The state of streaming: June 2021

By Sammy Bovitz

If there’s anything that people all agree on when it comes to streaming services, it’s that there are simply too many. An overwhelming amount of content to choose from for ongoing monthly prices means that consumers have to pick and choose which services they deem to be worth shelling out real money for and which one will be Quibi. Each major streaming service has spent a little under a year on the market at this point, so let’s take a look at each one in terms of their outlook now and what the future holds. We’ll be taking a look at nine services, which can be easily split up into three categories:

Group One: The Powerhouses

Netflix

With over 200 million subscriptions, Netflix is still king, and it’s easy to see why. The sheer amount and variety of content is unmatched. HBO Max has since outclassed them when it comes to quality, but still, no one is topping Netflix. But it still costs a bunch of money– even an account for one person costs $8.99 a month, and that doesn’t even provide HD. Most people are probably getting the next tier up, which is $13.99. To keep people convinced, and to keep Netflix at the top, the company is going to have to fight off Disney+ and HBO Max, and they need to keep providing quality originals and variety of content. Seinfeld alone coming over is not going to save them. The Crown and Stranger Things are still coming, but that’s not enough– not to mention that we haven’t seen anything about release timing for the latter show’s fourth season. 

More than any other streaming service, Netflix is seeing their third parties leaving for other services or to start new services of their own. The Office, Friends, and Disney content alone is a huge blow, so Netflix needs to rebound and double down on originals. For now, that’s exactly what’s happening. The sheer variety that they have already is overwhelming: Bridgerton, Ozark, The Witcher, Narcos: Mexico, The Umbrella Academy, Outer Banks, Master of None, The Poltician, Space Force, Big Mouth, Love is Blind, Grace and Frankie, Cobra Kai, and Lucifer are just some of the original shows set to return right now. As for the future in both movies and shows, the Knives Out sequels, the Avatar: The Last Airbender reboot, Tick… Tick… Boom!, the star-studded Red Notice, a Cowboy Bebop reboot, a Matilda series, The Kissing Booth and The Princess Switch sequels (for people that are not me) are just the tip of the iceberg. Netflix is also going all-in on games, with Magic: the Gathering, Resident Evil, Sonic Prime, and The Cuphead Show! all slated for the next few years. If people see enough originals they like, Netflix will be just fine. But we’ll truly understand how much shows like The Office mattered as the service moves into full-on original territory within the next few years and subscription numbers are revealed. 

Disney+

Absolutely no one is shocked to see that this streaming powerhouse is still going strong, and their recent price hike to $7.99 a month didn’t seem to faze anyone. Disney+ doesn’t exactly live and die by its originals– the Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel content they already have will keep plenty around– but the remainder of their 2021 lineup looks incredibly strong. We’ve got big hitters for Disney+ coming up for every major tentpole. Marvel is going to continue to lead the way with Loki, What-If, Ms.Marvel, Hawkeye, and even Black Widow coming to its $30 Premier Access service– for my money, the first real must-have for that price. That’s only 2021 we’re getting into, and Disney+ will always have the Marvel diehards locked into a subscription as long as the shows keep coming and they keep making a splash. Star Wars spinoff The Bad Batch is going to carry on through the summer, and with The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandalorian season 3, Andor, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi coming in the next year or so, fans of the franchise will have more than their fair share. The Pixar straight-to-streaming trend is going to continue with Luca, but keep an eye on this one– it’s not getting nearly as much attention as Onward and Soul did. Luca’s performance could mean a lot for the future of Pixar in theatres. It could also mean nothing, so we’ll see. But that’s not even the end of Disney+ originals this year: Monsters at Work, Muppets Haunted Mansion, Dug Days, and The Mysterious Benedict Society are among the highlights slated for this year. 

The service hit 100 million subscribers months ago, and as long as enough people don’t get tired of Marvel and Star Wars, Disney+ will continue to rise. But it remains to be seen how rapidly this rise will continue– the service is running out of big new regions to hit and big service-selling originals. If WandaVision didn’t sell people, who’s to say that Hawkeye would change that? The only gigantic title I see next year that could finally push people over the edge is Obi-Wan Kenobi, but beyond that, this subscriber momentum probably won’t be sustained for too much longer. But the service is going to continue to break through milestones and could even gun for Netflix long-term. 

HBO Max

If there’s any service that I thought could topple Netflix down the line at the start, it was HBO Max. But the service really stumbled out of the gate. Max’s $15 price point and lack of compelling launch originals– along with the debacle of having and almost immediately removing the Harry Potter series– made for a largely unappealing service to start, as only The Flight Attendant managed to make a splash in 2020. But a couple of originals came out recently that are pushing the service in the right direction, and those are Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the Friends reunion. The amount of positive press the service is getting– and will continue to get– because of these two titles alone really boosts the first half of their year. Not only that, their decision to bring all of their theatrical releases to the service, if only for this year, is a pretty big bet on the service that could really pay off. The fact that In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Dune, and even The Matrix 4 are all coming to HBO Max– no Premier Access required– will drive a lot more subscriptions for sure. But as for the originals themselves, Max has a largely unremarkable lineup. Gossip Girl and the untitled Conan O’Brien series are the headliners confirmed for a 2021 release thus far, and it looks like the real year for Max originals will be 2022, when Peacemaker and Game of Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon headline. 

Overall, the best bet for HBO Max will be gradual success in the long term. Over 40 million subscribers is nothing to sneeze at, but it looks like the service is still looking for its Netflix-level tentpole originals, and there are several projects coming up with a lot of promise. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens when it comes to the service’s new ad-supported tier. The fact that the privilege to watch HBO Max with ads comes in at $9.99 a month– $2 more than a typical Disney+ subscription– shows that HBO is still about high-quality content for a high price. Finally, the merger deal with Discovery is going to drive a lot of subscribers– especially if they dissolve Discovery+ in favor of a more robust all-in-one home. This is a direct challenge to Disney’s dominance in the second generation of streaming, and will make for a huge drive of subscribers. I still think HBO Max can beat out Netflix, it’s just going to take a clearly defined strategy– and some slip-ups from the top two. 

Group Two: The Wild Cards 

Hulu

Hulu is in a weird position right now. While The Handmaid’s Tale, Love, Victor, PEN15, the Animaniacs reboot, and MODOK is a fine original lineup, it’s not exactly a showstopping group. But there are promising originals in the future, from American Horror Stories, How I Met Your Father, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to reality shows booked with both the D’Amelio and Kardashian families. None of these originals really appeal to me, but I’ll admit it’s a good enough lineup to keep them going. But their content from partners like FOX, ABC, Sony, PBS, and DreamWorks are going to have to continue to carry them– especially with NBC and ViacomCBS content leaving for their own streaming services and one of their biggest shows in Seinfeld heading to Netflix in 2022. A price drop or straight-up merger with Disney+ could be in the cards, but for now, this is one of the weirder players in the streaming wars.

Amazon Prime Video 

This company is rich with a capital R, so continuing to invest in streaming for movies, TV, music, and video games is going to continue. Being free with Amazon Prime will allow this service to continue to survive. But whether it’s going to do anything with that remains to be seen. They’ve got The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel, The Boys, and Invincible as headlining originals, but like Hulu, their strength mostly lies in their vast back catalog. But with partners pulling out, they’re going to have to pivot to bigger series to keep people interested. Good thing is, Amazon has The Lord of The Rings, A League of Their Own, and even an adaptation of popular video game series Fallout coming. I don’t see this service going away anytime soon, but it’s not going to take the world by storm either. But they purchased MGM for $8.4 billion as I was getting ready to finish this article, so I guess they’re serious about this. 

Peacock

Peacock is yet another weird one, and haven’t quite done enough to set themselves apart from the competition. NBCUniversal doesn’t seem to be all-in on the service, but they’ll probably stick around– Peacock has The Office and Harry Potter, and that on its own might be enough for some people. Shows like the Saved by the Bell reboot, Rutherford Falls, Girls 5eva, and The Amber Ruffin Show have been modest successes if nothing else, and future titles like a Battlestar Galactica reboot have promise, but nothing is really selling me about Peacock right now. For one thing, the “free” tier they offer is not a lot more than a glorified free trial, except with no time limit, almost no original programming beyond the first couple episodes, and with ads. Peacock needs to push more people to the Premium tier, as it’s a fairly good Hulu alternative for $4.99 a month with ads, and less to the very limited “free” offerings. Peacock will stick around as long as NBCUniversal understands they’ve got a long way to go and sells their more appealing tiers more often. They have The Office, but as even Netflix learned, that’s not enough. I don’t think Peacock is going anywhere, but they need to have more standout originals and have a much clearer direction in order to stand out.

Group Three: The Unnecessary Ones

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is another case of the gigantic company dipping their toes into streaming, and is perhaps the most confusing one we’ve seen outside of Quibi. The only original I really love from Apple is Ted Lasso, and other headliners like The Morning Show, For All Mankind, Dickinson, Central Park, and the film Cherry have a niche audience at best.  Things like a new Jon Stewart series, the Fraggle Rock reboot, Come From Away, and The Shrink Next Door have promise, but none of these sell people on Apple’s service. Their back catalog outside of originals is also pretty barren– they’ve got Charlie Brown and the Fraggles, but not a lot else. There’s not much of a reason to buy Apple TV+ right now, and as much as I love Ted Lasso, I wish he and Charlie Brown were just on Netflix. 

Paramount+

You might have known this one as CBS All Access or as that one commercial that played too much during the Super Bowl. ViacomCBS actually has a pretty big library, but they don’t quite have the movie library that NBCUniversal does. To me, this service is just a lesser Peacock right now. Their original headliners are Star Trek, a spinoff of The Good Wife (The Good Fight), and, I don’t know, the Rugrats reboot? To be fair, they’ve got reboots galore in development (iCarly, Frasier, Dora the Explorer, The Fairly Odd-Parents), and for some reason ViacomCBS thinks they can adapt the award-winning green man shoots things video game known as Halo into a television series. But unless you really like Star Trek, there’s not a lot here. Sure, they’ve got a limited amount of live sports similar to Peacock, but both of their offerings are so all over the place that it’s not worth much of a mention, especially because of the last service we need to talk about. 

ESPN+

I am a huge sports fan, but I still don’t understand ESPN+ for the life of me. I love 30 for 30 and would love if live sports pivoted to streaming– after all, when that happens, cable will be officially obsolete. But ESPN+ is pretty unclear about what it offers. They have a lot of soccer and a little bit of baseball, but even when NFL games come over, it won’t really be enough. Not only that, no one’s going to pay $5 a month for Peyton’s Places or the return of NFL Primetime (which should’ve been on cable, let’s be honest). Not only that, the weirdest streaming service in the world in ESPN3 is still active, but most of it is behind a paywall. Plus, people that want to pay a premium for more ESPN articles don’t always want to sign up for a streaming service to do so, and vice versa, so selling them separately might be a nice option. It would make a lot of sense for ESPN+ to fully merge into Hulu so both services can stay relevant. If they combine Hulu’s back catalog and originals with 30 for 30 and actual live sports, Hulu will make the case as the strongest challenger in terms of variety to Netflix, except for the fact that they don’t have the best family-friendly content, which stays on Disney+. Sure, it makes sense to have three separate streaming services so that people pay for all the Disney they can consume (each sold separately), but from the average consumer’s perspective, combining all three services for the price of an HBO Max subscription makes all the sense in the world. They’re already bundling Disney+, ESPN+, and ad-tier Hulu right now, after all! An all-in-one Disney home might be overwhelming, but to truly dethrone Netflix, it might be their best bet. 

So that’s a general recap on the state of streaming so far, but it’s going to be a while once we see the hierarchy of services actually take shape. I’ll bet that at least two of these services won’t last too long– my money’s on Paramount+ and ESPN+– but we’ll just have to see how much streaming the average consumer can take. Services like Quibi got absolutely destroyed, and there aren’t many major entertainment companies left that aren’t attempting their own streaming services. I don’t see more than 5 or 6 of these services really sticking with everyone long-term, and it’ll be fascinating to see where this weird world of watching goes next. 

AJR: The Most Confusing Three Letters in Music

By Sammy Bovitz

On March 26th, 2021, the musical trio known as AJR released OK Orchestra, a 46-minute, 13-song experience that can best be described as, well, okay. And in the years leading up to that release, my relationship with the group’s music has been very odd. As I slowly discovered that some of my friends or acquaintances enjoyed the band, I attempted to try out their music as both an attempt to be a good friend and simply to see what all the fuss was about. Their band name, album art, and overall tone is relatively unassuming, and the overall beats backing the lyrics are satisfying enough that, when stripped down to mere instrumentals, many of their tracks are fairly serviceable. But where AJR really sets themselves apart is in their lyrics, and it’s both their greatest strength and most glaring weakness.

For example, let’s take the track “Netflix Party.” When I first came across AJR in 2019, “The Office” was still fresh enough in my mind that I was purely enjoying it and not thinking critically about the show as much as I would later. I had also just finished watching season 7, the final season that’s generally seen as quality by both fans and critics. The song “Netflix Party” is about one of the band members’ journey growing up with the show. At face value, a first listen to this song is pretty enjoyable, especially for someone who is currently enjoying the show, say, through Netflix. But songs like AJR’s have lyrics that are always at the focal point. Obviously, lyrics are important to every song, but, for example, a younger version of me enjoyed the production behind “Blurred Lines” while remaining blissfully unaware of the song’s misogynistic message and copyright infringement. That song, at least in my view, isn’t really about the lyrics: it’s about delivering a fun pop song with a tune that is easily memorable and can be danced to. But “Netflix Party” is about telling a narrative through a song, and while it’s intertwined with fun beats, it’s not mainly about the beats. So on multiple listens, lines like “The one where Dwight became the head of sales/My eighth grade graduation wished me well,” don’t trigger nostalgia or relatability as much as they simply confuse.


Let’s look at a few more examples. “Sober Up” is initially about discovering that your old friends have matured and grappling with that, but on multiple listens, the line “My favorite color is you/You keep me young and that’s how I wanna be,” is so bizarre. It could be a nod to band member Ryan’s synesthesia, but that’s about associating visuals with sounds, not people with a visual concept like a color. The line “My favorite color is you,” whether isolated or given as much context as possible, makes absolutely no sense- and it’s one of the main refrains of the song. “Break My Face” is a bizarre and oddly charming song on first listen, but after that it’s just plain irritating. The pre-chorus of “What doesn’t kill you/Makes you ugly/Life gives you lemons/At least it gave you something,” is attempting to turn cliched phrases around, but it doesn’t feel genuine or interesting as much as it is frustratingly downbeat and “rebellious,” which contrasts with the fairly upbeat nature of the song’s production. “3 O’Clock Things” was one of the “good” songs on OK Orchestra in my view (more on that in a bit), but with lines like “It’s kinda funny how I paid for college/When YouTube was an option,” multiple listens just make the song worse. 

I do not think I am an expert in music production in any way. If you asked me to write a song, I would fail miserably, as I just don’t operate like that creatively. But I can speak from the experience of someone in AJR’s target audience, which is– whether intended or not– insecure millennials or teenagers. That is to say pretty much every millenial or teenager, but I digress. 

AJR’s songs seem to aim for relatable lyrics and catchy yet experimental tunes, and they seem to position their entire style as both refreshingly bizarre and very accessible. That’s something that grabs a lot of people around my age, as in a world where more people attempt to make creative projects for a living ever, it’s shown that it’s incredibly attractive to be positioned as weird while still having mainstream appeal. “Relatable content” is something that people seem to love, and AJR fits that niche perfectly while still being experimental enough to be “weird.”

Again, none of this is to say that AJR’s music is bad or that it’s simply a cookie-cutter experience. Like most songs, the lyrics are probably based on stories from the band member’s lives or of their general thoughts on the life they’re living. They struggle as both creatives and as representatives of Generations Y and Z, who, like many generations before them, feel both a sense of insecurity and a desire to move forward and create a world they want to see. And that is something that, at its core, can make for some fairly, well, relatable music. At their core, what AJR seems to be showing with their main themes have wide appeal. But it just comes down to how those themes are executed that feels off. The band feels like it’s in a constant tug-of-war between their desire to get weird and a desire to make things that they– and the thousands like them– can relate to. 

Let’s get back to OK Orchestra. Of the 13 songs on the album, four are singles from the past year or so. Those songs are all okay and fairly inoffensive, but of course, things like the chorus of “Way Less Sad” don’t make a ton of sense on multiple listens. But my least favorite song on the album has to be the hilariously titled “OK Overture.” It feels like random sounds and snippets from the album were just thrown at a wall with little attention to what would stick for the listener, and it’s a fairly good indication of the album to come. Overall, AJR’s discography follows some core themes, but the albums themselves are more a collection of songs, and thus their “best” work is probably enjoyed without the context of the full album. I went into OK Orchestra with an open mind, but quickly found myself skimming through some tracks and skipping others entirely. The album’s songs are best enjoyed standalone, but again, once the production begins to get repetitive and the only thing left to latch onto is the lyrics, the band completely falls apart for me as a listener.  

AJR at face value should be just another indie band, but the content of their lyrics and in the way they carry themselves– see the reveal for the album Neotheater— make them very appealing to younger people. And yet that’s why they frustrate me so much. Their surface-level relatability makes them have the appeal of a mainstream pop artist while still being “quirky” enough for their audience of teens and millennials to eat it up. I’m not saying that AJR is evil, I’m simply saying that their success confuses me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to Google how to successfully defend against pitchforks. 

Are Instagram likes worthless?

An experiment by Sammy Bovitz

I really do not like Instagram. I find its addiction loop and the way it twists people towards a new and lower form of communication awful. Sure, there are apps that are worse in this way (see: Snapchat and TikTok), but Instagram succeeds on a larger scale by pulling from everywhere while seeming more inclusive than the more Gen Z-driven apps. Its Facebook-derivative posting, the “Reels” it ripped straight from TikTok, and a direct messaging system that takes cues from Snapchat provides an odd blend of features that appeals to nearly everyone. But the way I see people using Instagram goes beyond frustration– it makes me sad. 

People relentlessly ask for likes and comments and saves and follows and any form of what is ultimately empty validation. Some people that seem like the happiest, most attractive people on the app are likely to be eaten alive by their own self-doubt and lack of self-worth, because Instagram uses metrics that try to quantify how popular you are. Likes, comments, followers, likes of your comments, replies to your comments, number of direct messages, and views of your story are all tracked and available for you to see. This creates a feedback loop of small bits of dopamine traded for a massive amount of anxiety about your body or your skills as a photographer or how many friends you have. It’s why I deleted Instagram from my phone in September. And yet, I still found myself checking direct messages or posts from time to time on my computer because there was a small percentage of posts or messages out there that I actually enjoyed seeing or reading, worthwhile stuff that I couldn’t really see anywhere else buried under meaninglessness. But when I reinstalled the app in January, I took a look at how dominant the “Reels,” shop, and search pages were and deleted it after 3 minutes.  

A month later, that little return to the app was still bothering me. So, I came up with an idea for an experiment, and after about 15 minutes, decided to do it. I was going to start taking pictures of no value with some things that people just scrolling through will like and move on with their day. No overly long captions, no promotions, no need to really comment, just things people can like and move on with. That’s the thing about the app– some people just double-tap for half an hour a day as a matter of routine. I couldn’t exploit attractiveness in order to gain extra likes or comments (just ask my highly nonexistent girlfriend!), so I instead reposted the day’s post on my story with attention-grabbing emoji and hope for a secondary stream of mindless likes from that. I told myself I would post daily for 5 days and write dumb captions to have at least a little fun while doing so. From there, I’d hope to boost my comment count by relying on some friends that would hopefully realize what was happening and reply to each one, incentivizing repeat likes and comments on future posts. 

As a baseline for this experiment, I used my post promoting my Black Student Union roundtable on this paper back in June. It was probably one of the most fulfilling conversations I had in 2020 and helped me retain perspective as I tried to figure out how I could contribute to social change and how my peers at school thought those who have privilege should go about things. 52 likes, 3 comments. On February 22nd, I started my experiment.  

This first day was really telling in terms of how funny yet how sad the results were in the 24 hours after the selfie I took without turning the camera to selfie mode. By the time the next day rolled around, I had already gotten 71 likes, 130 story views, and 5 unique comments, performing a lot better than a thoughtful conversation on a timely issue. This could signal things about how people choose to portray their activism on social media, but that’s a discussion for another day. Though it was a fresh post after 8 months without one on Instagram, my theory about mindless likes looked to somewhat be there. All I had to do was make slight tweaks and take similar photographs of nothingness with short captions and I thought I would be okay. 

The next day I made sure to tag LeBron James and promise daily content with a picture I captured by throwing my phone onto a couch. I did expect slightly diminished returns and I got them, receiving 54 likes and 115 story views, though I did get 6 unique comments this time rather than 5. Still, this was a pretty large interaction, with the majority of the likes and comments coming in the first few hours. 

Day three came with a 2-second video of the floor as I walked. While 7 different people commented within the first hour, the post wasn’t as successful as the first two days– likely due to the fact that some prefer to watch the video before hitting the like button. Still, it approached and matched that original 52 likes at a healthy pace, plus got a few more that evening to hit 55. 

The fourth day came with a popular meme template without anything filling it in. It hit 50 likes a little quicker than the previous day, and finished the day with a quite solid 58 likes. 6 unique commenters also weighed in before the day was done. 

The fifth and final day was a blurry picture vaguely related to Marvel Studios’ megahit WandaVision. 7 unique commenters entered the fray in the first few hours, though that could’ve been because of my call to action to comment “lol SPOILERS” out of sheer boredom. That aside, the final post finished with 54 likes. Every single post that I sent out that week with literally zero substance was deemed better than my roundtable with the Black Student Union. Somehow, in my quest to get mindless likes, I succeeded: my posts added up to 294 likes over 5 days.

I don’t know if this is “impressive,” nor do I really care about how this performed relative to an influencer. I have a private Instagram account and I’m not necessarily popular or attractive. But why should I care? Why should you care? Social media sites can be a way where people can genuinely express themselves, find connections, or just share photos they took or works of art they created. In theory, apps like Instagram should be amazing. But with posts that the current culture encourages, that’s not happening right now.

There are exceptions, sure, with plenty of people just posting whatever they want. But every time I see the acronym for “like my recent,” I get upset. Who cares how many people like your post or comment or message you directly or follow you on TikTok or subscribe to your YouTube channel or anything? Sure, it’s possible things like YouTube subscriptions could be important in a future career, but that is years down the line, and most jobs do not rely on social media relevance.

I’m not telling you to delete every social media app you have. In this time, that might not be possible for a teen that wants to be social. But please stop using likes and comments as a barometer for how much people actually like you as a human being. The only time I’ve truly enjoyed social media is when it actually simulates real human interaction, but that’s rare. No matter how many times you get a follow back, or a comment from a person you barely know about how attractive you are, or open up your phone to ten direct messages, it won’t ever come close to having real interactions with real friends in real life. If I can get 300 likes from doing absolutely nothing but getting mindless clicks and having a few friends in on a joke, who cares how many followers you have? At the end of the day, the people that truly care about you won’t have to comment “so pretty” to let you know that you’re beautiful. 

Count von Count might be the oldest civilized being on Earth

By Sammy Bovitz

One day, I was surfing YouTube for random videos, as one often does when they are bored in the 21st century, and decided to rewatch the old Sesame Street WIRED “Autocomplete Interview.” 

I decided to really scrutinize what everyone’s favorite marionette monsters were saying this time, and at around the 5:00 mark, I heard the Count say something that caught my ear. It was a throwaway line, but it somehow hit me hard when the Internet asked his age. He responded by saying “I am 6,523,728 years old… next October.” 

This video was released in February of 2017. If we assume this was filmed a week or so before its release, this means that as of this writing, Count von Count from Sesame Street is 6,523,732 years old– because remember, he turned 6,523,728 years old in October 2017. 

HOW IN THE WORLD IS THAT POSSIBLE? 

The Count is a vampire, sure, but vampires as we understand them aren’t invincible. He says that he has an “unquenchable thirst for numbers,” but could a steady diet of math really sustain him for more than 6 and a half million years? If he were to eat nothing but an invisible, numerical version of alphabet soup for that period of time, 3 meals a day, would there ever be a day where life would no longer be worth living? Does he actually subsist on counting, or does he need blood like his former co-worker, Dracula? 

What makes this even more ludicrous is the fact that numbers, as he counts them today, have only been around in civilized form since the start of, well, civilization. Specifically, that’s Sumer, a Mesopotamian civilization that got really boring to learn about after a few weeks in middle school history class. According to HISTORY.com’s estimate, Sumer was first settled, if we’re being generous, around 4,500 BCE. That’s around 6,500 years ago, which is a long period of time if you’re not SIX AND A HALF MILLION YEARS OLD!

Sumer contains one of the oldest recorded instances of mathematics as we know them today, so that means the Count is either lying to us about his age or he invented counting hundreds of thousands of years before humans did. 

Earth itself is around 4.5 billion years old, which means the Count has been around for about .014% of the planet’s existence. That may seem like very little, but let’s take an example of an old dude who’s left a pretty big legacy on the world at large. Let me see, how about, uhh, Jesus Christ! That’s probably a good one. If he were still alive today, he’d be 2,025 years old, meaning Jesus would only have been around for .0000044% of Earth’s existence. By comparison, the Count might be the oldest influential creature on Earth. 

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume this Muppet vampire is not lying to us and is actually over 3,000 times older than Jesus. What might that say about what The Count has seen, and how much has he had the privilege of counting?

Let’s go by standard human metrics and assume his childhood was 18 years, meaning for the other 6,753,714 years, Count von Count has been an adult. What would he have been able to count? Well, he would have been able to count a number of members of one of the first big steps in human evolution. Around this time is when chimpanzees and humans stopped having common ancestors. There’s not exactly anything to count there, so let’s go on. 

The Count would already be around 1,500 years old by the time he would be able to count hippopotami, and would be 3,500 old by the time he could count swordfish, and yes, he is over 4,000 years older than the species Homo habilis, one of the earliest species that would eventually evolve into the very dumb Homo sapiens– the species he is around 6 million years older than. Finally, around the time that the Count could count all 5,500 years of his existence, he could celebrate by counting the first wolves. Of course, this also means that by the time Jim Henson himself was born, the Count was already over 6.7 million years old. And yet, he chooses to spend his time with a 3-year old and someone who literally lives in a trash can. He could be– and count– so much more. 

Which brings me to my next question: if I were the Count, what would I do with my boundless knowledge of all of human existence plus an additional 6 million years? Well, I would share it! If the Count has subsisted on basic counting before the concept was invented and is over 3,000 times older than possibly the most beloved dead guy on Earth, then he NEEDS to be a historian. The Count’s perspectives on the dawn of human existence and civilization, and all major world events, past and present, would be fascinating. But no, he just wants to count to 20. 

The history of “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco”

By Sammy Bovitz 

“Steal a Base, Steal a Taco.” Somehow, over the last few years, this statement in a Taco Bell advertisement has ingrained itself within our culture. And yet, there is no historical analysis of this yearly event. Let’s change that.

What taco are we even getting?

In essence, the “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion follows one core rule: If someone steals a base during the World Series, the entire United States will get a free taco from Taco Bell, and the player who did the deed is labeled a “Taco Hero.” Now, the particular kind of taco has changed over the years. For the first three years of the promotion (2007-8, 2012), it was simply a standard taco. But when Taco Bell returned with the promotion in 2015, they realized they could leverage it to promote a specific item. So they decided to give America free “AM Crunchwraps,” which now appear to be called Breakfast Crunchwraps. After another hiatus, Taco Bell returned in 2016 with what has been the staple ever since: the Doritos Locos Taco. It’s an objectively incredible name. 

Stealing tacos, by the numbers

With his stealing of second base this year, Mookie Betts became the greatest taco-stealer of all time. He’s the only one to have ever won free tacos for America twice. Since the ad campaign has only been run nine times, I don’t have many insights to offer you. Still, there are a few. Every single time, the base in question has been second. What’s more, the team that contains the Taco Hero is 7-2 in the years the promotion has been in effect. They could’ve been 8-1 if not for a Game 7 loss to the Cubs suffered by Taco Hero Francisco Lindor of Cleveland. There are no other particularly interesting trends, and I could’ve just ended this report here.

But I have way too much time on my hands. So I’ve scored every World Series from 1970-2020 acting like Taco Bell had an ongoing promotion in all of them.

50 years of tacos

If Taco Bell had been running “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” for 50 years (never thought I’d say that sentence), Mookie Betts would not be the only two-time Taco Hero. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and 4x All-Star Chuck Knoblauch would join him in this artificial cheese-flavored pantheon in this scenario. Not only that, a whopping 34 of the 48 unique base-stealers were All-Stars, with 9 of them being Hall of Famers.  It’s also interesting that there wasn’t a huge correlation between taco earnings and the result of the actual Series, with the taco hero’s team going 27-23 total. Another interesting tidbit is that if free tacos were around, only two of the bases that granted them would be third base, and there’s even one instance where the first stolen base of the Series was a double steal of second and third! Note that if you aren’t excited by this, I do not blame you, but I’m a nerd and this is what I love.

It’s also interesting the number of elite pitchers that have given America free tacos. 28 of the 49 unique pitchers were All-Stars, including a Hall of Fame-level class of guys like Jack Morris, Catfish Hunter, Burt Hooton, and the only one to give up hypothetical free tacos twice in Greg Maddux. These pitchers are all legends and it’s fascinating to see that they’ve given up stolen bases so quickly. Finally, of the 43 unique catchers who weren’t able to stop an avalanche of tacos, 23 of them were All-Stars, including some of the greatest catchers of all time like Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, and Thurman Munson. It may just be that World Series-level players play on World Series-level teams, but it’s still amazing that if free tacos existed for 50 years, some of the best players of those times would’ve been a part of the moments that granted them.

How many lifetimes?

Finally, Taco Bell has estimated that they’ve given out around $10 million in free tacos thus far. Judging by the base price of a Doritos Locos Taco- $2.29– one can estimate that about 4.36 million tacos could be given out each year. If someone were to eat a Doritos Locos Taco three meals a day and survive, the free ones given out through 2020 would be plenty. Judging by the average US male life expectancy of 78.54 years, the free tacos that have actually been given out could last someone nearly 50.7 lifetimes. The math’s a bit shaky, but the idea of a free taco given out because of the World Series could generate 50.7 lifetimes’ worth of food in just nine years is positively insane.

The Dodgers have (finally) won the World Series. Now what?

By Sammy Bovitz

I’ve been a Los Angeles Dodgers fan since I was three years old. And while there are certainly teams that suffer more, the baseball universe seems like it’s been out to get me since 2011. That was the year that Clayton Kershaw won his first Cy Young award and Matt Kemp finished second in MVP– though he should have finished first– and yet, the Dodgers missed the playoffs. And since 2013, the Dodgers have won the NL West title every year. Yet they always blew it. 2013 saw Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw collapse while the Dodgers lineup was shut down by some guy named Michael Wacha. In 2014, NL MVP Clayton Kershaw had a comfortable 2-0 lead, only to blow it with a 3-run seventh, as our rival Giants won their third championship in 5 years. In 2015, 30-year old Daniel Murphy absolutely exploded and we lost to the Mets of all teams. 2016 saw a National League Championship Series that had Clayton Kershaw blow it with only 2 more wins needed to reach the World Series. 

But 2017 felt different,  the Dodgers won 104 games and were the best team in all of baseball. They made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series, where just one win gets them the title Dodgers fans had been waiting for since 1988. Yet midseason trade acquisition Yu Darvish blew it and the opposing Astros won the World Series. Now we know that the Astros were cheating throughout the season and postseason to win it, which added more pain to this 2020 season. Not to mention a thorough loss to the Boston Red Sox in 5 games in the 2018 World Series, or a Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion, last year’s Nationals, who beat– you guessed it– the Astros. The Dodgers have been contenders for years, but the heartbreak fans feel has been real– and 2020 looked to be more of the same. Most of the 2019 core looked to return, and that core looked like a championship-winning core. But there was no reason to believe the year was going to be any different.

And then the Dodgers traded for Mookie Betts, the second-best player in all of baseball. Of course, a life-altering pandemic delayed the season by a few months, but when the time finally came to fight for, ahem, a “piece of metal,” the Dodgers were ready. They dominated in the regular season, winning 43 of their total 60 games. In baseball, games are grouped into series of 2, 3, or 4. It is normal for even the best of teams to lose tons of these series. The Dodgers lost one all regular season, and Mookie Betts looked incredible. Corey Seager had an MVP level year, and Clayton Kershaw was still brilliant… and yet there were still doubts. 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger regressed, Justin Turner’s age began to show, and Walker Buehler, while still good, did not match the brilliance of his 2019 campaign as a starting pitcher. Not only that, the challenging San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and Houston Astros were all waiting in the wings to battle the Dodgers in the playoffs, which had been expanded for this bizarre baseball season. 

The Dodgers, despite being the number one seed and having the best record in baseball, had to play 10 games in 13 days against the Padres and Braves, and that was only after having to play an extra series against the Brewers. The Dodgers almost blew it against the Braves, as they went down 3-1 in the series. Dodgers fans immediately had their thoughts go to a dark place. But LA came back to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. Now, despite the Rays being the number 1 seed in their league, they didn’t seem like too much of a threat going into the playoffs. But then, Randy Arozarena had possibly the greatest hitting postseason of all time: I was scared. The Dodgers almost blew it again, with a Game 4 heartbreak that felt both eerily familiar and terribly painful. In Game 6, the Dodgers were being shut down by 2019 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and it seemed like LA may have had to go to another Game 7. But then the Rays took him out of the game, and the Dodgers pounded the bullpen for 3 runs to win the World Series. I am very happy, but now we need to discuss several things that have come up in the aftermath of the weirdest baseball postseason of the century. 


First of all, the fact that removing Snell from the game was the only way the Dodgers could have won the Series is wrong. I do agree that it was a terrible decision by manager Kevin Cash, but let’s consider that this perfectly aligns with Cash’s strategy all postseason in terms of how he conserves his starters while emptying his bullpen. Not only that, the Dodgers had the better Series, and won 4 games to the Rays’ 2. But that’s the fan in me, so let’s move past that. 

Next is the subject of Mookie Betts. Was he worth 12 years and $365 million dollars? Well, if my reaction was anything to go by, his Game 6 homer was absolutely priceless. 

Third was the controversy of veteran leader Justin Turner testing positive for COVID-19 and then running back out on the field to celebrate with his teammates. This was dumb and sets a terrible example. But there’s a reason MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was booed to the heavens when he said this season has been “challenging for all of us.” The MLB’s statement on Wednesday was a farce, and while I’m not excusing Turner, I am certainly not placing the blame squarely on him. Major League Baseball didn’t use a bubble system like the NBA and let in tens of thousands of fans to watch the World Series in the middle of a pandemic. 

But now let’s be pragmatic and answer a common question: where do the Dodgers go from here? I’m extremely excited that one of my teams has finally won a championship after all this suffering, but Mookie Betts says they aren’t done. I wish I completely agreed, but looking at this team tells a different story. This winter, Justin Turner, utility player Kike Hernandez, key reliever Blake Treinen, and slugger Joc Pederson are all free agents and could all easily go elsewhere, depleting the Dodgers’ depth. Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Walker Buehler are all getting older and will all enter unrestricted free agency. Each of them knows they deserve and will receive tens of millions on the open market, and while the Dodgers are rich, they don’t have unlimited money. I am ridiculously happy for Clayton Kershaw, but he’ll turn 33 before the 2021 season begins. His worst years are better than most pitchers’ best years, but injury concerns means he’ll only be able to pitch as a number two starter for so much longer. Sure, Mookie will still be around– and as long as we have him, we’ve got a shot at the postseason– but the team around him might become real shaky real fast. 2021 is the last year where most of this core looks to be sticking around. Luckily, the Dodgers have a top-class minor league system and they are brilliant at finding diamonds in the rough. Ask Turner himself, who may not even be in the majors right now if not for what the Dodgers have done to his swing. The Dodgers will still be around, and should at least win the division for a little while longer. But the question of what’s next is now going to hang over the coming seasons, and I’m both excited and terrified to find out. 

Black Student Union Roundtable on Racism, George Floyd, White Privilege, and Recent Protests

By Sammy Bovitz

In response to recent events, I took to Zoom and discussed many of the recent issues that have sparked conversations once more due to the death of George Floyd with a few members from Beacon’s Black Student Union.

The following roundtable has been edited for clarity. 

Sammy Bovitz, 9th Grade (Moderator): Thanks to all of you for joining me today. The killing of George Floyd has once again brought to the forefront the systemic injustice of the police in the United States. I’ve heard many different solutions to this problem. Which one that you’ve heard or thought of yourself will bring the best results, and how will it be implemented?

Clementina Aboagye, 11th Grade: This is a really tough question because there’s a lot that goes into it. I feel like there’s not just one aspect to control or try to fix, but it starts with police training. It starts with when they first go to the police academy, and having discussions about race; discussions about the fact that you are a police officer and your job is to protect people, and you are supposed to protect all people, and these stigmas, these stereotypes, these fears, of people who have more pigmentation than you should not be part of your job as a police officer. It’s hard to be a human being and not go into your job being subjective, but you need to pull yourself out and look at it from the lens of black people being human beings and not a threat on your life, because when you see people who are black as a threat, then you’re not doing your job right. If you fear black people, then you should not be a police officer because you are policing in the United States and there’s all kinds of people here. You need to take out your own personal biases and put them in another place and do your job as a police officer, which is to enforce the law, not abuse it. 

Jade Walker, 10th Grade: I agree with Clementina. Basically, starting with education, we can go from there to law enforcement. I think that people need to be educated on our history, and really acknowledge it, not just know it, to be sensitive and try to understand. I agree, I really think a good start is education. 

Chinyere Brown-McVitie, 11th Grade: I agree with everything that’s been said about education, but also, people have always relied on police for the littlest things and we have to stop that. For instance, if a light is broken in your house, you don’t have to call the police, you call the electric company. I think education is a start, but I also think that the police are getting too much funding. I think the amount of money they’re receiving is getting to their heads. The police do not need $6 billion dollars. I think education and cutting back some of the money that they get.

Naia Owens, 10th Grade: I think defunding is also a huge thing as well, as far as a solution goes. I think a few years ago, [NYC mayor Bill] DeBlasio did something related to police that they didn’t like, and in retaliation, they decided to pretty much not do their jobs and sent out less policemen to patrol the area to see if there were higher crime rates, and there just weren’t. They thought they were doing something, and really nothing happened, and it made it very clear that there doesn’t need to be as much funding. If we don’t need that many police officers out and patrolling, we can take away some of their funding. That’s not to say that police don’t deserve to get funded, of course not, we’re not saying that, it’s that they don’t need billions of dollars to do their job. There’s a lot of things that we can do, but part of it is changing the amount of time that they’re educated and the little things that happen when you’re at the police academy. It’s a little thing someone mentioned to me a while back, but changing the color of the targets from black when they’re doing gun training and stuff like that to any other color in the rainbow because if you spend so much time seeing that target for so long and then go out into the real world and see anything with darker skin that’s immediately what you’re going to go for. It’s minor things like that that really make a change, but also defunding the police is a huge one. 

Chinyere Brown-McVitie: Yeah, I also think that we have to look at the curriculum of each police academy, because I’m pretty sure the type of training the police get in New York is much different from what they get in the South. So I think all over the United States they need the same type of training. The way the sheriffs are trained in Long Island should be trained the same way they’re trained in Brooklyn. 

Moderator: Let’s shift gears a little bit, and this is again a bit of a general question; what is the right way to honor George Floyd’s memory?

Clementina Aboagye: I think that if George Floyd was alive right now, he would realize that his death was at least not in vain, not to say that him going away that way was good. He’d be happy that he didn’t die for nothing because his death catalyzed everything that has happened now. But I also don’t want to say it was because of his death because it didn’t need to take a death for the United States to realize that black lives matter. I think the best way to honor him right now is to keep  educating, keep pushing for systemic changes to happen, vote; I think that’s a big thing for Americans because there’s a lot of people that protest and people that have voices but when it comes to voting for political leaders, they don’t use that power and they forget that black people fought for the right to vote. It wasn’t given to us like it was given to certain people, so we had to fight for it. We need to utilize that power to implement leaders that can create systemic change. I think that’s what can truly honor his death. 

Jade Walker: Agreed. I think that change is the biggest way to honor his death. This is also the kind of thing should be learnt about in school and I think we should have a unit not only on how black people were treated in this country due to slavery, but how black people are treated in this country now with police brutality and different things that black people face in the workplace and so on. I think his story, along with many others, should be taught in school; I think that’s a big way to honor his memory. 

Naia Owens: I think the other thing about using his name is that his case was somewhat different because a lot of times I thought of police brutality as just when people were shot, but this time an officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, and that’s very much intent, you can’t say that’s self defense. It sparked in all these people this rage because it’s clear to see that it’s obvious, blatant racism. There were video clips before where he wasn’t even fighting back, he went and sat down against a wall, and the cops were talking to him peacefully, and then he’s taken by the officer around the corner of the van, and then all that happened. But before that, he wasn’t doing anything that would spark rage from the rest of the officers so it was very clear that he did not deserve to die and that’s what brought the resurgence of the movement. In a way it’s sad that it had to take his death to do that, but it is what it is. I think we are honoring his memory by just saying his name, and using it in these cases, but I don’t want his name and Breonna Taylor’s name to be the only ones that are seen here. I think it’s really important to call out the rest of the people– and there’s a lot of them. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are the victims who are sparking all of this, but they’re not the only ones and I think honoring them is also honoring the rest of the people who were killed through police brutality and people who are now affected by it, people who are still alive like me and the rest of my family, living in the slight fear that should something happen we could never talk to cops or law enforcement. I think to really honor their legacy we need to wake up everyone that the deaths of Floyd and Taylor should not have happened, but it has happened to a lot of other people.

Moderator: I can definitely see that George Floyd’s name in particular has sparked something in people. Have any of you attended any of the recent protests, and if so, what were they like?

Chinyere Brown-McVitie: I didn’t attend any protest physically, but I did attend some virtually. My friends would FaceTime me when they were at one  and many of my family members who live in Europe, they would go live on Instagram and I would feel like I was there. So, watching those protests in Europe, seeing everybody outside– and from what I’ve seen, it wasn’t just black people protesting, it was all races, all backgrounds, all genders, and I think that it’s so beautiful to see everyone coming together for the same cause because it shows that we’re all on the same page. I think that sometimes when things like this happen, everyone has their own agenda or everyone is disagreeing on how we should go about this situation, so it’s very beautiful to see. I also think it’s really good it’s white people protesting too because black people have been protesting for a while, it’s amazing to see them protesting and us all coming together. 

Jade Walker: I attended a protest in my neighborhood, and I live in a predominantly white neighborhood– some might call it diverse but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re the minority– and I was the minority at the protest, and I went with my grandmother, and she’s kind of old school. She thought it was so funny, all these white people saying “Black Lives Matter!” She’s looking around and hearing them say “Black Lives Matter!” and saying “Wait, I know!” It was funny because we were the minority, and other people were fighting for our cause.  It was a good feeling but also a weird feeling, because to be honest, I want to be surrounded by black people, but it feels good to have support. It’s a weird thing, but a good thing. I wasn’t surprised that it was majority white, but it felt good to have my neighbors supporting me and supporting my family, my black brothers and sisters in this country. It was definitely a good feeling, but a new one. I remember a couple years ago with the Trayvon Martin protests, I went out and the crowd was very different, it was predominantly black, so seeing it shift was really interesting. 

Chinyere Brown-McVitie: Also, just like Jade, there was a protest happening right in front of my house that was passing and I was honestly shocked to see some of my neighbors outside. I was like, I didn’t know you were down for the cause. I always assumed because they were white they were just not with it, but to see some of my white neighbors outside actually saying “Hey, you better sign this petition and donate money!” It feels like a utopia.

Jade Walker: Yeah. 

Moderator: We’re going to shift gears again, and talk about another huge issue recent events have brought up: white privilege. It is obvious, it exists, and every white person in the US has been a part of it, no matter how subtly. But there are some that still deny that exists. What is the best way to educate these people? 

Clementina Aboagye: So I was watching this TED Talk about white privilege because I felt like it was the best way to truly explain it to someone, white people have to educate themselves and start by putting it in the easiest form so that they can understand it. One prominent thing that the man said in the TED Talk that really stood out to me was that white privilege doesn’t mean that you don’t face issues, that you don’t face struggles, that you can’t overcome things, or that you don’t face challenges as a white person. It just means that those challenges don’t come to you because you are of another race, that you are not facing them because of your skin color, you’re facing them because you’re a human being and we all face challenges. So I feel like the best way to truly educate white people is for them to tell them we’re not undermining you being human, and we’re not undermining [you] having overcome things and having to face things. Just like how black people can get cancer, white people can get cancer too. That [doesn’t] mean because you’re white you’re all of a sudden immune to having issues, it just means that you don’t have to fear the police, you don’t have to fear for your life. You know when you encounter a police officer, he might smile at you, give you a ticket and let you go when you drive past the red light. You know that your kids are safe. You know that when you go into the grocery store, the man behind the counter is not going to be staring at you, looking at the security camera to make sure you don’t steal anything. I just feel like that’s the best way to tell these people that you don’t have to fear these things, because the world has been built to fit around you, the world has been built to cater to your life, and the way you live, and you see yourself on TV, you see representations of yourself all over, and people of color have not had that same privilege. That is what white privilege is, at least a big aspect of it. 

Naia Owens: I think along with that, with what you were saying, Clementina, about how the world caters to white people. I think part of that is also expecting that someone else will explain white privilege to you, that people will take time out of their day and make the effort to explain to you why you have privilege. I think that’s a huge part of it, that everyone will stop what they’re doing to explain to you why they are feeling hurt or feeling scared, stuff like that that you should know and be aware of yourself, and educate yourself on. I think another part of it is just the fact that you don’t realize it or can deny that it exists is part of white privilege. People are always like “I don’t have white privilege because my life isn’t pitch perfect,” but privilege isn’t always a bad thing. The problem is that we don’t all have privilege. I would love it if we all had privilege, but that means that none of us had privilege, it would mean that we’re all equal. The thing is with white privilege is that you guys don’t have to be above that and that’s what the problem really is. You don’t have to be aware that you have that privilege to do what you want and do all the examples that Clementina said. White people have to educate themselves on that and take their time and effort into learning about it themselves without expecting all the people of color around you are going to explain it to you, educate you on it. You can struggle with financial issues, but you don’t have to face racial oppression on top of that. The fact that you have privilege isn’t necessarily bad, it’s the fact that we don’t all have privilege makes for the inequality.

Moderator: We have just a couple more questions before we wrap, but those were some great responses. I now want to talk about Instagram performative activism. Beacon students, other teens, adults, parents, and celebrities alike all participated in what was called “Blackout Tuesday” on June 2nd. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the event and its response. 

Mali Jackson, 11th Grade: Personally, I feel like the blackout was used by a lot of people in the wrong way. I feel that people thought they were doing something by just posting a black square or putting that as their profile picture, and that was completely missing the mark. I thought Blackout Tuesday was supposed to represent an entire media chain for people and posting content that was about the issues, and spoke to your feelings and emotions as a black person about this. I think it was abused by white people and black people, to be honest. I think the idea was in the right headspace, but it just wasn’t used correctly in terms of using social media as a platform to gain awareness and attention about the issues that are going on currently. 

Chinyere Brown-McVitie: At first, I thought Blackout Tuesday was something that was really good. Everyone was going to be in solidarity, because when I looked it up, that’s what it was. But then, as the day went by, I started to see people that did not post one thing about the movement started posting “#blackouttuesday,” and I was thinking, is this your way of saying “Oh yeah, I’m here with y’all, but really I’m here because it’s a trend.” I think there was some positive within it, because people used it differently. Some people would post a black screen and their caption would say “here are some black brands that you can buy from,” and someone put a caption that was the history of something. But I feel like it wasn’t very effective, and the protests and people learning were a lot more effective. 

Moderator: Let’s now focus on the student body here at Beacon. If you had an opportunity to send a message to all the white students at Beacon who want to help, what would you say to them?

Clementina Aboagye: I want to say that silence is deadly, silence is betrayal, silence is painful, silence is hurtful. The phrase “I don’t want to get involved but I still support it,” is deadly, is dangerous. You can’t say that you don’t want to be a part of it, but you support it. You can’t say that I care about the issue, but I’m not going to speak of it. You can’t say “I don’t want to get political,” because my life and my blackness is not about politics. I hate when people bring up politics when talking about black lives, because this is not about Trump and whoever is competing to be the President of the United States. This is about people’s lives and the color of their skin, not about whatever political party you want to be a part of. Staying quiet and being in your little bubble is another example of white privilege because you can decide you don’t want to be a part of it and it doesn’t affect you, and you’ll be fine. I heard this quote that said that black people cannot ascend and get away from white people, but no matter how much white people ascend, they are able to get away from black people. Those who are at the top are usually white. I can’t keep ascending and say that I can bring black people with me, but you guys can take your own people up there, but we can’t all the time. So I want people to understand that your silence is betrayal, and you need to speak up. And when you speak up, you need to educate yourself first. Don’t just look at an Instagram post and then repost it without really acknowledging what it says, without educating your own self, and don’t just show up when I’m around, but show up when I’m not around too. Educate people, especially when someone says something out of pocket, you stop them, you educate them, and you let them know what they say is wrong and why it’s wrong and why it affects black people.You shouldn’t just be saying it because it’s a trend, you should say what you mean and mean what you say. That’s what I would say to the white people at Beacon.

Mali Jackson: That’s such facts, Clementina. I just wanted to say that white people don’t deserve applause for believing in our rights. Just because you go to a protest or post something on your Instagram, does not make you an ally, does not make you the best person on Earth, does not make you more important than black people who are fighting for their lives every day. I think a huge misconception within the white community is that just being an ally, just saying that you’re for us and for our lives, saying that Black Lives Matter, posting that as a hashtag. You don’t deserve applause for that, you don’t deserve to be recognized for that, because it’s a simple thing that everyone should believe. People think that just because they’re not the bad guy they’re automatically the good guy, but I don’t think that’s true. You can’t just be not racist, you have to be antiracist and have to go off and try to make actual change like every black person and other people are trying to every single day. It’s a constant fight for us, it’s not something we can just put on a hashtag for or post something on Instagram, it’s our lives, like Clementina was saying. You don’t get to be a superhero just because you posted Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t work like that. That’s something that the white community often gets confused about, just because they’re saying something does not make you a superhero. 

Naia Owens: I agree with that, I think a huge misconception is that white people get a trophy for fighting the good fight which we’ve been fighting all our lives, which is not true. We appreciate the support, but you don’t get a huge thing for doing that for us, which is really doing that for everyone. I think another thing is to stop expecting that every black person has to have a terrible story, like they almost got shot or something that terrible for us to still be hurt and be affected by the racism that’s happening. To those white people that want to help, understand that it still affects us whether we’re 100% black, half black, whatever, any minority really. There’s a lot of interconnectivity, it’s not just a black people thing, it’s all of us. Stop expecting that we have a huge, terrible, traumatic experience for us to still have experienced racism or any form of oppression. Don’t wait for us to have a huge sob story to stand up for us, fight for the microaggressions that happen all the time as well. 

Chinyere Brown-McVitie: I would say to the Beacon student body that in order to be comfortable, you have to be uncomfortable. Let’s just say that you’re having a discussion about race, don’t be afraid to speak up and say how you actually feel, live in your truth. In order to be comfortable, you have to be uncomfortable, and that goes for everybody. Teamwork makes the dreamwork, that’s the only way we can go ahead, we have to go as a team. 

Jade Walker: I want to connect with what Chinyere said, and when it comes to injustices, no matter how awkward a white person may feel, maybe they feel talked about, and they’re embarrassed because of their history. They have to remove themselves from being the victim, and really focus on who is being victimized.

On behalf of The Beacon Beat, I’d like to thank everyone from Black Student Union that joined us for the roundtable. 

A 2020 MLB Season Preview, as told by mascots – Part 2

By Sammy Bovitz

This season is (hopefully) getting closer and closer. This article is going to continue to break down the 2020 MLB season from the perspective of our furry friends– this mascots. This is part 2–the National League. 

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Baxter the Bobcat is feeling a bit better. The Diamondbacks have gone through a rough patch as of late, but signing pitcher Madison Bumgarner certainly helps. In addition, infielder Ketel Marte has been a revelation, and was considered by many as a possible MVP candidate. Third, the Diamondbacks’ horrible-looking uniforms were cleaned up by Nike this offseason to ensure the Diamondbacks could actually look okay when they play well. 

Atlanta Braves:

Blooper is feeling ready. The Braves, starring outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., are finally ready to contend. They did lose third baseman Josh Donaldson, but added slugger Marcell Ozuna and locked up reliever Will Smith to a long-term contract. This team has nearly no holes, and it will be exciting to see how Blooper and company take on the league this year. 

Chicago Cubs:

Clark is feeling great. Yeah, he’s so great! Everything’s normal and good!  If you couldn’t tell, Clark is a bit nervous. The Cubs hired a new manager in David Ross, who famously retired after winning the championship with them as a catcher in 2016. This seems like a very desperate move for a team that is clearly no longer in its prime. Much of the championship core has declined, not because of age but merely in skill, and trade rumors now swirl around Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, who 5 years ago seemed like they would win multiple championships together in Chicago. 

Cincinnati Reds: 

Mr. Red is feeling like no one is noticing how cool he is. This team has talent, but they always lose. Their pitching always seems to improve slightly, and their lineup looks great on paper, but somehow this team can’t break through and reach the playoffs. Mr. Red is getting frustrated and wants to find a solution to this problem. 

Colorado Rockies:

Dinger the Dinosaur is feeling prehistoric. The high elevation of Coors Field carrying the team to home runs and wins is still a lingering storyline. The Rockies continue to have no pitching and now star third baseman Nolan Arenado is mad. Dinger really wants this to turn around, and fast. 

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Dodgers fanbase is feeling heartbroken but hopeful.  The 2017 World Series was one of the most heartbreaking, amazing, and infuriating times for the Dodgers fanbase. But now, insult has been added to injury. The Astros were stealing signs the whole time. They were still a good team that season, but who knows what would’ve happened had Houston not cheated? Major League Baseball acted cowardly, only taking away a couple draft picks and fining the team. Dodgers fans don’t want the 2017 championship given to them retroactively, but they surely don’t want to keep it in Houston. Moreover, the Dodgers offseason has been terrib—

Sorry, I’m getting word the Dodgers have traded for Mookie Betts, one of the best players in all of baseball, giving up nothing vitally important. Things just got real in LA. 

Miami Marlins:

Billy the Marlin is feeling like the odd one out. The NBA has a contender for Miami in Jimmy Butler’s exciting Heat team. The Dolphins of the NFL are terrible, but there’s hope that this will all be worth it to get a franchise QB like Tua Tagovailoa in the draft. The rest of the National League East teams all have hope. This all makes Billy the Marlin feel alone. His team is bad, and it has no apparent savior on the way. It’s a tough life for Billy. 

Milwaukee Brewers: 

Bernie Brewer is feeling just fine. The Brewers have a pretty solid team. They still have not fixed their pitching problem, but 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich is still going strong as this team’s enduring sign of hope. Also, it should be mentioned that the Brewers finally brought back one of the greatest logos of all time to be their full-time primary logo: the iconic ball-in-glove that also shows the team’s initials. If you’ve never seen the logo, enjoy seeing it for the first time below. You only get to see it for the first time once. 

New York Mets:

Mr. Met is feeling like he can’t get his hopes up. The Mets have improved, that much is for sure. Star pitcher Jacob deGrom, and sluggers Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil are three legitimate All-Stars to get your hopes up around. But as Mr. Met has learned, it’s never that simple in Queens. This team has gone through injury and collapsed faster than you can say “Yoenis Cespedes.” Mr. Met has to be cautiously optimistic to keep up with this team, and that’s what he’s been doing. 

Philadelphia Phillies: 

The Philly Phanatic is feeling a bit underpaid. After last offseason, where $400 million in contracts were shelled out, the Phanatic got excited. Yet his team didn’t make the playoffs. He is one of the most iconic mascots on Earth, and if all these players are being paid so much to lose, why shouldn’t he be rewarded for sticking with them? He wants a larger contract… and an agent. 

Pittsburgh Pirates:

Pirate Parrot is feeling cheap. The Pirates are almost devoid of any talent or recognizable names. Their payroll is among the lowest in the league and they don’t seem to have a ton of prospects coming in. Their predicament is very similar to the Tigers, but, unlike the Tigers, the Pirates’ owner does not want to spend on any players, instead preferring to trade them. Therefore, the Pirate Parrot has to sit and watch as his team walks the plank.

San Diego Padres: 

Swinging Friar is feeling loved again. After years of mediocre play and generic uniforms, the Padres brought back the beloved brown and yellow combination just in time for Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer to continue to rise the ranks of the NL West. Too bad the two will be making a combined $480 million over the duration of their contracts, meaning the team has almost no financial flexibility. 

San Francisco Giants:

Lou Seal is feeling nostalgic. In 5 years, his friends won 3 championships. Whatever happened to those? With a terrible team and weak minor league prospects, Lou Seal’s team won’t reach championship heights for a long time.

St. Louis Cardinals: 

Fredbird is feeling okay. Losing Marcell Ozuna to the Braves hurts. Of course it does. But the Cardinals’ solid foundation means they will be just fine. Besides, the Cardinals locked up the real star of their team, Paul Goldschmidt, to an extension in 2019. They’ll be fine, right? Right? 

Washington Nationals: 

Screech is feeling like a true champion. His team won the 2019 World Series fair and square. While this feathered friend is sad about his buddy Anthony Rendon moving to LA, he’s happy he was a part of a championship team. Screech doesn’t want to just fly into the sunset, though. He likes this whole championship thing, and wants to do it again. 

Who will take the crown in 2020 and make their mascot proud? We’re going to find out… in about 6 months… or longer?

A 2020 MLB Season Preview, as told by mascots – Part 1

By Sammy Bovitz

Major League Baseball games are a lot of fun, and one of the most fun aspects of gameday experience are the mascots. They are everywhere, but they are especially prevalent in MLB, where 28 out of the league’s 30 teams have mascots. In this MLB Season Preview, we will check in on the mascots and see how they are feeling about their current teams. Note that for the Yankees and Dodgers, who do not have mascots, we will discuss their fanbases instead. Also, the Rally Monkey is not the Angels’ official mascot, but we’re going to include him for the sake of this piece. This is part 1–the American League. 

Boston Red Sox:

Wally the Green Monster is feeling upset. He’s been so happy for a while. His team won the 2018 World Series, sending him into another frenzy of happiness that every sports fan knows or dreams about. He even got to celebrate with his new little sister, Tessie! Then the 2019 season started and he was very sad. His team was losing and wasn’t going to make the playoffs. They even fired Wally’s good buddy and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, who was responsible for putting together the team that won! He was so sad, and once the offseason started, things somehow got worse. His other good buddy, right fielder Mookie Betts, was rumored to be getting traded, and his team was under investigation for cheating to win the World Series! Then, Mookie actually did get traded, and not only that, he went to the Dodgers, the team they beat to win in 2018! Even worse, they traded solid pitcher David Price, too, another one of Wally’s friends! Wally is now very upset, and hopes his team can make it up by having a strong 2020 season.

Baltimore Orioles:

The Oriole Bird is feeling honored.  Forget how bad his team has been lately. He’s going to be inducted this summer into the brand-new Mascot Hall of Fame! He is so excited, yet humbled by the honor.

Chicago White Sox: 

Southpaw is feeling on the rise. The White Sox had a fantastic offseason, signing catcher Yasmani Grandal, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, and pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel. This team is certainly much better for these moves, and their younger prospects are starting to mature. The question is whether it will be enough to sneak into the playoffs. 

Cleveland:

Slider is feeling relieved. Despite incessant (and frankly annoying) rumors that Slider’s best friend Francisco Lindor would get traded, both Lindor and Cleveland have reassured the baseball world that he is not going anywhere. Pitcher Corey Kluber did leave, but he’s been on the decline and, with a division that has two horrible teams, Cleveland should be fine and contend for a playoff spot all the same. 

Detroit Tigers:

Paws is feeling depressed. The Tigers are not good. They are paying a declining, 37-year old Miguel Cabrera 30 million dollars this year. They have very few promising prospects, and they still have a random assortment of veterans signed to short-term contracts. They have no direction and no plan, and it’s honestly sad. Paws understands this, but still holds out hope for the future, as any mascot should. 

Houston Astros: 

Orbit is feeling guilty. His team has been found guilty of a scandal. The Astros stole signs in order to win the 2017 World Series. This is terrible, and Orbit should have noticed. He feels horrible for letting this happen under his nose. He will only truly feel redeemed if his team wins the World Series fair and square. 

Los Angeles Angels:

The Rally Monkey is feeling excited. Even though the Angels still have not addressed their prominent pitching problem, they did sign marquee free agent Anthony Rendon to a 7-year contract, finally pairing Mike Trout with another star in his (and Rendon’s) prime years.

Kansas City Royals:

Sluggerr is feeling like a new mascot. He has a new boss by the name of John Sherman, and the change couldn’t have come at a better time as Kansas City continues its rebuild. Sluggerr will certainly change a bit, as will almost everything. That’s what happens when a new owner comes around– small changes so a sense of identity is felt around the new owner. The team is still bad for now, though. 

Minnesota Twins:

T.C. Bear is feeling like he’s almost there. The Twins once again have a deadly lineup and solid array of pitchers, yet the doubts for this team still arise. T.C. Bear, being a beary biased bear, still can’t really understand why.  

New York Yankees:

The Yankees fanbase is feeling pretty gosh-darn good right now. Their team won free agency, signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole to a ridiculous 9 year, $324 million contract, filling their biggest need and then some. They are now a true World Series contender once again. 

Oakland Athletics: 

Stomper is feeling lonely. After the departure of the Raiders to Las Vegas, the A’s are the only pro sports team left in Oakland. He only has his buddies on the A’s to talk to. I feel bad for the elephant, he just wants to keep his friends home.

Seattle Mariners: 

The Mariner Moose is feeling impatient. His team has not been to the playoffs since 2001, and that is something he just cannot accept. The rebuild continues, but the Moose is starting to get riled up. 

Tampa Bay Rays:

Raymond is feeling like he doesn’t have a real home. He loves his team, but does not like his current home at Tropicana Field. The dome is weird and not very comfy. He wants to stay in Tampa Bay, though, because that’s his hometown. However, there’s now a potential deal that may make the Rays play half their home games in Montreal! Raymond is super conflicted and really just wants to be comfy and root for his team. Unfortunately for the blue guy, that’s not really happening right now.  It should still be noted that, despite everything, the Rays have some real potential this year to do damage in the AL East.

Texas Rangers: 

Rangers Captain is feeling so fresh and cool and stuff. The Rangers once again have a new-look stadium, uniforms, and team, but no one seems to really care. It’s sad, because the Rangers Captain loves when things are shaken up. That’s how he was born in the first place. He’s excited for this shiny new stadium, new gear to try on, and new friends to make, but he wants someone to be excited with him! 

Toronto Blue Jays:

Ace is feeling like he’s no longer the only ace in town. Blue Jays fans haven’t had that much to cheer for as of late, but their signing of Hyun-Jin Ryu changed that. Ace’s new buddy had a brilliant 2019 season for the Dodgers, going 14-5 with an earned run average of 2.32. The Blue Jays may not quite be contenders yet, but this is a definite step in the right direction. 

Part 2 will come out tomorrow. Until then, don’t forget to wash your hands.

Coronavirus and the 2020 Olympics: A Breakdown

By Sammy Bovitz

The coronavirus outbreak has already become an existential issue in the sports world. The NBA season has been suspended indefinitely, the NHL season may soon follow, the MLB season has been delayed, and March Madness will not be played, among other sporting events. With those in mind, let’s turn to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Tokyo, while not extremely close to the original outbreak in Wuhan, China, is still much closer to the source than the United States. So, what’s going to happen? Let’s examine what has been said and spread through rumors. Before we begin, a kind reminder to wash your hands regularly, cover your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing, and try not to touch your face with unclean hands. 

First, any cancellation of the Olympic games would have to come directly from the International Olympic Committee, which released a statement on March 3rd. In the statement, the committee disclosed they had a meeting regarding a briefing on the situation, followed by a discussion on what to do. They also revealed they had set up a task force in mid-February in conjunction with the city of Tokyo and the World Health Organization to respond to the situation. They announced that, for the moment, the Games would still go on until further notice, but things could very well be adjusted to ensure a safe and secure Games. They closed their statement by encouraging all athletes to continue to prepare. For context, the last time the Olympics were cancelled was in 1944 due to World War II, so a cancellation now would be a dire reflection of the severity of this viral outbreak.

However, don’t think the Games are good to go just yet. The IOC’s longest-serving member, Dick Pound, told the Associated Press that if the WHO advises that the Games cannot go on, they will be cancelled. The Games are currently scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9, and that may prove to be too early to hold them. However, he closed by saying to athletes that “As far as we all know, you’re going to be in Tokyo. All indications are at this stage that it will be business as usual. So keep focused on your sport and be sure that the IOC is not going to send you into a pandemic situation.”

Another question that has been raised is that of a potential Olympic relocation. In February, London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said that the city could easily use their venues from 2012 if a move due to coronavirus was necessary. Bailey urged the IOC to  “seriously consider how London could stand ready to host the Olympics should the need arise.” Current mayor Sadiq Khan, through a spokesperson, said London was willing to “step up to the plate” to replace Tokyo as the Games’ host. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike criticized these comments as inappropriate. For context, Tokyo, the Olympic Committee, sponsors, and others have spent billions of dollars in preparation for these Olympics and to have them moved would be difficult to say the least, both financially and logistically.  

However, financial questions may no longer be the top priority, as in a span of 48 hours after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis, health has been shown to be the real priority at hand.

Take a deep breath: most of the NCAA’s annual revenue comes from the insanity and TV coverage of March Madness, which has been cancelled. Major League Baseball has delayed its season start by at least 2 weeks and cancelled Spring Training. The National Hockey League is suspended indefinitely, the National Basketball Association is suspended for at least a month, as is Major League Soccer. The BNP Paribas Open, known to many as ‘the fifth [Grand] Slam’ of tennis, has been cancelled, and the entire men’s tour has been suspended for six weeks. The Players Championship, a PGA tournament long considered to be one of the most important tournaments which is not a major, has been cancelled, as have all tournaments until the Masters, which is now being postponed as well. The XFL, whose new iteration is barely a month old, has been suspended indefinitely. The Champions, Premier, and Europa Leagues, arguably the three most intensely followed leagues in international soccer, have suspended operations. The Boston Marathon has been postponed until September. Formula 1 has postponed its season opener. Even the status of the Kentucky Derby, not scheduled until May 2, is up in the air. The coronavirus has essentially cancelled the sports world for at least two weeks, and likely longer (not to mention Broadway and several highly anticipated films, among other things). The real question is not if, but when, the IOC will have to re-evaluate the situation. It should be noted, again, that these Games are not until July and the disease could be contained before then. 

The International Olympic Committee has said the status of the Games will be announced by the end of May. Until then, we can only guess what their decision is. Will they cancel or postpone the Games which can only be held in the summer? Will they move them to an eager London? Or will they push on against the trend of every sports league shuttering its doors temporarily?

The Rapid Ascension and Sudden Decline of NFL Running Backs

By Sammy Bovitz

I remember watching Todd Gurley in 2017. He was incredible, consistently putting up a brilliant performance and making defenses across the league fearful of his talent. He was a legitimate candidate for the 2017 MVP, and some still believe he should’ve won it. His expertise was rewarded in July of 2018 with a 4 year, $57.5 million extension, and many commended the deal as well worth the price tag. 

Just a year and a half after the extension, Gurley is no longer considered in the elite tier of running backs. So what happened? Gurley developed arthritis in his knee before the 2018 season ended. This injury derailed perhaps his entire career, as this year he is no longer the dominant, feared player  as he was for the last two years. Sadly, this is not a unique story. Running backs only average about 2.57 years in their career, the shortest average span of any position in the physically taxing NFL. This means the running backs considered to be the best in the league are rapidly changing. 

Rushing yards, which measures the yards a player gains when running the football, isn’t exactly the most telling stat, but it can be used here to illustrate this point. From 2010 to 2018, there were 7 different rushing yard leaders. The only ones to have multiple crowns were Adrian Peterson and Ezekiel Elliott. In 2019, it looks like we’ll have a new champion again, with Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, and Derrick Henry in the top 3, none of whom have ever won a rushing yards title. In fact, only 3 people have won multiple titles this century: Peterson, Elliott, and LaDainian Tomlinson. This is a very telling sign that the title of best running back varies greatly from year to year, or minute by minute if you go by the name of Skip Bayless. 

Let’s look at a stat that’s a bit more subjective. Fantasy football is a hugely popular game in which no one knows what they are doing no matter how many 1,000-page guides they read. This isn’t an attack on fantasy “experts”, but there are injuries and so many unpredictable factors that you simply are not able to predict before the season starts and the games begin. No one predicts accurately when the 6th round guy out of Purdue rushes for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, it is usually very clear who the best football player for fantasy is each year, and they thus are always taken with the first overall pick. I looked at the average first overall pick from each year of the 2010s, and here is that list: 

2010- Chris Johnson, running back, Tennessee

2011- Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota

2012- Arian Foster, running back, Houston

2013- Peterson

2014- LeSean McCoy, running back, Philadelphia

2015- Peterson

2016- Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburgh

2017- David Johnson, running back, Arizona

2018- Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles

2019- Ezekiel Elliott, running back, Dallas

Obviously Peterson is the exception, not the rule. All of these no.1 picks’ status have changed. Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, and Antonio Brown are all out of the league. Gurley had the aforementioned arthritis in his knees. David Johnson got knocked out with an injury minutes into his no.1 fantasy pick season, and is no longer even a top-5 running back. Even Peterson is now bouncing around the league, now playing for the lowly Washington. Elliott is still a great running back but it appears Saquon Barkley will take the top fantasy spot next year after his dominance continued without the sophomore slump some predicted. 

The pattern I’m noticing here tells me my theory is correct: Injuries, retirements, and improvements of younger running backs make the position of top running back hard to hold for a long time. But I don’t just want to sit back and pretend that I’m a football genius, so I wanted to do two more things first. I went back and looked at the rushing yards leaders by season again, and when I looked beyond the 21st century, I noticed that guys like Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, OJ Simpson, and Emmitt Smith won the rushing yards crown many times. Is there something I’m missing? Was it somehow easier to get yards back then as opposed to now, or were there simply less good running backs? I wasn’t sure, so I wanted to look at one last stat: how many running backs are in the league at a time, and graphed 35 years of NFL running backs. Maybe the secret of Barry Sanders and Jim Brown was simply a process of elimination. Perhaps they were the only good running backs of their time. It took a long time, but I did it. 

Chart by Sammy Bovitz

Two things here. One, it is heavily apparent that I will never get a girlfriend. Two, look at this graph! It’s fascinating. It mostly flatlines for the entire graph except for two jumps. I thought there was some complicated reason for this involving running backs, but it was much simpler than I thought. 

The first year in the graph is 1969. The AFL-NFL merger took place in 1970, leading to more teams in the NFL. This of course means a gigantic jump in running backs, from 95 to 158. The graph mostly hovers around there until 1987, where it jumps to 300. This was only because of the large-scale NFL strike, causing the league to find and play many replacement players, including running backs. Other than that, the number of running backs hover from around 160 to 190, without many years with more or less running backs. 

But that still doesn’t answer my question of why running backs like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders were able to sustain their rushing crowns for so long. Why were they able to continue to dominate then when now, in an age of prime athletic health and medical achievement, no one can keep a rushing yards crown for longer than two years? That’s a question I could not figure out. This mission has not succeeded, but that honestly wasn’t too far from unexpected. NFL running backs are not an exact science, and will likely stay that way as the NFL continues to evolve and change. 

One of BUU’s Demands Met as Students Gather for Assembly

By Cali Morrison Carss & Sammy Bovitz

Photo by Jeremy Weine

One of the Beacon United Unions’ demands from the sit-in came to reality Thursday when an assembly was called to discuss racism and diversity, the main issue at hand from Monday’s sit-in. The administration led assembly took note of teachers’ determination to work with students through the issues at hand. While the outline of plans was more general than many students were expecting, there was a clear motivation to right the wrongs made by the administration and to move forward as a community. Students expressed varying expectations and hopes for the assembly before the assembly for freshmen and seniors took place at 10:30. Some were unsure of whether the assembly would be led by students or the administration. Many were expecting the student leaders of the sit in to take charge and lead the assembly, which was quickly turned on its head when all of the speakers were part of the staff. Sophomore Maddie Hager said she would prefer a student led assembly, saying  “they would just handle it better because they’re the whole reason we had the sit in.” However, she, along with others, believed the administration should be there in support and collaboration with the student leaders.

The assembly began at 10:35, after a brief struggle to quiet half of Beacon’s student body. “This week was a lesson for everybody,” Principal Lacey said as she began the assembly. She expressed the awareness of the faculty as a whole and on their behalf closed her opening statement by saying that “We want to work with all of you.” She then handed off the mic to five faculty members expressing their perspective. The next faculty member to speak was Ms. Yang. She first discussed her relationship with her students and their own approach, then shifted gears to discuss her own experience growing up as an Asian girl in a conservative white community. Of her experience she said “I adopted white culture. I adopted white language.” She closed by standing with the students of color at Beacon, saying “If you are one of my bold, beautiful Beacon students of color, I am proud of you.” Ms. Erdene Green was next to speak. She recited a spoken word titled “RACISM.” It was an empowering and moving thing to witness. The words used represented the darkness of racism and the light of people trying to correct it. Her speech was said by some to be the overarching highlight of the assembly, or even that it was the most powerful. The next to speak was Ms. Heller, a  college counselor at Beacon. She began by providing a brief apology on behalf of the college counselor office, but mostly spoke to hoping for a better future for the college office to provide more of a safe space. Some were not satisfied by this, though. Julian Capodanno, a freshman at Beacon, said that he didn’t like the apology, explaining that “It seemed not sincere, and they kind of went around saying… we’re not all like that.” Other students felt they were trying to distance themselves from the issue at hand. The final teacher to speak, Ms. Sam, was new to Beacon, and mostly spoke on what she believed a safe space should look like at Beacon, saying “When we get to know each other, generalizations and stereotypes are distasteful to us. We are all uniquely different. We want to celebrate your beautiful differences.” 

The assembly closed promptly at 11:00, and lunch proceeded as normal. There were mixed feelings on the assembly overall after it concluded. Gabby Garcia, a freshman, said that “It was inspiring and empowering, but a lot of the kids weren’t listening because of how the speeches were written. I don’t think they had such a big impact because they weren’t students they were coming from the teachers.” Others outright said they’d prefer a student-led assembly, while some said the assembly should have been longer. When asked whether the administration met her expectations for what the assembly should have been, freshman Bria Johnson said this; “I really felt like it was – the protest as a whole was very empowering and everything. I really wanted to see a change and I feel like the staff really internalized it and are trying to make a change. I do feel like it could have been more about what they are going to do instead of just saying ‘Oh, we hear you guys.’” This sentiment was shared by many of the students interviewed. Students feel like the assembly was too general and want a specific plan to be laid out by the staff instead of just reassurance that teachers want to work with the student body. Either way, the Beacon United Unions had one of their demands filled Thursday. It is the first domino to fall in the aftermath of Monday’s sit-in, and time will tell what demands will be filled next, when, and possibly most importantly to the student body: how. 

An Analysis of Sports Pages and The New York Times

By Sammy Bovitz

When I first moved to New York City, I was a kid accustomed to reading the LA Times sports page. It was so well done. Bill Plaschke led a crew of great sportswriters, and I slowly started to compile a list in my head of what makes a great sports page or website. In no particular order, here are those factors… 

  1. A great lead writer. This writer is elite at their job and is a motivating factor for readers to choose that page. Examples of this are Plaschke, Bill Simmons (when he was still writing columns for ESPN), Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, et cetera. Headliner writers like these are a draw unto themselves because they can be counted on to write a fantastic front page article even when the rest of the page isn’t on their A-game. 
  2. Great local and national writing alike. Other national sports sections or websites, such as the Athletic or ESPN, have great local, on-the-scene beat reporters. ESPN and the Athletic hire the very best to cover each individual team. The LA Times has fantastic local writers to cover local pro teams, like the Dodgers, and even dedicates time to college and high school sports as well. But there should still be plenty of articles that do a good job taking a big-picture look at leagues as a whole or writing feature stories that are not necessarily local once in a while. 
  3. Going outside the world of sports in a purposeful way. Sports sections should expand their vision beyond the sports world, but you absolutely cannot write articles like that just for the sake of saying you’ve done it.  Stories that explore the politics of the sports industry are important; for example, the Fair Pay to Play Act or NBA-China stand-off. You can’t travel to a remote country and interview a bunch of kids about sports just for the sake of saying “See? We’re not just a sports page!” Stories that go beyond sports, like all stories, must serve a purpose. 
  4. Commitment by the people at the top. Yes, not everyone reads the sports section, but the community who does is fairly large and wants the company to be as committed to writing the page as they are reading it. Regardless of whether  the company is sports-based or not. 
  5. Dedicated season previews. The LA Times does this brilliantly whenever baseball, basketball, or football season rolls around. A few articles on the local teams, a couple stories for national coverage and predictions, and a couple features on the most interesting storylines.  

I could go on, but those are the most essential features. A couple of elite writers, great local and national coverage, going beyond sports correctly, commitment by the people at the top, a few great season previews, and you have what you need for a successful sports section. 

Now let’s run down the Times’ problems with all five…

  1. The Times prides itself on only hiring the very best, ,  but they have few quality sports news writers. I’ve never seen a byline in the Times that makes me think that the article is a must-read. Plaschke did that for me in the LA Times, and Ken Rosenthal does that for me now in the Athletic. The Times doesn’t have the one elite talent that I turn the page  for every day, and that’s a shame. Like I said, they pride themselves on having the very best writers in the world. They have good writers, sure, but not the very best. 
  2. The local coverage of the Times lacks quantity and quality. I read the Times’ sports page for three years and the local game stories that I’ve read, whether about the Yankees, Knicks, Giants, or whoever, have been lacking. The art of the game story is dying, sure, but the Times doesn’t do it well when they do write game stories. They’re clearly not prioritized on the page. Some days, I’ve watched a local game, found it fascinating, and wanted to hear a local take on it from a reputable newspaper, such as the Times.The next day, the game story would simply not be there. It is of course great to have feature stories, but you should still make sure to cover the interesting local games when they occur. Even when they have covered said games, though, they’ve often been too short and have a fairly bare-bones format. Some basic stats, a game summary, a couple quotes, and perhaps a bit of analysis.. National coverage is perhaps worse. Rarely have I seen a well done story on an NBA Finals game or a World Series matchup from the past few years in The Times. The Super Bowl was always sufficiently covered, but it’s the biggest event in America. If you don’t cover it, you’re not a sports page, so I never gave the Times too much credit for their coverage there. I didn’t see many national stories throughout the regular seasons of popular sport either. This lack of national coverage of popular sports was a big reason why I just stopped reading the page. 
  3. Going beyond sports correctly, a test the Times fails in an even more embarrassing fashion than the previous two. The Times have perfected the art of the sports story that goes beyond sports in a meaningless way. I’ve read so many articles on the dogs at Iditarod or the charitable foundation that a player has started in their home country in a sprawling Times cover story. I’m not opposed to these articles, but in the Times they’re all mind-numbingly boring and far too long. A fantastic example of an article like this that was well done was a Sports Illustrated story on Masai Ujiri giving back to his community. Ujiri tells his story to Andrew Sharp in an article that stays on track and tells his story in an in-depth and interesting way without feeling too long. The reader simply reads the story and doesn’t get bored or confused, two things the Times fails to execute. The Times’ handling of sports stories that go beyond sports are fine, mainly because the Times excels at topics that are not sports. These articles are often not assigned to sportswriters and often sideline the sport entirely, trying to make a point about the other topic the issue covers instead. This isn’t indefensible, as these are not just sports stories, but you cannot forget the roots of any story. The Times do this when a story that goes beyond sports comes up. They’ve sometimes even hidden these stories in the main section and completely neglect to mention the article’s existence in the sports section.  Even when the stories were well thought out, I still preferred reading the superior articles on ESPN, the Athletic, Sports Illustrated, the LA Times, the Ringer, and even SB Nation, among others. If the Times cannot match the sports journalistic standards of the blogs and websites they claim to be above, they are not above them.
  4.  Commitment. This is another problem for the Times. The Times is simply not committed to its sports page. I don’t really need to go into this too much, but on weekdays the sports page is fairly short and hidden inside the business page. Even on weekends, when the section stands alone, it’s still fairly short. The sports page is one of their last priorities. That’s not unjustifiable, but you can clearly tell their lack of caring due to the short sections they put out daily, and it leads to sports fans, such as myself, feeling unengaged and dissatisfied.  
  5. Season previews. This is probably the least important out of the five, but the Times doesn’t check this box either. There’s usually a couple local stories and maybe a couple national stories, but the sports page doesn’t really treat season starts as big events, which is ridiculous considering its job is to inform the reader about the most important and interesting sports stories. The LA Times usually has sprawling special sections covering major sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB) locally and nationally.  

Simply put, the New York Times sports page is bad. It checks zero of the five boxes on my list. I read the sports page for three years and was so infuriated with the page’s quality that I had to stop reading it. Now, I get my sports news from ESPN, the Athletic, Sports Illustrated, the Ringer, SB Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and a few others. Let’s see how the pages I just listed stack up to the Times in terms of my list…

ESPN: 5 out of 5. They have a couple elite writers at the top of their game, local and national coverage alike,go beyond sports correctly, are committed, and have fantastic season previews. I don’t read articles on there as much as I used to, but it’s still the biggest sports page out there. 

The Athletic: 5 out of 5. They are the gold standard, in my opinion, of in-depth sportswriting. The 5 dollar per month subscription allows them to hire the very best sportswriters. Bonus points for their podcast network, which adds to their treasure trove of national and local coverage for their wide array of coverage, even motorsports and local WNBA teams are covered. 

Sports Illustrated: 4 out of 5. Sports Illustrated’s new parent company is not as committed as I’d like, but other than that they pass this test with flying colors. They’ve been successfully covering sports for over 60 years for a reason. 

The Ringer: 5 out of 5. Not exclusively a sports site (it also covers pop culture), but Bill Simmons’ media venture is fantastic in its sports coverage, and its culture and farther-reaching sports stories are great too. I don’t love their lack of MLB coverage, but honestly that’s my one gripe with the site. 

SB Nation: 5 out of 5. Bonus points for having the best sports content creator of all time in Jon Bois. Even if you are not a sports fan, his videos for the site are top quality and painstakingly researched. All are worth a watch, but the one I’d recommend is a two-part video called The Bob Emergency. For over 100 minutes, he recounts the very best of 150 years of athletes with the first name Bob. It’s incredible and much deeper than one would think.

Los Angeles Times: 4.5 out of 5. I’m taking a half-point off here because they don’t have the best farther-reaching coverage (i.e. non-sports stories). Other than that, I’m just as happy reading their page at 14 years old as I was when I was 8. 

The New York Times got a zero out of 5 in comparison to publications some believe they are above. The arguments that they are not as focused on sports as these other ones make sense until you get to the LA Times, which is clearly not a sports page. It is an entire, several-topic newspaper. 

My solution for the Times? Start over. Hire a new editor of the page to make radical and creative changes to the way things are done, including unique platforms to tell sports stories (podcasting, videos, etc.). Hire a bunch of new, young sportswriters (keep a few of the current ones, but only a few).  My staff for the Times would look like this:

  • The aforementioned editor. One writer each for the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, and Nets. A hockey writer and a soccer writer, to cover both local and national news. 
  • A national team of about 3 people each to cover national baseball, basketball, and football news, including the NCAA (9 total, 3 per sport). These people should be able to do both in-depth stories and game stories, as well as all coming together for season previews. You can also use local writers and have them as a part of this team in addition to their local role, but not as a part of the 9. 
  • A writer or two to analyze the business and political side of sports, in order to better understand stories that are far-reaching beyond the sports world. This writer should also be able to write about sports media.
  • A wild card writer to write bizarre or off-the-beaten path stories in a weird column that is not published every day, giving time for the stories to take shape and be edited thoroughly.
  • Finally, a marquee writer that has already been established as elite. Take or discover someone and turn him into the face of your section. The Times should find their Bill Plaschke or Ken Rosenthal to truly make the page come together. 

The Times sports page needs to change for the better before I consider reading it again. In the meantime, I will sit back and read one of the many sports sections or websites that are easily superior.

A Cerealized 2019-20 NBA Season Preview

By Sammy Bovitz

This is not your typical NBA Preview. I’ll make that clear from the start. I chose to describe each NBA team as a cereal for two reasons: one, I think it’d be interesting to see NBA teams in a fresh perspective and two, I’m hungry. 

The Atlanta Hawks are Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. 

The Atlanta Hawks seek to replicate the great model of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the Denver Nuggets. They are trying to build their team around sharpshooting point guard, Trae You, and versatile power forward, John Collins. It hasn’t worked to the same effect as it has for the Denver Nuggets, but there is hope for its future; just like there’s hope Peanut Butter Crunch. 

The Boston Celtics are Lucky Charms. 

Lucky Charms are known for their sweet marshmallows that so many kids can’t get enough of. Unfortunately, Lucky charms aren’t just marshmallows.

In translation to the Celtics, the team’s marshmallows are Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Enes Kanter. They are the best players on the team, but they are not the whole team. The rest of the cereal: Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Robert Williams, and Semi Ojeleye, will never match the marshmallows. The Celtics are a great team, much like Lucky Charms is a great cereal, but the team’s overall makeup leaves the non-marshmallows as a problem. Essentially, the Celtics don’t have enough pieces off the bench and would be in trouble if two or more of their marshmallows players became injured, forcing the rest of the cereal into larger roles. 

The Brooklyn Nets are Reese’s Puffs. 

The Brooklyn Nets, much like Reese’s Puffs, is new to the NBA, but is finally becoming mainstream and has a real shot at winning the championship. The signings of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, and Wilson Chandler, as well as the drafting of Nicolas Claxton, show that this team is now firmly on the map and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. This team will just be plain old fun, much like eating a cereal based on Reese’s. 

The Charlotte Hornets are Sour Patch Kids Cereal. 

Both The Charlotte Hornets and Sour Patch Kids Cereal are horrible on paper and horrible in practice. I’d talk about young, exciting small forward Miles Bridges and his potential, but this would ruin the analogy. 

The Chicago Bulls are Honeycomb.

Much like Honeycomb cereal, the Bulls have seen better days. They were at their height in the 80s and 90s, but have now become one of the worst teams in the NBA. In 2017, Honeycomb cereal’s recipe was changed and the response was almost entirely negative. Similarly In 2017, the Bulls changed their formula by trading away Jimmy Butler, signing Cristiano Felicio to an awful contract, and waiving both Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. However, they did get two good young pieces: Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine. Since its 2017 flop, Honeycomb is trying to revert back to its original formula and win back fans. The Bulls’ reset and building around LaVine and Markkanen is their way of trying to win back fans and make Chicago basketball-crazy once again.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are Honey Nut Cheerios. 

The honey here is power forward Kevin Love. While Cleveland is far from a good basketball team, Kevin Love is someone fans can root for and be a fan of long term. Love has just signed a 5-year extension that begins this year. Love helps keep Cavalier fans hopeful for the future of the team, as the soon to be drafted young stars will have  a versatile veteran to help lead them into battle.

The Dallas Mavericks are Special K. 

The K here stands for Kristaps Porzingis, a very special K indeed. Porzingis is a special player, and his being there is the element that the Mavericks need to contend. Luka Doncic is also a fantastic player, of course. But the Mavericks needed a second star to make this team work, so they traded for a very special K that could make this team the most special in a future NBA season. In other words, the team that wins a championship. 

The Denver Nuggets are Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 

This team has inspired many other teams in the NBA, much like Cinnamon Toast Crunch has inspired many spin-offs . The Denver Nuggets have a young, solid shooting point guard, Jamal Murray and a strong big man, Nikola Jokic. However, this team has the most talent at those positions, especially at center. Last year, Jokic averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. That is ridiculous for a center, and it’s now been fully acknowledged.  NBA general managers voted him the very best center in the NBA. John Collins and Marvin Bagley III are good, sure, but neither of them can hold a candle to Jokic’s elite talent.

The Detroit Pistons are Chex.

Like Chex, the Detroit Pistons are a bit outdated and overrated. For a long time, having an offense centered around one or two good big men with no presence on the perimeter worked. But, the age of three-pointers began and one-dimensional big men soon became a thing of the past. The Pistons did not get this memo, as they continue to build around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. For a while, Chex’s 82 year-old formula worked, but now they are not nearly as mainstream and popular as they once were. Same with the formula of sticking to  one-dimensional big men. Sure, an offense built around a center can work (see Denver, Minnesota, and Philly), but those centers are versatile players. Griffin and Drummond are not, or at least not to the extent that other centers are.  

The Golden State Warriors are Cocoa Krispies. 

Below I will explain why the Spurs are Rice Krispies, which connects to why the Warriors are Cocoa Krispies. Rice Krispies is a tried-and-true formula that’s great but often does not get altered. The Spurs were a machine of dominance, a tried-and-true model that does not get replicated or upgraded. Cocoa Krispies improved upon the Rice Krispies model and made it more fun. The Warriors did the exact same thing, and like the Krispies family, their run of dominance may not be done yet with the addition of new guard D’Angelo Russell. 

The Houston Rockets are Apple Jacks. 

A cereal that’s probably overrated, just like the Houston Rockets. Sure, point guard Russell Westbrook and shooting guard James Harden will be a tandem with a fantastic ceiling, but probably won’t reach said ceiling. Apple Jacks are limited because the concept of apple-flavored cereal can only get you so far. The Rockets are likewise limited by the fact that they have two stars used to having the ball in their hands all the time, which is  their strategy to contend for a championship in today’s NBA. Like Apple Jacks, the Rockets won’t quite get to that point, especially with their current model.  

The Indiana Pacers are Corn Flakes. 

Unlike the Bucks, who have one element setting it apart in the frost, the Pacers do not have the Star to make them championship contenders. The Pacers have a collection of solid pieces, but with Victor Oladipo out, this team doesn’t have a star that can lead them. Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis cannot lead this team. They need Oladipo, and with him out, this team becomes simple and bland, just like Corn Flakes. 

The L.A. Clippers are Fruity Pebbles, and the L.A. Lakers are Cocoa Pebbles. 

Some of you may have seen this analogy coming. The biggest team vs. team debate in L.A. this year will constantly be that of who is superior: the L.A. Clippers or the L.A. Lakers . Similarly, the Fruity Pebbles vs. Cocoa Pebbles has been a big debate among cereal enthusiasts. The Clippers and Lakers both have two central stars, and while some argue the Clippers are better on defense or are deeper, others argue the Lakers’ offensive potential outweighs all of that. Either way, this is a debate that will have relatively even sides and no clear resolution. Just like the Fruity vs. Cocoa Pebbles debate. Only time will tell which cereal or team reigns supreme. 

The Memphis Grizzlies are Multigrain Cheerios. 

Similar to the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies have sweetened and upgraded the Knicks’ old, no longer good formula. This team could also be another Cinnamon Toast Crunch derivative, but, besides the fact that I already used both on other teams, this team also doesn’t have the pieces to be close to contention quite yet, just like Multigrain Cheerios. The cereal is good, but it isn’t for everyone and definitely isn’t one of the best. The Grizzlies need time, then they will step into a Toast Crunch slot.

The Miami Heat are Frosted Mini Wheats.

The frost in Frosted Mini Wheats isn’t the thing that  elevates it to the next level, It’s what keeps it from falling apart. Jimmy Butler is the one thing, the one star, that Miami has to keep it from a lottery berth. There are solid pieces around him (Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic), but it’s Butler that keeps this team from the lottery. This was by design, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good design. Not in the slightest.

The Milwaukee Bucks are Frosted Flakes.

The Milwaukee Bucks are extremely good, but take away one crucial element and this team  doesn’t work as well. Giannis Antentokounmpo is the reason this team works, and while the flakes around him are solid and helpful, he is what brings the team to its elite and championship contending status. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves are Cap’N Crunch. 

This team needs a captain, a leader, in order to start its climb to the Western Conference ladder. Karl-Anthony Towns is that captain that can lead this team by dominating each and every night. Look for him to be a sleeper MVP candidate. 

The New Orleans Pelicans are Oreo O’s. 

Oreo O’s are relatively new on the scene, with a good concept, but people are unsure of its execution and whether their strategy will actually work and be good. The Pelicans should be sweet and excite people of their potential. The jury is out, just like with Oreo O’s, about whether it works and whether it will work. Eventually, the perception of both the cereal and the team will be finalized. 

The New York Knicks are Cheerios. 

A team that’s seen better days.This squad has memories of the past and remembers a time when the Knicks were both great and loved. But they’re simply not great nor loved, and it showed this summer when all major free agents passed on them. 

Cheerios are the same way. When you ask older generations about Cheerios, they’ll probably have fond memories about them. But if you asked a member of a younger generation or cereal free agent (a term which here means they are undecided on what cereal they want to eat regularly), Cheerios wouldn’t be their first choice. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder are Weetabix. 

Weetabix is a cereal that comes in blocks and only becomes individual pieces of cereal when milk is added. It needs someone to assemble it. The Thunder are the same way. Sure, point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has lots of potential and the Thunder got a ridiculous number of picks from the Clippers, but they need to assemble those draft picks, along with their own, to create a functional team. GM Sam Presti needs to add the milk to this team and assemble it. Over time, this young, talented team could eventually become  a contender. 

The Orlando Magic are Life. 

Most of the time, we forget this cereal exists. The Magic are the exact same way. If you’re an NBA fan, think about how many times you’ve talked about the Magic this past year. If the answer is a lot, you’re a real Magic fan. If not, you’re a fan of basically any other NBA team. 

This is about the cereal Life, not actual life. Thought I’d just throw that out there. 

The Philadelphia 76ers are Froot Loops.

A team that’s great, but one that may be a bit too much for its own good. The Sixers’ gigantic lineup of Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid is great, but lacks a sharpshooter like the one they had before in JJ Redick. It will likely be a great season for them but the team’s four tall, driving and/or post scoring players in the starting lineup may be too much for the team to handle. Just like eating Froot Loops on more than an occasional basis. They need to tone everything down just a bit for this team to work and win a championship.

The Phoenix Suns are Gorilla Munch. 

This is another one where I cheated a little bit. The Suns’ mascot, for some reason, is a gorilla. 

The Portland Trail Blazers are Oatmeal Squares. 

A cereal and team that’s very underappreciated. Oatmeal Squares is a cereal that is subtle in its sweetness. The Trail Blazers’ strategy for using Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, orchestrated by Terry Stotts, is a feat of subtle, simple genius. There is barely any time where one of the two is not on the floor. When they’re together, they dominate. When only one is on the court, that person leads the offense. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the basic outline, and it works to perfection. It worked especially well last year during a showdown with the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. 

The Sacramento Kings are French Toast Crunch.

The Sacramento Kings are another team that’s a version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but is much more successful than Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. The Fox-Bagley pairing is one of tremendous potential and they could even sneak into the playoffs this year. I made the Kings the more successful Cinnamon Toast Crunch derivative for a reason- they are and will be more successful in the future. 

The San Antonio Spurs are Rice Krispies. 

Much like Cocoa Krispies we’re an upgraded version of the old formula of Rice Krispies, the Warriors used the Spurs’ method for consistent success and improved upon it. Currently, Rice Krispies and the Spurs are not as good or as classic as they once were. The Spurs’ once-beautiful offense has been ruined by the midrange-heavy games of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldrige. No more Kawhi, no more Tony Parker, no more Manu Ginobili, and, of course, no more Tim Duncan. The analogy still holds up, though. A cereal and team that’s past its prime and has been upgraded (see the Warriors).  

The Toronto Raptors are Wheaties. 

Wheaties is the breakfast of champions, though the Raptors probably won’t be Wheaties by this time next year. 

The Utah Jazz are Raisin Bran. 

Much like Raisin Bran, the Jazz are an underrated team. Donovan Mitchell and Co. got a huge boost this summer with the addition of point guard Mike Conley to run this offense. If I haven’t said it 1000 times, I’ll say it again. It cannot be overstated how much of an upgrade Conley is over Ricky Rubio, who simply couldn’t distribute the ball or make plays, two things Conley’s excellent at. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic also adds another underrated weapon to this sneakily good offense. Losing Derrick Favors hurts, but this team’s offense will be good enough with the addition of Mike Conley  . Their defense, in this case being the bran, is not as strong, but still gets the job done. Don’t be surprised if the Jazz make a deep run in this gauntlet of a Western Conference. 

The Washington Wizards are Cookie Crisp.                                                                        

Forget the Sixers, this team is way too sweet for its own good. Not in the sense of talent, though. In the sense of contracts. In the 2022-2023 season, the player options of John Wall and Bradley Beal combine for $84,629,060. That is absolutely ridiculous for a team that most think won’t even make the playoffs. 

To all, enjoy the NBA season, and maybe grab a bowl of your team’s cereal to enjoy along the way. May the best cereal win.