What-Ball?: Pickleball: the sport for all ages and all skill levels.

When I was home for Easter break, I watched a decent amount of television (because college doesn’t allow for much leisure time). I surfed the channels, hoping to
happen upon some kind of sporting event to feast my eyes upon. Eventually, I came across last year’s USA Pickleball Championship.

Imagine playing tennis, ping-pong, and badminton, but all at once. That’s pickleball. And yes, you heard me correctly. Pickleball.

In 1965, three fathers joined forces to create this family-friendly game. During a summer on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Seattle, Washington, their kids found themselves bored with the usual swimming in a pool, jumping in a lake, playing frisbee or building sand castles. The dads united and invented the growing sport of
pickleball, whose rules and equipment have evolved since. Pickleball is played with a paddle and a plastic ball that has whiffle ball-like holes. Formerly made out of wood, the paddles have evolved to being composed of aluminum and graphite materials.

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, and the court’s layout allows for either casual or intense games. The outdoor or indoor pickleball court is the size of a doubles badminton court. It is painted similar to a tennis court, with two service areas separated by a centerline and two non-volley zones that extend the length in front of the net. However, you can absolutely play pickleball on a tennis or badminton court.

So why should we care about this amalgamation of country-club sports? Other than the fun-sounding name, pickleball provides cardiorespiratory fitness, like other forms of physical activity. Specifically, a Western State Colorado University study found that this type of fitness provided by pickleball was great for middle-aged and older adults.

You don’t have to be a middle to old-aged human to enjoy pickleball, though. The game can be played with your college friends to get some casual physical activity into your stressful college life. Try pickleball over the summer; I promise it’s a big “dill.”

Sources: AARP, USA Pickleball

Ready, Set, Dance: An argument on dance as a sport.

A sport is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment,” according to
Oxford Languages. Why then, is dance not considered a sport?

Despite the competitive nature of dance and the intense hours of training, dancers still continue to fight for other athletes to take them seriously. Dance may not involve the equipment or team that other sports do, but it requires just as much physical strength, skill and practice.

According to Pointe Magazine, students who wish to become professional dancers train anywhere from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many dancers are even homeschooled in order to prioritize their training. Young girls and boys who hope to join companies give up their lives to the art. Just as many other athletes, the lifespan of a professional dancer is short. Students must dedicate themselves fully to the art at a young age in order to make it in the professional world.

Dancers must also follow a strict exercise and nutrition routine in order to maintain their strength and figure. WorldWide Ballet states that the average American ballerina is anywhere from 5 foot 2 inches to 5 foot 8 inches and weighs 85 to 130 lbs. Despite a society of body positivity and acceptance, ballerinas are still forced into the standard of being thin. Professional dancers have to track their food and weight meticulously in order to maintain their physique.

There are many arguments against dance as a sport, but I’ve never understood why. Maybe one doesn’t understand the rigors of the art until they’ve tore a ligament from a misplacement of weight, or they’ve bandaged their bloody, broken feet. Maybe one will never understand until they’ve pushed themselves on stage to the point of tears but have kept a smile on their face.

I’ve been dancing since I was three years old. In high school, I would have practice with my dance team from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and then would immediately drive to my dance studio for class from 6-10 p.m. I have torn ligaments in both my hip and my knee but performed the next day anyways. I pushed myself physically and mentally for years, leaving by body stiff and sore permanently.

Dance is like any other sport. Some are cut out, and some are not. A dancer must have as much physical strength and dedication as any other athlete, but a dancer performs with grace and beauty. Dance may not look like a sport to the common eye, but if you saw what occurred in front of those floor length mirrors, I’m sure you would change your mind.

Sources: Oxford Languages, Point Magazine, WorldWide Ballet

Super League Sparks Global Backlash: How a European pro soccer proposal is impacting fans around the world.

A recent announcement regarding the proposal of a Super League in European soccer has sparked global outrage and may forever change the way the game is both played and experienced. The 12 clubs confirmed as founding members, which include England’s traditional “Big 6” as well as the three top clubs in Italy and Spain,
announced that they plan to form a “Super League” which would have a tremendous impact on both domestic and international tournaments.

Traditionally, high-level European club tournaments such as the Champions League and Europa League require qualification that is obtained by performing at the top of a domestic league. The proposed Super League would instead have members play each other on a consistent basis, eliminating the ability for teams to work their way up and qualify. This is completely contradictory to how European tournaments and domestic leagues currently function where teams at the bottom of the table at the end of the season are relegated to a lower league and then must fight for promotion back up to the top league. It could also eliminate how money is transferred between leagues where the top clubs help fund the smaller clubs to continue the longstanding tradition of supporting grassroots efforts to expand the game.

The majority of soccer’s governing bodies have proposed sanctions that would be put on players and clubs who compete in this proposed Super League. UEFA and FIFA, which oversee major tournaments, have begun to discuss sanctions against participating players on both a domestic and international scale.

Fans, commentators, and even managers and players across Europe and the globe have come out against the Super League because at the heart of it, all they know that it is fueled by greed, and this proposal disregards not only the players but the fans who have supported these clubs for centuries. These clubs are integral parts of their communities who have provided help and assistance to people, especially during the pandemic, and this proposal completely undermines the local fabric of the sport.

The timing of the announcement of this league is also cause for outrage when hundreds of lower league clubs have suffered financial hardships from the pandemic. Since its inception, soccer has been known as the “working man’s game” and in many ways, this new proposed league would take away its heart and soul in exchange for enhanced profits for the so-called “top” teams.

The love of the game has provided a sense of camaraderie and belonging for people, especially in dark times that we constantly find ourselves in. And now more than ever it’s important that soccer fans come together, regardless of allegiances, to fight for the sport that has given us so much. In any sense, soccer fans, including myself, around the globe will sit, wait and hope this attempt to destroy the beautiful game we all know and love will not go through.

The Crowd Goes Wild: The impact of spectators at college sporting events.

The cheers and claps from the crowd are the most exhilarating sounds an athlete can hear. From smaller claps on the golf course to shouts and screams on the field, athletes thrive on the support of their closest family, friends and fans.

For the majority of the spring season, the Middle Atlantic Conference prohibited all athletic competitions from having spectators. This meant that athlete wouldn’t hear these screams, hear their names being called and numbers being cheered.

Beginning April 5, the ban was lifted. MAC allowed its schools to have fans at competitions but also left them the freedom to make their own respective rules on
spectator policies.

Eastern University’s spectator policy allows current students and faculty to attend outdoor events, and each athlete is allowed two tickets for other guests. These two
guests undergo a health screening before being allowed on campus to watch the event. Once the guests are on campus, they must follow social-distancing guidelines and wear a mask at all times. Eastern also asks all spectators to refrain from gathering in large groups before or after the event and sit in the designated areas laid out by Eastern’s game management team.

Aside from the specific yet necessary and helpful guidelines, the return of fans was an occasion that many students and athletes looked forward to since the spring
season commenced. Athletes missed their friends being able to watch them play their sport, and friends missed being able to hype up their favorite athletes.

The men’s lacrosse game on April 7 drew as large a crowd as possible in this pandemic. The Kea-Guffin hill was packed with parents and students, as far down as the auxiliary field. With each goal the team scored in its 12-7 victory over Widener, the crowd erupted in praising shouts and cheers. Accompanied by Olson Field’s goal horn and song, the atmosphere was once again electric.

The game ended with a salute to the fans, as the guys jogged over to the spectators and clapped their hands, cheering in gratitude. They posed for photos and waved to family and friends, and the fans waved back. “I love you, mom!” and “Hey dad!” were yelled up the hill from the field, and back down, “Great game!” and “Love you too!” were returned.

A week later, the softball team took the field against Messiah, drawing crowds down the third baseline on the curb outside Warner Library. Fans got to see a rally in

the second game of the double-header, as Eagles’ softball tied the score at 7 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Unfortunately, Messiah pulled ahead in extra innings, but the fan support behind closing pitcher, Lexi Evelyn, was more than encouraging. Hearing family members and teammates shout, “Like you can, kid!” and “Alright two-six!” made eyes clear and hearts full.

The smallest gestures and phrases make an impression on athletes’ performances. Having a crowd in the stands makes all the difference. With the noise from the fans, a player’s own thoughts are drowned out. All that matters is that moment, that game, that rush, that adrenaline cultivated by the crowd’s applauds and shouts.

Student Athlete Spotlight: Sophomore soccer player Emmanuel Hewitt discusses activism both in and out of athletics.

When George Floyd was murdered in May 2020, many young Black people came out to their local cities to march for Black Lives Matter. Emmanuel Hewitt, a sophomore at Eastern, was one of those people. The Mechanicsburg, PA native, found it important to bring awareness to the struggles of young Black Americans. Hewitt is a great example of an active member of the Eastern community: a student athlete who is passionate about social justice and loves the Lord.

Since last summer, Hewitt, a communication studies major, has become extremely involved with Black Lives Matter, the Black Student League, and has begun to educate his peers about the importance of including and listening to Black voices. Hewitt explained that he protested because “it was not just for [Hewitt], but for other people who go through discrimination” to elevate their voices. Not only is Hewitt marching for Black Lives Matter, but he is bringing the topic into the classroom. In his classes, Hewitt has done a number of papers and projects highlighting Black History Month, his identity, and the racism that professional athletes

Similar to his in class projects, Hewitt discussed how Eastern’s soccer team has tried to make an effort to educate the team on racial injustices. Hewitt discussed a Zoom meeting that the team had over the summer that created a dialogue within the team. Had it not been for COVID, the team had hopes of bringing activism into
more events and activities.

On the field, Hewitt is a midfielder and a wing. Despite being in his second year at Eastern, Hewitt has had limited time on the field due to COVID restrictions. Hewitt, along with his teammates, have not seen a regular season game since the fall 2019 season. They played four scrimmages this spring, but the Eagles are excited to have a full season in the future. “It’ll be a lot of responsibility,” said Hewitt. Juggling academics, activism, and a leadership role within the team, Hewitt has a lot on his plate going into his junior year this fall. However, the team is looking to continue building their strength and hopes to come out on top in the 2021 fall season.

Despite the challenges and hurdles Hewitt has faced during his time at Eastern, he enters each day with a smile. He values his faith and trusts God more than anything else. He is a dynamic presence in the classroom and on the field, and his journey in life is just beginning.


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Apple Music vs. Spotify: It’s time to settle the debate.

Apple Music and Spotify are two of the most popular ways for people to get their music.

As an avid Spotify user, I have never actually used Apple Music beyond downloading it for this article. Upon first glance, the way each app plays music looks very similar, but Apple Music does hold an advantage with having the lyrics show up on the screen while they’re being played.

In looking at the differences on the app stores for iOS and android, one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that the Apple app store had reviews turned off for Apple music, but Spotify has a 4.8/5 rating. The reviews may be turned off due to apple music being pre-downloaded on all Apple devices, but it still seems strange. The google play store has an overall rating of 3.7/5 for Apple Music and 4.4/5 for Spotify. These numbers seem close, but it is also important to note that Spotify has over 22 million reviews on the Google play store and 17 million reviews on the Apple app store, whereas Apple Music only has 400,000 reviews on Google play store only.

Reviews aside, both apps have the same subscription price for their services, however Spotify has a free version with ads whereas Apple Music requires a subscription fee to use the unlimited library, and charges per individual song without a subscription. Spotify also has more subscriptions with partnerships with other services such as Hulu for cheaper rates.

Spotify also has Podcasts included in the app with access included in the subscription costs, while Apple has a separate app and service for podcasts.

Overall both apps serve the same purpose, and use of each app is subject to the individual user, but if you’re looking for a higher rated app with more in-app features, then Spotify may be the right choice for you.

Vaccination Misinformation: Making an informed decision on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the start of COVID-19’s reign of terror in the U.S. there has been controversy regarding the best course of action to address the illness and eradicate it from the country. The response of some was to protest mask mandates and stay at home orders while others stocked food and toilet paper in preparation for plenty of time indoors.

As the dangers of the virus became more apparent, early testing and development began for a vaccine. Once again opposing sides emerged: some rejecting the idea of using such a novel medication, and others who celebrated, searching for the first appointment they could find. The U.S. has now reached a stage in vaccine distribution where appointments can be made for all persons 16 and older, not only those suffering from chronic illnesses or in essential job fields. With newfound accessibility comes the question if one really should utilize this immunization or not.

What seems to be most concerning for many of those questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine is how quickly it was created when other vaccines and medications can traditionally take years to manufacture. It is true that this vaccine was developed quickly, but this is not at all a testament product’s reliability. When an event like a pandemic occurs, searching for a solution becomes essential. Paperwork and funding for research was fast-tracked for the COVID-19 vaccine due to the emergent nature of the situation, greatly speeding up the entire process; however, rigorous testing and clinical trials of the vaccine were not neglected in the slightest.

Side effects of the vaccine are still being closely monitored as vaccine distribution continues. As one may have seen in the news, six recent recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed blood clots as a side effect, killing one woman. This news was frightening, and the FDA immediately halted the use of this brand.  Nevertheless, it is important to note that these six cases emerged out of a pool of 6.8 million recipients of the same vaccine, making this side effect apparent less than 0.00009% of the time. The FDA was able to acknowledge this fact, review the side effects once more, and weigh the risk against the benefits for this vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson brand has since been reapproved for distribution.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, such as a lack of effective indepth research conducted in the development stage, or common and dire side effects of the shot, or even that the vaccine itself could contain a microchip. In a time like this it is very important to your own research to make an informed decision. The Mayo Clinic is a great resource with a straightforward fact sheet about the vaccine. Here you can find plenty of information about each kind of vaccine, including how each works once inside the body. The CDC also houses plenty of information about vaccine clinical trials and safety.

After conducting my own research of the new vaccines I have decided to be vaccinated. I trust the recommendations of many doctors and researchers that this vaccine is safe and effective and will protect me and those around me from the continued spread of COVID-19.

Visit the PA and CDC official websites to start your own research and/or make an appointment.

Sources: cdc.gov, pa.gov

Logging Off For Now: One student shares why she plans on taking a gap year before continuing her education.

Like many college seniors, the most frequent question I have been asked over this past year is, “what are your plans after graduation?” As innocuous as the intent may be, this question is often loaded with anxiety-inducing expectations and assumptions. Just as going to undergrad has become a seemingly required next step for most high school seniors, so has the prospect of attending grad school become increasingly expected of most college seniors.

Of course there are logistical reasons for attending graduate school immediately out of college, especially if someone is working towards a job that requires a higher level of education. Students who are focusing in specialized fields often want to get their schooling done as quickly as possible so they can begin working in their
desired field as soon as they can. Other students genuinely love school and want nothing more than to continue their journey. These are both great reasons to continue on after undergrad into higher learning, and the choice to go straight into graduate programs is ultimately up to the individual.

Though I love school and do anticipate receiving a higher degree at some point, I am excited to take a gap year (or two!) before I continue on to grad school.

Most college students have been in school since pre-k. For a senior in college, that’s around eighteen years of schooling with summer and winter vacations as the only break time in between the otherwise monotony of being a full time student.

When I did the math, I realized that for most of my cognizant life, I have been chained to the schooling system. While I am grateful for the opportunities that my education has provided me, I have fallen ill to the burnout many students experience as a result of being in an organized educational process for so long. I know that I am in desperate need of a break.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, these past two scholastic years have looked different than ever before. Though things are slowly returning to a kind of normalcy, I am not confident that schools will be completely back to normal at the start of the fall term. I want to make sure that when I return to school, the inconveniences and hardships COVID has created will not plague my academic endeavors anymore.

Although I do anticipate going back to school at some point in the near future, I am excited to take the next year or two to figure out just who I am outside the four walls of a classroom- for most of my life it’s all I’ve ever known. I am excited to read because I want to and not because I have to for some class. I am excited to write about things I’m interested in with no deadlines or due dates. More than anything, though, I am excited to see how my education has formed me, not just as a student, but as a person.

I should hope that the purpose of my education was not to keep me bound to the confines of the classroom forever. I hope instead that my education has equipped
me with the proper tools to be a student forever, not just of the classroom but of the world around me.

I can’t wait to begin this next chapter of my life. I hope to catch up on some much needed rest, read more fiction, travel, and work on some non-school related projects I’ve had to place on the backburner for a while now. And then, when the time is right, I will reenter the classroom to continue what has never really stopped: my education.

Zero Reports Does Not Equal Zero Rapes: Low statistics do not mean assault isn’t happening– just that it isn’t being reported.

The 2020 Annual Security Report for Eastern University boasts crime statistics for the past three years such as zero cases of rape, zero cases of dating violence, and only one non-penetrative sexual offense in the past three years.

Having spent three years at Eastern University as a woman, in community with other women on campus, I can confidently say these numbers are vastly underreported. In my time at Eastern, I have supported friends who were harassed, intimidated, and inappropriately touched by male students they now sit next to in class every day. I know students afraid to walk alone at night on campus, a student who had a knife pulled on them on the Sparrowk path, and several students victimized by sexual assault.

These stories remain unreported. But why?

There are a number of reasons why a student may choose not to report harassment and assault, such as fear and shame, but there are other factors that impact
underreporting as well.

Women are unwilling to report when they know from other women that the perpetrator was not held accountable for their actions. Why go through the pain of recounting, reliving, and retraumatizing when you know your pleas will be ignored?

Women are unable to report when they can be penalized for their reporting. Eastern University does not have an established amnesty policy for victimized students to encourage reporting and seeking help.

Women are unable to report when their experiences are confined to on-campus violence. Violence between two students, on or off campus, is violence against the
student body and should be treated as such.

Under-reporting is not a blameless phenomenon. Eastern’s nonexistent assault reports are not indicative of a lack of violence, they’re proof of a failure to address and support violence against the student body.

Among undergraduate students aged 18-24, 26.4% of women and 6.8% of men experience rape or sexual assault on campus. As a Christian institution we are not exempt from these statistics. Instead, Christian institutions are more susceptible to the silencing forces of purity culture and shame and must work twice as hard to protect students.

Eastern students do not need awareness of sexual violence. We are painfully aware. We need amnesty policies to facilitate reporting. We need support groups for the students affected by violence. We need all violence between two students to be penalized, not just incidents on campus. We need violent offenders to see consequences.

Further, if a football team is to be added to an already athletically saturated school, we need resources. We will need more CCAS staff, space, and funding. We will need more RA funding, better resources to offer students, and policies to support them.

Only then will reporting reflect the experiences of the student body. These policies are not just necessary to improve reporting, they are vital to students’ academic
success, mental health, and access to desperately needed resources. These policies save lives, and reflect a mission which Eastern boasts but has yet to actualize.

We must operate under the knowledge that students are experiencing violence. Eastern University must ask itself, why aren’t students reporting, and what can we
do to change that?

For the National Sexual Assault Support Hotline, call: 800.656.HOPE (4673)

Sources: Eastern University, RAINN