Category Archives: Editorials

Just Because: The College Football Playoffs

By Shailey Klein

Breaking Down the College Football Playoffs

No one knew if the 2020 college football season would even come to fruition. Nonetheless, five months after the Big Ten and PAC 12 cancelled and rescheduled its seasons and 139 regular season football games were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, the finale of the 2020 season took place with the College Football Playoff (CFP).

How They Got Here

The four teams selected to the CFP were No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, and No. 4 Notre Dame. Alabama swept its way through the SEC schedule 10-0 and defeated Florida in the SEC Championship to secure the top spot in the playoff. Clemson went 8-1 this year with its only regular season loss to Notre Dame, redeemed in the ACC Championship with a blowout 34-10 victory. Ohio State was the most controversial selection to the playoff with a 5-0 record in the regular season. Ohio State edged out a victory in the Big Ten Championship against Northwestern. College football analysts and fans questioned the legitimacy of selecting Ohio State to the playoff having only played six games. There were respectable teams such as Texas A&M which went 8-1 in SEC play this season, with a lone loss to Alabama, making a strong case for the CFP committee. Finally, despite the loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship, Notre Dame secured the fourth spot in the playoff, thanks to its undefeated regular season record. 

With an unconventional Rose Bowl setting in Dallas, Texas at AT&T Stadium, Alabama pulled off a quick 31-14 rout of Notre Dame to cruise to the National Championship Game in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Rose Bowl Stadium is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world, with the Rose Bowl showered in traditions and festivities. Due to California’s COVID-19 guidelines in place, the players and coaches would not have been allowed to have any family or guests attend the game. Alabama and Notre Dame took a quick stand against this, arguing that they wouldn’t be where they were without the support of their families, demanding that tickets be available. This led to swift action by the Rose Bowl to move the game from Pasadena, Calif. to Dallas, Texas.

At the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Clemson and Ohio State clashed in a battle for the ages with plenty of extra-curricular chatter to go along with it. Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney released his ranking of the top teams at the end of the regular season and listed Ohio State at No. 11. This not only left the team out of the playoffs but put them eight spots behind where the team was ranked by the committee. Feeling disrespected and doubted by so many prominent names in the college football world, a fire was lit inside Ohio State resulting in a 49-28 rout of the Tigers, despite being seven-point underdogs. In the second quarter, Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields took a huge blow to the ribs that left him grimacing in pain, struggling to walk. Fields dug deep down and showed resiliency finishing out the game with five touchdown passes, despite being in evident pain. Fields’ fight in the Sugar Bowl proved there was no way he would be missing the National Championship game, no matter how much pain he was in. 

The National Championship

Alabama entered the National Championship game as a nine-point favorite over Ohio State, despite the Buckeyes unexpected victory over the Clemson Tigers two weeks prior. Alabama’s high-powered offense was firing from all cylinders that Monday evening. With weapons on every inch of the field, the Buckeyes couldn’t stop the array of rising NFL talent from the Crimson Tide. 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards, setting a national championship record in only the first half. Despite Smith leaving the game in the second quarter with a hand injury, the receiving core at Alabama did not let up with John Metchie III and Jaylen Waddle bringing in 11 receptions for 115 yards combined. Running back Najee Harris led the push from the backfield with 79 rushing yards on 22 carries. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones went 36/45 with 464 passing yards to pace the Crimson Tide to victory.

Ohio State suffered a big loss in the opening minutes of the game with the injury of running back Trey Sermon. Sermon went down during the first drive of the game with a collarbone injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game. “Sermon was grabbing the collarbone area on his left side and could not raise his hand at all during the game,” ESPN’s Maria Taylor reported. “He underwent an X-ray and was taken to Broward General Hospital,” she added. 

Despite being unable to match Alabama’s numerous offensive weapons, Fields led Ohio State’s offensive charge with 194 passing yards and 67 rushing yards. Ohio State fell short 24-52 to Alabama, handing Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban his seventh National Championship, making him the winningest coach in college football history.

Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: Microfibers

By Elle Storoe

While washing clothes keep us clean, it’s also very harmful to the environment. Microfibers are micro-plastics that clothing, towels, and other fabrics release every time it is washed. The microfibers are exceedingly small particles of synthetic fabric that come from fabric while the items are in the washing machine. These tiny fibers travel from the clothes, towels, etc. through water pipes, and into oceans and rivers, thus creating pollution. Since the fibers are so small, it is consumed by marine animals. Not only are microfibers bad for marine life it is bad for humans as well. We often drink water polluted with microfibers and eat marine animals with microfibers in them. BBC researchers found that one article of clothing can produce more than 1,900 microfibers in just one cycle. Considering that 60 percent of clothing is made with the synthetic materials that produce the microfibers, it is easy to say that we are letting thousands of microfibers into the oceans every week. 

How we can help:

There are a few ways we can prevent thousands of microfibers from entering the oceans and rivers. One way we can help is buy getting a device that collects the microfibers before it leaves the washing machine (like the Cora Ball). Another way we can prevent microfibers from going into the ocean is to wash clothing less often. Lastly, we can avoid fast fashion products, cheaply made products have a higher chance of producing microfibers. 

Editorial: Pandemic Reemphasizes Importance of Mental, Physical Health

By Aiden Wacksman

Before the coronavirus outbreak closed schools across the country this past spring, I was on Oak Hall’s boys weightlifting team. I was getting stronger each day, and I was having the time of my life. Little did I know, these times wouldn’t last very long.

On March 13, Oak Hall moved to online school due to coronavirus safety concerns. At first, I could not process what was happening. After a couple of weeks, however, I realized what the nationwide shutdown would mean for me and my family.

For many months, I was unable to lift weights. I tried exercises that utilized body weight, but it didn’t feel the same. There is a special feeling when I get ready to bench press, clean, or deadlift, and without equipment to utilize, I was unable to attain that feeling. 

When the 2020-21 school year began, I decided to learn online for the first quarter. Everything went as planned for the first couple of weeks, but at one point I noticed my mental health was slowly declining. Once every couple of days, I would become depressed, frustrated, or angrier than usual. I saw this was becoming a pattern, and I immediately knew something was wrong. This wasn’t like me, and my parents also noticed my change in behavioral patterns. I understood that my routine needed to change in order for me to maintain mental stability.

“The most valuable thing I have taken away from this experience is the importance of appreciating the little things in life.”

Months earlier, I ordered two pairs of dumbbells. However, due to the rapid influx of demand for exercise equipment, I had to wait much longer for it to arrive at my door. Once it arrived, I grabbed the package, cut it open, and immediately put the equipment to use. I got a chair from my kitchen and placed it in my living room. Then, I created a list of workouts to do, and the rest is history. After lifting weights for the first time in nearly half a year, it was as if many of my burdens had been relieved. I was able to let go of issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. My body and mind felt great. In a way, I would describe my high intensity exercise that day as a sort of liberation.

This experience taught me not only the value of high-intensity training, but also mental health. I now have a better understanding of how negative feelings can affect one’s mentality. I believe one of the best ways to combat frustration and hopelessness is to pursue hobbies. The great thing about a hobby is that first of all, it is enjoyable, and second of all, it can relax your mind.

I decided to return to in-person school for the second quarter of the school year. I was very grateful to finally have access to the weight room, which I immediately benefitted.

After about a week or so, I noticed a significant change in my mental health. Rather than being disappointed or frustrated half of the week, I was happy and relieved at the end of each day. I slept longer and ate more which helped my body and mind become in sync. I also had more energy, which led to an increase in productivity during the day. 

I credit weightlifting for improving my mental health, as it provided an outlet for me to let out any anger, frustration, or stress. This allowed me to focus on other things such as schoolwork.

Before the virus caused a shutdown, I took some things for granted, one of them being the fact that I could lift weights in the first place. The most valuable thing I have taken away from this experience is the importance of appreciating the little things in life. I learned, most of all, that I should treat every day like a gift.

Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: Masks

By Mia Currie

When COVID-19 cases first began to rise in the United States, many individuals turned to buying disposable masks as a way to slow the spread of the virus. As estimated by the United Nations trade body, the global sales for mask production have exponentially increased $166 billion dollars in the past year. And although this has strengthened the economy, it has greatly damaged the environment. If the current data gathered is correct, it is reasonable to assume that around 72 percent of masks end up in landfills or floating in the seas. Even if a person were to throw out two masks per week; collectively as a community, we would be responsible for filling 5000 square meters in a landfill every two weeks. 

Courtesy of Joerg Blessing/UN World Ocean Day

The toxins released by uncontrolled burning of masks to empty landfills, and the fibers dissolved into the water from mask disposal into the oceans, are going to greatly impact public health and the ecosystem. Above is a picture of the Pacific Ocean polluted by mask shreds. Animals such as rays, turtles, sharks, and whales are all greatly impacted by ingesting this level of plastic. It clogs their esophagi and causes them to choke to death. The bands which hold masks together get caught around the neck of sea creatures and strangle them.

How we can help:

With more companies starting to sell reusable/cotton masks, it is important that we, as a community, take the extra step. We must switch to these masks so as to avoid disposing of single-use masks every day. There are many different ways to be safe during the pandemic and it is vital that we do so by being eco-friendly . Masks can be washed and sterilized with ease, which will save money for the individual and save the lives of various marine creatures. 

Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: Traveling and the environment

By Elle Storoe

People love to travel, whether it’s for work, for family, or for fun. Traveling, however, isn’t necessarily the most ideal hobby that is best for the environment. Traveling by airplane is the worst way to travel. In an article written by Andy Newman for the New York Times, “One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months’ worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.” Cruise ships are another popular way to see the world, but the ships produce three to four times more carbon emissions than an airplane. What about traveling by train? According to an article written in AFAR – Travel Magazine and Guide, “National rail operator Amtrak reports that one of its electric trains emits .074 kilograms of greenhouse gases per passenger mile, compared with .227 kilograms of greenhouse gases per passenger mile for short-haul flights. That translates into 70 percent fewer emissions for a rail journey when compared to a short-haul flight.” Traveling by train would be the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Traveling by car is better than traveling by airplane but only by a little bit. The carbon emissions for both are about the same, however if you were to use an electric car, then the car would be a lot better than an airplane. For short distances, if we want to reduce our carbon emissions, biking or even walking would be the best mode of transportation. 

Now that we have established the best way to travel for the planet, lets talk about traveling wants and necessities that hurt the environment. For example, trash, hotels, packing, and more. When we travel, we don’t really think about trash as we use plastic water bottles, wrapped goodies, and more, not thinking about how the single use plastic is going end up in the ocean. Not thinking about the trash when we travel can have dire consequences on our planet. When traveling we need a place to stay and most travelers pick a hotel which includes the room service, the pools, and the maids to clean the rooms every day. When staying at a hotel, we don’t think of bringing soap, shampoo, or conditioner since hotels provide the basic necessities. The mini bottles are in thick, single use plastic, along with the key cards for each room. Hotels produce around 60 million tons of CO2 emissions annually due to wasteful practices, and the amount of energy needed to run a hotel. Lastly, when we travel, we don’t think about how we pack and the consequences to the planet. We pack plastic water bottles, or plastic toothbrushes, plastic bags, and other single-use items that are only being used for the current trip. The single-use plastics are very harmful to the environment. If we pack smart, we can reduce our impact. 

How to help:

There are many ways we can help our planet while seeing all of it beauties. 

First, we can start by reducing our flight emissions by traveling on the ground via bus, car, or train. Next, we can pack with eco-friendly products, and bring what we use at home. Instead of buying more shampoo and conditioner, or using the single use ones given to us by hotels, we can bring our own and use what we have, which will help us reduce our carbon footprint. We can stay at eco-friendly hotels which are hotels that have done significant improvements to help reduce the establishment’s environmental impact. And of course, we can pack smart by bringing what we know we will need and leave what we will not. We can bring what is needed so we won’t have to buy more at the destination.