October 30, 2014

AROUND THE GORGE | KC and UNC: This Week’s Royal Disappointments

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Welcome to the Halloween Edition of Around the Gorge. That’s not to say there’s anything remotely Halloween about this column, but we figured it would make a snazzy introduction line because really, what do college kids love more than Halloweekend? We’d assume, if you take a survey specifically on October 31, keep the options as “Halloween”, “Studying For Prelims” and “Watching My Team Crash and Burn” that the answer would most likely be Halloween, but we are not about to conduct such a survey. We have better things to do, such as, say, studying for prelims and watching our teams lose. And then maybe writing about sports, possibly while in costume, because after all, IT’S HALLOWEEN!

E.B.: I’m Emily Berman, and last year for Halloween I tried to use makeup to give myself a fake black eye and ended up looking like Marilyn Manson mid-way through taking off his stage face.

L.A: And I’m Lisa Awaitey, and last year I dressed up as David Ortiz after the Red Sox won the World Series. It’s safe to say I will not be in costume this time around.

This Week In: The World Series, Or: Look! We’re Timely!

E.B.: It’s been barely over a day since the San Francisco Giants eked out a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals, spoiling what could have been a phenomenal playoff narrative for Kansas City (seriously, their game against the A’s nearly justified the whole concept of a play-in game). Seeing as I’m still a bitter mess over the Nationals’ “let’s join every other D.C. team in using the playoffs as extended vacation time” performance a few weeks ago, I wasn’t as invested in this series as I should have been, but it was a great set all the same.

L.A.: Ah yes, baseball. America’s favorite past time. Did I watch? No. Did you? Also no, unless you’re from California, but only California because no one lives in Missouri. I must admit I was rooting for the Royals there for a little, especially after hearing that Lorde’s hit, Royals, was banned in San Francisco leading to the World Series. That was more than ridiculous, it’s not like Royals is on par with Sweet Caroline (dun dun DUN!). If you’re singing that now, you’re welcome.

E.B.: I was pushing for the Royals too, but not in an invested kind of way. This was a reminder of the craziness of playoff baseball, and it’s a good way to head into the winter break. Because the only thing longer than a 162-game regular season is the five months until it starts again.

L.A.: The appeal of the Royals boils down to the incredible postseason they had. They were undefeated heading into the World Series, and all true sports fans were hoping we’d see history made as they attempted to become the first team ever to have a perfect postseason, all culminating in a World Series win. Obviously, the Giants had something to say about this.

This Week In: The UNC Scandal,

Or: Okay, So Slightly Less Timely

E.B.: Sure, this story is a tad bit older, but it’s relevant all the same. I mean, this scandal literally lasted almost two decades and involves a prestigious academic institution. For 18 years —18 YEARS — UNC had a series of essentially fake classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that were used primarily to help athletes attain the GPAs they needed to compete. I’m both impressed (in a bad way) by the duration of the cheating scandal and also completely unsurprised at its existence. Really, the only college-sports-academic headline that could have surprised me less than “[insert D-I college here] Athlete Cheating Scandal” would be “Report Finds Duke Fans Universally Hated.”

L.A.: The sad part is UNC isn’t the first school to run this kind of scam, nor will it likely be the last. Completely faking classes is a bit much, but it does bring to mind what other kinds of scandals are lurking out there. It’s only been three years since Stanford, of all places, had a student-athlete academic scandal of its very own when it was revealed that there was list of easy courses passed out specifically to members of the sports teams.

E.B.: It’s the digital trail that will get you. If David Petraeus could be taken down, these schools have no chance of hiding their, shall we say, unorthodox educational practices. The name of the game is PR: UNC has already spent well more than half a million in PR costs. You can bet that the next school in the same situation is going to be dumping even more money into the moral toilet that is press control. Instead of, you know, making sure these athletes get real academic help.

This Week In: The NFL,

Or: Screw Timeliness, We Just Like Watching People Hit Each Other

L.A.: Last week was incredible for football. We had some pretty cool faceoffs: Falcons vs. Lions lasted until the very final minute, Bengals vs. Ravens was a decent upset, Vikings defeated the Bucs, Cardinals vs. Eagles was a thrill, the Raiders are still the opposite of undefeated, Andrew Luck was anything but lucky for the Colts and Dallas lost on a Monday night. Pretty incredible.

E.B.: And now, questions for this week: Will Michael Vick solve the seemingly endless quarterback problem for the Jets? Can the Redskins — GASP — win three in a row? Should Jacksonville even show up to its game? And will any reporter who doesn’t label the Broncos-Patriots matchup the “game of the week” be murdered by an angry mob?

Send any flaming pumpkins, old T-Mobile Sidekicks or illegal Taylor Swift album downloads to Skot “much love” Koosmano at [email protected].