Petitioner Wrong to Even Ask Caitlyn Jenner to Surrender 1976 Olympic Decathlon Gold

4 Jun

For the most part, I have kept my opinions on the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner situation to myself and away from the firestorm that is social media. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen the posts, whether they be positive or negative, thought-provoking or just downright ignorant. It’s kind of hard to ignore them. Because, see, Facebook has become a place where people share their thoughts on everything. People comment on social issues, politics, religion and it spurs discussion.

Let’s be honest, we all have opinions on most of these things and we all want to see them validated. We want people to think that we are socially conscience, perhaps more so than we actually are. In other ways, we want to engage in debate, perhaps to prove something to others, perhaps to prove something to ourselves.

Whatever the case, whatever the reason, social media serves as a tool between us and the world, a way to broadcast who we are or a persona of who we want to be. For that reason, I am less than surprised to see my news feed filled with opinions on the Caitlyn Jenner story. And that’s a good thing. Social media creates the discussion that we need to be having, not just about transgender issues but about anything and everything that we don’t understand. It’s a way to grow, it’s a gateway for us to become better, more-educated people of the ever-changing world.

I ordinarily choose not to broadcast my views on sensitive topics, especially those of which I don’t truly understand. And being completely honest, there is a lot about the transgender population that I don’t understand. I think to be fair, there is a lot all of us don’t understand. After all, something so life-changing, in the truest sense of the word, can really only be understood by those who have gone through the process or the family and friends who have been beside them. It is true when they say, no one knows you better than yourself and that said, no one should be able to judge who you are or which gender you identify with other than yourself.

All of that said, today I saw something that requires me to break my radio silence. It wasn’t a hate post, it wasn’t a comical meme or a distasteful joke. In a way, most people could argue this doesn’t even really scratch the surface of offensive things that have been said. But maybe it’s because of my passion and love for sports that I related to this particular post, that it spoke to me in a certain way. Maybe it is because the issue which comes up, indirectly crossed my mind. Whatever it was, this post bothered me and did so in a way that made me feel the need to comment.

The post was shared from Yahoo and it detailed the story of a petition, one that would have Jenner stripped of the Olympic gold medal she won while competing in the Decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games. The petition, which can be found on, is written as such:

Dear International Olympic Committee,

It has recently come to light that gold medalist Bruce Jenner is in fact transgender, and therefore, identifies as a woman. We congratulate Ms. Jenner on these new developments and wish her the best. However, this creates somewhat of a problem as Ms. Jenner (as talented as she is) claims that she has always believed herself to be truly female, and therefore, was in violation of committee rules regarding women competing in men’s sports and vice versa. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must ask whether or not it is proper that Ms. Jenner should retain her olympic records in light of this, as we must now either claim that Bruce Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are two entirely different people (which we know is not true), or that Bruce Jenner was, in fact, a woman participating in a men’s event. It is only fair to all involved that women receive their credit as champions of the Decathlon and that the men racing Ms. Jenner are not expected to compete with a superior, streamlined being such as herself.

We urge Ms. Jenner to support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender.

Thank you, and congratulations to Ms. Jenner for her courage!


Before reading the petition and before reading the article, I saw Yahoo’s headline, “Petition Urges International Olympic Committee to Revoke Caitlyn Jenner’s Olympic Title.” That spurred my comment on a friend’s post, which I made before reading the article, which I made before reading the petition. Honestly, I felt I had the gist of what the argument would be and it turned out I was right.

The petitioner had shamefully used the trans’ community’s own rhetoric against them to her own purpose. The understanding that once you transition, that is the person who you are, who you always were and that who you were before is essentially left behind, was not meant to be exploited in such a way that would result in Jenner losing her medal. It was designed to help those of us who cannot possibly imagine the challenge and the difficulty of going through the process, have a better understanding. It is meant to be a bridge of tolerance and acceptance, not a punchline.

The petition is in itself, contradictory. It embodies two very different tones, one that seems to accept the transgender population, the other that appears to insult them. It is strategic and cowardly as well, in that the petitioner is not demanding Jenner return the gold but rather posing the question. The petitioner, while making her opinion on the issue clearly known with the hashtag (#givebackthegold), is essentially washing her hands of it. In the end, any decision belongs to the IOC, thus absolving her of any perceived guilt or backlash from the transgender community on the subject. She has left herself in the position where she can argue that all she was responsible of was opening up the conversation.

But even as is, the petition has glaring holes. Jenner may have identified as a woman but at the time of the Games, had not even begun to undergo the re-gentrification process. According to IOC rules, she was fully within her rights and 100 percent eligible to compete in the Men’s Decathlon, which by the way is the only decathlon. The petitioner incorrectly assumed that the women also compete in the decathlon and that Jenner keeping her medal is somewhat unfair to them. In actuality, there is no women’s decathlon, but rather a heptathlon, which features seven events instead of the 10 featured in the decathlon. On that fact alone, the petition is inaccurate.

Beyond that, it’s the wording of this sentence that I just can’t make sense of, “It is only fair to all involved that women receive their credit as champions of the Decathalon and that the men racing Ms. Jenner are not expected to compete with a superior, streamlined being such as herself.”

Is the petitioner asserting that the men are at a disadvantage competing against a woman? If so, that is the first I’ve heard that. The argument against women in men’s sports is to the contrary. It’s that women aren’t as strong, aren’t as physical, aren’t as fast. That’s why we have women’s basketball and soccer and golf and tennis and volleyball, etc. That’s why women don’t even have a decathlon.

It isn’t until the second to last sentence however, that I truly feel the petitioner has stepped over the line. Everything until that point is an opinion, something that she is entitled to have. I think it’s shameful that one would suggest Jenner surrender her medal, but like I said, she is allowed her opinion and I won’t criticize her on that. But to assume that she knows the transgender community better than Jenner, even if not worded so directly, is not only presumptuous but its offensive.

“We urge Ms. Jenner to support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender.”

Is the petitioner assuming that if Jenner keeps the medal it is not supporting the transgender community? Is she assuming that she knows how the community would feel about this?

Speaking as an outsider, I can guarantee, unless the petitioner is transgender herself, she has no idea how the community would react. They have been supportive of Jenner and I can’t imagine they would ask or even want to see Jenner stripped of the medal. It doesn’t further their cause. It doesn’t support their creed of the transgender individual having always been one gender. Rather it takes away from the life journey. Who a person is before the transition may not affect who they become, but it does shape the journey it took to get there. It negates the courage involved, the commitment to be one’s true self. I don’t assume to know how the community feels about Jenner keeping the medal, but I can’t fathom they would want to see her stripped in a show of solidarity. I can’t imagine that is the case at all.

The Bold and the Beautiful is currently chronicling a transgender story, the first such one to be broadcast on a soap opera. The character Maya, who transitioned from Myron, explained her decision so simply and yet so eloquently in saying that, who she was on the outside didn’t match who she was on the inside. Caitlyn herself, has said something along the same lines. But does that mean that her marriages, her children, her accomplishments achieved while her outside didn’t match her inside should somewhat be negated or erased as if they never happened? Absolutely not. Does that mean that her medal should be taken away because she was a woman competing in a man’s sport? No, not at all, not even close.

While this petition has gained signatures, in the end, I can’t see the IOC even giving it any attention. But it does exist. The hate and lack of understanding is out there. The question has been asked. The conversation has been started. And maybe just maybe, some good will come of it. If there is a silver lining to this it’s that it has people talking and ultimately, that might be a good enough start.






The List

26 May

This is the comprehensive list of deals Ruben Amaro has made since the acquisitions of Roy Halladay and re-acquisition of Cliff Lee in 2010. It includes players drafted, traded or signed via free agency. In order to make the list, players must have played at least one game in the major leagues. As you can see, the list really is a who’s who of major league stars…

Courtesy for compiling the list goes to Jim Frick over at the Facebook group, Real Philly Phanz!

Sergio Escalona
Rodrigo Lopez
Jack Taschner
Tyler Walker
Paul Bako
Paul Hoover
Andy Tracy
John Mayberry Jr
Danys Baez
Andrew Carpenter
Nelson Figuero
David Herndon
Scott Mathieson
Nate Robertson
Mike Zagurski
Dane Sardina
Brian Bocock
Ross Gload
Wilson Valdez
Juan Perez
Joe Savery
Michael Schwimmer
Michael Stutes
Brian Schneider
John Bowker
Mikey Martinez
Pete Orr
Tyson Brummett
Jake Diekman
Josh Linblom
Chad Qualls
BJ Rosenberg
Brian Sanches
Raul Valdes
Steven Lerud
Mike Fotenot
Hector Luna
Ty Wigginton
Laynce Nix
Jason Pridie
Nate Schierholtz
Delmon Young
Chad Durbin (again?)
Eric Kratz
Jonathan Paplebon
John Lannan
Humberto Quintero
Michael Young
Ben Revere
Phillipe Aumont
Jeremy Horst
Mike Adams
Ezequiel Carrera
Ender Inciarte
Jonathan Pettibone
Tyler Cloyd
Cesar Hernandez
Justin De Fratus
Darin Ruf
John McDonald
JC Ramirez
Luis Garcia
Steve Susdorf
Cody Asche
Ethan Martin
Zach Miner
Casper Wells
Cesar Jimenez
Roger Bernadina
Cameron Rupp
Mauricio Robles
Marlon Byrd
Tony Gwynn Jr
A J Burnett
Roberto Hernandez
Brad Lincoln
Jeff Manship
Mario Hollands
Will Nieves
Jayson Nix
Shawn Camp
Reid Brigniac
Ronny Cedeno
Ken Giles
Aaron Altherr
David Buchanan
Koyie Hill
Sean O’Sullivan
Andres Blanco
Grady Sizemore
Hector Neris
Jerome Williams
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Maikel Franco
Dustin McGowan
Jeff Francour
Aaron Harang
Luis Garcia
Jenmar Gomez
Odubel Herrera
Severino Gonzalez
Elvis Araujo
Chad Billingsly

An Experience in the Art of Profile Writing

9 Apr

If a few years ago if someone had told this aspiring sports writer that she would have the opportunity to interview with one of the great living legends of college basketball, she wouldn’t have believed it.

As it turns out however, that is exactly what happened as I recently had the chance to sit down with a personality and name in both college and Philadelphia basketball. He is the one, the only, the legend, Herb Magee.

For a person who loves irony, the experience began as soon as I walked into the halls of the Gallagher Athletic and Recreation Center. It was then, that for something as simple as an interview, that I knew this was going to be an important moment in my budding sports journalism career.

gallagher court

Passing the bust, the trophies, the autographed jersey, the court aptly named after him, he directed me to his office, perfectly located with a window seat to all of the basketball action behind him.

As for the interview itself, Magee was a delight to talk to and shared wonderful moments, doing so in such vivid detail that I felt a part of his stories and experiences.

To be honest, I didn’t really find the interview process to be challenging. I had prepared my questions diligently, doing as much research as I deemed necessary to really be able to ask unique and pertinent questions. I think for me personally, since I have interviewed various individuals before, I had that preparation under my belt and past experience factor to my aid.


Of course like any interview, I did walk out of the building, return home, and think of several different questions I should have also asked or ways I should have worded questions. As it was though, I enjoyed the interview from start to finish and truly gleaned information, both new and exciting, that I had never read but that I would love to be the first to provide to a source such as ESPN or SI.

When writing the profile itself, I almost found myself with too much information. Magee had recounted stories of his days with West Catholic, being a player and coach for the same university, his Naismith Hall of Fame induction, his various awards, his 1970 National Championship and so much more.

I found all of it so fascinating I didn’t know where to start. I decided to focus on loyalty, as he has been coaching the same D-II school for now 46 years. With opportunities to move up to a better job with a larger budget and paycheck, Magee has stayed with Philadelphia University saying it is “where he belongs.”

Another focus became his accomplishments, his humility and his passion for the game of basketball. All of which I felt needed to be prominent throughout the entirety of the article.

MLB’s Hall of Shame: Do Steroid Users Have a Shot at Induction?

2 Mar

After public and private discussion, the MLB Hall of Fame closed its doors to any new members for the first time since 1996 and only the seventh time in history. Why?



A political cartoon published shortly after the 2007 Mitchell Report findings that opened the floodgates to baseball’s biggest scandal, depicted the culture of what the sport had become.

Despite Mark McGwire, the first big name connected with steroids, having already been on the ballot for six years, 2013 represented the first class of nominees that was dominated by guys linked to steroids and/or steroid use. Among these names and nominees: Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Ordinarily, three Hall of Fame careers, first ballot for sure in the case of Bonds and Clemens. Due to their use of PEDs however, it could take years for their inductions. And that is to say that it happens at all.

Sports Illustrated MLB columnist Tom Verducci is of the belief that it will. Like a spurned lover, Verducci believes the writers will come around eventually and that Bonds and Clemens have a good shot at making it into the Hall. The others? Verducci is not quick to comment.

What he does mention is that Clemens and Bonds are in a class above the rest, boasting what he considers to be “next-level credentials.” Can the writers therefore justify keeping out Clemens and his 354 wins and 4672 strikeouts? Or Bonds and his record breaking 762 home runs? After all, they’ve done it with Pete Rose, choosing to keep the all-time hits leader out for betting on baseball. Not to mention the fact that the writers, most of which have been around since baseball’s glory days, didn’t exactly appreciate the steroid scandal.

So is Verducci right? Was the refusal to induct Clemens, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa a “deferral” or could it perhaps be a forewarning of what to expect in  the near future? I myself am of the belief it is more than just a wait and see tactic. Whereas Verducci claims the stats speak for themselves, the baseball purist in me disagrees.


Just a few of the guys identified as being connected to steroids in the Congress investigated Mitchell Report.

Cleaning Up the Sport the Only Way they Know How

The panel of writers that receive Hall of Fame votes are esteemed, distinguished and at the top of their profession. They have integrity, baseball knowledge that is unmatched and a passion for the game not seen everywhere. Most of them remember the golden age of baseball, before steroids, before the Mitchell Report, before the asterisk.

These writers may not have control over baseball history. They may not be able to change the black mark that is the steroid era. What they can control however is the Hall of Fame. They have kept McGwire out for now seven of his 15 eligible years, Rafael Palmiero and Jose Canseco as well. The pattern is clear. The writers can control the Hall, considered the most prestigious in all of sports. They can keep it pure and seem determined to do so.

Steroids: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

You know that white elephant gift you get at Christmas? Maybe it is a CD of a band you don’t like or a heavy, ceramic pear plate that someone just wanted to get rid of (yes, that is speaking from experience). Regardless, you get it and then next Christmas you re-gift it. Just when you think it is gone for good, the following Christmas comes and once again, you find yourself in possession of the white elephant gift. No matter what you do, every other Christmas, it finds its way back to you refusing to go away.

Essentially, this is the story of steroids and baseball.

Like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers or fish and chips, steroids and baseball have become synonymous with one another. Why? Because just like a boomerang, steroids just keep coming back.

Each season it seems, a named player is getting a 25-game suspension here, a 50-game suspension there. When a guy hits 45 home runs after only ever besting 15 in a season, questions of foul play are involved. You find out later the guy was clean, (or so he says, you’ll never really know for sure) but ultimately  the damage is done.


The sport has suffered irreparable damage because of the steroid scandal and it isn’t going away. Reminders, remnants of that age still exist and for that reason, it seems less likely that the Hall would induct a bonafide steroid user. As I mentioned previously, as it stands, the Hall is the last clean piece of baseball history. I’d like to think the writers want to keep it this way.

Final Thoughts

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Bonds and Clemens will be inducted. It is hard to tell. Ultimately, I’d love to see the Hall take a stand, to keep pure this best element of its storied history. But Verducci has a point and some stats just can’t be overlooked. It would send a message though and maybe one that baseball players everywhere need to know. If the Hall keeps out Bonds, no steroid user can expect to get in. And maybe just then, that is the kick in the pants, the wake-up call this sport and its players need.

There is an optimistic future and a light at the end of the tunnel waiting for baseball. The sport just needs to take a stand against steroids to get them out, once and for all.


Let’s Be Honest: The Media’s Perception of the Lowly Blogger

30 Jan

Thoughts on Paper

It has often been said that if you have thoughts, write them down. After all, somebody might be interested in them when writing your biography one day…

Okay, that might be a slight stretch but really, isn’t that what blogs are all about? 

Now blogs don’t necessarily have to be about you, but rather maybe your interests or specialties. Everyone out there has a niche and for the most part, people believe they know about that niche more than anyone else. And that is when the idea, “Hey, I should start a blog” comes to mind.

I’ll be honest. That is how I started blogging. I found that my mind was constantly churning out thoughts about the sports world and its goings on but at the same time I found my immediate audience was not always concerned with discussing these topics. So I went to the web to find a larger audience. For a while when I updated regularly, my site received about 1,000 hits a month. It isn’t much but for a lowly blogger who has no idea how people are finding my blog, it is a lot.

Now I don’t get paid for recreational blogging but some people do. This shouldn’t be an indictment on that person, referring to them as “fame whores” as it were. Rather it should be a testament to their level of work. Unfortunately though, this is not always the case and to make matters worse, even the most established recreational blog isn’t valued as being “real journalism.”

Let’s Talk Gawker

Recently I had the pleasure/displeasure of reading a very well written article that detailed just this very subject. Written by a NY Magazine staff writer, the article “Gawker and the Rage of the Creative Underclass” was a scathing piece detailing the sometimes underground world of the blogging community. Citizen journalism, as this sort of thing is referred to, was almost mocked by the writer and her colleagues and in my opinion was done unjustly so.

As I read about the writer talk of haves and have-nots, I thought about this being an underlying message. Whether she intended to or not, it was clear that this writer was establishing the Gawker bloggers as have-nots and print journalists as haves, sitting in a class by themselves.

In a world where print journalism is vastly being replaced by its online counterpart, I don’t think this is the case anymore. Maybe in the past, the hierarchy put published in print writers at the top but now, the world has changed and it is online. The Internet provides rapid access to things we never even knew existed. It allows us to challenge our assumptions about life and to explore worlds beyond our immediate reach.

Point being, the Internet is wonderful and I think the writer of the Gawker piece unfairly judged Gawker. Sure the content may not fit into the traditional category of journalism, but overall, it is what it is. People aren’t going to go to Gawker looking for hard hitting news. It is the same reason why people read gossip rags and tabloids. They want to be entertained, they want to laugh. Gawker provides that and it doesn’t claim to do anything more.

Opinions Can’t Be Wrong Unless You Don’t Have Them

We live in a world where opinions run rampant and it is after all, a free country. We should be allowed to share our opinions and people that disagree should be able to disagree. A world without a comments section after all would be madness.

I understand the fact that we all want to believe we are always right and that we want vindication for our opinions, but sometimes being told we are wrong, albeit sometimes in a harsh and tough love kind of way, is the best tool for our future success. And like I said, it is opinions and thinking rationally, can an opinion ever really be wrong?

Think about that one next time you sit down at your computer to blog. I’m sharing my opinions right now, we all do in our daily life. We need these opinions because they spark discussion. Opinions aren’t right or wrong but just show a freedom of expression.

Opinions are what Griorigadis expressed when she wrote the piece on Gawker. Opinions are what the commenters on the site, referred to unfairly as “vigilantes” express when they make their thoughts known. Opinions are what the writers publish and opinions are what make us unique individuals. 

That is really all there is to it.


A Day in the Life of an Aspiring Feature Writer

21 Jan

There is something about picking up a magazine,  flipping through the pages and waiting for that one piece to catch your eye, that is really appealing. It is something that can be found in an newspaper but not to the same degree. It is certainly something that can’t be found online.

This may sound corny but when I pick up a magazine whether it be in the grocery store, dentist office or at my own home, I find myself invested in a journey. I open to the table of contents and identify where I want to start. Often, the cover story is what draws me to peer into the publication but it is something else in the contents  that catches my attention. At that point I find my ‘X’ on my proverbial treasure map and begin the adventure.

What I love about magazines is that you can do this and that you can go from being entertained, being educated, having a good laugh and reading a great story all within the same 50-or-so pages of print. Like I said earlier, you can’t do this on the Internet. You can’t do this in a newspaper.

Diving into a good magazine is just like diving into a good book. There is so much to be gained from it. The experience is half the fun. Personally, I have many fond memories with reading magazines but one in particular stands out to me. In fact, it was one of the best articles I have even read in a magazine and one that as it turns out, ended up having a bigger effect on me than I could have ever initially imagined it would.

The magazine was Sports Illustrated, a publication I had not often read. The place – the doctor’s office. The eye catching title story: a 16-year-old baseball phenom who could throw a 90+ MPH fastball and who batted over .400 as a high school catcher. When I read this I was just getting into sports and it fascinated me. A few years later, that kid I read about ended up being drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals and winning rookie of the year. He dropped the fastball in exchange for right field, but in the end, it couldn’t have worked out better for the kid.


This cover story was one of the first articles that got me interested in sports writing.

Having a passion for sports, I surprise myself sometimes. My dream job is to be a sports broadcaster working for ESPN or covering the Olympics for NBC. I’ve also thought about the steps it will take to get there and have since envisioned myself being published in the Philadelphia Inquirer or some other print newspaper. The thing that surprises me is that not until last year, when I was published in my college’s magazine, that I thought, “hmm, I can see myself doing this someday.”

Being a feature writer wasn’t always in my plans, but now it is an avenue I am thoroughly considering and researching. As much as I hate to admit it, print journalism in newspapers is a dying art and may not be around much longer after I graduate. Sure writing online is nice and has its advantages, but for me, there is nothing like seeing your name in print. When I got published in a local paper, it was the first time I saw my byline and it was something that made me decide that this is the career that I want. Magazine writing, well, it gives me a chance to do that.

And that’s my goal now. Other than to me a television broadcaster, I’d love to be published in a magazine like Sports Illustrated. My brother used to get the magazine just to read this one writer’s column. Maybe that can be me someday. Maybe someone will order a Sports Illustrated just to read my column. It would certainly be something spectacular if my writing was elevated to that point.

Right now, it’s something to dream about and something to strive for. Who knows, maybe in a few years, that dream will come true.

Chestnut Hill College to Unveil New Community Garden

2 Apr

As part of a new initiative at Chestnut Hill College (CHC), Feel Good, an organization that works to end worldwide hunger through the sale of grilled cheese sandwiches and college sponsored deli nights, is beginning work on a community garden on campus.

Chestnut Hill Opens Feel Good Chapter

Chestnut Hill College, through the efforts of co-founders Becky Bond ’12 and Liz Campbell ’12, opened up their own chapter of the Feel Good organization in October of 2012. “I found out about Feel Good by reading a magazine article about two young women who decided they wanted to end world hunger,” Bond said, adding that the women, “created a national movement where colleges could create chapters.”

Feel Good began at the University of Texas and there are now about 30 captors in the U.S. The organization sponsors the Hunger Project and Choice Humanitarian, both international organizations dedicated to ending world hunger. CHC specifically sends their profits to the Hunger Project, a global non-profit organization founded in 1977, that’s main focus is now on the Millennium Development Goals and the UN and world commitment to end hunger by 2015.

Chestnut Hill began their efforts as a chapter by hosting deli nights, where homemade grilled cheese sandwiches were made and sold to students in attendance. “Each deli night we raise an average of 60-70 dollars and require a minimum donation of $1 per sandwich,” Bond said. In order to assist Feel Good, Chartwells donates the bread and cheese for the deli nights.

The Idea for a Community Garden

As an organization, part of what Feel Good requires is a yearly commitment detailing what each chapter hopes to accomplish. Chestnut Hill’s commitment this year was to the community garden. “It’s always been a talked about topic here on campus,” Bond said in reference to the county garden, “but nothing ever came of it.”

With the mutual interest of the Chestnut Hill College community, Bond and Campbell decided that this would be the perfect project for Feel Good to work on at the college as not only will this support the college community but it will also enable Feel Good to use locally and homegrown produce for their deli nights.

In order to help accomplish this goal, Feel Good, in addition to hosting their deli nights, has ask started to host events to allow students to get a pot and plant seeds, ultimately to become herbs and vegetables that CHC will use in the garden. Bond hopes this herb growing initiative helps the students become actively involved in the garden as it is meant for the entire community to enjoy.

CHC’s Feel Good Chapter has been working alongside Mary Elizabeth, SSJ, who is in charge of the Earth Center, to make this garden a reality. It will be built right in front of the Earth Center and will be approximately 4 by 6 feet. It is expected to open on Earth Day of this year.