said. “We weren’t very good offensively. We all expect more of this team on the offensive end than what we got tonight. That’s the fourth game in a row, offensively (where) we have not been the team that we are in practice. The way we played tonight, I can’t give them a break for that. It’s amazing the feeling we had in the locker room, it’s almost like we felt like we lost because we all know we can be better.”

Junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz broke a scoreless drought for both teams with a difficult drive and finish at the 9:31 mark of the first half. The Buffs led 10-8. Sophomore forward Evan Battey energized the crowd with a tough and one finish with just over four minutes left in the first half. A Hornets’ dry spell the last 6:13 gave Colorado an eight-point cushion at the break.

Parquet knocked down a mid range jump shot to open the scoring for the Buffs in the second half. A Hornets’ turnover resulted in a run out and a layup for Schwartz. Colorado led by 12 early in the second half. A majority of the Buffs’ offense came out of transition. Boyle said right now opponents know that Colorado struggles in half-court offense and eventually will get beat if they don’t improve.

“They (Sacramento State) don’t press you full court,” Boyle said. “It’s all half court stuff. And look the MO to beat Colorado is to take them out of transition. Sacramento State on film was a team that we were concerned with their offensive rebounding so were talking about boxing out. Well, much like Clemson, much like Wyoming, they didn’t offensive rebound. They sprint back and take us out of transition. That’s the MO, make Colorado play in the half court and they have trouble scoring. Right now, that’s the case and everybody knows it.”

The Buffs offense found its rhythm for a couple possessions to begin the second half. Colorado played inside out, finding Bey on the inside and kicking to open shooters. Senior forward Lucas Siewert was a beneficiary of the Buffs’ ball movement and splashed home a corner three for his first points of the contest. The Brazil native scored his second bucket of the game with a layup from underneath the basket.

Sacramento State remained in striking distance despite Colorado’s uptick in offense.  At the under 12 timeout, the Buffs’ held a seven-point advantage. Colorado, once again was unable to put a full game of quality basketball together. Wright IV said after the game, “We sucked….”

“We got to do a better job of putting two halves together,” Wright IV said. “We sucked in the first half. We sucked the whole game. 19 turnovers (that’s) terrible. We got a win, but we got to be better for teams coming down the stretch.”

Turnovers plagued the Buffs’ offense late in the period. Consequently, the Hornets trailed only by single digits a majority of the final half. The Hornets cut the lead to five with over three and half minutes left, but Colorado hit three field goals in a row to end the game and pulled away. The Buffs won 59-45.

Colorado (6-0) hosts Loyola-Marymount (2-4) on Wednesday night. The tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. MST.

 

 

Colorado uses complementary football to beat Huskies

The Colorado Buffaloes football team used an impressive performance in all three phases of the game to defeat the Huskies on senior night at Folsom Field. Execution of complementary football, or defense, offense and special teams working together, led the Buffs to an impressive victory Saturday night.

The first thing out of head coach Mel Tucker’s mouth following Saturday night’s victory over Washington had to do with Colorado’s ability to play complementary football.

“I am just really proud of our football team,” Tucker said. “We played complementary football again. Offense, defense and special teams playing together. Everybody is playing hard and playing for each other.”

Senior punter Alex Kinney pinned Washington deep on its first possession after a 60-yard punt bounced out of bounds inside the one-yard line. Colorado forced a quick three and out and set up the offense with good field position. The ensuing Buffs’ drive ended in a 22-yard field goal from freshman kicker Evan Price.

Tucker said there’s no doubt that special teams is the most important part of the game. The hidden yardage gained and lost when the special teams unit is on the field is critical in determining which team comes out on top. Tucker praised Kinney postgame.

“Alex Kinney, I mean can you say enough about him?” Tucker asked. “I mean it’s just every game, every game. He’s just very consistent. Field position is huge. A punt is the most important play in football, it’s 40 yards of field position. My hat goes off to him he did a great job.”

Senior outside linebacker Davion Taylor recorded a critical quarterback hurry that forced a red zone interception from Washington junior quarterback Jacob Eason. Pressure on the passer proved to be a catalyst for the Buffs’ successful defensive effort, pitching a first half shutout.

In the last two games Colorado’s defense has put together impressive defensive performances, limiting Stanford and Washington to two touchdowns or less after giving up 30+ points per game for a majority of the season. Tucker said he’s seen improvement from his defense in practice and in the last two games it has shown on the field.

“We’ve been getting better and improving (on defense),” Tucker said. “I said it four or five games back. I am seeing improvement in our defense. It just wasn’t showing up in the scoring. We are gaining confidence. Guys are able to stop the run and get to them on third down. Once we get them to third down, coach (Tyson) Summers and our defensive staff do a great job of putting together packages that attack protections.”

After the Stanford victory on Nov. 9 Tucker reiterated the importance of playing complementary football. The Buffs play against Stanford and versus Washington reflected Tucker’s message. Colorado used its edge in field position to capitalize on offense and keep Eason and the Huskies stagnant. The Buffs recorded four sacks and limited Washington’s rushing attack to 0.7 yards per play in the first half.

Freshman safety Mark Perry recorded three tackles for loss and two sacks in the victory. Perry said if you’re successful on early downs, third and long is exhilarating because of the pressure packages defensive coordinator Tyson Summers dials up.

“It’s really fun (on third down blitzes),” Perry said. “When we go on the field (on) third down, you see the play call (and) everybody gets excited because (if) you do your work on first and second down, third down you get to do something cool, pressures or different types of coverages. So, we really try to get them to third down so we can go on the field and do something that’s really going to work.”

A commanding performance by the offensive line in the fourth quarter allowed the Buffs to bleed the clock and ultimately secure the victory. When asked about the final drive to finish the game, Montez gave all the credit to the offensive line and sophomore running back Alex Fontenot.

“The last drive of the game had very little to do with me and a lot to do with the O-line and Alex Fontenot and how they just absolutely dominated up front,” Montez said. “I mean we would hand the ball off and those holes are so big that Alex would just go and just get busy and pick up a ton of yards and they were just happening back-to-back-to-back. So, I mean I’m just really proud of our guys up front and how they played and how they finished.”

Colorado will travel to Salt Lake City next week for a matchup against No.7 Utah on Nov. 30. The time and TV information has yet to be announced.

Colorado snaps 5-game losing streak with homecoming victory over Stanford

The Colorado Buffaloes football team hosted the Stanford Cardinal for its 105th homecoming game at Folsom Field in Boulder. In honor of Veterans Day on Monday Nov. 11, Saturday’s matchup against Stanford served as CU’s annual Military Appreciation Day.

For the Buffs, a dreadful effort defensively in the first quarter last week against UCLA put it in a 17-0 hole, which eventually proved too much to overcome. Inconsistent play from redshirt senior quarterback Steven Montez and an inexperienced secondary has plagued Colorado during its 5-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, the return of senior quarterback K.J. Costello last week sparked the Cardinal offense. Costello threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-31 victory over Arizona on Nov. 2. The Buffs would be tested by a balanced Stanford attack that has the ability to stretch the field with Costello at quarterback.

Colorado showed balance of their first drive. Sophomore running back Alex Fontenot carried the ball four times for 34 yards. Fontenot’s success on the ground led to a Montez touchdown rush on a read option keeper around the left side. The redshirt senior recorded 22 yards rushing during the Buffs’ first offensive possession. Following the score, Montez eclipsed 10,000 career all-purpose yards. Colorado led 7-0 early.

Stanford responded with a balanced drive of their own. Costello completed passes to four different receivers, but a tackle for loss from senior outside linebacker Davion Taylor forced the Cardinal to settle for a field goal just outside the red zone. Stanford cut the Colorado lead to four.

Head coach Mel Tucker said after the game in his mind scoring defense vital. No matter the yards gained, as long as you bend but don’t break, that’s a win.

“In order to play good defense, you have to hold people to low numbers,” Tucker said. “The most important stat is scoring defense. To hold a team to 13 points or less is really our goal. We played probably our best defense of the season in that regard. Guys continue to chop wood, play hard, be physical and have relentless effort.”

A holding penalty against the Buffs on fourth down wiped out a muffed punt fumble recovery, which would’ve set up Colorado inside the red zone. Instead, the Cardinal retained possession after the re-punt. The Buffs defense held though after deflecting a Costello pass on third down. Colorado led 7-3 after one quarter.

After a 29-yard reception from junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. early in the second quarter, Montez threw an interception on a slant pattern ending a promising Colorado drive. The ensuing Cardinal drive stalled in the red zone and ended in a field goal after freshman safety Mark Perry force a hurried throw from Costello. Stanford trailed 7-6.

The Buffs were unable to find success on offense after Stanford’s second field goal. But, Colorado’s defense stood tall, putting pressure on Costello and forcing a turnover. Junior safety Derrion Rakestraw came up with the interception.

Tucker mentioned and eluded to the idea of “complimentary football” multiple times after the game, something the Buffs executed defensively, maintaining slim leads, forcing turnovers and limiting the big play in order to give the offense a chance.

Montez distributed the ball well on the Buffs’ possession late in the second quarter. The senior completed passes to Shenault Jr., sophomore wide receiver Maurice Bell and junior wide receiver K.D. Nixon. However, the drive ended in a field goal after back-to-back quarterback hurries from the Cardinal defense. The Buffs led 10-6 at the half.

A pass interference penalty on Taylor deep in Stanford territory extended the opening drive of the second half for the Cardinal. Nine plays later, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jalen Sami came up with a stop on third down in the red zone for Colorado. Stanford missed the ensuing field goal.

The Buffs struggled on offense in the third quarter, but the defense held strong. Junior defensive end Mustafa Johnson and sophomore defensive end Terrance Lang came up with back-to-back sacks and forced a Stanford punt late in the third quarter. Colorado maintained a four-point edge.

Tucker said the plan of attack on defense was to force Stanford into third down and obvious passing situations. Once they did that, Colorado could get after the passer.

“We knew that if we got them to third down, we would be able to attack their protections and get to the quarterback,” Tucker said. “We just really needed our rush and our coverage to work together. The past three or four games on third down we had been able to get to the quarterback. We have been able to hit him. We just needed to have some sound coverage behind it.”

The Cardinal offense finally found the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter. Costello hit sophomore wide receiver Simi Fehoko in stride for a 79-yard scoring strike. Stanford led 13-10. Colorado responded with a balanced drive, which included a conversion of fourth and one deep in Cardinal territory. The Buffs had to settle for a short field goal, tying the game at 13 with just over seven minutes to play.

On the ensuing Stanford possession Taylor came up huge for the Buffs, recording a pass break up and tackle on second and third down consecutively. The Cardinal were forced to punt after three plays in their own territory. Taylor talked about the two consecutive plays.

“The last two plays I had a feeling they were going to get him [Stanford TE Colby Parkinson] to the sticks,” Taylor said. “I tried to make sure there was great eye discipline and focus on the things we predicted this week. The next play was the same thing. Having eye discipline and not looking back at the quarterback and try to make a play.”

The Buffs took over with six minutes left in the contest. Montez and freshman Jaren Mangham used their legs to start the drive. A pass interference call on Stanford helped continue the possession. Later, Colorado handed the ball off to Shenault Jr. on fourth down and one…. I’ll just let the video speak for itself.

Tucker said the play on fourth and one is just another example of Shenault Jr.’s competitive fire and desire to win.

“I’ve said it every week,” Tucker said. “He is a tough kid and cares about this team. He is going to give us what he’s got, and he is going to show up for us. That was a prime example. Big time players make big time plays in the crunch time and that’s what that was.”

The Buffs drove to the 17-yard line and redshirt freshman kicker Evan Price hit a 37-yard walk off field goal to give Colorado the 16-13 win.  Colorado will have the week off following today’s homecoming game against Stanford. The Buffs will host Washington in two weeks on Saturday, Nov. 23. The time has yet to be announced.

 

Freshman Jaylyn Sherrod leads Buffs to victory in exhibition

The Colorado Buffaloes women’s basketball team hosted Regis in an exhibition game Monday night in Boulder at the CU Events Center. Colorado defeated the Rangers 92-45.

Sophomore forward Peanut Tuitele opened the scoring for the Buffs following a three-minute drought to begin the game. Colorado took advantage of the size difference inside, finding junior forward Mya Hollingshed for an easy layup for the Buffs’ second basket.

Despite shooting a low percentage early, the Rangers were persistent of the glass, grabbing multiple offensive rebounds and capitalizing on the inside with second chance points. Freshman guard Jaylyn Sherrod provided a spark for the Buffs, knocking down a three, converting an and-one, and assisting on a fast break layup on three consecutive possessions. Colorado jumped out to a 14-6 lead.

Head coach JR Payne talked about Sherrod’s performance postgame. Payne said even though it’s just an exhibition, it counts in her mind.

“I mean I count that,” Payne said. “I even said in the locker room your (Jaylyn Sherrod’s) first collegiate game: 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one turnover, a couple blocks. It’s a great stat line and Jaylyn’s a great player. She’s going to be a great Buff for years to come.”

Regis continued to struggle on the offensive end, finishing the first quarter shooting 17 percent from the field. Sherrod led the Buffs with eight points and four rebounds after the first ten minutes. The Buffs led 20-6.

Sherrod’s playmaking continued in the second quarter, finding freshman guard Zuzanna Kulinska for an and-one to extend the Colorado lead to 16. After struggling early on, sophomore guard Emma Clarke knocked down a three to add to the already commanding lead for the Buffs.

Sherrod found senior guard Quinessa Cayloa-Do for an and-one late in the second quarter to push the Colorado lead to 30. Sherrod pulled up for a jumper with a few seconds left in the half to give the Buffs a 47-12 lead at halftime.

Sherrod admitted that she was nervous to begin the game, but after the first few plays she settled in.

“When I first started I was kind of nervous,” Sherrod said. “I told Aubrey (Knight) that I was so jittery. But, it was just good to get out there and play, being that I haven’t played in a minute, even going back to high school. So, it was just a good opportunity and a good chance to get back out there.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Aubrey Knight knocked down a jumper at the top of the key for open the third quarter scoring for the Buffaloes. A transition layup from Clarke capped a 7-0 run for Colorado. Unselfish play on the offensive end kept the Buffs efficient from the field, shooting 59 percent through three quarters.

Despite holding a 39-point lead early in the fourth quarter Colorado’s activity level remained high on both ends, grabbing multiple offensive rebounds and attacking the rim. Freshman guard Raanee Smith set up Knight for an and-one opportunity after coming up with a steal.

Payne liked the Buffs’ persistence and high energy, which translated into rebounds on both ends.

“I’m just thrilled with our effort tonight,” Payne said. “I thought we played extremely hard. We want to be the toughest, hardest-working, most disciplined team and I thought in a lot of ways we were that team tonight. (I) love our rebounding effort, to out rebound somebody by 25, especially Regis, who’s a very good rebounding team, was great.

Sherrod pushed the ball in transition and found junior forward Annika Jank for a corner three. Colorado led 87-38 late in the fourth quarter. Sherrod attacked the Regis press late and put back her own miss to give the Buffs a 50-point lead. Colorado defeated Regis 92-45.

Sherrod said after the game that she prides herself on her ability to bring a relentless energy and effort to the court and it showed Monday night.

“I pride myself on what I do best is what I bring to the team and if I don’t do my job I let my team down,” Sherrod said. “And my job is energy so bringing that to the team every night is what I pride myself on.”

The Buffs open the regular season Sunday, November 10 against New Jersey Institute of Technology in Boulder. Tip-off is set for 12 p.m. MST.

Colorado falls 35-31 to USC

The Colorado Buffaloes football team fell to the USC Trojans 35-31 on Friday night in Boulder. A lackadaisical performance in the fourth quarter allowed the Trojans to take the lead late and ultimately secure the victory.

Colorado’s defense put up little resistance on USC’s first possession. A 37-yard TD rush from sophomore wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown capped a three-play 75-yard scoring drive to put the Trojans up 7-0 less than a minute into the game. The Buffs responded with a balanced drive that stalled in the red zone and ended with a 22-yard field goal from junior kicker James Stefanou.

Freshman cornerback K.J. Trujillo intercepted USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis at the Buffs’ 38-yard line on the Trojans second possession. On the ensuing drive, an 18-yard back shoulder pass from redshirt senior quarterback Steven Montez to senior wide receiver Tony Brown gave the Buffs the ball at the USC two. Junior wide receiver K.D. Nixon capped the Buffs’ second offensive possession with a 7-yard TD reception. Colorado led 10-7. Montez and sophomore running back Alex Fontenot provided an offensive spark with their legs, rushing for 28 and 31 yards respectively through the first quarter.

A sack from Trujillo forced a quick USC three-and-out. The freshman from Buena Park, California stepped up for the Buffs  in the first half. Colorado needed someone to provide a spark in the secondary with junior Mekhi Blackmon out for the season due to shoulder surgery and the overall lack of depth in the secondary. Trujillo talked about the impact the defense had early.

“In the first half we executed really well,” Trujillo said. “We had a lot of three-and-outs, turnover, just a lot of big plays all around. Our d-line and linebackers were putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback allowing the secondary to execute our jobs and make it easier for us.”

The Buffs’ running back duo, Fontenot and freshman Jaren Mangham, got a steady dose of work during Colorado’s first four offensive possessions. In addition, Montez’s effectiveness rushing gave the Colorado offense balance in the first half.

A pair of receptions from junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. put the Buffs in scoring position with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter. Nixon put Colorado up 17-7 a few plays later with another 7-yard TD reception (his second of the game). Senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and St. Brown provided the response for the Trojans. USC drove down into the red zone. Slovis connected with freshman tailback Kenan Christon for a walk-in touchdown to cut the Buffs’ lead to three (17-14) with just under three minutes left in the first half. Penalties on both sides of the ball for Colorado stalled offensive drives and extended USC possessions through the first two quarters. The Buffs clung to a three point lead at the half.

Shenault Jr. took a 71-yard slant pass to the house to open up the third quarter on the second play of the drive for the Buffs. Colorado extended their lead to ten. The Trojans responded when Slovis connected with redshirt junior wide receiver Tyler Vaugns for a 21-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Colorado led 24-21.

Shenault Jr. rushed for 17 yards on fourth and two from inside USC territory to keep the Buffs’ second posssession of the third quarter alive. Montez mentioned that early in the game the Trojans were playing man-to-man with Shenault Jr., something the Buffs took advantage of in the first half.

“There were playing a lot of man coverage on him, anybody that knows anything about Laviska, man coverage is not for Laviska because he will tear you apart,” Montez said.

Montez capped a eight play 66-yard drive with a 17-yard TD rush to push the lead to ten. In addition to 45 rushing yards, Montez threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs. His ability to not only run, but extend passing plays with his legs provided the Colorado offense with a much needed lift. Head coach Mel Tucker talked about Montez’s bounce-back performance following two tough losses on the road.

“It’s not the first time he has played like that this year,” Tucker said. “He has played a lot of good football for us. We had a tough stretch but, like I’ve said before, I feel like he is a good player. We have to help to play better around him. He had to make some better decisions. I have a lot of confidence in him. He works really hard. It’s important to him and he cares. He’s becoming a leader for us. I have a lot of respect for Steven for the way he’s hung in there and handled himself.”

Slovis continued to take advantage of the Buffs’ inexperience in the secondary, using the whole field to drive the football down into the red zone on the Trojans second possession of the third quarter. Freshman safety Mark Perry recorded a tackle-for-loss on a third down to push USC just outside the red zone. The Trojans missed a 40-yard field goal on the ensuing play.

Penalties continued to plague the Buffaloes in the second half, providing the Trojans with free yardage extending their offensive drives and killing the Buffs offensive momentum. Tucker said that it’s tough to win games when a team commits that many penalties.

“But you know when you have 13 penalties for 100 yards, it’s just really hard to win like that,” Tucker said. “I mean every 100 yards is a touchdown. When we don’t turn the ball over and we get takeaways then we always have a chance to win and that was the case. But, we just have to be more disciplined. We got to have less penalties and we got to do our jobs a lot better.”

Colorado held a 31-28 lead with just over eight minutes left in regulation. Montez completed a 19-yard pass to Brown on third and eight to extend the Buffs’ drive. But, Colorado was unable to convert on third and four from just inside USC territory. The Buffs stayed with the air attack for most of the fourth quarter, something some people questioned after the game. When asked about if he should’ve stuck with the ground game late, Tucker said, no.

“I don’t look it like that,” Tucker said. “I thought we called a good game and we were aggressive and they were having a really hard time covering our guys. We took our shots.”

Pittman capped a four minute 90-yard drive for the Trojans with a 37-yard TD reception to give USC a 35-31 lead with 2:15 left in the game. Fontenot came up short on fourth down for the Buffs on the ensuing drive. The Trojans came away with a 35-31 road victory.

Both Tucker and Montez said after the game that, despite the loss, there some things the Buffs did well on both sides of the ball.

“We ran the ball on our terms and we were able to be efficient throwing the football,” Tucker said. “We finished in the red zone, didn’t turn the ball over. So, there were some positives there.”

Montez added that he doesn’t like the idea of a “moral victory.” He said Colorado needed to do a bit more to finish the game and come out on top.

“I mean yeah I’m not real big into moral victories.” Montez said. “I think we did some positive things, some things that we can definitely build on in the future, but just got to do a little bit more and get it done, just plain and simple that’s what it is. (We) got to do a little bit more and get it done.”

Colorado will travel to Los Angeles to play the UCLA Bruins next Saturday Nov. 2. The game time and TV coverage is still TBD.

Jack Johnson: America’s First Pop Culture Icon

Jack Johnson was one the biggest anomalies the sports world had ever seen in the early 20th century. Not only because of his reign as heavyweight champion from 1908 until 1915, but because of his personality both in and outside of the ring. He was “brash, taunted his opponents, dated white women and openly enjoyed the luxuries of his wealth” (Eligon and Thorp). Johnson comported himself this way in a time where a majority of the black population faced frequent, violence, discrimination and lynching during the height of the Jim Crow era. Perhaps it was his cocky disposition that infatuated the media across racial lines even long after his death in a time where blacks were expected “know their place” in society.

Boxing during the early 1900s was incomparable in terms of the amount of people it captivated and the influence it had on overall society. Even today, with the popularity of the NFL and recent traction of the NBA pales in comparison to what boxing meant to America in the early part of the 20th century. Boxing’s positioning in American society put Johnson, inseparable from his race when covered by journalists, in a unique position of power among both whites and blacks while he held the heavyweight championship for seven years (Eligon and Thorp). According to American essayist Dr. Gerald Early and PBS. Org “Not even the most famous race leaders of the day, Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and W. E. B. Du Bois, founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and editor of that organization’s magazine, The Crisis, could claim anywhere near the attention Johnson received” (Early). Attention in the sports world translated to power and thus social influence.

It wasn’t just the popularity of the boxing that kept Johnson at the top of the sports world. His defiance of the unspoken rules regarding blacks during the Jim Crow era and blatant disregard for the social hierarchy of the time period, made Johnson, much like any modern-day pop culture icon, the subject of constant media attention. One could make the argument that popular culture as we know it today was very much in its infancy in the early 20th century. Sports (and more specifically boxing), which play a large role in popular culture today, were just beginning to flex their influential muscle in shaping society. Movies, films, and music production were just beginning to become more widespread and eventually begin to impact society. Johnson, in a time where all the aspects that shape popular culture were beginning to gain traction, was the first pop culture celebrity thrust to the forefront of American society. Every part of Johnson’s life, including his sex life, was newsworthy to both colored and white newsrooms. Johnson flaunted his wealth, his automobiles, and his women (Early).

Johnson polarizing nature ensured news coverage would follow. Many whites were perturbed by the idea of the time period’s most iconic white women were “romantically linked” with Johnson (Black History in America). The heavyweight boxer “was a public menace for many, a public hero for some, admired and demonized, feared, misunderstood, and ridiculed (Early). What made Johnson’s popularity even more unique is that he wasn’t the first black man or former slave, to find a temporary career in boxing. Joe Walcott was welterweight champion from 1901 to 1904 and Joe Gans was lightweight champion from 1902 to 1904. In addition, former slaves Bill Richmond and Tom Molyneaux found success boxing in England during the late 18th and early 19th century (Early).

It’s difficult to compare Johnson to any one modern day pop culture icon within sports primarily because of his rise to fame during the height of one of the most difficult times in U.S. history for African Americans. Nobody past or present in sports carried themselves quite like Johnson. His bold disobedience to the existing racial hierarchy and personal transgressions often garnered more attention than his accomplishments within the ring (Carrie Teresa). His disposition and “wrongdoings” according to white society in the early 20th century helped to maintain his popularity and kept the press, both colored and white covering his every move, no matter if it was an accomplishment in boxing or an intimate personal affair.

Despite extensive coverage of his external affairs, white newspapers did everything they could to try and disparage Johnson’s victories over many opponents. After Johnson’s victory over the former heavyweight champion James J. Jefferies, the New York Times claimed Jeffries had been drugged leading up to fight (Eligon and Thorp). These attempts to belittle Johnson’s accomplishments in the ring could not change his defiance in a society where blacks were subordinate and despised. Johnson became a symbol. He used his societal status to empower African Americans across the nation and captivated the media in the process with his acts that conflicted with the norms of the time period. Johnson’s influence extended far beyond any other athlete during the early 20th century. He was America’s first pop culture icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapa leads Buffs to win over Arizona State

The Colorado Buffaloes women’s soccer team hosted the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday afternoon at Prentup Field in Boulder for the Buffs’ “Kick-Out-Cancer” match. The Buffs, led by junior defender Gabbi Chapa, snapped a two-game losing streak and recorded their second win in conference play, beating Arizona State 2-1.

For Colorado, a difficult road trip to California last week cumulated in two losses for the Buffs against No. 22 UCLA and No. 4 USC. Senior goalkeeper Jalen “J.J.” Tompkins was busy last Saturday versus the Trojans, making a season-high 11 saves in a losing effort.

For the Sun Devils, a matchup on the road against No.15 Washington State last Sunday ended in a 0-0 draw after two overtimes. Arizona State looked to grab its first win in Pac-12 play against the Buffs on Saturday afternoon.

After suffering two losses on the road to Top-25 ranked teams, Colorado head coach Danny Sanchez knew it was important get off to a fast start early against Arizona State.

“Every game in the Pac-12 is like this,” Sanchez said following the win. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the standings. Arizona State is a very good team. It was a great start for us. The way they play, their tough to defend and I thought we really did a good job of limiting their clear-cut opportunities.”

Assistant coach Jason Green made defense a priority for the Buffs against the Sun Devils, emphasizing to his players to make Arizona State “play negative.” Sanchez said that’s always the goal defensively.

“(If) they (Arizona State) turn and face and play make, you’re going to be in trouble,” Sanchez said. “So, I thought for the most part we did a really good job of that. Even at midfield make them play negative so we can have an opportunity to get people behind the ball.”

Colorado opened the scoring early in the second minute when Chapa scored her first goal as a Buff unassisted. The transfer from Illinois played primarily a defensive role for Colorado last season recording just one shot on goal during her first season in Boulder.

The Buffs generated a couple scoring chances late in the first half. Freshman forward Kyla Ferry received a pass from senior forward Taylor Kornieck and put a shot toward the right corner only to be saved by the Sun Devil keeper.

Early in the second half, Chapa fed freshman forward Tessa Barton, who nutmegged the Arizona State keeper to give the Buffs a 2-0 lead in the 49th  minute.

Following a tremendous performance, Chapa talked through the early goal and what she saw on the play.

“I just kind of saw that I had no pressure on and I just kept dribbling,” Chapa said. “Both center backs kind of tried to step up to me and I just slid on by and aimed for the net.”

Chapa added that getting off to a fast start after suffering two road losses was critical to Colorado’s success.

“It was crucial,” Chapa said. “It was crucial to get the W today. We kind of had a rocky last two weekends, so we really needed to come out and play as a team and get one, get a W.”

The Sun Devils responded in the 78th minute when freshman midfielder Dai Williams put a shot past Tompkins to cut the Buffs’ lead to one. Arizona State kept the pressure on until the whistle blew but couldn’t get the equalizer.

Colorado escaped with a 2-1 victory. Next up, the Buffs host No. 2 Stanford at Prentup field Thursday afternoon. The match is set to begin at 3 p.m. MST.

 

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