Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

In the summer of 2010 I participated in an internship at the local television station Fox 2 in Detroit. I was brought in to assist with web production for their site www.myfoxdetroit.com, produce content, and specialize in Politics, culminating with a candidate survey revolving around the Michigan Primary on August 3, 2010.

While at the station I worked on a variety of stories for the website. Below you will find links to all articles and clips or multimedia of different content I worked on. An in depth description detailing the Primary Candidate project for the television station can be found here.

Multimedia

All multimedia and their accompanied stories were written, recorded and edited by myself and other interns (whose names will be mentioned). Most of those stories were done with a deadline in mind as to when they must be up on the website. Some had a more serious element, while other pieces were light-hearted pieces.

Supporters of Israel Speak Their Mind

Written and Produced by Benjie Klein and Amelia Carpenter

West Bloomfield – A rally in support of Israel took place in West Bloomfield Township yesterday. Some in attendance held Israeli flags and American flags as a show of patriotism.

Signs with statements like: “We Americans Stand By Israel,” “Israel’s Blockade is Legal,” and “Israel Gave Up Gaza for Peace” could be seen by those passing by the southeast corner of Fifteen Mile and Orchard Lake Rd… The rest of the story can be found on the Fox 2 website here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Automotive X-Prize Gearing For Final Stages

By Benjie Klein, Amelia Carpenter, and Karen George

Brooklyn, MI – Michigan International Speedway had some fierce competition these past two weeks. Yet, it wasn’t a race.

Progressive Automotive Insurance has been holding it’s X-Prize competition right here in Michigan. The X-Prize was created with one goal in mind — build a safe, efficient car that gets at least 100 MPG in real world driving. At stake, $10 million…  The rest of the story can be found on the Fox 2 website here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

X Prize, posted with vodpod

Links to additional non-political Multimedia:

World Cup 2010: American Football vs. World Futbol *by Benjie Klein and Amelia Carpenter

American Idol Fans Say Goodbye to Simon *by Benjie Klein and Karen George

Predict the Winner of American Idol *by Benjie Klein and Karen George

Political Article Example

Candidates Send the Wrong Message

By Benjie Klein

More Michigan jobs.This is the mantra we have been hearing for years across this state.  Yet, for some reason, candidates over look what’s right in front of them — an opportunity to start the process in the simplest way.

It is no secret anywhere in the country that during election time politicians are out for themselves. Because of that, they often miss the fundamentals that helped earn them the chance to run for office from the beginning. Start with the people at home. The rest of the story can be found on the Fox 2 website here.

Links to Additional Political Articles:

Mackinac Policy Conference

Mackinac 2010: Who Will Step Up

Politics and Technology: Time to Tear them Apart

Sound Off: What Does Michigan Want in a Governor?*By Benjie Klein and Amelia Carpenter

Sound Off: Kwame Kilpatrick Sentencing Reaction*By Benjie Klein and Amelia Carpenter

More Information about the Primary Candidate Project

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The cool air sets in on a brisk Saturday morning as people don their red to cheer on the Wisconsin Badgers football team. As students and alumni move closer to the stadium they see arms raised high in the air holding an object.

This object, tickets. And for the right price, anyone could have them.

While this act, formerly known as scalping, has existed for years, the Internet craze revolutionized the business.

Many ticketholders, including those expected to be the most loyal of the fan base, students, resell more tickets than ever. This leaves many with a bitter taste in their mouth causing students to spend more money than originally anticipated to participate in the fandom of Badgers football.

“Last year I spent $400 buying season tickets from a grad student who bought them just to sell them,” said Kristine Sullivan, University of Wisconsin senior.

The Secondary Ticket Market Defined

Led by companies like Stubhub, the secondary ticket market allows individuals to resell their tickets to events often generating a profit. Unlike the classic method of standing outside a stadium for all to see, posting tickets online increases the consumer base and introduces alternative ways of getting paid.

Today, the secondary ticket market stands strong, streaming in revenue at an estimated $3 to $5 billion per year.

But within the past year, the market truly exploded.

According to Stubhub’s Corporate Communications Manager, Joellen Ferrer, customers of Stubhub, created in 2000, purchased 15 million tickets total by July 2008. Slightly more than a year later in Oct. 2009, individuals brought the total number to over 30 million tickets sold.

In Wisconsin, thousands of Badgers football tickets sell through Stubhub on a weekly basis, while numerous other tickets are resold through different means.

Regulating the Market

At the University of Wisconsin, only a regulation for students under the Conduct on University Lands guidelines exists, stating:

No person may buy or sell a ticket or other evidence of the right of entry for more than the price printed upon the face of the ticket.

No federal laws exist banning scalping, leaving states to decide the legalization of the practice. Wisconsin regulates commercial ticket resellers, those who purposely buy without any intention of attending, by allowing them to sell tickets above face value with a license purchased through the state.

Beyond commercial laws in Wisconsin, no legal repercussions exist to prevent those looking to sell above face value from a non-business aspect.

“From our standpoint I think the reselling of tickets [helps]. We want as many people in the stadium as we can get,” said Justin Doherty, Assistant Athletic Director of External Communications at UW.

Badgers Football

After experimenting with a lottery system, the University of Wisconsin now utilizes a first-come, first-served online system for students to obtain season tickets. This year, the tickets cost $153 after service charges for seven games in the 2009 season, averaging out to around $22 per game. Currently, a student logs onto their computer at a designated time hoping to obtain tickets.

Students genuinely looking to attend games face competition from those seeking to immediately turn a profit on tickets in the first-come, first-served system.

The students who grab tickets just to sell know the market they want to take advantage of with the buyers knowing the secondary market is the main alternative.

“Buyers do realize that they may not necessarily have access to tickets to any given event,” said Ferrer. “With the secondary market they realize they are able to have access to those tickets.”

At the University of Wisconsin, Badgers football means a lot to some students. The atmosphere, a bond with thousands of other students, and loyalty to the school contribute to the long-standing relationship between students and sports.

“I’ve only missed three games since I’ve been here,” said Sullivan referencing the 28 possible home games she had the opportunity to attend in her four years at Wisconsin.

These students feel their right to participate in school sporting events are compromised by those with no intentions of ever stepping foot in Camp Randall Stadium. And asking students to spend money, they often don’t have.

“My problem is with the students that buy the season package then try and sell the whole season right away for two times, three times as much,” said UW senior Ricky Ghoshroy. He feels this act takes away from the individuals who want to be there and may turn away passionate fans who can no longer afford the experience.

For the students who sincerely look ahead to each Badgers game, the opportunity to attend becomes harder. The individuals who sell their tickets just want a buyer. This leaves the possibility of students from other schools to take the spot of an avid Badgers fan.

And goes against the expected loyalty of a student fan base.

Although the Athletic Department wants to fill the venue, their views mirror the students. According to Brian Moore, Assistant Athletic Director of Ticket Operations, if a student cannot attend a game here or there and sells it, those are understandable circumstances.   The students who buy just to sell enter a different domain.

“For the simple reason of buying a season ticket to resell it for profit, I don’t think they should be doing that,” said Moore.  “Simply being in it for profiteering purposes is not what we encourage.”

Moore and the athletic department want the devoted fans purchasing the tickets directly through the university, rather than putting both the buyer and seller at risk.

Buying and Selling Risks

For college students with little money, both the buyer and seller must trust their fellow student.

“You never know if they’re going to pay you or just take the ticket and run,” said Chris Dawson, sophomore at UW. “If you’re buying the ticket you hand them the money and they run.”

While putting themselves at risk in this way, a different issue of deceit has begun to pop up.

In 2007, the University of Wisconsin implemented a program known as “Show and Blow.” This forces a student to take a breathalyzer before a game if an ejection occurred at any previous home game. Although meant for the students who violated the rule, the person who uses the ticket under violation faces the breathalyzer, often times unprepared. If the student exceeds the limit, they are denied access.

“When I buy a ticket I make sure to verify that they’re not in that program, that I’m not going to get turned away the gate,” said Jon Hardegger, sophomore student.

UW has no obligation to the buyer or seller in these situations, leaving the students gambling on their game day experience.

But alternatives do exist and recently implemented plans at other universities give an idea what the future may hold.

Future Alternatives

With a changing marketplace and students desperate for tickets, many schools around the country have started to formulate new ticketing plans. While some schools have added more stringent rules to prevent scalping, others regulate it.

At Penn State University, a student marketplace allows current students to sell football tickets only to other Penn State students. They may sell tickets in the range of $30 to $60 and use their student IDs as tickets, allowing easy transfer for tickets sold within the system.

Students also suggested their own alternatives.

“If you’re not using your ticket to go to the game you should be able to sell it back to the school, and the school can market it back to people looking for tickets,” said Sullivan.

Another option, simple patience.

“If students paid attention to how the prices work,” said Hardegger. “They would notice closer to game time, the prices have gone way down [this year].”

According to Moore, Wisconsin does not have the technology in place to switch to a new system and it may be as many as four years before new ticketing changes come about.

As part of the Masters Program at the University of Wisconsin, I had to create two semester long blogs on separate topics.

The first blog looked at modern and unique technologies.

I dubbed this blog “The Swittle Monkey” after my small video production company known as Swittle Monkey Productions. Below you will find an entry about different technologies in sports.

With the NCAA tournament in full motion there is not a better time to discuss the way sports and technology merge to create some of the greatest spectacles in the world to be viewed at this point anywhere at anytime.  After the first day it was reported over 3.4 million hours of video/audio were streamed to watch parts of this event. And with an incredible first day, the numbers for the rest of the weekend can only be assumed to at least match that for the next three days.  Obviously on Thursday more people were working and sneaking in some viewing time, opposed to the weekend at home to enjoy the action on TV.  Coming into the tournament CBS projected over 10 million hours streamed, after the first day’s pace, I’m going to assume they won’t have much of a problem especially with this year’s tournament being a lot more exciting than last year’s tournament.  When NBC streamed winter olympics they only managed 3.5 million hours of streaming through the three weeks of coverage. In addition to streaming on computers, a $10 iphone app allows people to stream the games and companies like FLO TV were right in the mix both with heavy advertising and showing of the games on their portable digital TVs.

Gotta love seeing sports anywhere, anytime. Photo via Ron Sanford, LSJ

Within these events though, even more hidden nuances exist. While watching the NCAA tournament the Michigan State Spartans hit an incredible game winning shot, but the after analysis on ESPN helped show how far breaking down plays had become too. At the 1:20 point in the video here a feature known as ESPN Axis breaks down how close a ball is to hitting a players head on a pass by turning the view and zooming in.  These are just some techniques used that is helping sports evolve with changing times. Another analysis technique in the sport of basketball helps combine video games and styles of play to show what may happen or what previously happened on the basketball court with an analyst right in the thick of the virtual action.

Although sometimes sports can become overkill at times with the stories they choose to constantly harp on, at least advancing technology helps make the moments you just can’t get enough of a little more interesting into the 72nd time viewing the same thing.

The second school blog, known as The Meaty Matters, looks at the meat industry, its relationship with restaurants, and uses of unique meats around the world.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. At some point in your life, you’ve eaten some form of fast food meat. In fact, you probably sneak a taco, roast beef, or bacon double cheeseburger every once in a while. But, there’s also been that point where you’ve questioned what exactly you are eating. I’ll come out and admit, I used to be a bottom-tier fast food junkie*(see below for details). In my undergrad days of college I’d have McDonalds breakfast at 4 a.m daily. Luckily, after I graduated I quit that habit and shy away from fast food. If I’m going to eat unhealthy food, I’d much rather do it at one of those places on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives or unique to the city I’m in.

Before I go any further, let me say: this is not an attempt to turn you off from fast food. If you want to eat it, more power to you. In recent times, movies that attempt to exploit the fast food world and the occasional story documenting the ill health effects have been the craze. I’m just taking the simple approach of looking at the meat (to determine how much is actual meat), how they get their meat, and some regulations out there. Some of this stuff might be tough to digest (both literally and figuratively.)

First, fast food meat is legal and edible. For example rumors of Arby’s roast beef being liquid or gelatin are not true. The packaging the meat arrives in has a gelatin type broth/preservative that helps maintain freshness and flavor, causing confusion to those looking to take out the industry. These companies do stringent testing on the meats. Whether places like Mcdonalds and Burger King do so to avoid insane lawsuits or out of caring for their customer base is up for debate. The biggest problems, however, stem from animal care, production, and a low-grade quality product. These are the areas where things begin going downhill.

The question of “where does this meat come from?” is perhaps the most legitimate question surrounding these chains. And the truth is, they couldn’t tell you specifically. Fast food chains have their meat factories and suppliers they use, but in the ground beef they create dozens of different cows may be used. There aren’t farms used to produce the meats, these are in fact factories. Many are just feeding lots where the cows stay in one spot eating as much corn/grain mixed with antibiotics and hormones as possible. It sounds bad, and it probably is, but it still produces an acceptable quality of meat if the production methods go correctly.

Within the production is where the problems lie. Because these animals are essentially living in one solitary spot, and constantly eating, they can get quite dirty. A combination of food, fecal matter, and any other excess waste might end up on or around them. That’s where the debate begins when addressing poop making it into hamburgers. Does it happen? Yes. Very rarely and that’s when E.coli comes into play. Is it as common as some people like to make it seem? No.  Check out these interviews from Frontline to see both sides of the safety argument.

The process of cleaning these animals and retrieving the meat can be very difficult and must be done thoroughly. In an industry that produces obscene tonnage of meat that is expected to be processed extremely fast, mistakes can be made. The fast food meat factories have to supply so many places around the world that almost 400 cattle an hour are slaughtered. The number itself is crazy, but to think workers must wash every animal, clean out intestines and other body parts, plus be careful enough not to hurt yourself with these machines and knives, it’s a difficult task. Since 1993, when there was a huge outbreak almost ending the Jack in the Box franchises, companies and the country are a little more strict in the way they go about the process before and after. Jack in the Box went bankrupt at the time and are just now expanding nationally, a plan that may have been set back by 20 years.

The company most attacked now for their process isn’t Mcdonalds or Burger King. The fast food chain: Kentucky Fried Chicken. Led by those crazy folks at PETA (just watch the video and you’ll see), a site called Kentucky Fried Cruelty has led undercover investigations to see how this company treats their chicken and the quality that comes after. While they tend to overdramatize some of the stuff, it has been found workers at these plants abuse these animals beyond their ultimate fate of slaughter. Chickens have been found in cages that are unsafe causing them to get stuck and break wings or legs. The chickens are also shocked, cut and dumped into boiling water. The chickens that are used have gained weight in double the amount of time of a normal life span.

So now that the processing is complete, how bout the meat itself?  This is where things get interesting. In Europe, the meat is better quality. They have more restrictions and better regulations. It tastes better and smells better.  In America most the meat used is commercial grade. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s also not really graded. In fact, meat goes by 8 different categories: Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. Within these categories, there can be grades of “1-5” placed on the meat. But this is not a requirement. Thus, majority of the commercial grade meat just makes it through USDA inspection so it won’t kill you and it goes from there.  Once again, the meat itself is edible. Poultry uses different grades as well. For the whole grading scale and to learn more check out the whole grading scale and regulations of all meats and poultry.

So you’re thinking I didn’t really explain how the meat truly is. But, thanks to an article published last December in USA Today, fast-food standards for meat both safety and quality are actually better than those in the Educational system. Who said our country didn’t care? The truth is, commercial grade meat is exactly as it sounds. Of course, don’t be fooled by Angus Beef either. The newest trick for fast food restaurants has been the “Angus Beef” craze. It’s “higher quality” than other meats they serve. It’s juicy and has more to it. Certified Angus Beef brings on the illusion, as Joe’s Butcher Shop explains, that this means high quality. He also shows a solid comparison of what each meat grade means. While that is more based on steaks, it still helps show the difference.

Finally, once the actual meat must preserved to reach these places, this is where the true problem lies. If there was a way for McDonalds to constantly process cows in a magical basement of everyone of their restaurants, the quality of the meat might actually be better. Unfortunately, because of the amount there is and the distance each little strip of beef must travel to join with it’s little beef strip friends, stuff must be added. For many chicken products, sodium phosphate seems to be popular. Throw in some MSG, Oils, Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, and you’re almost halfway to what they give you. For a great list of added chemicals to all foods, beyond meats click here.

So… I won’t deny, I’ll still eat fast food every once in a while. The process is bad and what they add after is bad. It’s even worse that the government isn’t as strict as they should be. That might be even more alarming than the fast food chains themselves. Some of them do it the right way. Five Guys, In-n-Out Burger, and so on have healthier operations. Even Chipotle, once owned by Mcdonalds, does it in a way that isn’t cruel and even a bit healthier. The prices might be a little bit more expensive, but there are at least options out there.

Don’t worry, I will soon be looking at fancier meats from high quality restaurants. As well as more parts of the body for you to enjoy. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free as always…

*To make myself feel better in life, I have separated different styles of fast food into “tiers.” McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, Arby’s, KFC, and so on in my mind are example of bottom-tier fast food. Restaurants like Pancheros, Potbellys, Five Guys, and Pei Wei are second-tier and thus acceptable in my world.

The final blog included is not school related, but a blog I felt I should mention with a link. It is known as Benjie Off the Leash (named after the hit movie about a dog “Benji: Off the Leash”). This blog was used to chronicled my travels throughout Europe and the United States.

Sports Articles

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Sports
Tags: , ,

In the summer of 2010 I participated in an internship program for the sports website Bleacher Report. As part of my assignment I had to write 3-5 articles per week, plus participate in “Breaking News Days,” which required me to be on deadline and on call. Some article topics I was told to write on, while others were of my own choosing.

Here you can find the archive of all my work.

I have had over 113,000 people read my 51 sports articles that ranged in topic from tennis and soccer to college football and pro basketball. I had 21 stories featured on the main page and a variety of articles featured on local news websites such as the Houston Chronicle (Houston Rockets Draft Day Possibilities), Philadelphia Inquirer (seen below), L.A. Times (L.A. Lakers Summer League Preview), and San Francisco Chronicle (NBA Draft 2010: The Golden State Warriors’ Plans for the Future). I also had an article featured on CBS Sportsline (Players who had bad NFL offseason).

Philadelphia Chronicle

And here are some of my personal favorites (clips included)…

Photo courtesy of Rick Stewart/Getty Images and Bleacher Report

Most Emotional Detroit Sports Year of the 1990s

It may seem strange to look back to the 1990s, but with the Stanley Cup Finals, Memorial Day, and lots of happenings in the world of athletics, memories tend to find their way back.

The year was 1997, and in Detroit it was the best and most emotional of the decade.

Detroit Tigers

Although the Tigers finished only 79-83, it was a massive improvement from the previous year’s 53-109 record. This team was one of the better post-1984 Tigers teams led by a fun offense.

Tony Clark in his 2nd full season as a Major Leaguer replaced Cecil Fielder, who was traded to the Yankees in 1996, as 1st baseman of the team. Going for career bests with a .376 OBP, 105 runs and 117 RBIs he finished 18th in AL MVP voting.

A look into Big Ten Expansion and Solving the Scheduling Conflicts that arose when Nebraska was added.

Expansion fever has slowly cooled off around college sports (for now) and the realities of a 12-team Big Ten are set. The real work begins now.

With a bevy of issues to solve, the conference must start with the basics. Before even determining divisions the Big Ten should establish two main components.

The amount of conference games played per year should be first on the list.

Should the conference stick with eight games or add an additional ninth? The choice is an easy one, and adding that extra game is a must. It may only leave three out-of-conference games, but it will help maintain and build new rivalries.

And finally, my most successful article in terms of readership looked back at the Greatest Moments of the Lakers vs. Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Number 9:

Dubbed as “Tragic” Johnson after the 1984 Finals Series, Earvin Johnson had lost some of the Magic.

Throughout the whole series he made uncharacteristic errors and in a series so close, this was something the Lakers couldn’t afford.

In game 4, he made a bad pass down the stretch to Robert Parish. He missed 2 key free throws in OT in the loss that day as well.

Then game 7. A chance for real Magic. Unfortunately for Johnson, after the Lakers had battled back down from 14 points, he made costly turnovers.
He fumbled the ball, made poor decisions and in the end his team lost the series leaving himself and Lakers fans in a state of shock.