Football, Concussions, and Life: Musings of a Former Football Player on the Game

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Tribe Athletics

by Levon Tostig

I was recently thumbing through Time Magazine. It serves as my primary (read only) source of news, but I feel that it’s high quality and comprehensive reporting is more than sufficient to satisfy my need to keep abreast of current events. Perusing the high-gloss pages of the monthly periodical gives me the double satisfaction of having a topical awareness of current events as well as the slight sense of superiority I get from noticing their liberal bias, allowing me to discount anything I disagree with as socialist propaganda.

Just last month, I read about some trouble brewing in the Ukraine. It’s probably nothing that can’t be sorted out with a little bit of peaceful diplomacy — those pesky rebels seem to be in over their heads, and I have full confidence that Mr. Putin can talk them down. After all, he was Time’s Person of the Year in 2007 for a reason, and I can’t wait for next month’s edition to find out what happens.

Normally, Time covers light, fanciful subjects such as politics and world events. But on this day, I saw something that made my blood boil. There was a series of columns on Football, and the dangers of concussions in the sport. The authors of these columns were advocating changes to the sport, including raising the age at which children are allowed to start playing football, as well as teaching tackling in a safer way. Obviously, these proposed reforms are absurd and will only serve as a detriment to the game, and, as a result, American culture.

Football and America are synonymous. I remember when I was just a young boy of 6, and my father took me to sign up for tackle football. Previously, I had only played soccer; but he taught me an important lesson that day. He told me that soccer was for girls and Europeans, and that no red blooded American male would be raised on that sport under his watch. I thought those were strong words from a man who ran a balloon stand, but as a six year old I could only sit there and listen.

So at the tender age of six, I was thrust onto the gridiron, and I became a man. (At least that’s what I told people. As a six year old, I was technically too young to be in the league and I cried on the way home from practice every day, after being beaten into a pulp by boys two or three years older than myself.) What followed was a glorious 10 year career on the field, where I’ve been told I was quite good. The few hazy memories I have of my ball playing days all revolve around scoring touchdowns. At this point, I’m not quite sure who was scoring the touchdowns, or which team they were on, but I can say with absolute certainty that I was there.

I think that’s natural, at the age of 22, to have such little recollection of your youth. But the one thing I do remember quite clearly was that we weren’t coddled like these nancy boys being raised in PC police state that is today’s America. I sustained plenty of injuries in my day. If something was bleeding, you rubbed dirt on it. And if you hurt your head, coach just asked you how many fingers he was holding up; if you were within four of the right answer you were good to go. I never got it exactly right, but he could be pretty sneaky sometimes. I probably had about 10 concussions through my junior year of high school. And I was perfectly fine.

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Unfortunately, the glory days had to draw to a close. After my junior season I was hospitalized for terrible migraines, and I was having trouble remembering things. Like I would always lose my place in the middle of a conversation. I could never figure out what the cause was, ultimately my doctors attributed it to some bad Kale I ate on my trip to Seoul. The worst part was the constant ringing in my ears. My dad told me it’s the sweet sound of freedom echoing in my brain, but I’m not sure how I got that from Korean food.

It wasn’t all bad. Sitting in that hospital is where I discovered Time Magazine. Its vibrant colors, small words, and big pictures captivated my attention like a chef drawn to the ripest tomato at the market. This periodical sparked my interest in world events. I dream of one day becoming an editor for Time (which is why I’m writing here). Alas, that may always be a dream, as my extreme intolerance to bright sunlight severely hinders my ability to travel, and my short attention span has left me incapable of learning a foreign language.

In closing, all I wanted to say was football shouldn’t change. It’s made me the man I am today. Also, shoutout to Time Magazine for being the best news source in the world. In fact, I was recently thumbing through Time Magazine. It serves as my primary (read only) source of news, but I feel that it’s high quality and comprehensive reporting is more than sufficient to satisfy my need to keep abreast of current events…

Reveal the Records

The Student Assembly is supposed to reveal their records. Why dont they?

By Sam Glover, Opinions Editor
skglover@email.wm.edu

I know that it is midterms week and, if you’re anything like me, you probably need a good laugh to get you through each day. There are a lot of websites with a lot of funny clips and posts out there, like Youtube, Huffpost Comedy, and heck, even Buzzfeed (this being the one legitimate purpose that it serves). If you really want a website that will really tickle your sides, if you want a website that will really make you slap your knees, then just go to that of the William & Mary Student Assembly. That’s right, our student government has one of the most hilarious websites around. Just look at the front page and you can see some random quote in latin where actual text should be. Look further and you see the same photo for two different officials, look even further and you will see the same photo of an executive branch official reacted again for different official as well as the photo of a different executive branch official used again for two high ranking Senate officials. Must be a joke, right? As in, the government which receives about $98 a year from each student totaling in excess of $600,000 can put together a decent website? Hilarious!

random latin on sa website

The funniest joke of all, however, comes when you look at the student assembly constitution, scroll down to Article IV: Non-specific Requirements and look at Section II: Journals, Records, Bylaws, and Carryover and read subsection II. It reads in part : “All bodies of the Student Assembly must keep regular journals and records in both physical and electronic archives which shall be provided to an Archivist of the Assembly and be open and publicly available to all students.” If you haven’t got the joke yet, it is that the “journals and records” of none of the “bodies of the student assembly” are available electronically! At least not on their website.

At this point, you must be laughing so hard you’re wetting yourself, or so full of rage that blood is bursting from the veins in your forehead. The government that takes nearly $100 from cash-strapped college students every year does not make a basic effort to be transparent? That’s not funny, that’s just sad.

Now I know that the SA has spent its funds and a lot of time on improving their website, as it was something I reported on as both a news staff writer and the Student Assembly Correspondent for the Informer, mentioning it in various articles from the end of the 2012-2013 academic year into the first semester of 2013-2014. Having observed the SA website during my 3 years at the College, I can tell you that it has always been insufficient to some degree. The latest photo mixups on the site are nothing new. What I wish I could tell you was how much the SA website, having been through several iterations in recent years, has cost the SA, but I can’t, because I cannot access the “journals and records” of any part of the SA.

To put this into perspective, think about the Watergate or IRS scandals. When government officials didn’t produce records from those scandals, the public was outraged and people lost their jobs. The SA’s faulty website, however, seems to slip under the radar with no public outrage whatsoever. To give a hypothetical form outside a scandal context, imagine if Congress shut off C-SPAN forever. We would not stand for it. So how come when our government on our own campus refuses to be fully transparent, we say nothing?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Nishant Grover

The city’s noise ordinance is unfair and students must demand change.

By Joshua Fleitman, Guest Writer
jnfleitman@email.wm.edu

Ask any student living off-campus what their biggest issue is with the City of Williamsburg. If they don’t mention the three-person occupancy rule, they’ll say the noise ordinance. Williamsburg has the strictest noise ordinance of any Virginia college town, considering the misdemeanor class, fine size, allowable decibel levels, and length of quiet hours. Not only is the noise ordinance ineffective at achieving its stated goals, but its enforcement allows police officers to employ their clear bias against student residents of Williamsburg. The noise ordinance must change, and students must be the change-makers.

If you read the noise ordinance, its draconian nature becomes apparent. On a public street or sidewalk, between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM, noise levels cannot exceed 65 decibels at a distance of 10 feet from the source. The ordinance also contains a clause stating that if someone can hear noise from 50 feet away, it is presumed that the noise level is illegally loud.

I have a few issues with this. First, the maximum allowable volume of 65 decibels on a public street (and 55 decibels from property to property) conforms to an unreasonably strict standard. Normal conversation produces about 60 decibels of sound – the City is effectively saying that an outdoor conversation after 11:00 PM is punishable by a $300 fine and a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Second, because nobody carries a decibel reader, the ordinance empowers police officers with unlimited discretion to determine when noise reaches illegal levels. Based on the instances of police unprofessionalism and aggression that I and many fellow students have experienced, I seriously question the ability of police officers to detach themselves from their bias against students and objectively enforce the ordinance.

Do You Hear What I Hear? photo

Third, the ordinance fails to take into account that in most instances, a second set of walls exists between the noise and the potentially-disturbed neighbors. What police officers hear from 50 feet away outside is very often not reflective of what a neighbor 20 feet away hears (or doesn’t hear) inside their own home.

Finally, a neighbor’s official complaint to the police is not required to issue a noise violation. In a recent interaction with a police officer, I was asked “don’t people have the right to sleep soundly at night?” Certainly — my rights end where others’ begin. But without clear proof that people were being unfairly disturbed by the noise (i.e an official complaint), issuing a noise violation is an outright assumption of guilt without evidence.

In light of all these flaws, I propose the following as a means of protecting peoples’ legitimate right to sleep undisturbed at night, while also protecting students from unnecessary police harassment:

First, a neutral contractor should be hired to conduct an empirical acoustic study that determines the decibel levels capable of penetrating one wall, traveling a distance to a neighboring house, and penetrating a second wall. The results of this study should guide the revision of the allowable decibel levels to a more reasonable limit. Second, the ordinance should be amended to require a formal complaint before a noise violation can be issued — because the whole point of the ordinance is to rightly prevent one resident from being excessively disturbed by another, not to persecute students for making minimal amounts of noise that don’t actually disturb anyone.

As 47% of Williamsburg’s population, students have the political clout to demand the ordinance be more accommodating of and respectful to students and our lifestyle. All we need is the political will and organization. Let’s prove the cynical establishment wrong and show that students can play an active and productive role in governing our city. For more information on getting involved in City issues, contact StudentImpact, a newly formed student political action committee concerned with increasing the City’s responsiveness to students, at Benny@thestudentimpact.com.

Freshman Election Results: Results show fifty percent voter turnout, close margins of victory

By Justin Shawler, Editor in Chief
jlshawler@email.wm.edu

For many upperclassmen, photoshopped campaign flyers and chalk scrawlings around campus such as a seemingly misspelled “Acuna Matata” were the only signs of last week’s freshmen Student Assembly election. For many freshmen, however, the election was an opportunity to connect with classmates and participate in a student government that controls how a large portion of student dues are spent.

AcunaFacebookAd

Thursday’s election brought victory to Class of 2018 President Jose Acuna, Vice-President Nicholas Peronne, Treasurer Kevin Nelson, Secretary Peter Kinton, and Senators Annelise Yackow, Alaina Shreves, Danny O’Dea, and James Shaw. Turnout hovered around fifty percent of eligible voters and each candidate, with the exception of Acuna, won by a narrow margin.

Acuna, well-known for his campaign slogan “Acuna Matata”, a play on the popular saying from The Lion King, coasted to an easy victory, topping out thirteen percentage points ahead of his competitors. Acuna ran a campaign focused on “helping” and a “worry free philosophy”, according to his Facebook page.

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Campus Crime Alert: Man arrested near alumni house following fight

By Justin Shawler, Editor-in-Chief
jlshawler@email.wm.edu

Local news reports that a man was arrested Saturday, September 27 around 10pm by William & Mary Police after he was part of a fight along Richmond Road near the Alumni House and One Tribe Place. Paul Edward Brummett, a 52 year old white male, was found to be in possession of a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a .38 caliber special revolver, and a taser. Brummett was charged with misdemeanor counts of brandishing a firearm, disorderly conduct, damage to property, being drunk in public and two counts of possession of a firearm by a person who has been involuntarily admitted, according to local media reports.

Brummett is currently in the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail and has been banned from William & Mary’s campus. According to the same reports no one was injured or harmed. According to Ginger Ambler, the College’s Vice-President for Student Affairs, William & Mary students received no campus alert or notice about the incident because the police contained the situation within a short time frame.

“The university and our Emergency Management Team, in particular, remain absolutely committed to distributing timely warnings when situations present an on-going safety risk to the campus community,” explained Ambler.

Check back for more details online.

“Dentures for Elephants”

Elephant Eye With Tear

by Anonymous

An original short story with attributed poetry from this week’s creative writer who shan’t be named. Enjoy.
P.S. Want to be published? Please contact Fiction Features editor William Plews-Ogan at wmplewsogan@email.edu.

“His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d;
O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing!
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d,
But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing:
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green.”

–A Farewell to Arms by George Peele

An old man once told me he had never seen a dead elephant with teeth. Even at fifty or sixty years an elephant’s body is young and strong. Their mind is weighed down with memory. Their teeth are worn away. They wither and starve. When I learned this I began to think about ways to carve teeth for elephants and to help them forget. I searched the internet and found a startling lack of scholarship on the ideal materials for making elephant dentures. I asked my dentist as he cleaned my teeth and he laughed and as he did so a small drop of saliva fell from his mouth into mine.

The old man told me that elephants mourn the lost of their family and they perform burials. Not a six foot under elephant hole and hours of digging with a trunk, just a coat of dirt and a sprinkle of elephant tears. He worked as a nurse in a terminal ward of a small private hospital in the city until his arthritis got too bad. He saw too many people wither away and starve with a coat of dust and cobwebs instead of a thin layer of dirt.

He tried to comfort them with stories about his life. He had enlisted as a medic using fake papers when his fifteen year old self had lost his parents in a drunken driving accident. And it had been hard but his sergeant had been there for him, mentored him, helped him through. Just like the old man was there for them now. He deployed three times. Once was a humanitarian mission to Kenya and that is when he had learned about just how tall and strange and magnificent elephants are. And what beautiful creatures they are and all the other wonderful creatures as well. And after he had gotten out of the army, he went to nursing school and met the love of his life, Catherine, and though she was taken from him too soon and they never had children, the time they shared was enough for him to always fall asleep with a smile on his face.

Busing tables at a retirement community, I have seen too many people kicking and screaming and pleading for their eyes and their memories and their youth and their crowded funeral. The old man was just sitting there, when I came back with his coffee, with a smile on his face. He didn’t want his hands back. He didn’t want flowers and a fancy coffin and a giant hole in the ground with a crowd around filling it up with tears. I went over to the planter box in the window, scooped out a handful of soil, and sprinkled it over his heart.

Sunday Morning: 3 Types of Hangovers and Your Inescapable Fate

By Ellen DeGenerate

Wine Not?

Why not? Because you’ll feel like Mufasa getting run over by a herd of antelope the next morning, that’s why. But instead of Scar it’s just an empty bottle of bargain Barefoot laughing in the face of your metaphorical death. You wanted to be classy. We get it. You had a night out with your girls and pregamed by pouring some pinot grigio into a mug your mom bought you for Christmas. Or maybe you bought some red on clearance at Trader Joe’s and threw in some Sprite and Dole fruit cups to make your own sad sangria. You probably wore a skirt out and actually showered. Maybe you even spent eons of your precious life perfecting your winged eyeliner. But that doesn’t matter when you wake up at 7:30 am alone in bed with your skirt on the floor and your sugar-induced headache pounding to the beat of that Sam Smith song you requested four times last night. You’ll fall in and out of a tortured sleep until around 11, when you finally pour yourself out of your bed in the name of sweet, sweet ibuprofen. No one feels classy with a wine hangover, but that can easily be cured. Just invite your herd of biddies to brunch and pop on some sunglasses—pretty soon you’ll be on your way to swearing you’ll never drink again and wondering what that mysterious 2 am phone call with your mom was all about.

Hungover Polar Bear

Shots Ripped

This can go one of two ways:

One. You take seven tequila shots at your pregame. You and your friends head out and you’re a social butterfly, talking to anyone and anything that moves. Or doesn’t move. You could talk to a wall right now and your jokes would still be charming. Your night will involve some kind of cardio, whether it be running down Richmond Road to the next party or wildly sloppy sex with a partner of your choosing. If that happens, you’ll wake up naked next to a surprisingly hot individual and high five yourself as you run your eyes over their 7/10 booty for the third time. If there was no schmoozing involved, you’ll wake up fully dressed in the clothes you were wearing the night before and think to yourself, “Damn. I still look good.” You casually sip a glass of water and pop a preemptive Advil.

Or, two. You take seven tequila shots at your pregame. You and your friends head out and you’re a social butterfly, talking to anyone and anything that moves. Did I mention that everything is moving? That hot blonde you’ve been flirting with might actually be a cardboard cutout of Legolas. Your night will involve some kind of cardio or involuntary movement, like running away from your friends who are trying to keep you from stealing that large fraternity paddle, heaving uncontrollably into a stranger’s toilet, or having embarrassingly shambly almost-sex with a partner of questionable choosing. If that happens, you’ll wake up fully clothed next to some naked freak in your bed and spend the next 45 minutes trying to subtly cough them awake so you can die slowly in peace. If not, the stench of your own hangover breath will wake you up in due time and the intensity of your nausea will be at levels unknown to man. But hey, at least you don’t have to text back that trashcan and bag of cheese curls you woke up next to. Don’t be ashamed. College was made for puking until 6 pm.

Hungover Dog

Toto, we’re not in Kansas Anymore

And by Kansas, I mean freshman year. The glory days. Remember when you could do shots without a chaser? Or even better—full shots? Shots? Alcohol? Fun things? What are the kids calling it these days? I remember waking up in the musty halls of my freshman dorm, post-heavy intoxication, feeling chipper A.F. Birds would tweet in my window. My bottle of whipped cream Burnett’s would smile at me and whisper things in my ear like, “I actually taste like whipped cream!” and “Remember the impeccable jaw line of that man who bought you Wawa?”. Now, I’m old. I may have the face of a freaking angel, but inside my soul resembles the decaying brown fetus-like grandma that yells at Spongebob for selling chocolates. I can actually feel myself getting hungover while I’m still drinking. Screw nursing my beer, I should be in a nursing home.

If you’re as ancient as I am, the days of mooching free Wawa off of people has long ended. Flirting consists of silently following someone around a party until they leave and you angrily chug jungle juice and curse all the people who are hotter and younger than you. You’ll wake up bloated with a new $13.24 Wawa charge on your credit card statement, that you now have to pay yourself since your parents long ago abandoned your finances. Though the days of vomiting are (hopefully) over, the suffering you’ll endure for the next 24 hours almost makes you wish you could puke out your problems. If you’re lucky you’ll still feel vaguely drunk and the hangover will set in around noon. The sunglasses and coffee you’re hanging onto for dear life make you almost look like a rattier Olsen twin. You wish you could hang a sign around your neck that says, “Not a basic betch, just a hungover upperclassman.” Your tolerance for alcohol will slowly continue to fade away and rematerialize in an unfair need for three doses of ibuprofen to feel the desired effects. But such is life.