Wednesday, December 23, 2015

With the holiday season comes the finale of another great season of college football, and is almost time for the second annual college football playoff. The new format has the top four teams pitted against one another with the #1 ranked team playing the #4 ranked team and the #2 and #3 ranked teams playing each other respectively. The new four team playoff replaces the old BCS title game that only featured the two best teams playing for a national championship based off a system of rankings that was determined to be seriously flawed. Now a panel of college football coaches meet and determine the rankings and decide on the top four teams and who deserves the opportunity to play for the coveted national title.

This year the playoffs are set with #1 and undefeated Clemson (14-0) taking on Oklahoma (11-1) in the Orange Bowl at Miami, FL and #2 Alabama (12-1) will take on #3 Michigan State (12-1) in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, TX where both games will be played on Thursday, December 31, 2015, or most commonly known as New Year's Eve. The two victors will then play each other for the national championship.

Both games will be very entertaining, with all of the teams appearing to be pretty evenly matched. It is anticipated that both games will be the focus of many family's New Year's Eve celebrations as the bowl games, especially the more important ones, such as the two that will determine which two teams will play for the national championship, usually get a pretty high amount of viewership. It is crazy to think how much sports have factored into how families celebrate the holiday season, with some fans even having tailgate parties to celebrate the big game involving their team one last time before football kicks off again next fall. Watching college football games has been so ingrained into our lives that when the playoffs are already done and the super bowl has already been won, it will feel weird to not have any football to watch.

It would seem that the new format with the four team playoff system put into place has gone over well with fans as it feels more fair to give teams the chance to compete for a national title. Before only two teams were given that opportunity based off a BCS system that was flawed and not accurate as to who the two best teams were that deserved to play in the national championship game. With the new playoff system it gives double the amount of teams to compete for the national title, with four teams being enough where the playoffs do not have to drag on over a long period of time. A big question with the new system was if four teams are enough and if the playoff should be expanded to eight teams or more, but eight seems like too many and we may see some games that have already happened such as Clemson vs. Notre Dame for the second time, where Clemson pulled out a tight 24-22 victory at home in Clemson, SC. Even though the game would be exciting because it is a rematch and Notre Dame would want revenge, it may be repetitive for some viewers who want to see Clemson play another great team they have not played such as Oklahoma. For now it seems that a four team playoff is just right, giving more than just two teams the chance to play for a national championship, while also, not dragging on the playoffs and giving fans just enough entertainment for the New Year's holiday.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

What I watched, saw, listened to week of 12/7/15

On Monday 12/7/15 I worked for Marist Poll

I watched Monday night football

On Tuesday 12/8 I watched some college basketball

On Wednesday 12/9 I attended the Marist men's basketball game against the Albany Great Danes my hometown team, Albany ended up winning the game 75-53

On Thursday 12/10 I watched Thursday night football

On Friday 12/11 I watched some college basketball

On Saturday 12/12
I watched college basketball

I attended the Marist men's basketball game against Delaware, Delaware won 70-69

On Sunday 12/13 I watched NFL

Saturday, December 19, 2015

During the week of 11/30/15 I was able to attend a couple of events in the newly renovated Weiss Language Center, and both were very helpful in preparing me for my upcoming trip to Madrid, Spain where I will be studying abroad for the Spring 2016 semester. One of the events was showing me how to use multiple websites that were created in order to help students out with their language skills and become more proficient in whatever language they are studying and trying to learn.

In my case, I will be working on Spanish in order to make sure that I will be prepared for a whole semester of only speaking Spanish with a little bit of English if I really have to. This was a good opportunity for me to learn about resources that I didn't even know that I had access to that I am sure will be really useful and make sure I don't lose any of my Spanish during the break.

Through the use of the websites I will be able to be a much better Spanish speaker and increase my vocabulary at the same time. This will really help once I am in Madrid, and will hopefully ensure that I am not in any embarrassing situations where I do not know how to say something and have to take some time while in the middle of a sentence to think about what I want to say. There are also placement tests that are built into one of the websites which will also be helpful to me to give me a general idea of where my Spanish speaking skills are. After using the websites I will feel a lot better about transitioning from speaking English all the time with a little Spanish to speaking Spanish all the time with English as a last resort.

Along with the websites by going to the events at the Weiss Language Center, I have learned a lot about Spain and about the different foods they eat as well as the different meal schedules. I learned that breakfast and dinner are not very big meals with lunch being the biggest meal during the day, and that for breakfast it is not the usual milk and cereal that I am accustomed to as well as dinner being later than I am used to. Along with the changes to what I eat I will have to get used to the changes of when I eat which may take some getting used to but I am looking forward to my semester in Spain and everything that I will experience while I am abroad for the spring 2016 semester.

What I watched, saw, listened to week of 11/30/15:

On Monday 11/30 I worked for Marist Poll and watched Monday night football

On Tuesday 12/1/15 I watched college basketball

Went to an event at the Weiss Language Center

On Wednesday 12/2/15 I watched more college basketball, attended another event at the Weiss Language Center

On Thursday 12/3/15 I attended the Marist women's basketball MAAC home opener against Quinnipiac which Marist won 56-47

Later I watched the Kentucky-UCLA game and UCLA beat #1 ranked Kentucky 87-77 and gave the Wildcats their first loss

Watched the Green Bay at Detroit Lions game for Thursday night football and Green Bay won with an epic comeback and a hail Mary pass to win 27-23

On Friday 12/4 I attended the Marist men's basketball game the MAAC home opener against Iona which Iona won 101-66

On Saturday 12/5 I watched college basketball and football

I watched the Clemson vs UNC game for the ACC Championship,

On Sunday 12/6 I watched  NFL

While the main focus of the break from school was for Thanksgiving, this was also a crucial time for college football as there were several crucial games played the weekend after Thanksgiving. Some of the crucial games were the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry game, the Baylor-TCU rivalry game, the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry game, and the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry game. Theses games are crucial as Clemson, Baylor, TCU, Notre Dame, Stanford, Oklahoma, and even Oklahoma State are all vying for a spot in the second annual college football playoff that features the top four teams in the country and gives them a chance to play for a national championship. 

How the college football playoff system works is that there is a committee made up of several coaches in college football that meet and discuss who they think the four best teams are based off of multiple factors such as who they have played and beaten, how many points they have scored, how many points they have surrendered, etc. So far the top candidates for the four spots include Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Iowa since they are ranked in that order. However, huge league championship games featuring Alabama against Florida, Michigan State against Iowa, and Clemson against North Carolina will help the committee decide who should be in and who should not be based off of who wins the league titles. The cases that are made is that if Clemson beats North Carolina they should be a lock for a playoff spot especially since they are undefeated, if Michigan State beats Iowa they should be in even though at the time Iowa was ranked fourth and Michigan State was ranked fifth, and if Alabama beats Florida they will get a playoff spot as well. 

However the committee has to decide if North Carolina, Florida, and Iowa were to pull of the huge upsets if North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, and other teams like Stanford deserve playoff sports over a one loss Clemson team, a two loss Alabama team, Oklahoma which doesn't have a conference title game, and even keep Iowa in the playoff picture even though they have not played the big ten's best and toughest teams. It is always interesting to hear what the committee thinks in these situations and how they end up ranking the teams. 

The Iowa Hawkeyes were definitely a surprise this year making it to the big ten title game undefeated, which almost nobody predicted at the start of the college football season. It is crazy to think that back in Iowa the fans have really embraced the team and its success by saying that the football team's success was the biggest thing going on in the whole state and was one of the best things to ever happen in the state of Iowa. The crazy part is to to think that more people cared about what the Iowa football team was doing than what was actually happening on the news. I know that sports fans are passionate about their team, but it was surprising to me when people are saying that in the history of the state that this was the biggest and best thing to ever happen. It's crazy to think that one sports team can have more importance to people and have a bigger impact in their lives than anything else.   

What I watched, saw, listened to week of 11/23:

On Monday 11/23 I worked at Marist Poll

I watched Monday Night Football

On Tuesday 11/24 I had to wake up early to take a train to New York City in order to have my student visa done so that I can study abroad, went down to the city dropped off my application, then came back to Marist, then headed home for Thanksgiving break

On Wednesday 11/25 I spent time with my family

On Thursday 11/26 my family had Thanksgiving dinner which consisted of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, two different types of cranberry sauce, homemade orange jello, corn, and homemade desserts such as pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pecan pie

Watched Thanksgiving day football between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers, and watched college basketball

On Friday 11/27 I had a tennis lesson since the weather was about 60 degrees

Watched college basketball

On Saturday 11/28 I watched college football between Clemson and South Carolina and Baylor and TCU

Went out to eat at PF Chang's with my family for dinner

On Sunday 11/29 I took the train back to Marist and watched some college basketball when I got back between Oklahoma and Wisconsin, Oklahoma won 65-48

I watched NFL and watched the Denver Broncos end the perfect season for the New England Patriots by knocking them off in overtime 30-24 at Mile High Field in Denver, CO

Thursday, December 3, 2015

On Monday 11/16, I attended a workshop through the Emerging Leaders Program on how to be an effective team member and a better team member when working on a group project. Through the workshop everyone was required to talk and say anything such as what bothered them, what they could do better to be a better group member, suggestions as to how an effective group project should go, and potential problems the group may face during the duration of the project. I thought this workshop was very informative and interesting, and extremely helpful because I learned that there are always ways to be a better group member, even when you think that already are.

During the workshop there was also an interesting point that was brought up which was the difference between a team and a group, since some of the people in attendance were on sports teams. The main difference between the two is that a team is all working together to achieve a common goal, while a group everyone works together but each group member's goal may be slightly different than the other group members. Additionally, a team has more unity to it as it is together for  much longer period of time since a sports season usually lasts longer than the typical group project. I had never thought about the difference between a group and a team since I usually think of both as the same thing, but now know there is a slight difference between the two.

Another part of the workshop was actually splitting off into small groups to apply everything that was discussed and see how we all would do in a small group setting. The task for each small group was to discuss how we would go about building anything out of a box of legos that was distributed to each group without opening the box or touching any of the pieces. However we could look at the instruction manual to get some kind of idea what could be built. After discussing the plans on what to build and how to build it each group had a minute to try and put the plan together and build something to see how effective each group would actually be at working together. My group attempted to work on building a tower but only got done with the bottom part of it. By the end of the exercise each group realized that working in teams can be a lot harder than it looks but learned how to be more effective team and group members.