World Cup Victory Signifies Increase in Popularity for Women’s Sports by Daniel Moebus-Bowles
The U.S. National team may just have solidified itself as the greatest women’s soccer program of all time with its recent one-sided World Cup victory. Dominating Japan in the final round gave the USWNT its third World Cup to add to its already decorated history that includes four gold medals and one silver medal in the five Olympics it has competed in.
This invincible team that has sat atop the throne for years has set all the records when it comes to stats, but the records it broke in this year’s World Cup could benefit more than just the team and the sport. During the final, a total of 30.9 million people tuned in to watch the match. An average of 25.4 million Fox Sports viewers in the U.S. watched the tournament in its entirety, according to Nielsen ratings.
These numbers shatter the record that was set by the 2014 Men’s FIFA World Cup and are well above the viewership of the recent NBA Finals, Stanley Cup and World Series. A women’s soccer match is now the most viewed game on a single network in U.S. history.
This team and the players on it that we have come to know over the years have become idolized by Americans and they serve as the backbone to the huge progression of women’s sports in the last 15 years. Players like Hope Solo and those before her, such as Mia Hamm, have created the blueprint for young women in the U.S. to take on sports as a part of their lifestyle. This push has been slowly accelerating since the new millennium, and this newfound attention to women’s sports could be the evidence of its success. The era of women’s sports is clearly upon us.
Caitlyn Jenner Wins Arthur Ashe Award by Michael Jorgenson
Many have criticized the decision to award Caitlyn Jenner, the woman formerly known as Bruce, with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, especially considering that it happened at the ESPYs, the world’s foremost sports awards event. Sportscaster Bob Costas has gone so far as to call it a “crass exploitation play,” an effort by ESPN to increase its viewership. Let’s not forget that Caitlyn once stood atop the sporting world by winning the gold medal for the decathlon way back in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Just because she has since come out publically with her true identity, this doesn’t take away from the fact that she is as much a historical sports figure as she ever was and as deserving of the award as anyone. She has saved thousands of lives and influenced many more to be true to themselves, making this not only a win for the LGBTQ community, but a win for our increasingly accepting and constantly evolving society as a whole.
First-Ever Female NBA Coach Wins Summer League Title by Elliot Thornton
The NBA Summer League is officially a wrap. This Vegas showcase is where college rookies take center stage and prove to GMs why they deserve a shot to be in the pros. But this summer wasn’t all about the players — it was also about a coach.
Becky Hammon led the San Antonio Spurs to their first summer league championship as the first female head coach in NBA history. In a dogfight against the Phoenix Suns with over 80,000 fans in attendance, it was Hammon’s coaching and poise that led her Spurs to a dramatic 93-90 victory.
Following 15 years in the WNBA, Hammon decided to put her pro career aside and do something no other female would dare try: join the NBA. On Aug. 5, 2014 the San Antonio Spurs hired Hammon as the first-ever female assistant coach.
Under the wing of mentor Gregg Popovich, the former San Antonio Star learned the ropes of the NBA very quickly. The torch was passed this summer as she took over the men’s summer league team and she didn’t disappoint.
Hammon’s journey to the NBA has been remarkable. From being an undrafted rookie in the WNBA to her six all-star appearances in the league and now having a Summer League title under her belt, critics can only applaud her accomplishments. But her job is not done yet.
For now, it’s safe to say that Becky Hammon has a heart of a champion, breaking barriers not only for herself, but for women everywhere.
Williams Completes ‘Serena Slam’ by Sean White
They say “20 is the new 30,” but in the world of sports, 30 is the age of decline in most playing careers. But at the age of 33, Serena Williams remains one of the most dominant athletes in the world. On July 11, Williams heightened her prominence atop women’s tennis by earning her 21st Grand Slam victory at Wimbledon.
As Williams’ name continues to ascend in the record books amongst the legendary careers of players such as Germany’s Steffi Graf and Australia’s Margaret Smith Court, the nation’s No. 1 player recreated her own history with the win.
It had been 12 years since she achieved her first “Serena Slam,” but after winning at Wimbledon, Williams repeated the feat of being tennis’ ultimate winner. This year’s “Serena Slam” is the second time in Williams’s career that she is the current champion of each of the four Grand Slam events. Also, the victory at Wimbledon made Williams the oldest women’s tennis player to win a Grand Slam event.
Now, you may be questioning what is left for Williams to conquer in the latter years of her career, but the answer is simple: to win. Besides being just one win away from tying Graff’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, Williams is on the verge of achieving a task she never has before.
Nearly a month away from its arrival in September, the U.S. Open is the next major event that Williams is scheduled to play in. A win in this event would not only award Williams with her seventh U.S. Open, but it would place her on women’s tennis’ most prestigious platform. Williams would become just the second player to win each of the Grand Slam events in the same calendar year, Graf being the first.
All Fun and Games Until… by Daniel Moebus-Bowles
Safety is a reoccurring and important issue within sports, especially when concerning the safety of participating athletes. Players have gone as far as to donate thousands of dollars in support of researching the best protective gear and, in some cases, even sued their respective leagues for the unfortunate outcomes that are connected to physical activity in their sport of play. It seems as if most athletes take their own safety into heavy consideration when on the field of play, so it is very surprising to hear of acts where athletes fail to display this attention when off the field.
Just this past Independence Day, NFL players Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants and CJ Wilson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both suffered finger amputations due to injuries sustained during separate firework accidents. Pierre-Paul lost his right index finger while Watson lost both his right index and middle fingers. Given their defensive positions, these injuries have proven to be career-altering. Pierre-Paul, who was franchise tagged, but hoping to earn a long-term deal instead, lost his opportunity of the desired deal just hours after the accident. Moreover, Wilson’s incident led him to recently retire with hopes of returning to the NFL once recovered and healthy.
It is hard to understand how these players, who are concerned with safety so much in the game, can sometimes be very careless outside of it. Both of these men make a living using their hands, and their actions could have cost their teams, families and themselves a lot more. Although this may be the most severe occurrence in outside injuries, this is not the only example. We can point to Andrew Bynum who missed an entire season with the Philadelphia 76ers after hurting his leg bowling. Or Rory Mcllroy, who just missed the British Open due to a ruptured Achilles he got while playing soccer. It’s inevitable that these accidents do happen, but one would expect athletes of professional caliber to be more responsible.
Whether you follow UCSB sports or not, you’ve most likely at some point heard of “Big Al,” the UCSB men’s basketball team’s all-time leader in rebounds and second all-time leader in points. After graduating this past school year, Alan Williams went undrafted before playing for the Houston Rockets in the NBA Summer League, where he represented the Gauchos and amazed the crowds with averages of 20.5 points and a summer-league leading 11.8 rebounds per game. While his efforts didn’t land him a spot on an NBA roster for the upcoming season, he recently made the announcement that he is heading overseas to play for the Qingdao Double Star Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.
With a max contract all but signed, center DeAndre Jordan seemed to finally have what he wanted with intentions of joining the Dallas Mavericks. It left Los Angeles Clippers fans startled by the fact that their star center was off to Dallas to clean up boards for their conference rivals.
But as the days passed and rumors swirled about the potential return of Jordan to L.A., the tables turned against Mavericks fans which made the hearts of Clippers fans swell with joy.
For the last seven seasons, the athletic Jordan has filled highlight reels and been a driving force behind the birth of “Lob City.” His defense and rebounding are irreplaceable and it was hard to imagine a title run without “DJ” in the mix.
Suddenly, the urgent scramble to lure Jordan back to L.A. led Clippers players, owners and coaches to “camp out” at Jordan’s Houston home until the moratorium period ended.
Before anyone knew it, the weirdest offseason situation in recent memory ended with DeAndre Jordan returning to Los Angeles and leaving Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Although this may be one of the most surprising free agency scandals ever witnessed, one thing is for sure: The Clippers are loaded, and Lob City will be in full effect this season.
NFL Offseason’s Biggest Moves by Daniel Moebus-Bowles
In an offseason that is crowded by suspensions and lawsuits, the actual trades and pickups being made by NFL teams have been deflated in media coverage to this point. This has definitely been unfortunate due to the fact that this offseason has been very exciting for many players and a couple of teams in particular.
The Indianapolis Colts, who already have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, a strong defense and a great group of receivers, added some phenomenal pieces to complete their all-star caliber team. This season, Frank Gore and Andre Johnson will suit up in blue to revamp an already potent offense. In addition, the Colts got more protection for Andrew Luck in Todd Herremans and added savvy veterans in Kendall Langford and Trent Cole to their defense. Simply put, Indianapolis is deserving of being one of Vegas’s Super Bowl winning predictions.
The Buffalo Bills have become very intriguing with their pickups that include new Head Coach Rex Ryan and a defense he is building for himself. With LeSean “Shady” McCoy on board, the Bills have a very exciting offense that could possibly shock many with quarterback Matt Cassel being the team’s possible starter. Quite honestly, Buffalo will be just as hit-or-miss as the team McCoy came from.
Chip Kelly has set himself up to be either the biggest hero or the biggest bonehead in Philadelphia Eagles history. He has completely redesigned a team that had a 10-6 record under Mark Sanchez last year. Only time will tell if Chip is impulsive or wise in moves.
On the individual side, Ndamukong Suh and Jimmy Graham have made the biggest moves, racking up some cash along the way. Suh moved to the Dolphins and became the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL as Graham joined the Seattle Seahawks. It’s too bad the Seahawks didn’t have Graham for that last red zone pass … just maybe, things would have ended differently.
Sepp Blatter Finally Gets the Boot by Michael Jorgenson
Well, it’s about damn time. After FBI investigators finally stepped in to take a look at the blatant corruption taking place within the soccer world, Sepp Blatter was finally forced to step down as FIFA president in early June. Maybe we won’t have the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after all. Good riddance.
College Football Playoffs Part II by Elliot Thornton
In 2014, a new era of college football was born with the College Football Playoffs. After a back-and-forth battle between the top two teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks, the second-half surge of running back Ezekiel Elliott sealed the deal for the Buckeyes and crowned them the first ever College Football Playoff champions with a 42-20 victory.
But as last season is put to rest and a new season approaches, all eyes are on Head Coach Urban Meyer and his crew to prove themselves against the toughest competition in the nation.
Among these teams lies the rolling Alabama Crimson Tide. After a 35-42 upset and a long ride back to Tuscaloosa, Head Coach Nick Saban and his men stored that bitter loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in their memory and are out for vengeance.
While losing a couple key pieces from their run to the championship game last year, like quarterback Blake Sims, running back T.J. Yeldon and star wideout Amari Cooper, younger talent has emerged and is ready to step up.
Derrick Henry hopes to be the primary weapon for the Crimson Tide offense. The junior running back took 170 handoffs behind Yeldon last year and averaged a staggering 5.8 yards per carry. Henry also led the team in rushing with 990 yards and broke the plane 11 times.
With a 6’3″ 240 lb frame, Henry will be a valuable asset to Saban and his dominant offensive line.
Another team on the rise is Bama rival, the Auburn Tigers. With the departure of quarterback Nick Marshall to the NFL draft, expectations are high for Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his new team.
The sky is the limit for quarterback Jeremy Johnson. The junior impressed scouts in the Auburn spring game on July 19th, passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
While Auburn’s defense is a concern on the back end and the timetable of injured lineman Carl Lawson is still questionable, there is no doubt that the Tigers will make a solid run in the talented SEC.
Clippers Going All-In With Championship-or-Bust Mentality by Jack Mathews
Sixteen NBA championships have been won in the city of Los Angeles; however, none of them belong to the Clippers. Still, the momentum has clearly shifted the last few years as the Clippers have won 50-plus games for the past three consecutive seasons while the Lakers have had some of their worst seasons in franchise history.
With hopes of winning their first championship in team history, this offseason has shown that “Lob City” will do whatever it takes to win it all. After a disappointing loss to the Houston Rockets in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, (as a life-long Clippers fan this still pains me to write) the Clippers took the “if you can’t beat them, sign them” approach.
The Clippers added NBA veterans Josh Smith and Pablo Prigioni, both members of the Rockets this past season, to provide some much-needed depth to a bench that was highly criticized throughout the year.
Smith is the much more talented of the two, and will undoubtedly contribute more. Nonetheless, Prigioni’s defense and energy off the bench will be huge down the stretch when an aging Chris Paul needs a few extra minutes on the bench.
Los Angeles’ other two moves earlier in the offseason highlighted the “championship or bust” mentality they are taking into this season. The Clippers added fiery guard Lance Stephenson in a trade that sent Matt Barnes to Charlotte, who is now with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Stephenson is most commonly known for blowing in LeBron James’ ear when the Pacers played the Heat in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. But what people do not remember is how well Stephenson played LeBron defensively. He will be able to match up with the best players’ night in and night out, which will be huge on decreasing the minutes for players like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Clippers’ final offseason addition, Paul Pierce.
The ten-time all-star is reuniting with his former Head Coach Doc Rivers, whom he won a championship with in Boston back in 2008. While he is in the twilight of his career, Pierce’s finals experience and clutch scoring are still prevalent and can provide a huge boost for the Clippers if they make it deep into the postseason.
Team USA Finishes Fourth in Gold Cup by Michael Jorgenson
Defending champion team USA had been to the Gold Cup Final every time since 2003. A 2-1 loss on home soil to Jamaica in this year’s semis was a huge step back for a team that has been on the rise.
Other Major NBA Storylines…
Lakers draft D’Angelo Russell No. 2 overall over Jahlil Okafor
LaMarcus Aldridge signs with Spurs for four years, $80 million
Kevin Love re-signs with Cavs for five years, $110 million