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October 10th, 2013

October is probably most known for scary movies, Oktoberfest and Halloween, but in the world of sports, it’s when the NBA and pro hockey begin, the NFL goes into full swing and Major League Baseball goes to the World Series.

With so many sports to watch on television do you wonder which game to watch and why you are glued to the game? The answer is simple: watch as much as you can of every game because you never know when you’re about to see greatness.

Some of the greatest games have taken place in the month of October. Oct. 13, 1960, Game Seven of the World Series between the Pittsburg Pirates and the New York Yankees. A game that recorded zero strikeouts, 19 runs and 24 hits. Second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit the game winning walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the Pirates defeated the Yankees.

In sports nothing is certain, no matter how big Goliath may be, there is a David just around the corner waiting to make history.
There is a saying in the sports world: “That’s why we play the game,” which speaks to the unpredictability of any game in any sport. You just never know.

FOOTBALL
One of the greatest games in NFL and New York Jets history happened on the stage that is Monday Night Football, Oct. 23, 2000.

The Miami Dolphins were dominating the Jets with a score of 30-7 entering the final quarter of regulation. Vinny Testaverde was the Jets quarterback and he led his team down the field over and over, scoring 30 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and send the game into overtime.

To start overtime, Miami drove the ball until Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler threw a pass but was intercepted by the Jets. On came Testaverde, who threw three of five for 41 yards on the final drive to set up a 40-yard attempt for Jets’ kicker. The kick was good, ensuring the second biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL history, as well as the largest comeback in Jets’ history.

HOCKEY
One of the wildest games in the last decade took place Oct. 12, 2009, when the Calgary Flames were playing in Chicago against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Flames jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, until 2:15 was left in the first period. The Blackhawks managed to score their first goal of the game to begin a comeback. The tying shot for the Blackhawks came with 15:28 left in the third period.

The game went into overtime, where in the first 26 seconds of “sudden death,” the Blackhawks’ Brent Seabrook made the game-winning shot.

BASKETBALL
Basketball in October is more about the hype. There are questions on fans’ minds. Will there be a three-peat for the Miami Heat? Is this the year Kevin Durant wins a title? How is Derrick Rose’s knee going to hold up? And why is New Orleans’ mascot the Pelicans?

October is when basketball fans get a glimpse of how their favorite athletes and teams are stacking up for the latest season, which starts Oct. 30.

On that day, two questions will be addressed: How good will the Brooklyn Nets look as they face the Cleveland Cavaliers? The second is, will we see Kobe Bryant in action for the Los Angeles Lakers? The Lakers make a trip, to face the up-and-coming Golden State Warriors.

BASEBALL
One of the greatest stories in October is also part of one of the greatest rivalries of all time. It involves the 2004 Boston Red Sox and their victory over the New York Yankees.

Although a single game away from elimination, the Boston Red Sox clawed their way to victory by defeating their hated rival in four straight games. The Red Sox are the only team in MLB history to come back and win the league series after being down 3-0.

The Red Sox went on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series where they swept the title and were crowned World Series champions.

“That’s why we play the game”-a saying made for the sports world, but it also applies in life. Sports in October remind us that anything is possible as long as you have the smarts, the will and the heart.

Although every day can’t be in the month of October, sports can inspire us to be great and accomplish tremendous things.

Categories: EditorialSports

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UTPA should go clubbing

January 31st, 2013

Freshman orientation probably didn’t mention the underground cemetery at UTPA. Passing by the cafeteria, the ghostly presence is strong. For across the walkway, within the Office of Student Involvement’s file cabinets, lie the last remains of yesteryear’s student clubs.

One entry in the club cemetery ledger, The Pinche Pendejos Comedy Club, was short-lived due to its controversial name, according to administrative assistants at the OSI. Other groups ended more mysteriously. Before The Pan American could cover UTPA’s first ever magical sports match, The Muggle Quidditch League disappeared quietly into obscurity.  Food Not Bombs, the Robotics Club and the Graphic Design Club were similarly abandoned and buried under countless other groups suffering a loss of interest or failed leadership.

Especially at the beginning of the year (take heed, freshmen), student groups do their best to reach the 21 percent of UTPA willing to get involved. Recruitment is important because as members graduate, membership dwindles and that’s how clubs die. Clubs that plan to stay recruit freshmen and sophomores to ensure members for the future. Unfortunately for the clubs, of the 19,000 UTPA students, only 4,000 join anything. With numbers like that, it’s not surprising that some clubs, even the ones with contingency plans, just don’t make it.

Does the death of Graphic Design Club or Robotics Club or any other club mean that UTPA didn’t need it? Not at all. A successful club not only provides a social outlet for persons of similar interests, but real-world experiences and opportunities, which every undergraduate student needs. When the inevitable graduation happens, classmates become competition, and students not involved in a club should be aware that not all of their peers go home between or immediately after classes. The recent grad who took advantage of the plethora of opportunities made available during their undergraduate years will have the relevant somethings on their resume needed to get a callback for an interview. It’s unfortunate for future generations of students who will miss out on some of these chances because of one year of poor membership that killed a group forever.

Clubs can help students a lot – but they need help from students, too. Being involved in a club saves a club this year, which might allow it to remain active on campus for… as long as later generations of students will keep it. So join something. Help your future-self and everyone else. Clubs can’t do anything for anyone if they’re inactive or abandoned and they only die once. Don’t let any more clubs die this year.

Categories: Editorial

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Politics in the quad

November 7th, 2012

The University of Texas-Pan American event Voto Honesto became tense after Adryana Boyne, the speaker who claimed the event was non-partisan, shared her opinion on the Voter ID law.

True the Vote, a national watchdog organization fighting voter fraud, hosted an event Nov. 2 sponsored by the Veterans Student Organization at UTPA and the Republicans at UTPA. The event,Voto Honesto, is an outreach program aimed at Latino voters. It focused on voter rights and responsibilities.

Headlining the event was Boyne, a political commentator and national director of Voices Offering Conservative Empowering Solutions Action, a non-profit organization that aims to educate the Hispanic population on political matters.

Boyne, who is a resident of Dallas, discussed several issues including bribery, voter fraud and other illegalities.

“We need to keep elections transparent and clear,” Boyne said to the about 25 people gathered in the Quad. “You have the right to vote for whoever you want. That is your privilege.”

True the Vote has been accused of alleged voter intimidation in the recent past. Last month, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, launched an investigation, citing it as an organization with “a horrendous record of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges.”

Boyne continued her UTPA speech on the subject of Voter ID, a contested law that mandates a form of identification in order for people to vote or receive a ballot for an election.

In her speech, she brought up U.S Attorney General Eric Holder, who in the past has compared voter ID laws to poll taxes, a set of Jim Crow laws that lasted from the late 19th century to 1966. These laws mainly existed to prohibit minorities from voting, often by having them pay.

VotoHonesto3 300x200 Politics in the quad

“I guess he said that to get the focus off of Fast and Furious,” Boyne stated, referencing the federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to be handed to suspected gun smugglers so that they could be traced to Mexican drug cartels.

Abby Chavarrilla, a 53-year-old communication major, jumped at the comment.

“What does that statement have to do with Voter ID?” Chavarrilla asked.

Chavarrilla believed that there is a similarity between the Voter ID laws and the Poll Tax that her father had to deal with when he voted in a 1970 election in her hometown of Freeport, Texas.

“I’d always go with him whenever he voted, and watched him pay to exercise his right,” she said in a phone interview. “I know that not everybody can afford to pay for an ID, and why do I need to show proof of who I am when my voter registration card should be enough?”

“You don’t have to pay for a Voter ID,” Boyne responded. “It’s free. You can get people to go to your house and register you there.”

Mike Gonzalez, president of the Veterans Student Organization, spoke during Boyne and Chavarrilla’s impromptu debate.

“(I) want people to be fair and honest,” the Marine veteran said. “That’s what the ID’s do.”

Boyne cut off Gonzalez and Chavarrilla and continued with her presentation.

While she spoke, volunteers from the Ruben “Chuy” Hinojosa  campaign, state representative incumbent for District 20 and that of Nora Longoria, a candidate for Justice 13 Court of Appeals Place 2, started passing out political flyers to the audience. Boyne stopped them.

“Do not pass out any propaganda while I’m speaking,” she said. “This is a non-partisan event.”

Once she finished, Boyne opened up for questions from the participants. Rosalie Weisfeld, a staff member for the Paul Sadler campaign, a Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and wife of Texas Sen. Ruben “Chuy” Hinojosa, was the first to begin the inquiry. She called into doubt Boyne’s non-partisan claim.

“How can you call this a non-partisan event?” Weisfeld asked. “What you’re saying is very partisan.”

Mumbles from the crowd emerged.

“I am not being partisan,” Boyne declared. “This is a non-partisan event. I’m not for one party.”

Weisfeld continued, using Boyne’s pro-Voter ID stance as a way to show that she was in fact partisan. After a brief argument, Boyne continued to answer questions delivered from two other audience members.

The final question came from Roxanne Carrion, who asked for examples of voter suppression in the Valley.

“The Black Panthers,” Boyne replied, eliciting a strong reaction from the crowd.

“Did that group even exist in the Valley?” an audience member asked.

At that point, Boyne walked off the platform, ending the discussion.

After the event, Aron Peña, son of former District 40 State Rep. Aaron Peña and an organizer for the event, expressed some disappointment with how it went.

“This was not how it was supposed to turn out,” he explained. “There wasn’t supposed to be any campaigning here, and the senator’s wife (Weisfeld) was practically trying to destroy the event with her questions. At least students walked away with an understanding of how important voter fraud is.”

David Garcia, a freshman who introduced Boyne, witnessed the whole debate unravel as he sat in the front row, close to her.

“Things took an unexpected turn,” the 20-year-old said. “We have to expect someone to come out and say something, though, especially with controversial issues.”

VotoHonesto2 200x300 Politics in the quad

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Apathetic, angry, abstaining

October 18th, 2012

With the 57th U.S. presidential election just around the corner, I fail to ascribe that much importance to it. There are plenty of reasons for me to care but I just don’t really care what happens and I believe that there are a few of you who feel the same way. So this is for you self-centered people.
The media is constantly bombarding us with their positions, making me feel guilty for disregarding their shower of political information, when they are merely trying to sway me into agreeing with their political standpoints. We know, or at least I do, that the presidential elections are a big deal. However, at the end of the day I just want to sit on my couch, have a beer and not think about the possible and not-so-distant future of this country. After all, I have my own problems, and the president, whether the old one stays or we get a new one, is not going to help me deal with them.

Another reason to pay no heed to this bipartisan quarrel is that I have little to no say on the possible outcome. Now if you think your vote matters, then help yourself and grab a copy of The Pan American’s Oct. 4 issue and go to Pages 4 and 5. There it is explained how little influence you have over the presidential election.

Presidential candidates aren’t doing this to persuade people to choose them to run the place, as is commonly imagined (mistakenly) by the unaware masses that think their vote makes a difference.
Presidential elections are merely a time in which a couple of politicians embark on a popularity contest across the country, and even beyond, in order to let the Electoral College (a small group of selected individuals that actually make the decision) know which is the least hated person among the candidates. Then they make a decision, sometimes not considering the popular vote. How do you think George W. Bush got the presidency? You live in a republic, not in a democracy.

I have to also take into account that such display of political propaganda is mostly unnecessary. We are fed a constant interchange of political stands by two people who, we are told, will run the country but in the end they are just part of the group who govern the country. We hear ideas they plan to carry out but in order for that to happen they have to go through the Congress, which is comprised mainly of both Democrats and Republicans who are constantly bickering with each other, and with the president. So it’s quite difficult for the president to come through with his promises.

Not only that, most of the country is going to vote based on color, red or blue, disregarding the political views of the candidate. The thick-minded will just vote for their favorite team and will ignore everything else, and even convince themselves that they are doing the best for the country. I’m constantly baffled at the sheer stupidity of calling yourself a Republican or Democrat. No one’s political views fall entirely on a party that has very contrasting viewpoints from the other.
Inform yourself and form an opinion, everyone has issues in which they are conservative and other issues in which they lean liberal. For example, I’m all for gun rights and regulation; on that issue I’m conservative. On prostitution, on the other hand, I’m liberal. Be a person; don’t mindlessly follow like a bewildered sheep to the person that speaks what you want to hear.

Even though I have no interest in the current political propaganda I found it impossible to ignore completely. I favor Obama. Ironically enough it isn’t because I strongly agree with most of his policies. I do prefer them over Romney’s nonsense, but the main reason I want Obama to stay in office is because logically he has a better shot at fixing the United State’s current deficit. I use the term “fixing” freely because I really don’t expect a complete fix but more of a “patch up.”

Which leads me to talk about the avalanche of ignorant critique toward Obama “not fixing the economy” and blaming him for the current state of the country. Like I mentioned before, it is a group effort to run a country and he had to clean up what was given to him, which was an economic mess made by Bush. Four years isn’t enough time to fix an economy. You all have been in school more than four years, most still don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and yet still have the nerve to demand results from a public servant.

It will take time to alleviate the current state of the economy and bringing a new guy to clean up the last guy’s mess isn’t going to change much. It takes more than just shortsighted critique and crossing your arms waiting for somebody to fix an entire country’s economy. It is a country, after all, a country that we all are part of. What are we doing to fix things? What are you doing to change things for the better?

It is easy to say Bush was useless. It is easy to say Obama is useless. It will be easy to continue to say Obama is useless or that Romney will be. The problem doesn’t rely on the president mainly. There is an underlying problem that we are capable of fixing. The problem is us.
We are part of a culture that values becoming rich overnight more than forming a family based on values and respect toward others. We are a culture that has no consciousness or memory about politics or interest in the economy. We only care about these ideas when the candidates are parading around thex country spending millions on campaigns to hold our attention, because it reminds us of the illiterate pandering we usually see on TV, since in between campaigns we are too busy voting for American Idol.

If you think a president is going to fix this country, you are far from right. Whether Obama stays or Romney takes his place, they will still have to work with the flawed raw material of this country, its people. Instead of taking our futures in our hands, pitifully, we are always waiting for someone to show us the way.

We have to eradicate our vices and ignorance as a society, and then begin to grow, ourselves, notwithstanding who is in charge of the country. That’s why I don’t care who gets the presidency. To “fix” this country requires some “thing” smarter than a guy in an oval office. And if that “thing” doesn’t start to surge we will still be relegated to the background, hoping for the next president to be the new messiah that comes to magically solve all of our problems.

Categories: Editorial

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Has math gone political?

October 4th, 2012

Political polls don’t just test the waters – often they can tip the scales. If a candidate is behind, they are likely to keep falling behind, since nobody wants to pick a loser.

The most recent Gallup poll put President Obama anywhere from three to nine percent ahead of Gov. Romney (50 percent to 44 percent, with a margin of error of three percent.)

Bologna, say Republicans.

“There are a few instances where I see the polls as being very skewed to the extreme, and in that case I think they’re either incompetent at putting together a proper sample, or in some instances they just may be biased,” political blogger Dean Chambers told National Public Radio’s David Flokenflik Tuesday.

However, eight years ago, the Left was criticizing polls that put Bush 2.0 ahead of John Kerry. So what is happening here? Why have both sides, at different points in recent history, called polls into question?

Basically, polls like Gallup are being accused of stuffing the box with too many respondents from the other side of the aisle.

They work by randomly generating phone numbers and asking adults living in the United States the same set of questions. Then the responses are weighted to reflect the country’s actual population.

Responses are set to the same proportions as the most recent U.S. Census data – the same ration of men to women, young to old, etc.

The beef from both political camps comes from the fact that Gallup doesn’t weight political affiliation. They don’t re-proportion the responses to reflect the number of Dems to Repubs in the country, that is.

But as Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport pointed out on NPR, why should they? Party affiliation is much more fluid than say, age or origin. Plus, people rarely affiliate with one party and vote for another’s candidate, so the question “Who are you planning on voting for?” already covers party affiliation, in a way.

Can math be used as an insidious tool to mislead the public and negatively skew history? Oh, absolutely. Is this the case with the Gallup poll? Nope. The lesson? Pundits and political sore losers will always call shenanigans when polls don’t go their way. But a closer look at the math reveals that it is, indeed sound.

Categories: Editorial

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Why I do what I do

September 20th, 2012

I’m a journalist. And I say that proudly. I realize it’s not the most glamorous of jobs nor is it the easiest. It’s a field that goes unappreciated, but it’s this road that I’ve chosen to walk on.

Screen shot 2012 09 20 at 3.55.01 AM Why I do what I do

I just turned 20 and I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary with The Pan American, where I’ve recently become the Arts & Life editor–a title that I don’t take lightly.

Over the summer, a friend told me that my line of work is a joke. That he could do my job easily. After giving it some thought, I could see how they came to that conclusion.

Yes, it’s easy to talk to someone, write down what they say and slap it on a piece of paper with a few filler paragraphs here and there. Anyone can do that. Now try doing it with a little heart–actually caring about the story and person who is in it, while presenting it in a creative yet understandable manner.

Journalists care. We have to. If we didn’t care enough to tell the story, no one else would.

I initially joined the Arts & Life section because I wanted to be around the music scene, go to concerts and interview artists. As time went on, I realized the best part was just telling the story of the “average Joe,” the person that passes us on the sidewalk or stands in front of us in line. It’s not just about the major events with the “A” list people. It’s the beauty in the everyday person’s story that drives me to work that much harder on my articles.

I’m not going to lie, it’s absolutely exhausting putting a paper together every week. Sleep is no longer a necessity, meals are few and far in between and each day I wake up with a deadline looming over my head. But each day I wake up loving what I do.

I dare anyone who isn’t a journalist to do our job with even half the heart and effort we put into it.

Categories: Editorial

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Pay attention

September 13th, 2012

It’s Tuesday morning, and I put my backpack on, grabbed my keys, walked out my apartment door and started my small journey to school on foot.

While I was crossing the intersection of Sugar and University Drive, a driver started turning right and didn’t see me. The middle-aged man behind the wheel braked and honked at me angrily. I glanced up and remembered that I had already seen the symbol of the digital man on the crosswalk sign.
It had been my right of way.

There’s something wrong with the area we live in when a pedestrian has the constant fear of getting hit by a car. If you ever see me walking, RESPECT ME. I have every right to walk as you do to drive. Besides, I’m a driver too. The only difference is I decide to keep my car at my apartment complex so that I can walk to school and let a commuter have a parking spot instead.

I was born and raised in the Valley, but I believe the RGV has a sort of backwards mentality when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists. We are a community that relies too heavily on the automobile. If you’re just visiting the corner store, why not walk or bike there?

Two weeks ago, world-renowned urban planner Gil Penalosa visited Edinburg City Hall to speak to city officials and the public about his recommendations to improve the design of the city. Penalosa gave examples of how to redesign McAllen and Edinburg to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

A Gallup and Healthways survey released in 2011 calculated that 38.8 percent of residents in McAllen and Edinburg are obese, making the area the worst in the country. During the presentation, Penalosa referenced a huge issue concerning the RGV: we have an obesity problem down here.

I want to spark conversation about this issue. I’m just a reporter, but I care and I believe in raising awareness about pedestrian and cyclist rights.

Something you can do now is watch out for pedestrians and cyclists on the road. If you do already, good for you. If you don’t, make it a point to start. It’ll keep me, and other pedestrians like me, safe in the long run.
If you have a chance, please watch the short, free documentary Two Wheels.

Categories: Editorial

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Don’t feel rushed

September 6th, 2012

I’m 23, graduated high school over five years ago, still live at home, have a car that barely works and have no idea when I’ll graduate, but that’s ok.

A couple of weeks ago my twin sister announced that she will be graduating in December and, ever since then, my family has been asking me nonstop when I’ll be next. Worst of all, they’re almost insulted when I tell them I’m not sure.

Who said that you only have a certain amount of time to complete your college education? I know the University pushes students to graduate in four years, but don’t feel bad if you don’t. You are going to college for you and no one else, so do it on
your time.

The way I see it, I don’t do drugs or partake in “bad” behavior, so there’s no reason for them to be disappointed in me, right? And it’s not like I don’t want to finish school I can’t wait to finish and move on but obstacles have gotten in my way, slowing me down.

My main motivator is working at The Pan American. As a print journalism major, I can’t wait to move to a new city to work for a newspaper or magazine. So, while I can’t get that type of job until I graduate, I’m building experience and making contacts through the student newspaper. When my family really starts ragging on me, I tell them I’m already working in my career field, something most college students aren’t able to do.

I’m pretty sure if I didn’t work here I wouldn’t be as driven to graduate. I could have just become a statistic detailing college dropouts. After taking a year off fall 2010/spring 2011 I could have easily decided not to come back, but, come fall 2011, I was in class.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t finish up quickly, or that one should just take a break whenever they feel it’s necessary. Life isn’t easy, things get in the way, and if that means you can only take two classes per semester, so be it.

At the end of the line, it is your degree and your potential career. So be sure what you want from your time at college.

 

Categories: Editorial

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