Meyer’s back, but No. 4 Buckeyes managed fine without him
By MITCH STACY
AP Sports Writer
Friday, September 21
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, watching on TV at home while serving a suspension, got so worked up during the TCU game last week that he had to leave the room when the Buckeyes struggled.
“I only watched the good plays,” Meyer said this week. “I couldn’t take it. My daughter kept me updated.”
Ohio State came from behind to beat then-No. 15 TCU in Dallas, giving Ryan Day a 3-0 record as acting head coach. Meyer will get to watch his No. 4 Buckeyes (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) from the sideline again Saturday when they host Tulane. He’s now done with his university-imposed three-game suspension for mismanaging former assistant Zach Smith, who was accused of domestic violence and other bad behavior.
Meyer said this week he was “devastated” to be away from the players. Meyer said the worst was training camp, which began two days after the university put him on paid leave and launched the investigation.
“That’s when you build your team, and that’s why I stay in a hotel with them,” he said. “It’s very difficult.”
Meyer said he was impressed with how his team operated without him, especially against TCU.
Players say Meyer will be ready to go Saturday.
“I expect a really hyped-up coach, a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, a lot of juice,” quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. predicted.
Here are some other things to look for in Saturday’s game:
The Green Wave (1-2) come in as five-touchdown underdogs, so it should be a happy homecoming for Meyer and another tune-up game for the Buckeyes before playing Penn State at Happy Valley next week.
“Really big team,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said of Ohio State. “They’ve got great speed on both sides of the ball, they don’t make a lot of mistakes. They’re really sound.”
Ohio State’s All-American defensive end Nick Bosa will be out after suffering a groin/abdominal injury early in the third quarter against TCU. Meyer said Thursday Bosa has had surgery on a “core muscle” and will be out indefinitely.
DRE’MONT DIGGING IN
Not having to face one of the most elite defensive players in the nation might be an advantage for the Green Wave, right? Maybe, but they better take note of where tackle Dre’Mont Jones is lining up.
Jones was named Big Ten defensive player of the week for his performance against TCU. He intercepted a shovel pass and rumbled for a 28-yard touchdown that was part of a third-quarter scoring flurry that put Ohio State ahead to stay. He also had two tackles for losses, including a sack.
The play of Tulane’s senior quarterback Jonathan Banks has been encouraging, despite the team’s inability to protect him and score late in their two losses this season.
Banks has completed 48 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns. He leads AAC in passing yards per completion, averaging 17.6 yards. He has two or more touchdown passes three of his last five games.
The bad news: Banks was sacked six times by UAB and threw an interception, the first in his last 98 passing attempts. One of the fumbles was scooped and turned into a touchdown by the Blazers.
FIRST TIME IN THE ‘SHOE
Fritz said he and his players are excited about their first visit to storied Ohio Stadium.
“I’m sure our guys will enjoy the atmosphere,” he said. “Heck, I’m looking forward to it. It’s a big venue, you always hear a lot about playing in the Horseshoe. You’ve got to soak it in for a little bit, and then it’s over and you play between the white lines.”
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The future of ‘golf’ may not be on the links
September 21, 2018
Associate Professor of Sociology, West Virginia University
Joshua Woods received a $1000 “Innovation Grant” from the Professional Disc Golf Association to support his academic blog, www.parkeddisgolf.org. None of this funding was paid to Joshua Woods personally. He is also one of the thousands of members of the Professional Disc Golf Association, but holds no office or governing power in the organization.
West Virginia University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Could disc golf become more popular than ball golf by 2028?
Ask disc golfers and they’ll say, “You bet – our sport is growing like crazy.”
But for most Americans, the answer is, “What’s disc golf?” And the typical ball golfer will likely respond, “No – and stop calling my sport ball golf.”
For the uninitiated: Disc golf is an outdoor sport that is played by throwing streamlined plastic discs into metal baskets from varying distances. It shares many of ball golf’s rules, but the two sports are culturally distinct.
In my upcoming book, “Disc Golf Land: Rise of an Unknown Sport,” I talk about how the rapid growth of several nontraditional sports – think roller derby, parkour, drone racing, esports and disc golf – has gone mostly unnoticed by the public and major media outlets.
That could be about to change.
While the odds of disc golf overtaking ball golf in popularity within a decade are slim, if you consider recent social trends, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
A generation gap
It’s no secret that ball golf courses are in trouble.
From 2011 to 2016, the number of U.S. courses dropped from 15,751 to 15,014 – an average loss of 147 per year. If this trend continues, there will be only 13,245 courses by 2028.
In comparison, disc golf is experiencing rapid growth and may be nearing a tipping point. In 2011, there were 2,982 U.S. disc golf courses, according to the Professional Disc Golf Association. By 2016, this number nearly doubled to 5,467 – an average gain of 497 courses annually. If this rate continues, disc golfers will have almost as many places to play as ball golfers in a decade.
One of the main reasons for ball golf’s decline is a falling participation among young Americans.
In the past, the 18- to 34-year-old age group was the most likely to play ball golf. But between the early 1990s and early 2010s, there was a 30 percent decrease in participation in this age group. Today, only 26 percent of ball golfers are between the ages of 18 and 34.
Perhaps young people are instead deciding to throw discs.
In 2017, 55 percent of disc golfers were aged 18 to 35. Among members of the Professional Disc Golf Association, which includes both amateurs and professionals, 47 percent were 20 to 34.
Could finances be playing a role?
Young adults are worse off financially than previous generations. Stagnant wages and mounting debt may discourage them from paying expensive greens fees and investing in costly equipment.
Meanwhile, roughly 90 percent of disc golf courses are in public parks, and the cost of equipment is low – all you need is around US$20 for a couple of discs. At most courses, people can play as little or as much as they wish, free of charge. A round of disc golf takes about half the time it takes to play ball golf.
It’s the environment, stupid
There’s also an environmental cost to playing ball golf that many could find off-putting.
A typical ball golf course requires roughly six to seven times more land area than a disc golf course. Building ball golf courses often involves clear-cutting trees to make room for fairways. To keep the greens green, courses rely heavily on synthetic fertilizers and need to be watered. The water needs of ball golf courses vary across seasons, but, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the average course requires as much as 1,000,000 gallons in the summer months.
Disc golf courses aren’t great for the environment, either – trees might need to be selectively cut or trimmed. But the overall impact is far smaller: Chemicals are almost never used, and water demands are low or nonexistent.
Climate change, however, might be the biggest threat to ball golf.
While warmer weather could arguably extend the seasons of both sports, the downsides of climate change are more acute. For instance, a recent study by the Climate Coalition documented the troubling effects of climate change on ball golf courses in the United Kingdom, with rising sea levels and coastal erosion threatening some of the world’s oldest golf courses.
Indeed, increased rainfall, irregular drying and warming, more extreme weather events, coastal erosion and rising sea levels are hurting the ball golf industry all over the world. While several vivid examples exist – some Trump resorts, like Mar-a-Lago, are increasingly threatened by tidal flooding and storm surges – the more significant problem involves the gradual loss of revenue due to temporary course closures and rising maintenance costs.
Given that disc golf courses are more rugged, natural and far cheaper to maintain than ball golf courses, disc golf will have an environmental edge over ball golf in the years to come.
Rich in enthusiasm, but not in riches
Even if shifts in course infrastructure, demographics and climate lead to relative gains for disc golf, the sport has no chance of catching ball golf unless a series of game-changing events come to pass. To go mainstream, the sport will require substantial buy-in from public institutions, greater media attention and an influx of private investment.
Many emerging sports that eye expansion set their sights on the Olympics. In 2015, the International Olympic Committee officially recognized the World Flying Disc Federation, which bolstered the Olympic hopes of flying disc sports, including disc golf.
Among them, disc golf’s cousin, Ultimate, is the clear favorite for the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games. An Olympic berth for Ultimate could boost disc golf participation and strengthen the sport’s institutional footing.
For decades, the viability of all sports has been tied to television. While cable TV is still the primary sports platform, younger fans are increasingly cutting the cord and opting for online streaming services. With the oldest fanbase in pro sports, ball golf faces the challenge of satisfying aging TV watchers, while attracting young digital natives.
Disc golf rarely receives attention from television networks. But new technologies – YouTube, streaming services, live scoring apps and countless websites, podcasts, blogs and social media accounts – are paving the way for niche sports to gain exposure, energize their communities and grow.
To be sure, disc golf faces significant challenges. Chief among these is the lack of outside investment from large manufacturers and corporate sponsors. Currently, the primary manufacturers of equipment and most event sponsors come from within the disc golf community.
In the end, many of the trends discussed above will merely lead to modest growth. Only more media coverage and investments from major sports brands like Adidas will elevate disc golf into the mainstream.
Wild boars run amok in the city of Genoa, as abandoned rural areas are ‘rewilded’
September 20, 2018
Assistant Professor in Human Geography, University of Nottingham
Robert Hearn does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Nottingham provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.
Crossing the Ponte Gerolamo Serra in the Italian city of Genoa, I spotted a small crowd clustered by the river wall. I approached, intrigued, and peered over the wall to discover the subject of their delight: a sounder of eight wild boars – the adults sheltering from the heat in the undergrowth, while the juveniles foraged among the foliage that grows in the river bed during the dry summer months.
In any other city, such a sight might have been surprising. But in Italy, and particularly in the region of Liguria (where Genoa is located), the population of wild boars has been increasing at such a rapid rate that these incidents are now common. Across the country, it’s estimated that the population has risen from 600,000 to a million over the past decade.
But while wild boars may look comically out of place trotting about the city, it’s actually a natural result of the way people have migrated – and the wars they have fought – over the course of recent history.
Making a comeback
A species native to Europe, the wild boar (or “cinghiale”, in Italian) largely disappeared from its historical territories during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their decline was widely attributed to the combined effects of habitat change, competition for space and resources and, of course, hunting.
Wild boars were a prized quarry, revered for their ferocity – and the danger involved in pursuing them. According to local folklore from the region of Liguria, the last truly wild boar was hunted and killed in 1814, in the province of Savona.
After an absence of more than a century, wild boar began to return to Liguria, and to the neighbouring region of Piedmont. A further influx occurred during World War I, when it’s believed that military activities in the south-east of France forced parts of the population back into Italy over the Alps.
Although hunting fraternities were quick to augment this fledgling population with wild boars transported from elsewhere, the return of the species was primarily due to natural causes. From the 1950s onwards, traditional agricultural practices were abandoned as more and more people moved from rural towns into the cities. This meant that large areas of formerly cultivated terraces and pastures were rapidly overgrown, fast becoming dense secondary woodlands.
A city gone wild
This spontaneous “rewilding” has become a controversial issue in the region. Many conservationists and environmental organisations consider the region’s return to a “wild state” a success. But others believe that the encroaching wilderness signals a loss of traditional woodland knowledge and a reduction of biodiversity, associated with the pastures and meadows.
The province of Genoa is among the areas most densely populated by wild boar in Italy, with an estimated 25 boar per 10km². Rewilding processes have brought woodlands to the city limits, blurring the boundary between rural and urban areas. The species has expanded beyond the hinterlands, colonising highly urbanised, densely populated city spaces in Genoa, drawn by the abundance of food waste created by humans.
In 2009, the infamous boar Pierino made his home at Righi, on the outskirts of Genoa, where he was routinely fed with focaccia by enthusiasts. Today, a family of wild boar call the Albergo dei Poveri – a historical hostel for the Genoese poor in the city centre – their home.
But while their antics are often recorded and shared with glee on social media, the threats posed by the presence of wild animals has become a preoccupation for the city’s municipal administration.
Wild boar have been involved in a number of traffic accidents, and have proven to be particularly dangerous when with their young, attacking dogs and even people. The city council in Genoa has put forward many proposals to reduce the number of animals in the city, ranging from forced removals, to sterilisation, increased attention to waste disposal and approved hunts. About 90 wild boar were reportedly culled in 2018.
Needless to say, each of these measures has been hotly debated. Animal advocacy groups staunchly oppose the proposals, and sometimes obstruct the authorities’ attempts to take action, often sending patrols to care for the animals, and even give them names. But other residents are displeased with the animals’ presence in the city, and have consulted with the council on how to address the problems that they cause.
And so Genoa continues to grapple with thorny issues surrounding the presence of wild boar in the city, with the city authorities seeking to resolve a polemical issue that embroils the lives of animals and humans alike. So far, a collective, coherent and communally agreeable strategy has proven evasive; one that considers the need for public safety, hygiene and health with the ethical responsibilities towards to wild boar themselves.
Meanwhile, the animals themselves continue to lounge and forage beneath the Ponte Gerolamo Serra and elsewhere, bringing a little of the wilderness into the city.
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)