Editor’s Corner

by Jack Belanger


Professional Sports


European Super League

Liam Tormey

Sports Editor

On April 18, the European soccer community was shaken to its core when it was announced that 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe would be breaking away to form the European Super League, ending the competitive structure of the game all for the pockets of 12 greedy owners.

Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, Liverpool FC, Juventus FC, and seven more of the most well-known clubs in the world founded the Super League. Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, was due to be the chairman of the Super League, with owners from other clubs named vice-chairmen.

Talks of a European Super League have been rumored for decades. In theory, the top clubs across Europe would create a league in which they would compete against each other every week. Due to the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, these top clubs have been hit with large amounts of debt, giving the owners an excuse to finally propose this idea. 

Quickly following the news, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, and many other domestic leagues, condemned the formation of the Super League, issuing a statement that if the clubs went through with this proposal, there would be major punishments.

Television pundits, fans, and even players and managers took to the press and social media to express their disgust at the proposal. A Sky Sports commentator, Gary Neville, who played for Manchester United for 19 seasons, labeled the formation of the league as an act of “pure greed.”

In the end, the proposal of the European Super League is an act of “Americanizing” the European game. European soccer is so unique because of the opportunity for any team to win it all. The promotion and relegation system across European soccer is not seen within American sports, and it allows for teams’ successes to be rewarded and teams’ failures to be punished. 

After the upheaval from fans, many within the Super League, most notably the English clubs, were the first to apologize to their fans and withdraw from the proposal just three days after the news broke on April 18.

The Super League responded by saying they will need to reshape the project, as they still believe it will enhance the experience of European soccer.

Fans across Europe, particularly in England, have continued to express their disapproval of their owner’s wishes. Large protests outside stadiums have occurred, and on May 2, Manchester United against Liverpool was canceled due to United fans storming Old Trafford in protest of their owners.

This fiasco has shown the power that soccer fans still have in shaping the game. As the famous saying across Europe goes, “Football is nothing without fans.”

 

Editor’s Corner

by Jack Belanger


Professional Sports


Remembering Baseball’s Best

By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-editor

Two weeks ago, the baseball world lost its former home run king, Henry “Hank” Aaron, marking the ninth baseball Hall of Famer to pass away within the past calendar year. Aaron’s passing calls us back to a much different time, when baseball was America’s National Pastime and the best players were icons. Baseball reigned during the ’50s and ’60s, and with each death of aging legends, the further we move from baseball’s golden era.

Each of the Hall of Famers were giants and represented what was once great about the game. Aaron’s chase to break Babe Ruth’s long-time home run record captivated the entire country in 1973. Less than 30 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, Aaron becoming baseball’s home run king was another victory for the Black community.

The late Bob Gibson pitched three complete games for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1967 World Series and won all three starts. For comparison, not one pitcher made it past the sixth inning in the 2020 World Series. Instead, the country got to see journeymen relievers come out to pitch a single inning at a time on baseball’s biggest stage. In the NBA, you want your best player taking the last shot. In the NFL, you want your quarterback taking deep passes down field as the clock ticks down. For the fan’s sake,  would it not be more exciting to see a team’s best pitcher on the mound when the game is on the line?

The late Los Angeles Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda, had a personality that is completely devoid in the game today. The longtime manager was never shy to get after an umpire for a bad call and brought more energy to the dugout as a 70-year-old than most players show today. His love for the game led him to working in LA’s front office well into his 90s. Don Sutton, another popular Dodger who passed away, established himself at LA’s ace during the 1970s and went on to be one of the few men who have won 300 games in the major league.

Tom Seaver, Al Kaline, and Joe Morgan were the faces of their franchises in New York, Detroit, and Cincinnati respectively. Each won the World Series and were the top performer on their teams for the majority of their careers. Lou Brock set the all-time steals record temporarily and helped St. Louis to multiple titles. Whitey Ford was a crucial part of the New York Yankees dynasty, winning a total of six World Series titles.

Baseball may not have the same pull that it once did, but that should not diminish the significance of those who came before. The men that we lost were more than just great players. They were  household names, heroes to many, and in Aaron’s case: an activist. They were the bridge that connected us to our ancestors who watched them play over 50 years ago.

Editor’s Corner: Ode to Fall Sports

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


by Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

It is apt to say that sports play a significant role in shaping the culture at Providence College. From the first moment I stepped onto this campus, it was clear how important basketball and hockey are to the PC community. While fall sports do not come close in terms of popularity to winter sports, they nevertheless are an important part of the culture on campus.

For six semesters I have manned the sidelines as a ball boy for all fall athletic teams. I have been up close for countless shootouts at Anderson Stadium. I woke up one early Saturday morning to witness the Friars score eight goals in a field hockey game. I spent Friday evenings in Alumni Hall counting down how many points the volleyball team needed to score to end their match so I could begin my night. What I noticed was where all these sports lacked in flash, they made up for in one unique characteristic: intimacy.

Have you ever noticed how at basketball and hockey games, student sections are packed behind either the basket or goal, away from the benches and an entire half of the court/rink? It would be nice to be close to the action for the whole game. While games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center carry a lot of excitement and energy, there is something special about the games in which you can hear and see the action up close behind the bench.

Fall sports may not be as loud as their winter counterparts, but the sounds you hear are more distinct. During men’s soccer games, head coach Craig Stewart’s English accent can be heard for the full 90 minutes no matter where you are sitting. There are always a few fans whose chants stand out, whether it be the passionate parents we are all too familiar with or the immature classmates shouting wacky chants.

While the Dunk brings in fans from all around, fall sports are events that specifically bring the campus community together. You always recognize the faces you see at a fall sports game, whether it be fellow students, professors, parents, or even the Dominican friars. The fans are there not because of the prestige of the team competing, but to show authentic support for those they know.

PC’s winter sports may show the size of the Friar Family, but the College’s fall sports reveal its strength. You do not stay to the end of a volleyball match after the team loses the first two sets or sit through a chilly night because you think your team has a chance to win a national title. You do it because Friars support each other, regardless of the outcome.

Editor’s Corner

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


A Sports Section Without Sports

by Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

I remember back in the spring when Providence College canceled all of its spring sports. I had joked with my friends that COVID-19 was slowly taking away my ability to run the sports section. Of course at the time, I thought we would cover how the Big East Tournament and March Madness got canceled. I also thought that I would have to navigate through only a few weeks of quarantine.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

Now, we are faced with the possibility of having to go through an entire semester without seeing any athletic competition on campus. The Big East has already canceled all of its fall sports, which is the season with the most overlapping play. There has been no official start date announced for college hockey or basketball, though it is hard to imagine either sport starting at its usual date. Even if there is no delay for basketball, the earliest any game would occur would be mid-November. Hockey usually begins early in October but is more likely at this point to begin around the same time as basketball.

Despite the challenge of having no sports to cover on campus in the near future, we are committed to expanding and focusing our coverage away from the fields. Our weekly Sports Shorts feature and game recaps will be put on hold and will be replaced with more in-depth stories. Our goal is to have more stories involving interviews with athletes, coaches, administrators, and alumni. These interviews will allow them to share their own unique stories and to give their perspectives on the current issues within our society. Having fewer games to cover will also give us the opportunity to look back at some of the biggest moments in Friars sports history, such as celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first game the men’s basketball team ever played. We will also report how the athletic department plans to bring sports back onto campus and the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of the athletes.

Today, sports have become a big part in advancing the civil rights movement and other problems plaguing the country. While the vast majority of these voices come from the professional ranks, it is our job to also give a voice to collegiate athletes and coaches. Some of the biggest faces of the College are members of the athletics department and it is imperative to give them a venue to share their stories.

Editor’s Column: Hope is Not Lost for Men’s Basketball

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


Changes to Lineup Could Shift Team’s Momentum

by Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

Before his team’s upset win over Butler University on Feb. 1, Providence College Men’s Basketball head coach Ed Cooley told his players that it was going to be an “old-school Big East game.”

“I said, ‘We don’t need to play pretty. We just need to play efficient enough to win,’” Cooley explained. The Friars were able to come out on top 65-61, holding the Bulldogs 1-14 from the three-point line.

The win was much needed as the Friars were playing their fourth consecutive game against a ranked opponent, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Cooley found the right formula as he started big men Kalif Young ’20 and Nate Watson ’21 together for the first time and benched Alpha Diallo ’20, making it the team’s seventh different lineup of the season. Watson was coming off a great game against Villanova University where he had season highs of 18 points and nine rebounds. Against the Bulldogs he had another solid game, scoring nine points on 4-7 shooting in only 17 minutes.

If the Friars want to build momentum from this game and push for a tournament bid, they will have to do two things: keep playing tough defense and embrace the young talent.

The offense has not been getting it done for the Friars all season. Outside of David Duke ’22, no player with 50 or more three-point attempts is shooting over 35 percent from deep. The team also posts the worst field goal percentage in the Big East. Thankfully, they have given up the fourth fewest points in the leagues and are second in steals.

After his 30-point game against Creighton University, it has become clear that Duke is the team’s best player this season. Despite being second on the team in points, he has shot the ball efficiently from the floor at 41.4 percent overall and 44.4 percent from three. He is also leading the team in assists and has grabbed the third most rebounds.

In the past, Cooley’s offense has always relied on strong point guards such as Kyron Cartwright ’18 and Kris Dunn ‘16 to make a play when the team needs it. It is time to give Duke control and move away from the flex offense.

It is also time to give more touches to Watson in the post. With the lack of shooting depth, Watson is the next best option, shooting 52.4 percent while hitting 79.2 percent of his free throws in Big East games.

This also means Cooley should move the offense away from Diallo and Luwane Pipkens ’19G, who were supposed to be the main guys going into the season. While both have had their share of highlights, neither have been productive enough to overcome their inefficiencies.

Point Guard Luwane Pipkens drives to the hoop against Saint John's
Photo courtesy of PC Athletics

Diallo has regressed this season as a shooter, posting career lows in field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage, while also shooting under 30 percent from three. His season hit a low point against Villanova when he got benched early after going 0-6 shooting with three turnovers and fouls. While his versatility remains valuable, he cannot keep shooting like he is the number one option.

After scoring 22 points off the bench, Pipkens may have finally found a role as the sixth man. He has not shot consistently enough from deep to be starting every game, and he operates at his best when he gets to the free-throw line. He is only shooting 31.1 percent from three and often the ball gets stuck in his hands. Both of his 20-point games this season have come when he went 10-10 from the free-throw line. Having him come off the bench against the opponent’s second unit will give him the chance to thrive.

It is hard to believe that the Friars are tied for fifth in the standings, but they are getting the job done. The Friars still need some help if they are going to make it into the tournament; however, the Butler win gives them some life. With nine games left in the regular season, the Friars will need to go at least 6-3 and win two games in the Big East tournament in order to reach the 20 wins Cooley usually targets. They have a tough stretch ahead of them, but things are starting to move in the right direction for the Friars.

 

Editor’s Corner: Do or Die Versus URI

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

providence college men's basketball
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

This upcoming Friday was supposed to be the first test of the year. If things went the way they should have, the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team would be 9-0 (or at the very least 7-2) with momentum going into their game against the University of Rhode Island Rams at the Ryan Center. A tough loss would not have been a season-ending blow and the team could use the game as motivation against the University of Florida and the University of Texas.

Instead, the Friars sit at 5-4 with bad losses to mid-major teams such as Long Beach State University and the College of Charleston. Even the loss to Big Ten Conference opponent Northwestern University is not great considering the Wildcats were not expected to be competitive. This team has struggled to finish games when their opponents show some fight in the second half (even the Pepperdine University game was too close).

Now, the Friars are walking a tight rope for any hope of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Not only does the team have to avoid anymore bad losses, they are going to have to win some games they will not be favored in like against Villanova University or Seton Hall University. Before the team can even think about Big East play, they need to take care of business against their in-state rival.

While the season up until this point has been unspectacular, the Friars can use this game against the Rams as a turning point for their season. This will be the first game where PC will be playing in front of a hostile crowd that will surely pack the gym on Friday. The Rams themselves are 5-3, but are battle-tested. Their three losses have come at the hands of Power-5 schools University of Maryland, Louisiana State University, and the University of West Virginia. Needless to say URI will be itching to prove that they can beat the Friars.

The season is far from over but the team needs to build a winning streak going into the conference schedule to give themselves some breathing room. Last season the Friars were 10-3 going into Big East play and still finished 18-16 overall. This team has the talent to compete—CBS sportswriter Matt Norlander ranked PC as the 15th best team during the preseason.

One last thought on changes that need to be made: it is time for Greg Gantt ’23 to get more minutes. Last season, head coach Ed Cooley was willing to give big time minutes to A.J. Reeves ‘22 and David Duke ‘22 as freshmen and he needs to again. Gantt is averaging 4.1 points per game while playing in just 10 minutes per game, and shooting 60 percent from the field. Maybe it is because of the small sample size, but that is much more efficient than starting guard Luwane Pipkins ’20G who is shooting 29.5 percent overall and only scoring 8.8 points per game.

Cooley will have had almost a full week to prepare for this game. Now is the time to make the necessary adjustments if he wants his team to be playing meaningful games come March.

Editor’s Corner: Do or Die Versus URI

by Sarah McLaughlin '23
Editor-in-Chief


Friar Sports


By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

providence college men's basketball
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

This upcoming Friday was supposed to be the first test of the year. If things went the way they should have, the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team would be 9-0 (or at the very least 7-2) with momentum going into their game against the University of Rhode Island Rams at the Ryan Center. A tough loss would not have been a season-ending blow and the team could use the game as motivation against the University of Florida and the University of Texas.

Instead, the Friars sit at 5-4 with bad losses to mid-major teams such as Long Beach State University and the College of Charleston. Even the loss to Big Ten Conference opponent Northwestern University is not great considering the Wildcats were not expected to be competitive. This team has struggled to finish games when their opponents show some fight in the second half (even the Pepperdine University game was too close).

Now, the Friars are walking a tight rope for any hope of returning to the NCAA Tournament. Not only does the team have to avoid anymore bad losses, they are going to have to win some games they will not be favored in like against Villanova University or Seton Hall University. Before the team can even think about Big East play, they need to take care of business against their in-state rival.

While the season up until this point has been unspectacular, the Friars can use this game against the Rams as a turning point for their season. This will be the first game where PC will be playing in front of a hostile crowd that will surely pack the gym on Friday. The Rams themselves are 5-3, but are battle-tested. Their three losses have come at the hands of Power-5 schools University of Maryland, Louisiana State University, and the University of West Virginia. Needless to say URI will be itching to prove that they can beat the Friars.

The season is far from over but the team needs to build a winning streak going into the conference schedule to give themselves some breathing room. Last season the Friars were 10-3 going into Big East play and still finished 18-16 overall. This team has the talent to compete—CBS sportswriter Matt Norlander ranked PC as the 15th best team during the preseason.

One last thought on changes that need to be made: it is time for Greg Gantt ’23 to get more minutes. Last season, head coach Ed Cooley was willing to give big time minutes to A.J. Reeves ‘22 and David Duke ‘22 as freshmen and he needs to again. Gantt is averaging 4.1 points per game while playing in just 10 minutes per game, and shooting 60 percent from the field. Maybe it is because of the small sample size, but that is much more efficient than starting guard Luwane Pipkins ’20G who is shooting 29.5 percent overall and only scoring 8.8 points per game.

Cooley will have had almost a full week to prepare for this game. Now is the time to make the necessary adjustments if he wants his team to be playing meaningful games come March.

Editor’s Corner: New NCAA Rule Can Be Harmful to Student-Athletes

by The Cowl Editor


Friar Sports


by Meaghan Cahill ’20

Sports Coeditor

The issue as to whether or not college athletes should get paid has been a heavily debated topic in both the sports and academic worlds. On Oct. 29, the NCAA started the process that will answer the question once and for all.

Photo Courtesy by AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit the 460,000 students participating in collegiate athletics the opportunity “to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

This decision comes just weeks after the NCAA called California’s Senate Bill 206 “Fair Pay for Play Act”—which calls for student-athlete compensation and representation from both state and private universities—“unconstitutional” and an “existential threat.”

On the initial motions to put this new rule into effect on college campuses across the country, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “The board’s action…creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

Adamant that the student-athletes are not to become employees of the schools at which they play, the NCAA’s new rule only allows student-athletes to enter into contracts for merchandise and endorsements; they are in no way allowed to be paid for their athletic performance in efforts to keep up with the amateur aspect of college athletics.

However, it can be argued that despite the attempts made by the NCAA, all amateur aspects of play have been wiped off of the table with an alarming force, and, while the intent is to enhance the student-athlete experience, the new law will become nothing more than a hinderance on their collegiate career.

To expand upon Emmert’s words, student-athletes will be competing against professionals. Typically, the athletes that big-name companies look to endorse and create merchandised gear for are the ones who they believe have the best shot at a professional career. No longer will athletes be looked at as amateurs, but, rather, the ones who are able to attract deals off of their name, image, and likeness will be singled out more so than they most likely would have been prior to an endorsement deal.

Due to this professional mentality that will naturally arise, the experience of the student-athlete is put at risk because the pressure on them to perform well will only be intensified. While they may not be making deals based on their actual play, it is their playing skills that will get them recognized by any type of company. There is a great risk for high levels of stress amongst student-athletes because now, not only will they have to perform well for the team to win, but they will have the added pressure of performing exceptionally well each game so that they do not lose whatever endorsement deals they may have struck.

While much of the law still has to take a clear, definitive shape, there are already too many issues that can (and will) arise with its implementation. Instead of conforming to California’s Senate Bill, the NCAA should maintain their initial response and look to protect all of their student-athletes from the dangers that this new law can impose on them.

 

Editor’s Corner: Money Talks: The NBA & China

by The Cowl Editor


Professional Sports


By Cam Smith ’21

Sports Assistant Editor

For months, pro-democracy protesters have filled the streets of Hong Kong, a former British colony that was handed back to the Chinese in 1997. Although taking place on the opposite side of the globe, the effects of the protests are being felt on the American world of basketball.  

To understand the unrest, one must understand that since 1997, China and Hong Kong have operated under a “one country, two systems” policy. The policy grants the citizens of Hong Kong far greater access to rights, including the right to free speech and free assembly, than those living on the Communist party-controlled mainland.

The catalyst for the protests was a bill that would make it easy for Beijing officials, including President Xi Jinping, to accuse Hong Kong citizens of fallacious crimes, and then process them through courts controlled by the Communist Party. Although the bill was recently withdrawn by the Hong Kong legislature, the protests have continued as they have evolved into a broader fight against the increasing encroachment of Beijing into everyday life.

It is in this context that on Oct. 4, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted out his support for the protesters, posting an image that read, “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” This simple gesture of support created countless consequences.

Subsequently forced to apologize for his tweet, Morey was denounced by the Chinese consulate in Houston and was even on the hotseat as the Rockets reportedly considered firing him in an effort to appease the Chinese. His own star player, James Harden, took it upon himself to apologize for Morey, saying, “We apologize… we love China. We love playing there.”

Fellow NBA star, Lebron James, whose team was in China at the time for a pair of preseason games, also weighed in, saying that, “So many people could have been harmed [by the tweet], not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually… Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, there can be a lot of negative that comes with it.”

Since then, Chinese broadcasters have ignored key games in the opening week of NBA action, including the Rockets opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. Chinese sponsors for the NBA have also been pulled, and those games that did make it to television in China were devoid of audio for fear of mentioning the controversy.

It was only recently that the NBA forged a $1.5 billion agreement to stream games online with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings. Prior to the deal, what the league labels as “NBA China,” already held an estimated value of $4 billion to the league. Unquestionably, China represents an enormous market for basketball itself.

However, this does not excuse the NBA from turning its back on a people fighting for freedom. The squashing of support for Hong Kong by the league, along with other American corporations including Apple and Blizzard Entertainment, is deeply disturbing. Furthermore, it is a complete betrayal of the American values that we hold dear as a country, values that have allowed the NBA and its players to thrive. The expansion of capitalism must not result in the sacrifice of democracy.

Editor’s Corner: Friar 5K

by The Cowl Editor


Friar Sports


By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

Back on Oct. 5, Providence College held its 10th annual Friar 5K as part of  Homecoming Weekend. The race may have been a commercial success with over 900 runners registered, more than 800 who finished the race, and $15,000 raised towards the National Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. For some runners though, the race did not go as planned.

A group of at least 30 runners who led for most of the race unintentionally went off the course in front of the Slavin Center, shaving off anywhere between a tenth to a quarter of a mile. For those who were looking to finish in the top three of their age group, their times would be disqualified; for others looking to set new personal records, their times were no longer reflective of their performance that day. The question that floated through everyone’s mind was simple: how did so many runners manage to get off the course?

For those who were not at the event, the runners were supposed to run up the street behind Raymond Dining Hall and take a left towards Moore Hall and back to Eaton Street. The runners instead stayed straight, ran towards the Science Complex and back out the front gates where they would get back onto the course before they crossed the finish line.

While the gaffe may not be a huge deal for casual runners, the fact of the matter is the course should have been marked better for those who were competing for the top spots. Organizers should have had people at the turn directing people where to go, simple as that.

It can be argued that the runners should have taken responsibility and known how to stay on the course, but that is not the first thing that runners are thinking about in the moment. Runners are focused on trying to keep pace around those near them or catch up with the leaders of the group.

It is the responsibility of those organizing the race to make sure the race goes smoothly. Not only does that mean giving out water to make sure runners stay hydrated, but it also means marking the course clearly at any turn or spot that could potentially lead runners the wrong way. If anyone does get off course, action should be taken quickly to get people back onto the course and prevent more from getting off track.

Many people came from all around the country to celebrate Homecoming Weekend and race with their fellow Friars. Plenty trained for the race, and it is unfair to those who may not have taken a look at the map beforehand to lose the opportunity to finish the way they hoped for just because time was not taken to prevent this from happening.

The Friar 5K should be an event that is celebrated as something that brings the community together and allows runners to get a chance to do their best with their families and classmates watching. In order to make sure that controversy can be avoided going forward, the College should take the necessary steps to make sure something like this does not happen again.