All posts by Dillon Meehan

FIFA 18 Favors Spectacle Over Realism

by Dillon Meehan

In the world of sports video games, FIFA is king. At the beginning of every fall, EA Sport’s newest rendition of it’s dominant soccer series its released to the wild. Generally the games make minor changes building on each previous release.

However, a lot has changed over the past two years. Last year, EA’s “Frostbite” engine, the tech that was used to make the “Battlefield” and “Star Wars Battlefront” games look almost photorealistic, was used. And just like in every year previous, changes were made to make the gameplay as realistic as possible. But that isn’t the case this year.

Instead of striving forward to make the core gameplay as real as possible, FIFA instead has favored flashy attacking play and awe-inspiring moments. By no means does it make the game bad, but it’s a noticeably different direction.

The game has placed more of an emphasis on attackers bombing down towards their opponents end of the field with every pass, regardless of it’s difficulty, being completed with ease. Also, shots from distance are now far more likely to go in than in previous iterations. Simply put, the game is directed more towards a phenomenal moment happening nearly every single game, rather than it being a rare occurrence.

The problem with that is that it almost renders certain teams obsolete, or causes the user to play differently. Teams like Atletico Madrid and Juventus, who have a history of being defensive powerhouses, feel obsolete. Obviously you can still play as those teams, but your play style has to be predicated towards attacking play.

Team’s aren’t alone either, players like Fernandinho, N’Golo Kante and Casemiro feel almost useless. Their ability to intercept passes and forcibly dispossess opponents doesn’t feel appreciated because the game makes defending against elite players near impossible.

The style of play leads to inflated scores and constant action, which is obviously fun. However, it’s uncharted waters for a franchise which for years has tried to make the game feel as real as possible.

Last year, EA introduced a narrative based story mode titled “The Journey,” following English teenager Alex Hunter. This years sequel, unoriginally  titled “The Journey: Hunter Returns” follows a more popular Alex, who is now moved on from his goal of simply being a professional athlete, to now wanting to be one of the world’s best and win championships.

The character is noticeably different from last year, going from an underdog to a confident superstar, but he is still likable. The issue with the mode is that the user is sometimes left powerless in decision making.

Last year, every dialogue option carried meaning, in it’s sequel it’s the opposite. Often times you decide one answer to a question or statement Hunter will make and it bases the entire conversation over that one choice. As a whole, the mode feel almost empty, which is a step down considering how much fun the original mode was last year.

Overall, FIFA 18 is still a great game, the gameplay is still extremely fun. It’s just that the bias towards attacking play makes playing as certain teams, or certain play styles much less enjoyable.

The Day We Will Never Forget

by Dillon Meehan

“Stick to Sports”

It is a phrased used ad nauseam by (usually) conservative fans on social media, whenever an athlete, sports writer or broadcaster makes a comment about politics that (usually) is negative about Donald Trump.

A certain sect of fans dislike the idea of politics and sports mixing together. But that all changed this weekend when Trump propositioned to a group of supporters at a rally in Alabama, how much he would “love to see” and owner release one of his “son of a bitch” players for kneeling during the anthem and “disrespect the flag.”

Most players and fans were shocked. The President used stronger language to condemn peaceful protestors, compared to what he said about Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists in Charlottesville.

For some, professional sports was purely a form of escapism. It was where they went each and every night, or weekend in the case of football, to not have to think about the outside world. They didn’t like when an athlete, a sports reporter or broadcaster wasn’t a mindless android whose only function was to talk about sports on their personal social media handle. Since Trump’s statement, the idea of sports being escapism is over for the foreseeable future.

So imagine what went through the mind of fan when they saw a professional athlete use his platform to not only protest racial injustices and police brutality during the national anthem, but to also protest the President of the United States.

For some of those fans, they refused to watch. They boycotted the NFL this past Sunday as a form of protest, because these fans disliked seeing professional athletes protest. Putting how painfully ironic and hypocritical those actions are, they view kneeling during the national anthem as a protest of the anthem itself. They fail to conceptualize the message behind these players protests. Rosa Parks was not protesting public transportation as a whole, Jessie Owens was not protesting the national anthems at the Olympics, they were protesting injustice and the systematic oppression.

However, when you look at the actual US Flag Code, you will see that not only players, but teams and colleges blatantly violate these codes each and every week.

First, “the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.” In case you’ve never watched an NFL game before, the flag is always carried horizontally throughout the entire duration of the national anthem.

Second, “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.” Until 2009, NFL teams never even stood on the sidelines during the nation anthem. Instead, they stood in the locker room and then came out onto the field after. An article published by Vice Sports, pointed out that a 2015 congressional report showed that the NFL made this change because the Department of Defense and the National Guard actually paid the NFL 5.4 million and 6.7 million respectively to put the players on the field. According to the Vice Sports story, it was so that the NFL and military could have on-field patriotic ceremonies that could serve as a form of military recruitment. In short, the flag is being used for advertising.

Third, “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.” While this doesn’t pertain to the NFL, it is pretty common to see plenty of college teams have uniforms, helmets and cleats with the American flag designed on them.

Now I’m not calling for fans to be outraged by these violations, but they should understand that there are plenty of actual violations going on.

Fans have the right to look at the kneeling during the anthem as disrespect towards the flag, but they also have to respect the right of the players that the protest isn’t directed at the flag. Players also have to respect the right of the fans to be upset. Regardless, this issue has shown that politically the nation is more polarized than it  has been in a long time.

Apple’s Major Reveal

by Dillon Meehan

It’s been ten years since Apple first entered the smartphone market, with every new release often being met with equal amounts praise and criticism. At last week’s Apple event, the Cupertino based company held it’s annual September “Apple Event,” unveiling multiple products and new software to fans and media.

The first product shown off was the Apple watch Series 3. Instead of going for more radical changes, each series has seen minor improvements. With the third iteration, Apple not only increased battery life and processing speed, but also added LTE compatibility, meaning that you will be able to get cellular data on your watch and leave your phone at home.

Up next was the Apple TV, which has seen a 4K upgrade. The 4K era for movies, TV and gaming is now upon us. Between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, 4K is quickly becoming the standard in gaming. And with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon all offering 4K streaming options, it will soon replace 1080 HD as the standard viewing preference.

Apple closed their event with unveiling both of their new iPhones. First was the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Compared to last year’s 7, the phones share the same camera, display and battery life. However, the 8 will feature a glass-backed design, instead of the traditional aluminum one found on most iPhones. Last year, Apple ditched the 16 GB model, in favor for the 32 gb, and also added a much higher 128 GB and 256 GB model. This year, Apple will only offer a 64 GB and a 256 GB model.

The iPhone 8 Plus will also feature Apple’s A11 chip, which is 25 percent faster than the 7 Plus’s A10. On top of that, wireless charging has finally come to Apple. Apple’s Airmat, which will be able to charge three devices at once, is expected to launch in 2018, third party chargers will also be supported.

Last year, the iPhone 7 Plus introduced “portrait mode,” a setting on the camera that would allow users to take DSLR quality photos, with a smartphone. With the 8 Plus, “portrait mode” has been enhanced with new lighting dynamics, making photos look even more professional. On top of that, users will be able to take videos in 4k quality at 60 frames per second, as well as slow motion videos at 1080p and a shocking 240 frames per second.

All things considered, there are enough changes on the 8 and 8 Plus to warrant a number change, many argued that this was a simple “S” upgrade. But enough integral changes were made for the phone to stand out on it’s own. The iPhone 8’s 64 GB model will cost $699, while the larger 256 GB model will cost $799.

Apple closed the show with a dedication to the ten year anniversary of the original iPhone, the iPhone X. The iPhone X (pronounced ten) will feature the same rear-camera, video recording, glass-backed design and wireless charging ability, but feature a brand new design for iPhones.

The home button and Touch ID are gone, replaced with an end-to-end glass display that now uses Face ID technology for accessing the phone. while Face ID certainly isn’t the first facial recognition system, it is the first to be used on a widespread mobile device. the iPhone X will also feature the same “portrait mode” on the self facing camera, allowing users to take selfies with DSLR quality. The iPhone X will cost an exuberant $999 for the 64 GB model, and $1,149 for the 256 GB model.

Youngstown State Player Convicted Of Rape Plays Against Blue Devils

by Dillon Meehan

In March 2013, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond of Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping a 16-year old girl in April, 2012. The case received an extremely heightened amount of media attention, due to Mays and Richmond being on the Steubenville High School football team.

Richmond served only 10 months of his year-long sentence from Juvenile Court.  And after being released in 2014, he would return to play his senior year of football.

After graduating high school, Richmond attended small colleges in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia before transferring to Youngstown State, joining the team as walk-on in January.

Three years later, Richmond, 21, played his first game for Youngstown State in a 59-9 win over Central Connecticut State University. Entering the game in the third quarter, with the Penguins up 52-6, he played the remainder of the game. Richmond finished with two tackles, one of which resulted in a two yard loss.

Last week, Richmond sued Youngstown State after the school decided that he will forfeit a year of NCAA eligibility and stay one the practice squad. In an emailed statement to the entire school, Youngstown State said Richmond won’t play, but would “benefit from group participation, the lessons of hard work and discipline, as well as the camaraderie and guidance of the staff and teammates.”

However, in Richmond’s suit, he claims that the school took “biased, improper and damaging action” by refusing to let him play. And that barring him from playing after an online petition started circulating across campus, the school was” infected by an anti-male bias that has swept across America’s universities and colleges.”

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Benita Pearson, issued a temporary restraining order while declining the university’s request to keep Richmond from playing. It’s a similar decision to the one made in Texas to allow Ezekiel Elliott to play despite being suspended by the NFL. Pearson scheduled a hearing for Sept. 28 to decided wether or not to make her decision permanent, and allow Richmond to play the entire season or be forced to stay on the practice squad.

After starting the season with one of the toughest schedules in the country, Central Connecticut is now 0-3 on the season after losing away against #5 Youngstown State on Saturday. It is the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Blue Devils are 0-3.

The Blue Devils struggled offensively once again generating only 264 yards of total offense, with junior quarterback Jacob Dolegala completed 13-28 passes, for 98 yards. Nash finished with 62 yards on 10 carries.

The opposite can be said for Youngstown State, who finished with 630 yard of total offense, with 496 yards on the ground. Five different Youngstown State players rushed for 65 yards or more, compared to just one player for the Blue Devils.

Youngstown State jumped out to a 31-0 halftime lead, extending it to 38-0 scoring on their first possession of the second half. The Blue Devils scored their first touchdown with 7:25 left in the third, when senior running back Cameron Nash ran it in from 5 yards out. Junior kicker Frankie Palmer’s extra point attempt was blocked, keeping the score at 38-6.

Youngstown State would respond with another 21 unanswered points, to make 59-6. Palmer hit a 37-yard field goal towards the end of the fourth quarter to make it 59-9.

The Blue Devils started the season away,in a 50-7 loss against Syracuse, an FBS team. Last week, it was #22 Fordham, where the Blue Devils had a 17-0 lead three minutes into the game, but ultimately lost 38-31. In their first three games this season, the Blue Devils have been outscored 147-47 by their opponents.

Saturday’s loss was CCSU’s fifth in a row, and they have now dropped 10 out of their 11 games, dating all the way back to last season.

The NFL’s Ezekiel Elliott Ruling Toes The Line Between Legal and Moral Justice

by Dillon Meehan

No issue has been as prevalent in the zeitgeist of NFL fans for the past few years, quite as much as domestic violence has. For years it was often ignored while some of the sports biggest stars got away with often horrifying crimes. Luckily, that is no longer the case.

However, the past five years have also shown that the new collective bargaining agreement, which gave Commissioner Robert Goodell power to act as judge, jury and executioner for all league punishments, has been an absolute failure.

This is one of the main reasons the Ezekiel Elliott investigation is so polarizing. The alleged evidence against Elliot is damning. The photos that show his now ex-girlfriend’s neck and arm covered in bruises from the alleged July 2016 incident are horrifying. The video of Elliot groping another woman at a bar shows repeated behavior.

On the other side, there are multiple investigations that show complete incompetence. There was the original SpyGate investigation which saw the NFL destroy all of the evidence at Gillette stadium. There was the Ray Rice investigation which essentially spawned today’s domestic violence coverage after the attempted coverup. And then there was the debacle that was DeflateGate, which saw the NFL actively try to tarnish arguably it’s most famous player ever, despite no evidence.

It is safe to say that Goodell and the NFL’s credibility is at an all time low.

When the suspension was handed down on August 11th, a six-week suspension made sense, that is the standard given out for domestic violence incidents. There is a high chance that Elliot is guilty, when factoring in the alleged evidence. But the alarming fact is that his guilt or innocence is technically irrelevant to the NFL. Goodell doesn’t need indisputable evidence, there is no “innocent until proven guilty,” the NFL is not a court of law.

And a lawsuit can’t change that, Elliot didn’t receive a temporary restraining order because he may be innocent, it was simply because Judge Amos Mazzant III believed that Elliot did not have a fair hearing.

The fact of the matter is that NFL has been investigating the issue for over a year, and during the entire painstakingly slow process, not one person on their legal team thought how to prevent this exact type of thing from happening.

The NFL has now appealed Mazzant’s ruling, however, Elliot can still play this season until a higher court rules on the appealed decision. And many legal experts suspect that it won’t be ruled on until late 2017, or even 2018. If that holds true, that NFL will have yet another  lawsuit involving of it’s star players, on arguably the most popular team in the league, for the second time in three years.

The NFL’s continued lack of self awareness and consistent inability to offer fair trials can lead to many fans having sympathy for Elliot, who despite his alleged disgusting behavior, is being considered a victim in some circles. A commissioner who has been publicly lambasted for not caring about domestic violence, is now so bad at it being criticized for doing the exact thing he has been asked to do by fans for years.