Category Archives: Columns

Childhood Poverty Goes Beyond Stereotypes

Photo by Christy Avery

Story  by Natalie Clare

Money being stretched so tight it feels as though it may rip. With the bank breaking, life feels like it is falling apart.

I have dealt with money issues my whole life. With my family just being my mom and I, we have learned to be resourceful and smart, and we are navigating through poverty.

Today is May 23rd, also known as Red Nose Day. In affiliation with Walgreens, MARS Wrigley Confectionery, NBC, and the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, this holiday is meant to raise money for childhood poverty. Over the past four years, this organization has raised over 150 million dollars. This money has given 36 million meals, helped 77 thousand homeless children, and provided 146 thousand children with sanitation, hygiene, and water access.

According to RedNoseDay.org, over 700 thousand American teens are homeless, and one in six American children do not know where their next meal will come from. This is approximately 300 students at FC.

When you think of someone being poor, visions of normal American teens that you go to high school with do not come to mind.

When researching for this column, I had heard of Red Nose Day, and participated in it in the past. However, I did not realize the extreme need for it.

I am a part of those statistics, but I am not the stereotypical model for a teenager in poverty. When thinking of organizations like this, I often associate them with countries outside of the United States. Habitat Humanity building houses in Guatemala. Water Step setting up water pumps in Costa Rica. However, Red Nose Day donates half of the total proceeds to American and Puerto Rican citizens, and the other half to the poorest nations in the world.

“Kids in the U.S. experience higher poverty rates than most developed nations. Only Greece, Mexico, Israel, and Turkey have higher poverty rates than the U.S,”  according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a 2017 report.

This is shocking, considering the photographs and videos that are associated with extreme poverty are never seem to be from the United States. However, the source of this problem is largely centered right in our home country.

This high rate of poverty is largely caused by the shrinking of the middle class. According to the Pew Research Center in a 2016 report, 61 percent of the United States population fell under the requirements for middle class in 1971. In 2016, the percentage fell to 52.

To a high school student, this may seem irrelevant and like a big jumble of numbers. However, the middle class is shrinking, the majority of citizens are falling into the lower income category, instead of the higher income. This drops the median income in America.

The Pew research report said, “present an adverse climate for economic growth. A relative decline in the incomes of lower- and middle-income families may create a drag on overall consumption in the economy, lead to excessive borrowing by these families or provide disincentives to invest in education.”

Why is this happening? Well, technology has been known to take over mundane tasks once done by a human. With factories using technology to increase efficiency of production, middle class jobs are replacing humans. According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development in a 2019 report, 17 percent of middle-income jobs face a “high risk” of automation.

In the same report, the rising costs of education, health care, and house are hitting the middle class hard.

As a child, my mom went back to college to get her Bachelor’s Degree in nursing when I was five. She is now back in school again for her Master’s. Rising education costs make it hard for low-income families to ever rise in the ranks because they cannot afford to do so.

Growing up in a household where money was tight, my mom and I have learned how to live life without breaking the bank. We do not take large summer vacations every year. We do not go to the mall and shop at high end stores every weekend. We do not own big, fancy cars that can talk.

We live a comfortable lifestyle, under stricter restrictions than most households. However, you would not look at me and think of someone in poverty. I wear normal clothes. I eat normal foods at every meal. I participate in sports and have an active social life.

I am a normal teenager, but living in poverty.

Poverty has so many faces, mine being one. Today, drop a dollar at Walgreens and pick up your red nose in support of childhood poverty. Become a face in support of poverty.

 

Previewing the 2019 MLB season

By J.D. McKay

The longest pro sports season has finally rolled around. It will not be done until November. A season that long is hard to predict, but I will try my best and hopefully get a couple of predictions correct.

National League: This league is a bit of a toss up because of the new talent. All three division winners from last season kept their star players, but some of the weaker teams added stars. For example, the Reds signed Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. The Padres signed Manny Machado. The Phillies signed Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen. However, I see Harper as inconsistent and a little overrated. He has only had two seasons batting above 300 and usually bats closer to 250, very average for a MLB player.

I expect the Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers to all win their divisions for the second straight year. But I think the Reds will end their years of playing like garbage and make the playoffs as a wild card team. The Rockies will be the other wild card team. The Rockies will beat Puig and the Reds before losing to the Dodgers. The Braves will beat the Brewers in a rematch from last season’s playoffs before losing to the Dodgers who will be going to their third straight World Series.

American League: In the AL, I think that it will go about the same as it did last year. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros will be the best teams. The Red Sox will again win the AL east, and the Yankees will play the Angels in the wild card. Then, the Yankees will play the Red Sox and the Astros will play the AL Central champion Indians. This year the Yankees will finally get over the Red Sox but will lose to the Astros in the ALCS. For the second time in three years, the Dodgers will play the Astros in the World Series. However, this time the Dodgers will finally win in a six-game series.

Awards: This year’s AL Cy Young winner will be Trevor Bauer. Bauer is a pitcher who is very underrated. After being a pretty run-of-the-mill pitcher for the first several years of his career, he figured out his mechanics and dropped his ERA two points. He had the third lowest ERA in the majors last year and probably would have been the Cy Young winner had he pitched more innings. The NL Cy Young winner will be Jacob deGrom. Last year, his ERA was 1.70. However, with that low of an ERA, the wins did not come. He only won 10 games, had 9 losses, and 13 no decisions. The AL MVP will be Mike Trout, showing that he deserved the insane 12 year 440 million dollar contract. It honestly would not surprise me if deGrom also won NL MVP, but I will pick another actual position player. I expect Machado to win the award, even though he is on a average team.

Previewing March Madness

By J.D. McKay

We are finally into possibly the most exciting and wildest time of the year: March Madness. I will be previewing the tournament and giving you the answers to fill out the first perfect bracket ever

East: The East has the most hyped one-seed in the tournament in Duke. Led by Zion Williamson, who can only be described as a freak athlete, they have been one of the most interesting teams to watch this year. However, when their outside shots are not falling, they are very beatable. With that being said, I do not think we are going to see the first overall seed fall in the first round for the second year in a row. But I would not be surprised if they lost to the four-seed Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 or the two- seed Michigan State in the Elite 8. In the South bracket I expect Michigan State, who is hot, to go to the Final Four.

West: The West seems to me to be the easiest bracket. The one-seed and two-seed are both good, but Gonzaga and Michigan finished the season with a loss in their conference championships. With that being said, there is not really any other team that separates themselves from the other 14 teams. Murray State has the most hyped non-Power Six player in Ja Morant. FSU is decent but not very consistent. But, I’m picking the Zags to get rolling and play Michigan State in the Final Four.

South: I get a sense of deja vu from this bracket, seeing Virginia, who lost to the 16-seed for the first time last year. I expect they do, too, and will come out prepared to beat the 16-seed Gardner-Webb University and play deep into the tournament. They also have Tennessee in their bracket, who has been solid this whole year. They lost to Kentucky once but have since beat them in their conference tournament. They have a lot of momentum and I expect them to ride that into the Final Four after beating Virginia in the Elite 8.

Midwest: This bracket has three of the most historic college basketball teams, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina. I expect all three of these teams to make it to the Round of 32, but then I expect Kansas to fall to Auburn, who just beat Tennessee in the SEC Conference Championship and LSU earlier in the SEC Tournament. However, I expect North Carolina to beat UK in the Elite 8, in a rematch from the 2017 Elite 8. I distinctly remember that game because I watched in on ESPN in Guatemala with Spanish-speaking commentators. Plus, there was a huge shot made by then sophomore Luke Maye, who now leads the Tar Heels. I again expect UNC to beat UK and play Tennessee in the Final Four.

Potential Cinderella team: I do not expect any repeats of the Loyola Chicago run to the Final Four saw last year, but there are some teams that could bust some brackets this March. First off is Syracuse. The Orange are always good. They have one of the best head coaches in the country: Jim Boeheim. They are an eight-seed and could cause some problems. Another Cinderella team is Murray State. As I said above, they have Ja Morant, who is insanely athletic. He could prove to be problematic for some teams. The one other team I could see being a Cinderella team is St. Mary’s. They are coming off a conference championship against Gonzaga, where they upset the Zags.

Final Four: I picked Michigan State to play the Zags and Tennessee to play North Carolina, both of which are one vs two matchups. Michigan State will probably beat Gonzaga because they are very hot right now and are willing to be scrappy when needed as seen against Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. North Carolina will beat Tennessee because they are experienced. In the championship game they will beat Michigan State. Two years ago, they were National Champions. Some of those players have gone pro or graduated, but other, like Maye have stuck around. Again, experience will be the factor that helps them bring the title to North Carolina.

While I was listening to this I listened to various versions of “One Shining Moment” on Youtube. It is fun to watch the best moments from the tournament on these videos, but more fun to watch the history and upsets live. Do not miss your chance to watch something you will one day tell your grandkids you saw live.

Four things to do or watch over Spring Break

By J.D. McKay

Typically I write my last or second-to-last column before break about five things to do or watch over the upcoming break. However, besides for March Madness, there just are not very many interesting upcoming events. Hopefully we sports fans will be able to survive the pre-March Madness lull and get into the tournament and then baseball season immediately after.

1- MLB Opening Day

There are a variety of options that sports fan can use to enjoy the March 28, the first day of the MLB season. The Cincinnati Reds are in town and play the Pirates. That will be the Reds’ first chance to show off their new toy, Yasiel Puig, in a meaningful game. It should also be a win because the Reds always win the first game of the season. A cheaper option is just to stay at home and watch the games on TV. Yankees fans such as myself will get to watch the pinstripes play the Orioles on ESPN. The Dodger play following the Yankees game and the Red Sox play following the Dodger game.

2- Sweet 16 and Elite 8 at KFC Yum Center

Usually, when I suggest sports events to go to, I try to suggest cheaper options to make games more affordable for my fellow broke students. For this, however, I do not really have an idea on price of tickets. Currently, the three game package is $250 dollars on Ticketmaster. After watching these games for several years and seeing low attendance because the teams are not playing close to home, I have wanted to go and expected them to be cheap. This year I am planning on going and unless U of L, UK, Duke, Purdue, or IU plays at the KFC Yum Center, I expect tickets will be affordable. Hopefully, a Cinderella team will make their way through the South Regional to add some excitement to the games.

3- Watch March Madness

If I really have to tell you this, you should start paying more attention to sports. It is the time of year when average basketball fans like myself pay lots of attention to games that I would not normally care about at all. It creates fans for the lower-seeded teams. Often, this fandom only lasts until the end of the game, but some Cinderella stories keep those fans deep into the tournament. Ultimately, the three-week period probably has the highest concentration of buzzer beaters and upsets of any time during the basketball season.

4- Fill out a bracket

The next part of this is potentially more fun, filling out a bracket. This might not sound fun to non-sports fans but will actually be worth your time. If you are an expert college basketball watcher, feel free to make educated guesses each game and have a terrible bracket. But if you are an ill-educated basketball fan, you can make some predictions based on other things. These uneducated brackets are often some of the best brackets. For example, one classic bracket idea is, if these teams mascots were to fight, who would win? Or, you could just pick the winning teams based on best mascot or best color scheme. Any bracket strategy is only crazy if it does not work.

Columnist explains love for hockey

By J.D. McKay

There is nothing interesting going on in FC sports right now. Boys’ basketball suffered a disappointing loss to New Albany in sectionals. That was the last winter sport still in season. Track is about three weeks into practices but have only had indoor meets, and softball and baseball are still in preseason. Things are not more interesting at the national scale.

The MLB is in spring training, and Bryce Harper finally signed with the Phillies last week, so I guess there was some interesting national sports news. The main winter sport, basketball, is also boring. The Warriors are going to be the one seed and probably win the finals again. However, the Lebron-led Lakers probably will not make the playoffs. That will be the first time Lebron has not made the playoffs in over 10 years. That will make the NBA playoffs lose viewership because the NBA is a league run by one player, Lebron James. Plus, there is nothing so wrong with sports right now that I need to suggest how to fix it.

However, the NHL season is in full swing and is almost ignored by sports fans. So, with nothing going on in sports, I figured I would give the NHL and minor league hockey leagues some attention.

First off, if you have never been to a hockey game, you need to get to one. Hockey is an amazing sport to watch in a stadium. There are four NHL teams about the same distance away from Galena, Indiana (Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues), but those are all about four hours away. However, we have minor league teams within two hours of here (Evansville Thunderbolts, Indy Fuel, and Cincinnati Cyclones).

Another great hockey feature is change in champions. The NBA, NFL, and MLB all have several top teams that have been competing in the championship of their respective leagues, Patriots, Dodgers, and Warriors specifically. The NHL is not like that. Last year, an expansion team lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. To show even more that teams do not repeat very often, over the past three conference and Stanley Cup finals, only two teams have been in the conference championship twice. That is two out of ten teams. Another stat that shows the fluctuating levels of teams is that there were no repeat 1 seeds over those three years. The NFL had the Patriots repeat as the one seed twice and the NBA had the Warriors repeat as the one seed.

The last dope part about hockey is the violence. People’s number one complaint about hockey is that it does not have many goals and is similar to soccer. That is a ludicrous accusation. Hockey has violence that is sometimes similar to football but often very different. The player often skate across the ice and smash an opponent into the boards. The fact that ice is under the players instead of grass or concrete makes for some interesting looking and acrobatic collisions. Plus, fighting does not result in a suspension, fine or ejection. While it does result in a five-minute trip to the penalty box, both players have to go so the game stays even. Plus, these guys are often actually angry at each other so they have a reason to want to fight and to want to win the fight.

Now you know why I love hockey. It is the best winter pro sport. Unfortunately, Louisville does not have a hockey team. However, that should not stop you from going to a game somewhere. So before you judge hockey again, go to a game to see what exactly you are judging.