Pepsi: What Were You Thinking

There’s usually not a bad time to enjoy a nice, refreshing Pepsi. At your summer BBQ with friends and family, on the couch watching your favorite team, or at work during your lunch break.  However, one place Pepsi does not exactly fit in is at protests, specifically as a tool to stop protests. Unfortunately, this was the awful mistake Pepsi made last week with its commercial titled “Live for Now Moments Anthem” with reality star Kendall Jenner. According to Pepsi, whatever social injustice or political protest is being fought over, as long as you have an attractive female happily hand the police a refreshing soft drink, all the problems of our society will go away. So congratulations to Pepsi for being the front runner for Most Tone-Deaf Commercial of 2017 thus far.

Just in case you’ve been in a coma or for some reason have zero access to social media, I’ll go ahead and run through the commercial for you. The ad actually starts out in a way that doesn’t make you think it will be an out-of-touch and insensitive attempt to sell a sugary soft drink. We see a man playing the cello and sweating a lot more than you think a man playing the cello should be before we get a quick glimpse at the protests, which we don’t really understand the reasoning behind. The diversity of the crowd and amount of cliché peace signs you see paints the picture for the most vague and unknown protest imaginable. I’m sure this wasn’t on accident, because why would you want to start controversy by singling out one social issue when you can just kind of bunch them all together, that sounds a thousand times better, doesn’t it? The whole plot just seems like an easy and lazy way to pander to all those involved in today’s protests over various issues.

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The Pepsi ad, starring reality TV personality Kendall Jenner, was taken down less than a day after being released. 

While these protests are going on, we see Kendall Jenner casually having a photoshoot off to the side, not paying any attention to what is going on literally 25 feet from her. After we are introduced to a struggling female photographer wearing a head dress and see a strange sequence where the protest pauses for a quick dance party in the street, we finally go back to the star of the commercial, Kendall Jenner. She is still in the middle of her photoshoot when she has finally had enough and just has to join the protests. She triumphantly rips off her fake wig and colorful, probably $200 makeup; symbolically breaking the chains that keep her from being normal so she can join these protests.

As Kendall Jenner makes her way through the crowd, fist-bumping and smiling with everyone as if they were at a giant 4th of July block party, she bravely walks up to the line of police officers blocking the road and hands one of them a Pepsi, because of course no one else was capable of doing this. Only an attractive millionaire who has never experienced any of the difficulties or oppression that those in actual protests have can do such a heroic act. After she walks up, miraculously, she isn’t beaten, arrested, or pepper sprayed.

The officer gladly accepts the soda and what would you know, the crowd starts cheering and all the problems of the world are magically gone. The officers look at each other like “Well, this Pepsi is pretty darn good, I think our job here is done,” and everyone celebrates as if Donald Trump didn’t go golfing for a weekend and stayed at the White House. It’s ridiculous.

The biggest issue I have with the commercial is the disrespect towards those who have felt the need to protest because of various social injustices or oppression. How are those who have been active in Black Lives Matter rallies or participated in the marches for Women’s Equality supposed to feel about this? What about the activists and Native Americans who have been shot with water in freezing temperatures and exposed to tear gas while trying to protect the water supply on their reservation? Are they all supposed to watch this ad and just think that their voices would be heard and causes understood if someone had brought a damn 12-pack of Pepsi?

“I think too many everyday Americans without a lot of depth of consciousness about white privilege probably watched the commercial without any controversy at all and thought it was uplifting and motivational until minorities pointed out how insulting it really was,” said Jennifer McJunkin, a socially active mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in the 1960s.

The company released the ad on Tuesday, April 4th, and perhaps the smartest thing they did with this situation was remove it by Wednesday after the harsh backlash on the internet. Within 48 hours, the video got almost 2 million views and has since been deleted from Pepsi’s channel. On other popular YouTube channels the commercial is still available, with over 14 million collective views and 200,000 downvotes compared to just 45,000 upvotes.  The backlash was so immediate that it was parodied that following Saturday on Saturday Night Live.

If there was one thing that this ad did manage to do, it was to piss off the internet.

“It’s a unique skill to have #BoycottPepsi trending among both the right and the left. It managed to alienate both sides of an increasingly polarized consumer universe,” says Nicola Kemp, trends editor at advertising trade magazine Campaign.

There was a firestorm of tweets and posts lashing out at the ridiculousness that this ad suggests. Pictures of Kendall Jenner giving the soda to the officer was plastered next to pictures of Ieshia Evans facing down police in Baton Rouge, Louisians from last year.  Others pointed to the disrespect it showed toward famous civil rights activitst such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr, with MLK Jr’s daughter tweeting a photo of her father being arrested with the caption, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.”

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The internet was quick to draw the inaccuracies between the ad and real-life situations, pointing to this image of Ieshia Evans, who was confronted by police in riot gear during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last year. 

One of the aspects of the commercial that I was frustrated with was the lack of making any political statement at all and taking no stand on any subject. If Pepsi would have at least taken a stance on BLM or Women’s Equality and created a more serious ad, I would have respected them a little bit more. Instead, they decided to be as vague as possible and slap a bunch of peace and love symbols on signs and show people happily protesting whatever cause you want them to be protesting.

One data study revealed that Pepsi saw an astounding 21,000% increase in mentions after the ad was released, with 427,000 mentions over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on April 4th and another 1.25 million on April 5th. Over the course of the next week, almost 60% of posts mentioning Pepsi were negative and the most used term regarding Pepsi was “tone-deaf.”

It is amazing what can happen when you give all of the internet something to light their torches and sharpen their pitchforks over.

Personally, it is still head-scratching trying to figure out how this type of ad even made it out of the brainstorming session. The fact that this idea was pitched, built upon, and greenlighted my multiple people without thinking of the repercussions is just insane.

“How can it be that a group of people could be totally oblivious to the reaction that a commercial like this would generate? I have been following commercials like this since the 80’s, and this goes to the top of the list. There should have been someone who would have stopped it,” said Lisa Skriloff, president of the consulting firm Multicultural Marketing Resources.

Amazingly, Pepsi didn’t exactly apologize at first for their mistake. As if they weren’t deaf enough, they explained in a statement that “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.” Ah, yes. Nothing screams people coming together in spirit and harmony like demeaning social injustice and having our problems fixed with a millionaire handing an officer some soda. That just isn’t our reality and someone needs to help Pepsi find its way back to Earth.

Eventually Pepsi did release a statement apologizing for the commercials, saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

As ad campaigns and marketing strategies have increasingly have increasingly moved toward a more progressive ideology, there are still struggles in the advertising industry to embrace and tell stories around diversity. This particular commercial was created by their in-house content creation team, which could have been a part of their blindness to the ad’s content.

Obviously Pepsi did not set out to cause such a controversy with this ad. I actually believe they meant well by it, just executed poorly. Unfortunately, if all you have on your content team are individuals who don’t understand reality or what normal looks like, you will get content that reflects that. Adding diversity to the process leads to diverse content and possibly those who have opposing views or that can shed light as to why an ad like this might be offensive.

If Pepsi used an outside agency, a broader or wider range of ideas and opinions may have been available, since in-house creators have ties and possible bias to the company. On top of this, an outside agency has the ability to test ads or campaigns with a wider range of audiences and consumers, getting more beneficial feedback. Unfortunately, most companies use their in-house agencies in order to cut costs and develop content faster and more efficiently.

“All brands are under pressure to cut costs, and agencies are often in the cross hairs, but a company’s employees may be more reluctant to offer criticism, potentially leading to a controversial ad like Pepsi’s getting the green light. There are so many stakeholders in large organizations, It’s about consensus-building and making everybody happy,” said Matt Britton, CEO of Crowdtap, a marketing technology firm.

The history of Pepsi advertising has always revolved around the younger generation. In the 1960s, Pepsi began using the phrase, “the Pepsi generation” and “For those who think young,” referring to what would be millennials today. Soda companies in general have always pitched hard to the youth and have been trying to hook that demographic with the message of unity for years.

One of the most well-known messages of unity from a soda company, and one that has drawn a lot of comparison in terms of the message to this current Pepsi ad, is the 1971 “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ad from Coca-Cola.

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Snapshot of Coca-Cola’s 1971 commercial, “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”

The 1971 ad was a perfect example of using activism and a message of unity in a time where the flower had power and America was growing tired of the Vietnam War. Using a large group of young, racially and ethnically diverse individuals singing together in harmony, you can see where the similarities lie between the two commercials. The 1971 spot was a little more safe and less provocative as it didn’t show a hippie throwing some Coke at Vietnam soldiers and ending the war (thankfully).

Fortunately for Coca-Cola or really any company that made edgy and debatable ads back then, people didn’t have the tools they have today to respond and voice their outrage. Now, you can voice your opinion in 140 characters or less to thousands and thousands within minutes. Pictures, memes, and videos can go viral across the internet and be seen by millions. Maybe Pepsi should have greenlighted this idea back in the 70s so they could get a test run of the ad without the backlash.

“What Pepsi was doing was seeking to show its social responsibility. It’s classic cause-related marketing, because in aligning itself with good causes, it boosts sales and brand loyalty,” said Dr. John Jewell of Cardiff University, who teaches on advertising, propaganda and political communication, when discussing the similarities between the new Pepsi ad and the 1971 Coca-Cola ad.

This was the problem I talked about earlier. Yes, Pepsi is trying to align themselves with good causes, but those causes are unknown. They don’t take a definitive stance on anything other than all millennials look super cool and wear denim.

The ad does try and follow an increasing trend of 2017 of political ads that support some type of activism or anti-Trump ideology. During the Super Bowl alone we saw this in Budweiser, Airbnb, Google, Audi, and 84 Lumber. The key term there is that Pepsi tried, they certainly did not succeed. Taking a more decisive stance on an issue would have been much more effective.

All of the backlash and controversy aside, I am more disappointed than anything at the missed opportunity by Pepsi. They had the opportunity to really lead the way in terms of advertising centered on some actual social injustice problem of our society. While I love an ad that undermines Trump as much as the next snowflake, there hasn’t been enough ads that highlight other issues occurring around us. Pepsi had that chance and blew it, opting for a fun-loving and out of touch ad that rather patronizes these very same issues.

I honestly could care less that they have Kendall Jenner as a spokesperson. She is a well-known celerity who has a very strong following among the target audience of Pepsi. It was using her as the key component of change in a protest when she herself has never been involved in one let alone been oppressed or a victim to social injustice like so many others have.

I understand that it is not the job of an advertiser to promote social issues or highlight injustice, they are in the business of selling Pepsi. However, since Pepsi took this route that kind of overlapped into social issues, they opened the door for this type of criticism. Pepsi could have had a serious ad, showing a more serious protest that focuses on a certain issue. A powerful ad highlighting the extreme force used by officials at Standing Rock that shows the struggle currently happening on Native American lands. There could be a partnership where Pepsi donates money or helps fund the activists who have been fighting the DAPL now for months.

Perhaps Pepsi could have showed footage of the Women’s March for Equality, praising their efforts and encouraging a message of hope and equality for all women. Again, maybe partnering with Planned Parenthood and supporting their cause.

There are many different paths Pepsi could have taken with this idea, unfortunately they chose the road with the most bumps and potholes imaginable. Fortunately, from BLM to marches for LGBTQ rights, people are already being politically active around the world and are doing so without the help of any soda.

Thankfully many people recognized the insensitiveness of this ad and had enough empathy to put themselves in someone else’s shoes to see where they are coming from, and that is a step in the right direction.

 

Game Review: Battlefield 1

The Battlefield series has returned and is putting a twist on modern first-person shooter games by bringing us back to World War I. Since the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in 2007, we’ve seen Call of Duty Modern Warfare II and III, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Call of Duty Black Ops I, II, and III, and the rise of the Battlefield series. All of these games centered on modern day warfare and futuristic settings with almost cyborg like abilities; running on walls, jumping over buildings, and having special weapons and gadgets capable of doing things not possible in real life.

Battlefield 1 has moved away from the recent fad of these games, including what has made them popular over the last four or five years. Developed by EA DICE, a Swedish based company that has also developed every other game of the Battlefield series as well as the popular Star Wars Battlefront series, Battlefield 1 brings you back to the cruel, harsh environment of World War I through a unique campaign and their exhilarating multiplayer experience.

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The action-packed first person shooter has proved to be a success in the gaming community, surpassing 15 million copies sold in January of 2017 (Venture Beat).

 

Let’s start with the campaign. Having faced some backlash for their campaigns in previous games, they moved away to something different which was a very nice change. Battlefield 1 takes the player on six different journeys with different characters, with each having their own story and experiences, instead of having just one time, place, and character. You get to feel the full effect of World War I, from the trenches of the Western Front to the open desserts of Africa. As a player, you get everything you expect in a Battlefield campaign, from a variety of vehicular warfare with tanks, boats, and planes to an interesting plot that takes you across the world during the first Great War. The campaign attempts to focus on the human stories of these characters and wants to humanize these characters rather than you playing with a generic super soldier that saves the world from nuclear war that we are used to seeing.

Now, if you’re like me, you enjoy the campaign but naturally are here to see what the multiplayer aspect of the game is like. Battlefield has been known for their large scale, extensive maps that are absolutely insane and chaotic. That aspect is still the same in this one, but there is a certain “new” feeling to this year’s multiplayer setting. I especially love the multiplayer aspect of this year’s game because of the variety of weapons and gadgets that are historically accurate to World War I.  The medic class has a syringe to heal people, most rifles have bayonets attached to them, if gas is thrown you need to put on your gas mask, and if you look overhead you’ll see biplanes battling out in heated dog fights. It really adds to the experience of World War I. There is also a very wide range of weapons that are relatively balanced, from shotguns to light machine guns; there is a weapon for everyone’s needs and you will see that certain maps are better for certain weapons.

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The multiplayer aspect of Battlefield is the games most prominent feature. Since the game was released in November, there have been an average of 434,000 people per month playing online across XBox, Playstation 4, and PC (Battlefield Tracker).

Aside from the weapons and gadgets, the maps themselves are quite interesting. Based off real battles from the war, there are maps that cover a wide range of climates and environments. The cramped city streets of Amiens, France and brutal close-quarter combat in the thick brush of the Argonne Forrest, to the open desert battles of Suez and Fao Fortress. I really enjoy the variety of maps differing strategies you need to use for each specific map. It isn’t some futuristic world, it brings you back to the raw, intense battles of the early 20th century.

“I really enjoy how Battlefield brought me back to World War I. When I play I feel like I am reliving history and experiencing first hand some of the types of warfare these men went through,” said Payton Clawson, a junior at the University of the Cumberlands.

If you are looking for a new, unique first person shooter game, Battlefield 1 might be your cup of tea. It offers a wide range of gameplay, from their multi-story campaign to their vast, chaotic multiplayer mode. There are plenty of customizable weapons, gadgets, and vehicles to suite your needs and for you to use your creativity on the battlefield. The high intensity feeling of warfare keeps the game fast-paced, engaging, and coming back for more.

Where’s The Women?

With International Women’s Day having just past, I saw a multitude of posts and social media activity showing support and appreciation for all that women do and have done in our society. While reading all the tweets and watching a few videos, I came across a post that talked about the “Year of the Woman” which was in 1993, named after a record four women were elected to the senate. I thought it was a typo at first, just four women only two decades ago? That got me thinking and made me look into the representation of women in our current government and was quite surprised to see that women only make up 19% of congress. That begged the question, where’s the women?

Women have had a long and hard-fought past when it comes to politics and their basic rights as citizens; from the suffrage movement of the 1800s to finally getting the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th amendment. While we have made great strides as a society when it comes to gender equality, one sore subject is the lack of female representation in Congress. Why is it not 50/50 men and women? Wouldn’t it make sense to have an accurate representation of males and females that represent various nationalities and backgrounds that make up our country? After all, according to the Census Bureau, 51% of our 321 million population are women. Unfortunately, only 104 women hold seats in Congress out of the 468 total seats, 21 in the Senate and 83 in the House of Representatives according to the Center for American Women and Politics. Additionally, of those measly 104, only 38 (36.5%) are women of color. This under representation of women makes America 97th out of 193 countries in terms of women’s parliamentary representation, trailing countries like Rwanda, Mexico, and Ecuador. Why is it that the land of the free has such a skewed and unbalanced representation of women in congress?

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Why don’t women hold as many congressional seats, or elective positions in general, as men? The Brookings Institution found that women actually do just as well as men at the polls, the problem is that women just don’t run for office. That same study looked at over 4,000 individuals and found that 62% of male respondents said they had thought about running for office while just 42% of women said the same thing.

Another big uphill battle for women in politics is the underlying sexist attitudes many people have when it comes to females in government. Women have to work harder to prove they are qualified and are held to tougher standards when it comes to evaluating qualities that make them seem like a qualified candidate. There are also stereotypes and assumptions that hurt women. Many think females will be better dealing with women’s rights and education issues but think men would be better suited for harder issues like the economy and the military. When Chelsea Clinton announced she was pregnant last April, it lead many to question how being a grandmother would impact Hillary Clinton’s presidency. On top of fighting institutional and established sexism, many of the current incumbents are male, meaning for most congressional seats a woman would have to go against the established male in that position.

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Powerful women in congress, such as Hillary CLinton and Elizabeth Warren, are trying to inspire the next generation of women to run for elected positions in government. 

This isn’t a cry to just throw a bunch of unqualified women into office today to make the representation equal (although we certainly have plenty of unqualified men), but it is important to understand the unbalanced and skewed numbers in congress that favor men. Why is there an overwhelming majority of men voting on important issues like contraception, Planned Parenthood, and abortion when they never in their lives have dealt with any of that? It is unfair to women in America and our democracy as a whole that over half of our population is not properly represented in our government.

“The most important thing is encouraging talented women to run, and helping them when they do,” said Siobhan Bennett, president of the Women’s Campaign Fund and one of the founders of Political Parity. “That single thing changes everything.”

The Wall: A HUUUUUGE Waste of Time and (your) Money

The Wall. Besides “emails” it has been one of the most used and overused words of this election year and current presidency. Now that Mr. Trump has managed to find himself in the White House, the reality of the “wall” is quickly settling in. No more “what ifs” and asking if he is serious. Mr. Trump fully plans on following through with his promise to construct a wall that stretches across the U.S.-Mexico border to once and for all end our illegal immigration problems.

Everything takes time, and no matter how many alternative facts the Trump administration might tell us, the wall will not be built by the time Trump’s first term is over. If he somehow gets reelected, it is highly unlikely the wall will be completed by the time that term is over as well.

In an article by Politifact, James Jirsa, a UT-Austin civil engineering professor who specializes in concrete structures, said “most engineers would agree that such a wall cannot be built in under a year. If money were no object, the best-case scenario from the initial design phase to the wall’s completion would be five to 10 years. I think that would be reasonable.”

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The U.S.-Mexico border is already lined with hundreds of miles of borders and fences and is manned by more than 20,000 agents (NPR).

If you don’t want to put your eggs in that basket, look at the 700 miles of just fences and
barriers that were built along the border under the Obama administration that took almost six years and as of 2012, had cost almost $6 billion. If the plan to go through with the wall is seen, it will not be done by the time Trump leaves office. That begs the question, what will Trump’s successor do with the wall? If he/she decides to tear it down, it would be billions and billions of tax dollars wasted.

While we are on the topic of billions and billions of dollars, let’s look a little deeper into the economics and financial situation of the wall. CBS News estimates the project could cost anywhere from $12 to $21 billion dollars, which would surpass the annual budget of NASA. We’ve heard that Mexico will pay for the wall over the last 18 months, but

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Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, has already denounced Trump’s proposal that Mexico pays for The Wall, stating that “Mexico does not believe in walls.”

recently, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto has publicly made it clear Mexico will in no way help fund the project. The Trump administration has backtracked from this idea and shifted the burden onto taxpayer’s shoulders, which would cost each household an average of $120. They have also suggested imposing a 20% tax on all Mexican-imported goods, which according to Forbes not only violates U.S. commitments with NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, but in turn makes the taxpayers have to pay more for the higher priced Mexican products. Not the best business decision to make regarding our third largest trading partner whom we imported over $295 billion from in 2015.

 

To put all of this in perspective, here is a short list of what that $21 billion could help pay for instead of a time-consuming, unnecessary wall. It could pay off all medical debt in the U.S. according to ThinkProgress.org. It would cover the 2015 homelessness assistance budget ($5.5 billion) four times over, covering veteran homelessness, preventing chronic homelessness among families and children, food and shelter programs, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and housing programs. The funding for the wall is 53 times more expensive than the cost to cover the Flint water crisis which is still not completely resolved after three years. It would be ten times the money that goes toward the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration budget ($2.2 billion) that is the lead agency providing funding for states to implement proven and effective services for individuals with substance use or mental health conditions. Finally, it could cover the budget ten times over for the Assistance for Arts Education program and Student Support and Academic Enrichment program, which are dedicated to funding art programs and creating well-rounded educational opportunities in schools.

I am not trying to say we should make our borders weak or that are borders should not be appropriately staffed or have access to the gear and equipment they need, but there is also no need to spend so much time and money on something so outrageous as “Trump’s Wall.”

Niceville Football – A Winning Tradition

Whenever I have to explain where I’m from to anyone outside the panhandle of Florida, I usually say “a small town outside of Destin called Niceville,” which is usually followed by a somewhat confused look as they think I am joking.

I promise it is a real place.

A small city sitting right next to the Gulf of Mexico and sandwiched between Pensacola and Panama City Beach with just over 14,000 residents, Niceville epitomizes southern small town American culture. Everyone seems to know everyone, getting a Walmart and Chick-fil-a was one of the biggest things to happen in years, and the Mullet Festival is a popular tradition celebrated every November (the fish, not the “business up front, party in the back” hairstyle).

Among all these great small town characteristics, a certain quality sticks out that truly makes Niceville a special little city on the map, and that would be Niceville Football. High school football anywhere, especially in the South is very im
portant. At Niceville it is a little different. Apart from the popularity of high school football, the culture around Niceville and the opportunities it has given kids to play football in college to help get an education separate it from most high school football programs in the area.

Niceville Football has had a lot of success throughout its history especially over the last four years.  Niceville has made the playoffs 18 out of the last 27 years, and has not missed the playoffs since 2008. Since 2005, they have won four Regional Championships, made it to the State Championship twice, in 2009 and 2013, and won the State Championship in 1988. Over their last 53 games, they have won 42.

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Niceville Head Coach, John Hicks. (photo courtesy of NWF Daily News)

Coach John Hicks, who has been coaching for over 35 years and at Niceville for the past 25, holds a 123-43 record as head coach at Niceville. Hicks has developed a program that is based on consistency, accountability, and hard work that is structured
around how a college program operates, from the offseason training to the film sessions and practice schedule. No detail goes unnoticed while Hicks runs the show.

The recent success of the program has led to increased attention and national recognition. Florida High School Varsity listed Niceville as the 37th best football program in the state of Florida over the last 10 years, which is out of over 400 programs. In 2014 Niceville played its season opener on ESPN against Clay-Chalkville in Hoover, Alabama, which was watched on a national stage. Next year they are traveling to Texas to play another perennial powerhouse, Austin-Westlake. Their successful past and current tradition is truly unique and not matched by many other schools in the area, let alone the state.

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Niceville alum Eli Stove rushes for a 78 yd. touchdown on the first play of the game vs Arkansas (ESPN).

All this success does not come without the players, obviously, which is another reason Niceville football is so special. Each year the program develops talent that translates to the football field and is noticed by college recruiters. Since 2009, Niceville has had players attend Oklahoma, USF, West Point, the Naval Academy, Troy, E
astern Kentucky, Kentucky, Auburn, Miami, FSU and countless other smaller programs. In all there have been 36 players sign to play football at the next level just over the last five years.

“It is a credit to the athletes and all the hard work they put in and how they perform on the field. You don’t just magically get a scholarship,” said Niceville assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Adron Robinson.

In an interview with Northwest Florida Daily News, head coach John Hicks praised the work of Robinson in helping the athletes find homes at the next level.  “He is relentless in promoting our kids. He does the groundwork, I like to say, and he’s good at getting our athletes exposure.”

I have experienced Niceville Football first hand. It is a reason I am here at UC today, and there really is something truly special about putting on that helmet and running out into Eagle Stadium with over 10,000 people screaming and hollering to watch you play football. There may be many other schools similar to Niceville, but they will never be Niceville.

6 Ways to Improve Your Study Habits

‘Tis the season for cold weather, stocking stuffers, Christmas wish lists…and finals. For most college kids, the most important part of the academic calendar is quickly approaching as final exams are just around the corner. For most, these grades will determine their GPA’s fates as the semester ends and Christmas break begins. Here are a few ways that college kids can improve their inefficient study habits that will help as the final stretch of the semester begins.

  1. Stop listening to music while you study!1.jpg

If you wander into a college library, odds are just about every student in there is intently focused on their notepad and textbook with headphones on or earbuds in. While certain individuals may prefer this method of studying, research has proven this to be detrimental to one’s ability to retain information. In a 2010 study conducted by Dr. Nick Perham, he found that “listening to liked or disliked music was exactly the same, and both were worse than the quiet control condition, both impaired performance on serial-recall tasks.” So, as much as you want to listen to Adele’s new album, you should probably wait until you put down your physics textbook for the night.

  1. Study by yourself.

In most cases, you and a group of friends will plan study dates to cram and stay up all night (see later point). At these little sessions a good portion of your time will be2.jpg spent cutting up about your days, talking about the crazy finish to the game last night, and snapchatting all your open notebooks so everyone can see how much work you have to do. These distractions are unnecessary and easily avoidable. Find a quiet room to sit, relax, and get your work done. Two separate studies conducted by NYU and University of Virginia found that studying on your own is better for your grade point average, as it improves your ability to retain information and reproduce it in test situations.

  1. Go to bed and stop staying up all night.

3.jpgAs a college student, we have all done it. Sat at our desks with a ridiculous amount of Red Bull and crammed from sundown to sunset. Even if you can make it through the night, sleep deprivation has been proven to take its toll on happiness levels and overall studying effectiveness. The best way to avoid this is to avoid procrastination (again, see later point). Easing the workload a few days in advance will go a long way for the happiness of you and your GPA. UCLA recently did research on this subject, and senior author Andrew Fuligni said “No one is suggesting that students shouldn’t study, but an adequate amount of sleep is also critical for academic success. These results are consistent with emerging research suggesting that sleep deprivation impedes learning.”

  1. Procrastinating

4The arch nemesis of every college student. Procrastination is something we’ve all done. You wait until the last second to do something and end up hating yourself because you know you’ve had 2 weeks to get it done. That being said, procrastination is usually avoidable. Setting a schedule and sticking to it goes a long way in avoiding turning in work done with half effort or skimming through chapters and not retaining any information. In an article written by the Association for Psychological Science it explains that procrastination has been around for a long time and frequent procrastinators do whatever they need to convince themselves that what they are doing is ok. Do not fall into this category, log off Twitter and get to work!

  1. Reward yourself for studying!

5.jpgThis is a stressful time for all students who are spending days and weeks preparing for various finals in multiple classes. It is allowed for you to take a break and reward yourself! There are multiple things you can do. On a smaller scale, if you’ve been diligently studying for an hour or two, take a break and grab something to eat. Maybe grab your favorite candy bar or drink. On a bigger scale, if you’ve been working hard for a week or more, designate a night to go see a movie with some friends or perhaps go bowling. Find a fun activity that will get your mind off things and surround yourself with friends. In New York Time’s Best Selling author Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, she explains that “when we give ourselves treats, we feel energized, cared for, and contented, which boosts our self-command — and self-command helps us maintain our healthy habits.” So go ahead and put down the pencil and calculator for a minute and relax – you’ve earned it.

  1. Don’t highlight in your textbook!

6.jpgWhile many do this as a common tool to make the more important information stand out on a page, this technique has proven to be one of the least effective ways to study. When doing this, you are essentially blocking out whatever else is on the page, important or not. You have given yourself tunnel vision and when rereading that page, you will only look at what you highlighted. In an article written by Study Right’s Skylar Anderson, a seminar Director for the company, he pointed out that a highlighter should be used on notes that you have already taken and can help to connect key points of certain subjects. I’m not saying that highlighters are useless, but be smart with them!

As finals approach here at UC, I suggest taking advantages of all the campus has to offer. Location such as the library, Grill, and Mid BCC are all great study spots where you can get away from the dorm and be by yourself to study. The school also offers various snacks and late night treats on finals week to give you a break and help refuel you for the night/following day.

New Year, Basically the Same Madden

Another year, another Madden. For some people, the release of the popular video game Madden 16 is one of the most exciting times of the year as it is time to build a dynasty and win an unreasonable amount of Super Bowls with their favorite team. For others, a new way to get their dose of football or casually kick back and play with some friends. No matter who it may be, whoever gets this game is recycling their money in yet another Madden that isn’t much different from the Madden in recent years.

The overall look and feel of the game

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This year’s cover featured Odell Beckham Jr, a rising star in the NFL coming off an amazing rookie season.

as you interact with the menu and various pages looks new and refreshing. It is smooth and easy to navigate. Flipping through the menu all the usual game modes are seen, from franchise to Ultimate Team. A new mode called “Draft Champions” was added this year and is actually interesting and very fun as it allows you to draft one of three players in 15 separate rounds to help build your team to go play other teams. That was new and appealing.

Visually, the game is amazing, just like it is year in and year out. The look and graphics of the game are always top notch. It looks almost real as everything from the grass stains to shiny helmets are seen. The main problem comes again in the animation and small details. Every year the same problems are talked about and nothing seems to change. The players walk like they have a stick running through their body, the expressions look cartoonish, and the weird tackling physics don’t look natural. Every year a selling point is the new tackling animations or the physics engine, but every year the tackling and hitting doesn’t meet the expectations set by the game.

Another problem that was seen and is very irritating is the small details that would make the game so much more enjoyable for everyone that are bypassed every year. One of the biggest details is the commentary during games, it is off and doesn’t make sense. Most people will be finding ways to mute it soon.

There are many positives to take away from the game. Depending on how you look at it, it is the same Madden we have all been playing the past few years. When it comes down to it the feel and gameplay is different than that of, NCAA football, the only other popular football game in the market. EA Sports did a great job of making this year’s Madden more interactive during normal gameplay. They have added another concept in the passing game in that you can press a certain button that will force your receiver to secure the catch first, turn up field, or aggressively go make the catch. Similarly you can do the same in pass coverage, attack the ball or be conservative and break it up. They all have their own risk and reward factors and that adds a new element to the game it previously didn’t have.

In the end, if you are a diehard Madden player these lack of changes and persistent problems from year to year don’t matter. We shelled out $60 for almost the same game as last year, but we can’t help it. It is one of their better Madden games in recent years but I can’t fault the average football fan for saving that money for nosebleed seats at their favorite team’s next home game.