On Monday, the latest UCLA star announced an early departure from the athletics program.It wasn’t for the NFL or the NBA Draft. Instead, it was redshirt freshman Mallory Pugh — a star forward for the U.S. soccer team who debuted in the Olympics at the age of 17 — making the headlines. On Monday morning, Pugh made the decision to forgo her remaining four years of college eligibility in order to pursue a professional soccer career.Pugh isn’t the first women’s soccer player to make this move — Lindsey Horan did the same two years ago, skipping the college process completely to play for Paris Saint-Germain F.C. in France. This decision is common among Olympic athletes in every sport. The reason? A set of NCAA rules that hold back college Olympians from receiving the same compensation as the rest of their team.Due to NCAA restrictions, Olympians still can’t accept any form of payment or gifts from their federations. That means that Olympic athletes forgo massive paychecks in order to earn a college education.Katie Ledecky, the current Stanford swimmer who won five gold medals in the Rio Olympics, made this fact famous when she was forced to refuse a waffle maker during a stint on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Despite the fact that she’d recently set multiple world records and won gold medals along the way, Ledecky couldn’t accept the gift in order to protect her “amateur” status in the NCAA.The irony of this situation is that athletes like Pugh and Ledecky aren’t “amateurs” in any regard. Sure, they’re still college students and yes, they’ve only been legal adults for a few years. But these athletes represent some of the top competitors in the world, and they have already shaped and molded the future of their sports. Ledecky will always set the bar in any pool that she swims in, and Pugh is tough enough for veteran opponents to guard despite being only 18 years old.Ultimately, Olympic athletes who decide to stay in college take on the duties of both an Olympian and a college athlete, but forgo many of the rewards of both teams. When the Olympics and the World Cup roll around, these elite athletes will even skip out on college practices and games to travel to national team camps and events. And many athletes won’t benefit from the free education that is considered “compensation” for their time as a college athlete — take, for example, former USC women’s soccer player Amy Rodriguez, who delayed her graduation in order to compete in the 2008 Olympics.When discussions of NCAA player compensation and amateur restrictions are brought up, the most common argument in defense of these rules is one that protects sports such as women’s soccer or swimming. The main concern is that compensation and gifts would be aimed mainly at sports that turn a profit, such as football or men’s basketball, without the same funds being spread to less popular sports. This would seem unfair, especially since every college athletics team works the same demanding hours and invests the same level of effort while chasing a national title.But the issue of national team compensation flips that argument completely on its head. When it comes to paying Olympic athletes, football and men’s basketball are completely removed from the conversation, as one is not an Olympic sport and the other fields a team of NBA players. In the Olympics, the teams stacked with NCAA talent are the less popular events that could be hurt by player compensation — anything from swimming and women’s soccer to water polo and gymnastics.The intricacies of NCAA player compensation can be debated for hours, but this specific issue is simple. Olympic athletes should be allowed to accept money for their work on their national teams. The compensation comes from national federations, meaning that it puts no pressure on colleges to spend athletic funds on player paychecks rather than scholarships or other expenditures. This type of compensation also doesn’t allow fans to sway athletes or violate any type of “gift-giving” regulations that the NCAA feels are necessary.In the end, there aren’t any clear reasons why the NCAA does not allow student Olympians to accept the same rewards as the rest of the team. After all, the athletes accept their medals — which are priced upwards of $500 — along with piles of team-branded gear, free flights and team events that include free games, concerts and more. The extension of a team salary seems as if it would follow common logic.And in the end, how are these restrictions truly helping the NCAA? Whether or not Pugh or Ledecky enter their school with a U.S. salary in their bank account, they will remain the top athletes of their age groups. No amount of national team payment could change the fact that these athletes are the best of the best, and they certainly wouldn’t do anything about the fact that Ledecky will lap most of her competition, NCAA or international.Pugh’s decision could put her at a level of risk that male college-stars-turned-pro don’t necessarily face, as women’s soccer doesn’t have the same financial payout as men’s sports like football or basketball. Although Pugh already has the star power to become the next Alex Morgan or Mia Hamm, her paycheck after a couple of years in the NWSL or the Euro Leagues will be only a fraction of the salary of men’s basketball or footballone-and-done stars.Nonetheless, taking the leap into professional soccer this early is a gamble that, barring injuries, will pay off in the long run for Pugh. And next season, the NCAA will miss out on one of the most explosive players in the game.It’s time for the NCAA to make a change. Allowing athletes to reap the benefits of their Olympic glory won’t do anything to hurt the college game — and it might, in fact, help it.Julia Poe is a sophomore studying print and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Poe’s Perspective,” runs on Wednesdays.
Shay Given still wants to win medals with Manchester City, he has told the BBC in an interview.The Donegal goalkeeper has spent this season on the sidelines, initially by the form of Joe Hart and then by shoulder surgery.And he was thwarted in a bid to leave the Blues during the January transfer window as manager Roberto Mancini wanted to retain him as top-class cover for Hart. Given looks sure to request a move away from City in the summer, but he has pointedly avoided questions about his future.But he has said that he joined City because he bought into the idea that the club was heading for the big time – and still hopes to play some part in that.Given is close to a return to full training after surgery on the tendons in his right shoulder, and hopes to be on the bench, at least, for the FA Cup final on May 14.It was with a vision of playing in such games that Given ended a 12-year association with Newcastle to join City for £7m in the winter of 2009. Hart was initially shunted out of the team, and then out on loan, by the arrival of Given, but those roles were reversed when Hart, after a successful season at Birmingham, returned to claim the gloves.Given clearly holds no ill will for his young usurper, helping to forge his bright career, but Hart’s development has cast the 35-year-old’s future into doubt, with Liverpool and Leicester said to be among clubs interested in taking him in the summer.But Given is still hoping he can partake of the fruits of City’s advancement, just when they seem to be growing out of his reach.“It was important for me to be part of something big here,” he told BBC Radio Manchester.“I don’t know what the future holds and whether I will be here or not. “I would love to be part of it but time will tell.“I don’t regret coming here. You get a gut feeling and I said when I joined this club I felt like a kid again.“It was a new club and new surroundings, and maybe you do go a bit stale being at the same club for 12 years.“It’s not ideal at the minute because I’m not playing but things do change very quickly in football and if my chance comes I have to be ready to take it. “You look around our changing room and we have some of the best players in the world, and I feel very privileged to be part of that.“It was a huge decision to come here but it felt right at the time because I was joining Manchester City, who had huge ambitions and I was promised there would be investment in the team.“The owners have stuck by what they said and brought huge players to the club.“That was the reason I left Newcastle because I felt like I was joining a club that had a huge chance of doing fantastic things, challenging at the top of the league and challenging for silverware.“No disrespect to the people at Newcastle, but they were trying to cut back, sell some of their best players and get others in on frees. I felt after 12 years it was the right time for me to have a new challenge.”At the start of this season, it appeared to be a close call between the experience and shot-stopping ability of Given, and the youthful athleticism of Hart.In the end Mancini plumped for Hart, and Given has been restricted to three Europa League and one Carling Cup appearance.He was criticised last season, usually unfairly, for not commanding his area enough, and it was seen that Hart’s extra couple of inches in height – he is 6ft 3in to Given’s 6ft 1in – was a key factor.Given refutes the notion that his height is an issue, even in an era when tall goalkeepers are the vogue for the biggest clubs.“People bring that issue up in the press sometimes,” he said. “It doesn’t wind me up personally, but I have met Peter Shilton, Pat Jennings and Neville Southall, and I am as big if not bigger than all of those guys.“I also met Bob Wilson down at Arsenal a few weeks ago and he is a very similar size – and they have all gone down as greats in goalkeeping terms. If I’m in company like that I’m not too bothered.“Things have changed a little bit with Edwin Van der Sar and Petr Cech, who are both big guys. But I have never felt size had hindered me because I have great power in my legs and a good spring that gets me around the goals as good as anyone.”Given has remained popular with City fans, for his consistency when he was first choice, but also for his professionalism.And after Given revealed that he snubbed a move to United when he was 16, he is sure to become even better liked!He was spotted by several clubs while playing in the prestigious Northern Ireland Milk Cup youth tournament – but opted to join Celtic.“I was very much a Celtic fan at the time,” he said. “I had the chance to go across to other clubs in England, including Old Trafford. But Liam Brady was manager at Celtic at the time and Packie Bonner, who was also from Donegal, was the goalkeeper.“I just felt that leaving home at 16 these guys would help me settle in and would know what it’s like to be away from homehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/spotlight‘I WANT TO WIN MEDALS WITH MANCHESTER CITY’ – GIVEN TELLS BBC was last modified: April 29th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
I love Mark Hamill’s whole career, but I’ve been pretty Luke-warm (Ahh? Ahhhhh?) on Star Wars‘ Disney-run, annual cinematic return. I was soured by the prequels, I didn’t get into the CG shows, and as a long-time Star Wars nerd the Disney obliteration of the EU turned me off from it. I enjoyed The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but they both felt desperately derivative of previous movies, focused on echoing what made the original trilogy work and pouring on the fanservice to get attention. I didn’t think we were going to get anything really worthwhile in this new, more active Star Wars world.Then I saw The Last Jedi and my faith was restored. I understand why the movie is polarizing, and it certainly isn’t perfect, but the nay-sayers demanding it be stricken from Star Wars canon are wrong. It’s the step forward Star Wars has needed for the past few years to prove that there’s more to the franchise than mimicking trench runs.This is going to be completely filled with spoilers. It assumes you know what happened in The Last Jedi as well. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this and go see it.We Know How Much the Galaxy SucksHey, you know what was really downplayed weirdly in The Force Awakens? Everything about the Republic and how the Starkiller base wiped out an entire system. You know what the opening crawl in The Last Jedi does? Explain exactly how screwed the galaxy is. The Republic has been decimated. The First Order are in control. The Resistance are basically the Rebels now, and the First Order is the Empire. It’s as simple as that.I would have liked to see a post-ROTJ galaxy closer to the EU, with the fledgling New Republic and the remnants of the Empire still causing problems, but we aren’t getting that. But now it’s no longer a question. After the confusing presence of the Resistance while the Republic presumably still existed in The Force Awakens, and the completely undefined relationship of those powers and the size and scope of the First Order, now we know. The First Order has taken control and whatever remains of the Resistance is on the ropes. The Republic is shattered.My biggest complaint about The Force Awakens wasn’t the slavish adherence to A New Hope in structure, but how it completely glossed over what exactly happened to the galaxy in the decades since Return of the Jedi. Why was Leia a general and not a Senator? Why was there a Resistance to begin with? What’s wrong with the Republic? The Last Jedi establishes all of that without prequel levels of exposition.We’re Facing How Much the Jedi SuckedLet’s be real. The Jedi are cool ideas. Space knights with laser swords and magic powers who keep the peace throughout the galaxy. And in the EU they were. But in the movies, the Jedi were garbage. They were complacent, easily manipulated non-enforcers of a corrupt and idiotic Old Republic in the prequels, and all we saw of them in the original trilogy were a few cool guys who died and a dumb farm kid who fought with his own teenage whininess to become the last Jedi master.Again, I would have liked an EU-style galaxy where Master Luke founded a new Jedi praxeum and taught a new generation of Jedi. I would have loved some shout-outs to Kyle Katarn and Kyp Durron. But they’ve been wiped away by Disney, and have been replaced by the harsh realization of just how garbage the Jedi were throughout the movies. They were good guys only by contrast, built on legends and ignoring the dysfunction their traditions demonstrated.The Last Jedi recognized that. Luke tried to train a new generation of Jedi, but he wasn’t equipped to do it and was easily manipulated, himself. His fear of Ben Solo was used to turn him toward the dark side and become Kylo Ren just like the Jedi Council’s fear of Anakin Skywalker was used to turn him toward the dark side and become Darth Vader. The Sith performed evil acts and enabled the new Dark Lords to rise, but it was the Jedi and their rigidity and fear that provided the push the Sith needed for their plans to work.Luke recognized it, which is why he wanted the Jedi to end. And Yoda recognized it, which is why he brought the ghost lightning and called Luke a dumbass. If the new Jedi kept to the teachings and traditions of the old Jedi, they would have repeated the same mistakes just like Luke did. And now Rey, as the true last Jedi, won’t. Because she sees beyond the reflexive fear and worship of dark and light. She’ll make mistakes, as any good character will, but now she won’t make the same mistakes as her predecessors.The Jedi needed to die. Now the Jedi can begin, and be more effective and interesting by shedding meaningless platitudes and habitual condemnation.Snoke Was Imposing, and Now He’s DeadSupreme Leader Snoke was never going to live up to your expectations, and his elimination was a brilliant move. Yes, his existence was weird and mysterious, and his incredible Force powers weren’t explained. Some side material explaining why he’s as strong as Palpatine would be great. But it isn’t necessary, and wiping him off the board makes the future of Star Wars much more interesting.You know how the Jedi suck? The Sith suck too. They’re paper-thin Bad Guys whose entire ethos is that of being an edgelord. Hate, fear, anger, meanness, cruelty, they’re all pretty ridiculous concepts to base your religion off of. And while Snoke had some pretty good moments of yelling at Kylo Ren, that’s all he had to offer. The same platitudes Palpatine had to offer. He was a copy of Palpatine, possibly a straight-up clone of him (also something the EU did). And he simply wasn’t interesting outside of the vague promise that his origin had something more compelling than his character traits as presented.So Kylo Ren cut him in half with a lightsaber when he was in the middle of an evil villain monologue about the power of the dark side. In the original trilogy this type of gesture redeemed Darth Vader, who still died the necessary death of redeemed villains because he had done too many evil things. And in the prequel trilogy this type of gesture condemned Darth Vader, betraying Mace Windu and saving Palpatine. The cycle of betrayal, condemnation, and redemption was finished by Darth Vader, who came back around to Anakin Skywalker. And that cycle would have been boring to see play out again.Kylo Ren killing Snoke and fighting alongside Rey could have easily been his redemption and return to the light side. It was the most obvious path. Ren blindly taking up the mantle of Supreme Leader and declaring himself the new Dark Lord of the Sith would have been the second most obvious path. He did neither, and became Supreme Leader not to carry on the legacy of the Sith, but to destroy it all.Snoke gave us a second Emperor spouting the same tired junk about the power of the dark side. We’ve been there before. Now the First Order is commanded by an angry man disillusioned with the Jedi and the Sith, looking to carve his own bloody place in the galaxy by burning all the old orders down. And Rey understands and recognizes that. She sees where he’s coming from, and just like he is to us, to her he’s a much more complex and tragic figure than a big evil bald guy.Rey’s Parents Were NobodyThe revelation that Rey’s parents were just drunks on Jakku who abandoned her and not some legendary Jedi figures or secretly someone from the original trilogy disappointed a lot of people. It certainly didn’t help tone down the screaming from enraged incel MRAs that she was a Mary Sue. However, it makes her much more interesting as a character.If Rey was secretly Ben Solo’s brother or had some heritage that tied back to the Jedi, she would have been tied down to the paths others had already taken. It would have only fed into the The Force Awakens feeling of new characters doing the same things the old characters had done. A new generation following in the steps of the older generation.Rey isn’t secretly the daughter of Jedi masters. She doesn’t share blood with the Skywalkers. She has no genetic or filial connection to the legends of the past. She’s just the abandoned daughter of drunks left to fend for herself on a desert planet. And at heart, she already knew that, and the revelation to the audience wasn’t a revelation to her but a reminder that what she was seeking from Luke in a father figure wasn’t in the cards and wasn’t necessary to begin with.Rey grew up alone under terrible conditions and became a capable salvager who could fight with her own strength and pilot anything. And she’s a Force user for reasons that aren’t explained, just like Snoke’s powers weren’t explained. Because not everything has to go back to the Skywalkers or previous generations. Rey isn’t a Mary Sue. She’s a survivor who’s carving her own place in the world, and her entire training with Luke was about that.She’s the last Jedi, and she’s the new Jedi. And she isn’t held back by connections to the past that are beyond her control. She had no choice in her upbringing or her Force powers, but everything after that was entirely her decision. Her choices define the Jedi now, and in spite of all she went through she has a strong enough moral compass that her choices will hopefully be mostly the right ones.Yoda himself said it best. Rey had all she needed to carry on the legacy of the Jedi, because making the right choices from your heart is so much more important to being a good Jedi, or a good hero, or a good person, than blindly following someone else’s teachings like Luke did with the Jedi and like Anakin did with the Sith. And like Kylo Ren did, until he came to the same conclusion as Rey, from the opposite angle.Star Wars is Moving Forward, Instead of Running in CirclesThe inevitable confrontation between Rey and Kylo Ren will be a new fight between Jedi that we haven’t seen before. The sides of light and dark, Jedi and Sith, aren’t nearly as important now as simple good and evil. And now the faces of those fights are much more complex and interesting than their predecessors were.Rey isn’t Luke. She wasn’t a bored farmboy who found out his uncle and dad were important people and jumped onto ideology. She was a survivor who struggled to find her place in the galaxy, and who heard the calls of both the Jedi and the Sith and made her own choice instead of blindly following rhetoric.Kylo Ren isn’t Darth Vader or Sheev Palpatine. He isn’t a poor boy rescued by the Jedi and then feared and confounded by them for years, and he isn’t a big bald evil head who wants to be mean and cruel to everyone for no reason. He was tempted, and betrayed, and finally made his own choice on what path to take. He has the power of the Sith without the empty edgelord attitude, and while he’s committing evil, he’s committing it with his own agency as his own attempt to carve out a place for himself in the galaxy.The First Order is basically just the Empire now and the Resistance is basically just the Rebellion now. You have a powerful galactic government menacing everyone and a scrappy band of heroes fighting them. There’s a nice purity in that. But the fact that the head of this new Empire is now conflicted and disillusioned by the Sith, and that the last Jedi fighting for the Resistance has defined her ideals and paths through her own choices and not Jedi rhetoric, means that the coming fight will be much more interesting. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.