Draft Day

This weekend 253 lives changed as the 32 NFL teams selected their 2017 draft picks.

For three days, hundreds of athletes waited waited nervously, hoping that they would get that phone call that would determine their future.

They had already put in all of the work that they could. They played fiercely in college (most of them), they attracted the eye of the scouts and they performed well in the combine. Now, they wait.

Wait to hear their name called on the stage in Philadelphia.

As school winds down and graduation day looms over the heads of many students (including myself), one can’t help but think of graduating and applying to jobs as a draft.

For years, we students have been training for the moment that we graduate and can use our skills in the real world. We sharpen our skills in classes, we put them to the test through internships, and then we send out our applications to the recruiters who hold our futures in their hands.

And then we wait.

And wait.

And hope that we get picked.

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This is real life

But once that coveted job offer comes in, the work is only just beginning.

Next, comes the task of separating yourself from the pack, proving that you were worth the chance that the recruiters took on you.

253 young men may have gotten drafted over the weekend, but will they all make the coveted 53-man roster come September? Only time will tell.

Many corporate companies have programs that recruit recent graduates. I myself was a lucky recruit of such a program out of undergrad. My company hired over 500 recent graduates that they trained and invested in to become the future of the company.

Or so I thought.

The reality is that companies that hire like this are often looking only for the top talent. They figure the more the hire, the more chances they have to find what they really want. They hire in bulk and gradually trim the fat until they are reduced to only their Grade-A meat.

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This is all you are until you prove yourself otherwise

This is the reality that these young football players now face. They must prove themselves worthy of their rookie contracts, lest they do not make the final roster, or get relegated to the practice squad.

But if they do succeed and prove their worth in their rookie years, then they have the option for a massive payday further down the road.

Just like in the real world these athletes must start from the bottom and work their up.

Athletes do not simply get drafted into the starting lineup. They have to prove that they are ready for it though extensive training camps.

Young graduates do not simply get recruited to upper level positions. They have to prove that they are ready for it by first succeeding in their entry-level positions.

The draft is a day on which many dreams come true for athletes who have worked towards this moment for most of their lives.

Graduation day is that same day for the rest of us not blessed with super speed, strength, or height (thanks mom and dad). It is the day that we get into the real world and have to begin to prove to our employers that we are worth their investment.

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Draft day for the Plebeians aka non-athletes

Getting to draft day takes hard work and determination, but the real work starts the day after.

 

 

 

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I Got It From My Mama

To a lot of people sports are still seen as a great opportunity for father/son (some progressives will say father/daughter) bonding time. The quintessential picture of American “family time” is of a father and son basking in the sun at a baseball game, eating hotdogs and sipping an ice-cold lemonade (maybe I’ve watched too many movies set in the 1950’s).

But for me that is not the case.

My love of sports was given to me by my mom. Growing up, I can recall a steady lineup of sports being on the TV on the weekends.

But I don’t think I was always very appreciative of it. I remember Sundays where my mom would want to watch football, but I wanted to watch Lizzie McGuire or whatever preteen Disney show was on TV at the time. To compromise, my mom would simply record the games she wanted to watch so I could watch my shows…and then we would watch football later (it felt like I was winning the battle at the time). Gradually, I began to see reason and would just watch the games live with my mom.

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I still consider this one of the best Disney shows of all time

These Sundays almost always included a New England Patriots game. My mom and I both love Tom Brady. Let’s face it,  I was a teenage girl, there was never any hope not to like Tom Brady circa 2004.

Growing up, I felt like my mom’s interest in football and sports was normal. It never occurred to me that not everyone is into sports, and especially not all girls.

When I went to high school I was excited for Friday night football games. Our school’s team was good- small Catholic school, people care, or at least act like they care. My friends and I went to all of the football games…except I was usually the only one actually watching the game. Don’t you know high school games are about socializing and not watching the game? I did…but I didn’t care. If it was a good game I wanted to watch it.

Flash forward to college and beyond when I now help explain rules to my friends who want to know more about sports because now it’s “cool” if girls know sports. I would always much rather be the girl who knows what she’s talking about, rather than the girl who wants to ask a boy to explain something.

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Goals

A couple of months ago, my mom and I were in an Uber on a Sunday in the middle of the football season. We’re all dressed up because we are going to the theatre. My mom starts chatting to the driver (it’s what she does) about the games going on that day and recent trades and coaching decisions in the NFL. After about ten minutes of this conversation, the driver says, “Wow, you really know your football.”  The tone of surprise is never quite absent when males realize that girls can know about sports too. But at this point I’m used to it. Girls like sports. It’s not a weird thing anymore.

But my mom really does know what she’s talking about (sometimes to my dismay).

Everything I know about sports started with my mom… and sacrificing the Disney channel for football on Sundays.

There’s Still Work to be Done

For fans of tennis, this Australian Open Finals weekend may as well have been Christmas morning- Williams vs. Williams and Federer vs. Nadal. Four of the greatest athletes to ever play the game met head-to-head once more in the singles finals to compete for the Women’s and Men’s Singles titles, respectively.

On Friday night, I settled in to watch the Women’s Singles Championship.

Actually, that’s a lie.

The match didn’t start until 12:30 a.m. Pacific time. I’m a dedicated fan, but not quite that dedicated. So I set my trusty DVR to record the historic ninth time Serena Williams will meet her sister Venus in a grand slam singles final.

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Venus and Serena post-match. Spoiler alert- this post is not about the match itself.

I did, however, stay up to listen to the pre-match commentary, and, quite frankly, was a little taken aback by what I heard.

The commentators began by giving a recap of the Williams sisters over the years. They flashed pictures across the screen of Venus and Serena competing from early in their teenage years, all the way to the present and highlighted all of the different hair styles they have had.

Wait.

Hair styles?

Do I care about their hair styles? Will they talk about Federer’s and Nadal’s hairstyles? Maybe. But my guess is probably not.

Now, to be fair, this is no where near the 2015 Australian Open snafu where a male reporter infamously asked Eugenie Bouchard, the 7th ranked women’s singles player in the world at a time, to “give us a twirl” after her second-round victory.

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Bouchard stunned at being asked to “twirl” after Australian Open victory

A twirl? Is this a beauty pageant?

Needless to say, that remark was widely criticized across the globe as being “sexist.”

Now commenting about the Williams sisters’ hair styles is not the same as the Bouchard incident. Yet, it’s these daily, seemingly innocuous, remarks that help perpetuate the double standard and sexist culture the exists not just in tennis, but in most sports.

Serena Williams has been a powerful voice in the industry, fighting for equal prize money and respect for female tennis players. Though she has made great strides in the sport, there are still daily battles to be fought, as these commentating remarks show.

The commentators went on to describe Serena as “one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.” Now I don’t think they meant to make that slip, as there has been a lot of criticism of late over calling Serena a great female tennis player (most of it by Serena herself), but this just goes to show how easy it is to make these slips.

Finally, the commentators came to my favorite [read “worst”] remark of the pre-match show. While talking about the Williams sisters’ careers, female commentator Chris McKendry, claimed that the only other siblings who come to mind to compare them to are the Manning brothers.

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Eli and Peyton Manning aka the equivalent of the Williams sisters

The Manning brothers?

Perhaps Venus and Serena should be flattered that they are being held on the same level as two great male football players. But how is this a like comparison?

Peyton and Eli Manning play a team sport, and, furthermore, they are both quarterbacks. They will never be on the same field at the same time. They will never compete one-on-one against the one person who might know more about their game than they do. They will never face each other on the field as enemies, and then return hours later to compete on the same team (Venus and Serena also have fourteen Grand Slam doubles titles together).

Is this the best comparison the Australian Open commentators can come up with? A comparison in which the only similarity is that the two pairs are siblings who play the same sport?

Does everything have to come back to football to be viewed as relevant in the sporting world?

Well, maybe it does.

Serena’s and Venus’ match happened to fall on the same day that Baylor, a Christian university, announced a lawsuit against them that alleges over fifty-two rapes have been committed by over thirty football players over the last four years.

Fifty-two.

That is a shocking number. And sadly, that number is probably lower than actual number, as most rapes go unreported.

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This is not normal

Baylor has been discovered to have an institutionalized sports culture that condones showing possible football recruits a “good ole time.” Apparently, these players interpreted “good ole time” to mean a ” good ole rape.”

Again, I’m not saying that any of the comments towards Venus and Serena on Friday night were anything close to this horror, but they did reveal that inherent, everyday sexism is still around, even in the slightest of forms. We’ve come a long way, and most people would probably agree that Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, male or female. But, there’s always more work to be done.

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This is also not normal

If we don’t take note of what may seem to be the smallest of comments, we start to think they’re normal and okay, and then one day we wake up to fifty-two rapes by college football players and a pussy-grabbing president.