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Elika Roohi

Here’s What’s Happening with Harvard and Kyle Kashuv

Typically, the status of your college application is not national news.

But when the college is Harvard, the student is Kyle Kashuv—a prominent teen conservative activist from Parkland (yes, that Parkland) who has met the President, and when the outcome of his application touches on the raging culture war surrounding politics and college campuses, then yes, it becomes national news.

Harvard’s decision to rescind Kashuv’s admission made major headlines on Monday. And since the whole situation involves moving parts and an-already-well-underway social media backlash, we’ve created a guide for you.

Who is Kyle Kashuv?

Kashuv is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—the school that experienced the tragic shooting in 2018 that then lead to the national “March for Our Lives” movement.

Kashuv is himself a survivor of the shooting at the school, and he became famous for opposing gun control measures after the attack. He became the high school outreach director for the conservative group Turning Point USA, and lobbied in favor of a federal “school safety” bill that attempts to address the school shooting problem without gun control. He also notably has a large Twitter following.

These noteworthy extracurriculars, together with good grades and high SAT scored, earned Kashuv admission to Harvard earlier this year. However, in late May, a series of offensive comments he made roughly two years came to light. The comments include the repeated use of the n-word in private chats and Google Doc chats, as well as other racist remarks.

Harvard reacts

Kashuv, remember, is not a nobody. He’s a survivor of a tragic school shooting that spurred a national movement of young people to get engaged in the public discourse around gun control—and he is well known for opposing gun control.

Harvard undertook a formal review of Kashuv’s admission. On Monday morning, Kashuv tweeted out a letter from Harvard stating that his admission had been formally rescinded.

Everyone reacts

His thread on Twitter, which included a blow-by-blow account of his efforts to address the problem and restore his admission, went viral. By Monday afternoon, his name was trending on Twitter, and the conservative media was running with allegations of liberal bias in academia.

The issue has quickly become a politically polarizing one, as it may be assumed.

Conservatives are largely seeing Kashuv’s actions through a sympathetic light. It was a personal failing on behalf of a younger teen, one who hadn’t yet gone through the tragedy of the Parkland shooting, which he asserts shaped and changed him. For those holding this view, the real threat isn’t the racist comments—which can be overcome—but the impulse to punish people for them. If you penalize people for every past politically incorrect comment, the logic goes, then people will have no room to grow.

Liberals, on the other hand, see racism as a structural problem that is reflected both in social institutions and deeply ingrained. These biases are firm and can lead even people who believe in ideals of equal treatment to act or speak in prejudiced ways. Addressing the consequences of racism requires work, effort and vigilance.

Through this lens, Kashuv looks less like a kid who made youthful mistakes and more like a young man who’s trying to escape responsibility for his actions, and his attempt to minimize his comment by saying they were designed for shock value is part of the problem. “Ironic” racism is still real racism; the fact that the comments are roughly two years old isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Harvard policy

Whatever your opinions may be about this, Harvard’s admissions policy didn’t target Kashuv specifically. The university’s actions are consistent with its past decisions to enforce a blanket rule about offensive social media use by prospective students. In 2017, Harvard rescinded 10 other students’ admissions, after it found they were participating in a Facebook group that involved swapping racist and anti-Semitic memes.

However, these other 10 students didn’t become martyrs for the cause like Kyle Kashuv. Their names didn’t trend on twitter or get defended in major conservative publications.

What makes the Kashuv case so volatile is the confluence of these factors: not just that he said some racist things in the past, but also that he’s a visible conservative with a national platform who’s answering for his actions to a university.

When all is said and done, it’s likely that Kashuv will end up attending a different elite university. But his case bears considering, for the cultural elements and political issues it touches upon.

See also: Harvard Dean Under Fire for Representing Harvey Weinstein
Harvard evacuated during the peak of exam week because of bomb threats
Parents sue over sons’ Harvard rejection
College-Admissions Scandal Exposes Famous Parents

Suzanne Collins to Release “Hunger Games” Prequel

The story of Panem isn’t over after all.

Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins announced this week that she was writing a prequel to her best-selling trilogy, with a potential movie adaptation also on the way.

The book, currently untitled, will be released in May 2020 and will be set in the world of Panem 64 years before the events of the series begins. It will focus on the time after the so-called “Dark Days,” a failed rebellion.

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins said in a statement. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

The Hunger Games books, which focus on a world where teenagers must fight to the death as a form of entertainment, were adapted into a globally successful big-screen franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen. The four films have made almost $3 billion at the box office, and Lionsgate has expressed interest in extending the franchise as well.

The original books were all New York Times bestsellers upon release, selling more than 65 million copies in the US alone and translated into 51 languages for 56 territories. Since then, Collins has released an autobiographical picture book called Year of the Jungle.

See also: What HBO’s “Chernobyl” Got Right and Wrong
Stranger Things Creators Sued for Plagiarism
Will You Subscribe To Lena Dunham’s Newsletter?

What HBO’s “Chernobyl” Got Right and Wrong

It didn’t seem possible that HBO would rally so quickly after Game of Thrones, but the mini-series Chernobyl has been watched by eight million people already, in fact breaking some records set by Game of Thrones.

The series covers the cataclysmic events surrounding the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and the tragic story of the damage control efforts. Chernobyl is engrossing for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because not much is known about it—the Soviet media disseminated very little information about the disaster. To this day, the series notes, the total death toll caused by the explosion is officially on record in Russia is 31. More realistic estimates by outside entities fall between 4,000 and 96,000.

There have been a handful of books published about the explosion—the biggest and most damaging of its kind—and one or two small documentaries attempting to fill the narrative vacuum where the story of the Chernobyl should be.

This lack of information meant that a lot of viewers went into the series wondering what on the show was truth and what was dramatic embellishment, myself included. Not even ten minutes into episode one, I pulled up google maps to figure out where exactly in the world Chernobyl is (in Ukraine, just south of Belarus and west of Russia), and then following that, I searched the Wikipedia article to figure out what the death toll was—wondering the whole time why my world history lessons hadn’t left a greater impression on me.

If Chernobyl is going to be my main source of information about Chernobyl (and let’s be realistic—I’m probably not going to read Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich or Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham), then I wanted to know how much of the series I could trust. So below, a couple things that were right in Chernobyl, and a couple that were wrong.

MYTH: The Chernobyl fire gave off twice as much radiation as Hiroshima

Both Chernobyl and the bombing of Hiroshima were cataclysmic nuclear disasters; however, it’s difficult to compare the radiation exposure of the two events. In Hiroshima, the major health impact was caused by direct exposure to radiation—the bomb was detonated on a highly populated area.

In Chernobyl, a lot of radioactive material was brought into the atmosphere, which was then spread over a very large area and ingested by people over a long period of time.

FACT: A young firefighter with a pregnant wife died in a hospital shortly after the explosion

The story of Lyudmilla and Vasily Ignatenko is captured quite faithfully by Chernobyl. Vasily, a firefighter, left in the middle of the night, rushing to the power plant. He promised to wake his wife when he got home. But as one of the firefighters who touched a piece of the graphite core of the nuclear reactor, he suffered severe radiation poisoning and was taken to the hospital.

Lyudmilla visited her husband and was ordered not to touch him. “If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,” she recalled being told in the book Voices from Chernobyl. Lyudmilla was pregnant at the time but lied to the radiologist to see her husband.

Vasily died 14 days after the accident and was buried, as the series shows, in a zinc coffin. The documentary even shows Lyudmilla carrying her husband’s shoes, which couldn’t fit around his swollen feet. Lyudmilla eventually gave birth to her baby, who died after four hours.

MYTH: A steam explosion would have left Europe uninhabitable

In the wake of the initial blast, nuclear physicists feared a second explosion caused by melting corium coming into contact with groundwater. In the second episode, the team begin taking precautions to mitigate a follow-up explosion, one would carry a force of 2 to 4 megatons, which would wipe out “the entire population of Kiev and a portion of Minsk,” impacting “all of Soviet Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarusia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and most of East Germany.”

Greenpeace senior nuclear energy expert Jan Haverkamp said there were too many hypotheticals considered in this scenario. “They’re not saving the world,” he said. “That situation might play out if all of the melting corium hit groundwater,” he added, but when corium starts melting, it melts “in a very uneven way.” The claim that a second explosion would carry a force of up to 4 megatons, he said, was “an exaggeration.”

FACT: They tried using robots, but eventually resorted to human labor

As the horrifying reality that many men will be essentially given a life sentence from their involvement in the clean-up efforts began to set in, the Soviets considered different options, such as using robots to clear the most dangerous areas.

Like in the show, they did try this, but eventually had to resort to human labor when the radiation was too great for the machinery they were using. They had men clear 100 tons of radioactive debris in 90-second shifts from the area.

Advanced U.S. robots could have aided the decontamination and saved human lives, but the political climate at the time dissuaded the two nations from working together.

MYTH: Naked miners

As a part of the clean-up, 400 miners were recruited to dig a tunnel underneath the reactor to stop the radioactive lava (created by the boron and sand dropped on the fire in an attempt to set it out) from burning through the containment structure and contaminating the groundwater. It was feared that this would have far-reaching consequences.

In the show, the miners complain about being too hot and ask for fans (they are digging under a fire, after all); however, they are told that using fans would be dangerous. In protest, they dig naked.

In reality, there are varying accounts of how much clothing got taken off, said Craig Mazin, series creator, writer and executive producer. More than one account said they took it all off, but it was disputed in other accounts. The scene was written that way to portray the miners as a defiant and powerful force.

“Mikhail Gorbachev himself said the coal miners sort of scared him. They were tough. And they chose willingly to [build these tunnels] in part because of a general sense of honor and community,” Mazin said.

Another part of the miner’s story that didn’t unfold on screen is truly depressing—in the end, the tunnel the workers risked their lives to build weren’t necessary at all. The uranium never melted through the concrete pad that stood between it and the soil that would lead to the water.

However, at the time, not building the tunnels wasn’t an option. “It’s just a chilling fact,” Mazin explained. “I would put myself in [Valery] Legasav’s shoes there and you start to realize the cruelty of the situation. You have no choice. A 50/50 chance that you’re going to poison the Black Sea forever is not acceptable.”

Reportedly one out of four of Chernobyl’s miners later died of cancer and disease connected to radiation poisoning.

If you were also drawn into the story of Chernobyl, HBO released a companion podcast hosted by Peter Sagal and Craig Mazin that provides further information on each episode.

See also: Mads Mikkelsen Open Up About Polar, Gymnastics and Playing the Bad Guy
Gulf of Mexico Could Experience Record-Breaking “Dead Zone”
Why Are Eco-friendly Choices for Our Environment Important?

Teen Actress Thalia Tran on Preparing for “Little”

We love a talented, yet sensible teen actress, and when we talked to Thalia Tran, who appeared in the comedy Little that came out earlier this year, it’s clear that she is just that.

Tran is 13 and lives in California. She’s pursuing a burgeoning acting career, but also singing, piano, guitar and Kung Fu. Read our interview with her to hear Tran talk about how she found her way into acting, preparing for her first big film role in Little and what else she’s interested in.

College News: First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thalia Tran: Hi! My name is Thalia Tran. I’m thirteen years old, and I live in California with my two amazing parents and the best little sister in the world. I’ve always been interested in the arts. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I’ve played the piano since I was six years old, and I also play guitar. When I have some free time, I would love to start learning the drums and devote more time to music composition which is something else that I enjoy. As for my interests that are not related to music or acting, I’ve recently started learning martial arts. It’s definitely been difficult for me, but being the type of person who loves a good challenge, I decided that Kung Fu was perfect for me. My enrollment has been interrupted several times by my filming schedule, but as with anything, you just have to keep pushing forward. As my instructor always reminds me, Kung Fu is not only about training the body but also about training the mind. Through Kung Fu, I have learned a lot about hard work, dedication and perseverance.

CN: What inspired you to get into acting?

TT: Something that not everyone may know about me is that I actually did not start out in acting. My first love was music. My parents always tell me stories about how I used to hum myself to sleep as a baby. From there, my love for music only grew. I sang anywhere and everywhere, and to this day, I still do the same. I had been taking vocal lessons for a while when my vocal coach recommended that I take acting lessons. He said that it would be a great way to improve my performance skills. I signed up for a lesson just to try it out, and I simply fell in love with acting. If it hadn’t been for that one vocal lesson, I would probably not be involved in acting today.

“My first love was music. My parents always tell me stories about how I used to hum myself to sleep as a baby.”

Thalia Tran; Image courtesy of Alex Stone.

CN: Have you done any theater acting? How is that different from your experience acting on film sets?

TT: I have been involved in some wonderful theater projects with some wonderful people, and although I don’t see theater work as my ultimate goal, the experiences were incredible and extremely valuable. There are multiple differences between theater and on-camera acting. While you have the freedom to redo scenes and edit out mistakes in film and tv, on the stage, you only have one chance to take your audience on a journey. Something else about theater acting is that your movements and expressions must be seen by everyone, including those in the back row. When you are on camera, your actions and expressions can be more subtle, and you can speak at a normal volume. However, despite these differences, theater acting has taught me several lessons which are helpful in on-camera acting as well.

CN: Is Little your first big film?

TT: Little is my first big film, and it truly was everything I dreamed of and more. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and they all inspired me with their incredible dedication. I am so grateful to be a part of a project that not only entertains the audience but also promotes positive messages to the world.

“I am so grateful to be a part of a project that not only entertains the audience but also promotes positive messages to the world.”

CN: How did you prepare for your role in Little?

TT: In preparing for my scenes, I had to put myself in Raina’s shoes and consider her circumstances. Every person has a different point of view, and it was fascinating to explore what it’s like to see the world through Raina’s eyes. What was so amazing about working with such talented people was that their commitment to their characters made it so much easier to be present in the scene and have genuine reactions.

CN: As someone so young who’s still figuring out who she is, what is it like to immerse yourself in being someone else?

TT: Being in the industry at a young age, it is especially important to surround yourself with people who ground you because it’s easy to get caught up in all the craziness of Hollywood. I am so grateful to have such an incredible support network of friends and family who have encouraged me endlessly and stood by me through every single challenge. Acting has definitely had a huge impact on my outlook on life as well as my personality. I learn something from every character that I play. By getting into the mindsets of these different characters and learning where they are coming from, I feel that it helps me to become a more sympathetic person. Realizing people’s motives behind their decisions allows me to better understand them.

Thalia Tran; Image courtesy of Alex Stone.

CN: What other types of roles would you like to play one day?

TT: One of my goals is to play a superhero someday. I’ve always loved fantasy and magic, so I would love to play a character who lives in a world where anything is possible. Long before I started acting I always loved to imagine what it would be like to have superpowers. Also, the superheroes portrayed in the movies often become the role models of children. It would be amazing not only to bring the superhero of my childhood dreams to life but also to inspire so many young children.

“One of my goals is to play a superhero someday. I’ve always loved fantasy and magic, so I would love to play a character who lives in a world where anything is possible.”

CN: Are you working on anything else at the moment?

TT: I recently finished filming Council of Dads, an NBC drama pilot based on Bruce Feiler’s bestselling novel. It’s about a father, Scott Perry, who is diagnosed with cancer, so he gathers his close friends to become a father figure for his children in case he doesn’t survive. I play Charlotte Perry, his adopted daughter who is struggling to figure out who she is. It tells the story of how all of us cope with the devastating news of the cancer diagnosis while simultaneously struggling with the other challenges of our lives, challenges that are magnified by the prospect of losing Scott. The script is so beautiful and powerful, and I truly believe that this is the show that the world needs right now.

CN: What else do you like to do with your free time?

In the little free time that I have, I love to spend time with my friends and family. It’s really important to take time to just be a regular teenager. Whether it be watching a movie or just playing card games at someone’s house, as long as we are together, it’s always fun.

See also: Mads Mikkelsen Open Up About Polar, Gymnastics and Playing the Bad Guy
Rampage Jackson in Conversation: Wrestling, Acting and Family
The Resistance Will Be Cross Stitched: Interview with Shannon Downey

Two Hours in Nature Could Be All You Need for a Happier Life

Just spending two hours a week in nature could significantly boost your health and wellbeing, research suggests. It counts even if you’re simply sitting in nature and enjoying the peace.

The physical and mental health benefits of exposure to parks, woods or the beach are nothing new—but this is the first major study into how long is needed to produce an effect on the body. If confirmed by future research, two hours in nature could fall alongside “five a day of fruit and vegetables” and “150 minutes of exercise per week” as official health advice.

The new study is based on interviews with 20,000 people in England about their activity in the previous week. Of those who spent little or no time in nature, a quarter reported poor health and almost half said they were not satisfied with their life, a standard measure of well-being. In contrast, just one-seventh of those who spent at least two hours in nature said their health was poor, while a third were not satisfied with their life.

“What really amazed us was this was true for just about every group we could think of,” said Dr. Mathew White, at the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study. The benefits of a two-hour dose were the same for both young and old, wealthy and poor, and urban and rural people, he said.

It also applied to those with long-term illnesses and disabilities, White said. “So, getting out in nature seemed to be good for just about everybody. It doesn’t have to be physical exercise—it could be just sitting on a bench.”

The researchers were also surprised that it did not matter whether the two hours in nature were taken in one go or in a series of shorter visits, or whether people went to an urban park, woodlands or the beach.

The study did not attempt to find out why being in nature was so beneficial, but White suggested a sense of tranquillity could be the key: “Most people are under multiple pressures at any given time. So, you go away in a natural setting, it is quiet, it is relaxing and it gives you time to start to process things.”

BRB, we’re putting “spend more time outside” on our summer to-do list now.

See also: Gulf of Mexico Could Experience Record-Breaking “Dead Zone”
Celebrating Arbor Day
Why Are Eco-friendly Choices for Our Environment Important?

Kylie Jenner Throws “Handmaid’s Tale” Themed Party, Incenses Everybody

Kylie Jenner threw a Handmaid’s Tale themed birthday party for her longtime friend, Anastasia “Stassie” Karanikolaou. Praise be?

Fans were not amused by the young makeup mogul’s choice of theme, which—at best—is an odd choice for a party. The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a dystopian society in which married couples who are unable to have children keep young women (handmaids) as sex slaves and subject them to monthly rapes in order to conceive a child. The book, written by Margaret Atwood in 1985, was adapted for TV by Hulu in 2017 with the third series recently being released.

The birthday party doubled viewing party for the third season, and included themed drinks, food and costumes.

“Who’s gonna tell [Kylie] that her party is literally celebrating female enslavement for their biological reproduction?” tweeted one person. Another called the event “tone deaf” in the context of today’s political climate.

The enduring appeal of The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale has not been out of print since it was first published in 1985. It has sold millions of copies worldwide, been translated into numerous languages, and become a shorthand for those engaged in the work of dismantling a society that seeks to control women—especially their bodies and reproductive functions. It has been adapted into a film, an opera and, most recently, a Hulu series.

The story still grips us, and perhaps it is because Atwood never strove too far from what could happen. She set her story in a post-democracy United States that had turned toward an extremist religious rule. It is a shade too extreme—but this is the same country that once allowed its religious leaders to let them burn women alive, thinking they were witches.

Atwood wrote in an essay for Literary Hub in 2018:

I made a rule for myself: I would not include anything that human beings had not already done in some other place or time, or for which the technology did not already exist. I did not wish to be accused of dark, twisted inventions, or of misrepresenting the human potential for deplorable behavior. The group-activated hangings, the tearing apart of human beings, the clothing specific to castes and classes, the forced childbearing and the appropriation of the results, the children stolen by regimes and placed for upbringing with high-ranking officials, the forbidding of literacy, the denial of property rights—all had precedents, and many of these were to be found, not in other cultures and religions, but within Western society, and within the “Christian” tradition itself.

When the Hulu adaption of the story premiered in 2017, it was just after the new administration came into power. And The Handmaid’s Tale suddenly began to resonate in a terrible way, as all of a sudden access to reproductive health has disintegrated; men accused publicly of assault have been put in positions of power (even in a post-#metoo era); and families are being separated.

FWIW, it’s Kylie’s favorite show

Jenner does seem to be a genuine fan—remember when she spoiled the season 2 finale last year? But it’s jarring to see the red robes and white bonnets at a themed party of a rich reality show star whose business is cosmetics and being part of a famous family. Handmaid costumes these days have become synonymous with protests—not bday parties.

But in 2019, we have to laugh at this juxtaposition. Because if we didn’t, we might cry.

See also: Your Seven Day Break on the Pill is Bogus—Here’s Why
The Resistance Will Be Cross Stitched: Interview with Shannon Downey
Why Feminism in Teen Shows Today Matters

How Do You Get Brighter, Whiter Teeth?

Coffee, tea, wine—when we really think about it, it’s a wonder our teeth aren’t more stained already. Even things like tomato sauce, blueberries and soy sauce can contribute to dimming your bright white smile.

Professional teeth whitening shows immediate results and lasts quite a long
time, but it also costs around $500 and isn’t usually covered by insurance. So where should someone on a budget look?

Home whitening kits

You may be able to get rid of superficial stains by yourself. Tooth-whitening products use a surface-type bleach to break the bonds between the stains on tooth enamel. Dentists use a highly concentrated amount to achieve more dramatic results, but the at-home kits, which use a smaller amount, can achieve results too.

Expect that any at-home products will require multiple applications over a week or two and have a gradual whitening effect. If you do opt for a professional whitening treatment, dentists often recommend using at-home products as a booster to keep your teeth whiter for longer.

Whitening toothpaste

Perhaps the simplest way to stay on top of your teeth whitening is to pick a whitening toothpaste to brush with every day. While whitening toothpastes don’t lead to dramatic changes in color, they usually contain a small concentration of hydrogen peroxide that will whiten your tooth enamel over time.

Ideally, you’re using a whitening toothpaste in addition to other whitening solutions, says New York cosmetic dentist Edward Alvarez. But this is a good place to start.

Electric toothbrush

Another simple trick to up your teeth game is to swap out your standard toothbrush
for an electric one. Electric toothbrushes

can remove up to 70 percent more plaque than manual brushes. They also remove more stains by vibrating or rotating more effectively.

Prevention is key

The best way to whiten teeth is to observe some preventative measures so they don’t
get too discolored in the first place. Good practices mean avoiding staining substances, the most egregious of which are red wine, coffee and tobacco residue. But other foods that contribute to stains are tea, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar.

If the thought of avoiding any of those feels out of the question, try rising your mouth out with water after you eat. Brushing your teeth is even better. And of course, regular flossing and dental check-ups never hurt either.

Ladies, try this!

Wear a red lipstick with a blue undertone to give your teeth the illusion of being brighter than they actually are.

See Also:

Unleash Your Inner Genie Goddess


The Ballers of College Softball

The funding of college athletics isn’t straightforward, and it can also get controversial—especially considering the statistic that in more than half of states, the top paid public employee is a college sports coach.

Athletics funding comes from the revenue-producing college sports (usually football and men’s basketball) and is increasingly subsidized by tuition. While the figures of Division I colleges can feel astronomical (The University of Texas football program is estimated to be worth $133 million), only one in eight of the 200-plus Division I colleges actually netted money between 2005 and 2010.

The politics of the athletics budget gets complicated when you consider the big spending of the big sports measured against the revenue they bring in, as well as all the smaller sports universities offer, such as volleyball, track and field, soccer, baseball or swimming, to name a few.

These smaller sports can feel neglected in the face of football matches that draw over 100,000 fans to their half-billion dollar stadiums (a sum more than the gross national product of some small nations). All this may explain why people tend to divide college sports into revenue-producing and non-revenue producing. And while most are imagining the traditional sports leading, the data shows that there is a new team in town, ready to play in the big (expensive) leagues: Women’s College Softball.

Softball Success

In 2016-17, NCAA softball reported $450 million in revenue, putting it fourth after football, men’s basketball and baseball— the only sports to report larger revenues. The Department of Education reports revenue on at least 30 men’s college sports, so at least 27 of them are not doing as well as softball.

Examining the data provided by the Department of Education, which dates back to 2003-04, shows that there has been an explosive growth in softball over the last 15 years. Today, the sport is worth 450 times what it was just over a decade ago. To put this growth in perspective, it’s worth looking at the growth of a few other sports. Between 2003 and 2017, college basketball revenue grew from $1.1 billion to $2 billion. Over the same period, football revenue grew by 116 percent, and men’s basketball grew by 185 percent. Even women’s basketball revenue grew during that time by 158 percent.

However, none of these impressive figures can hold a candle to college softball—which grew 217 percent. It’s growing faster than any other college sport.

Everyone’s Watching

Softball’s growth is evident not just in its ballooning revenue, but also the amount of attention, viewers and fans the sport has garnered. In 2017, it was reported that Oklahoma’s two-game sweep of Florida averaged 1.72 million TV viewers. The opening game of this series had 1.6 million viewers.

These numbers are notably higher than what ESPN was attracting for Monday Night Baseball that same year (an average of 1.1 million viewers). They are also record-setting for the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) and represent an incredible upward trend.

The television ratings tell the same story as the revenue reports. Women’s college softball can no longer be written off as just a fulfilment of Title IX, they are now a great asset in their own right.

Coaches Recognized

For so long, the coaches of Division I football and men’s basketball teams have been the ones bringing home huge salaries, while the rest of the personnel in the education system nets a modest amount.

A 2018  report found that the highest paid public employee in 39 out of 50 states was a football or basketball coach, with the highest paid earning $11.1 million as the University of Alabama football coach. (Roll Tide?) We can’t speak to the resolution of systemic income inequality or gender pay gaps, but it does feel satisfying to know that softball coaches are at least starting to get their due, given the importance of the sport these days. The highest paid softball coach earns $1 million annually at the University of Oklahoma, with softball coaches at other Division I schools also catching up.

Looking Ahead

Revenue reports, coaches’ salaries and television ratings all tell an important story about softball. The sport is growing and will continue to grow. Of course, getting paid much to play college softball is still in the future, and while graduating players can go to the National Pro Fastpitch League, the league is still quite young. This year is its 16th season, and it takes time for fans to develop emotional attachments to the teams in a sports league. But history tells us that with patience, this does happen. And clearly, softball is on the right path—or perhaps we should say pitch.

See Also: Playing College Sports: All You Need to Know

College Football 2018: Players to Watch

Rampage Jackson in Conversation: Wrestling, Acting and Family

When I speak to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the professional fighter turned actor, it turns out he’s remarkably kind and funny—something, which, if I’m honest with myself, I hadn’t expected from a man called “Rampage.”

Rampage Jackson’s career is impressive and diverse. His first big break in the wrestling world came in 2001 in Japan in the country’s Pride Fighting Championships.

A few years after that in 2006, he started fighting in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships). Coinciding with his rising success in the professional fighting world was the world’s growing interest in professional fighting, and it was this media attention that helped him launch his acting career.

His jump into acting came during time off he had to take to nurse an injury. He was cast in a movie, and after watching Jackson act, the director told him he was a natural.

“He said I should pursue acting, and so I did—that was that,” Jackson says.

When Jackson started wrestling in high school, he took it up as a hobby to stay fit. He never would have predicted that after school activity would lead him on to a legendary wrestling career and starring roles in major films. “Not in a million years!” Jackson exclaims.

On his acting break

Arguably, Jackson’s biggest break came when he landed the role of B.A. Baracus in The A-Team (2010). Until then, he had been firmly in the wrestling world—when he wasn’t fighting for UFC, he was working on small films about fighting. The A-Team brought him a much broader audience on a much larger screen, alongside Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Jessica Biel.

Working on the film was great, Jackson tells me. He had been a fan of the television show The A-Team when he was a kid. “I loved Mr. T!” he says. But acting on that level was a learning experience. “You know, I had to bring my A-game, because those guys are great actors. I had the least experience out of everybody,” he says, but then adds:

“But you know, my role was perfect for me because all I had to say was ‘Shut up, fool!’”

Jackson still remembers how lucky he felt just to be working on The A-Team.

During the audition, he forgot one of his lines, he admits. “But in that moment, I remembered my acting coach told me, ‘If you mess up, don’t break character, just pause and remember your lines, and then go from there.’ So that’s exactly what happened when I forgot my lines—I took a nice deep pause, and then I remembered my line.

“And right when I said it, the director was like, ‘Cut! Cut!’ And I thought I messed up, but he was like ‘Excellent!’

And we walked away, and he said, ‘You got the part.’ He told me later actually that test is what got me that part.”

Ramnpage Jackosn On fame

“It was real strange,” Jackson says, when I ask him how his life changed when he suddenly found himself in the public eye.

Particularly because the UFC and MMA weren’t as popular when his career started as they are now, Jackson never anticipated the attention.

“At the beginning of my career, I was fighting in Japan. And that was nice, being famous in Japan,” Jackson says. “Not gonna lie, I loved it. I loved the attention in Japan, ‘cause then I could come home, and nobody knew who I was. I could be a regular guy.

“I was a big guy, and people could tell I was an athlete but no one knew that I was a professional athlete really, only the hardcore MMA fans. But it was around 2007, when I won the belt in America, and it changed my life overnight.

Suddenly my neighbors knew who I was, and you know, there was less privacy. The more popular you get, the less privacy you get.”

On family

Jackson made headlines last year when he said in an interview with ESPN that he regretted how much time he was away from his family owing to his demanding career. The fighter moved away from his hometown of Memphis when his little sister was only eight. He tells me that on a recent visit back to Tennessee, he realized all of his cousins had grown up and had kids—kids he hasn’t gotten to meet.

“If you’re gonna follow your dreams, make sure you’re okay with leaving your loved ones behind sometimes,” Jackson says, when I ask him what advice he would give to young wrestlers who are just starting out. “Me? My dreams brought me out to California, and I had to leave my hometown. Sometimes your dreams take you places, and there are consequences you won’t realize in the moment. I can’t really tell people, ‘oh don’t follow your dreams because you’re gonna leave your family behind.’ Just make sure and make time to still go and be with your family, because family is everything.”

On the physical toll

At age 40, Jackson’s reflections on his fighting career, including the toll it’s taken on his body, are thoughtful.

“You know, I’ve been doing sports since I was 17, so I got a lot of bumps and bruises along the way,” he tells me.

These days, Jackson works with cbdMD, a company that sells hemp-derived CBD oil products as a natural alternative to chronic pain— products that have helped him a great deal.

“Thank God for cbdMD,” he says. “The products have really changed my life. I’ve been complaining less in the gym. My coaches are happier with me, because now I’m performing better. They took a lot of pain away and some of my smaller injuries have healed up.”

It’s not just him—it’s also his dog that’s benefitted from cbdMD. “I didn’t even know they offered dog treats!” Jackson exclaims about his discovery. “I’ve got an older dog that had a bum leg, and CBD helped him out a lot. You know, he’s 12 years old. That’s 70-something in dog years—maybe even 80. So, he’s really old, and he’s doing a bit better now.”

Rampage Jackson on how cbdMD has benefitted him. Image courtesy of Rampage Jackson.

On social media

Because today, social media is a large part of the work of being a celebrity, I’m curious if Jackson has any rules for himself in how he approaches it. Jackson has 500,000 Instagram followers and has managed to avoid controversy enough to stay out of the headlines. But he says no— he’s just himself online.

“I like to have fun with it. I try to be as sociable as I can. You know, it’s a fun tool to connect with fans that you would never see. Honestly, I don’t do anything different,” Jackson says.

Well… “The only thing,” Jackson says, “is that sometimes you get annoying people on social media, they just slide into your DMs and be like “sup?” I don’t know what to do with that.”

I ask him if he ever answers. “Hell no! I used to talk to a lot of fans in my DMs, until I found out that once you accept their DM, then they can DM anytime. They be out, living in your DMs. They just move right in—they’re like those friends that sleep on your couch for a few days, and next thing you know it’s been two years, and they’re eating all your leftovers in your refrigerator.”

What’s next for Rampage Jackson?

Rampage Jackson has two new movies coming out soon. A Psycho’s Path, due to be released in fall 2019, is about a sadistic killer roaming the streets of a sleepy desert town. This is his first time working on a horror film.

The other movie is an action film. Boss Level, with Rashad Evans, Mel Gibson and Ken Jeong, is about a retired special forces officer trapped in a never-ending time loop on the day of his death. It’s due to come out in summer 2019.

“They’ve got me looking funny in it though,” Jackson says. “I’m playing a German guy—that’s all I’m gonna say about that!”

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of College News. 

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Everything There is to Know About Psalm West

The name and first photos of Psalm West, the fourth child of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, were shared this weekend in a tweet from Kim.

The post showed a screenshot of a text conversation with husband, Kanye, saying ” We are blessed beyond measure. We have everything we need.”

Psalm’s birth was announced on May 10—a week that was noteworthy for the number of babies birthed into immense privilege and wealth.

Psalm West was born via surrogate and joins three older siblings—North (age 5), Saint (age 3) and Chicago (1).

Kim, now a mom-of-four as well as an aspiring layer, wrote that her new baby boy is “perfect.”

Kim and Kanye confirmed in January that they were expecting a fourth child, their second to be born via surrogate, after Kim endured difficult and high-risk pregnancies with her first two children.

While it seems like there is always a Kardashian-Jenner with a baby on the way, Kim has confirmed that Psalm is her last, as it was revealed that this was the last embryo the couple had left.

To celebrate Psalm’s coming, the Kardashian-Jenner clan held a CBD-themed baby shower that focused on all things meditation and relaxation last month.

Psalm West is Kris Jenner’s tenth grandchild.

See also: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Expecting Baby No. 4