On April 24th, 2020 Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s older brother Jace Prescott committed suicide. This tragic news combined with the COVID-19 pandemic’s dreary social isolation propelled Prescott into a state of depression and sparked a national conversation about the normalization and stigmatization of mental health disorders. Since then, athletes across all leagues have united together to transform their own adversities with mental health into national action. 

Until recently, the term mental “toughness” was often used in place of mental health in the sports atmosphere. Athletes were expected to be resilient, rigid, unfazed, and show few signs of weakness. But now, pioneers such as Prescott are paving the way for a new, more empathetic national conversation to be had. 

After his own difficulties with depression, Prescott emphasizes how crucial it is to maintain one’s mental health and ask for help when needed. In an interview with USA Today, Prescott explains how the conversation surrounding mental health must be normalized in order to help the nation understand the prevalence of mental health struggles while also teaching a nation built on “toughness” to embrace vulnerability.

“Mental health leads to the health of everything else,” Prescott said. “Before I can lead, I have to make sure my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people to where they want to be. I think that it’s important to be vulnerable, to be genuine, and to be transparent. I think that goes a long way when you are a leader and your voice is being heard by so many you can inspire.”

Conversely, Fox Sports commentator Skip Bayless had a different stance. Bayless boisterously criticized Prescott as he viewed his open vulnerability surrounding his mental health difficulties as unbecoming of a leader and as a hindrance on the football field.

“I have deep compassion for clinical depression, but when it comes to the quarterback of an NFL team, you know this better than I do. It’s the ultimate leadership position in sports. You’re commanding a lot of young men and some older men. And they’re all looking to you to be their CEO, to be in charge of the football team. Because of all that, I don’t have sympathy for him. Look, he’s the quarterback of America’s team. If you reveal publicly any little weakness, it can affect your team’s ability to believe in you in the toughest spots, and it definitely can encourage others on the other side to come after you.”

Ironically, Bayless’s comments starkly display the exact stigma that Prescott and other athletes are attempting to break down. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers takes a different stance than Bayless and instead applauds Prescott’s courage and bravery for his battle with depression and his openness to converse about it.

“Strength is taking care of yourself, taking care of your mind, understanding how important your thoughts are, and understanding how important positivity is,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s phenomenal in speaking out because that takes true courage and that’s true strength. That’s not a weakness at all. I applaud Dak. It’s a beautiful thing when people start talking about it because at the bare minimum it makes you more relatable to people. We all have the same struggles and the same issues.”

Five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star and UCLA Men’s Basketball alumni Kevin Love has also been a trailblazer for mental health awareness within the NBA. With a history of depression, Love has also endured intense anxiety throughout his life. One day, Love’s emotions became too overwhelming to handle and he experienced a panic attack on the court in a 2017 home game versus the Atlanta Hawks.

“I was having trouble catching my breath,” Love wrote in a piece for The Players’ Tribune the following March. “It’s hard to describe, but everything was spinning like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn’t hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out.”

After this experience, Love came to one conclusion. His entire life had been dedicated to training his body for the high-stress scenarios of NBA play, but he had neglected the proper time and resources needed to care for his mind as well.

“It’s kind of strange when you think about it,” Love wrote. “In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers, and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”

The lack of attention and training that most Americans receive regarding mental health is why Love has recently helped launch a new company called Coa, the world’s first gym for mental health. It is a therapist-led, emotional fitness class platform that includes therapist matchmaking, group classes, and one-on-one therapy. The idea is to make mental health a proactive and daily practice, just like physical fitness. Love could not be more excited about this new company.

“Coa really aligns with everything I’m about,” Love said. “It’s a proactive approach to mental fitness. We’re creating a safe place to talk about these tough subjects around mental health and mental wellness, in a group setting. There is nothing like this out there. This has never existed before. It’s the first gym for mental health, which makes it super exciting to be a part of.”

Nationally, additional mental health awareness initiatives have been developed in this ongoing battle. Since 2010, the demand for sports psychologists has skyrocketed within NCAA institutions while athletes such as Dak Prescott and Hayden Hurst have created non-profit organizations dedicated to the matter. With it being clear that mental health issues will never fully disappear, these prominent athletes have served as inspirations to the millions of Americans who struggle with depression, anxiety, and more. They have sparked a national conversation and demonstrated the value in making yourself vulnerable while also working tirelessly to provide the resources necessary to improve people’s lives across the world.

According to Love, the more awareness and serious attention that mental health gets, the healthier and happier everybody can be. And since this is an unavoidable part of life, everybody needs to understand how and have the resources available to navigate it.

“We just have to keep chipping away at the stigma,” Love said. “We have to keep talking about it. You’re far less likely to detect it if you’re not talking about it if you’re living in the shadows. Everyone is going through something that we can’t see. The thing is, because we can’t see it, we don’t know who’s going through what and we don’t know when and we don’t always know why. Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It’s part of life.”

Brian Flores has been fired. And now, the question that remains, will he ever be able to coach the sport of football again? 

Flores is a dedicated man of the National Football League, as he spent 20 years bouncing around various assistant/coordinator positions, training under the likes of legendary coach Bill Bellichik, before finally landing his head coaching job for the Miami Dolphins. Flores ends his tenure in Miami with an overall record of 24-25, however, he was able to lead the Dolphins to their first two consecutive winning seasons in years. He was able to do all of this while rotating through injured quarterbacks, partly thanks to his revitalized defense. Flores was certainly a fundamental part of the Miami Dolphins rebuild, which is why his firing came as a shock to so many people. But, if you ask Flores, it is simply a result of the systemic racism that plagues the NFL.

Flores alleges that his relationship with Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier went downhill shortly after he was hired in 2019. He claims that Ross offered him $100,000 for every Dolphins loss in an attempt to maximize their draft returns. And, as Flores and the Dolphins began to win games later in the season, Flores noted that the management of the team was mad that their draft position was being compromised. Additionally, after refusing to meet with a prominent quarterback recruit at the end of the 2019 season, Flores alleges that he was treated with disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with. All that for abiding by the NFL’s tampering rules.

Despite another successful 2021-2022 season, Flores was fired in January and immediately began the search for another job. Flores showed interest in the Giants, the Dolphins, the Broncos, the Saints, and the Texans. After quickly realizing that the Dolphins were no longer the organization for him, he had his sights set on the Giant’s job. Unfortunately for Flores, Bill Bellichik accidentally leaked that the job was going to Brian Daboll days before the Flores interview. Furthermore, Flores alleges that the Broncos general manager John Elway, among others, arrived at his interview late and hungover. This made Flores draw one conclusion, that the Giants and Broncos were only interviewing him to stay in compliance with the Rooney Rule. 

The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for their open positions. This rule, which has been amended in recent years, now says teams must hold an in-person interview with at least one external minority candidate for any general manager or head coach opening. While the NFL is attempting to minimize racism within the league, Flores and the rest of the minority coaches know that this rule is not enough. Thus, after being turned down for every coaching job regardless of his impressive winning seasons, Brian Flores’ lawsuit was born. 

At the end of the day, Flores cares more about inciting positive change within the NFL than an opportunity to coach again. He understands what he is risking, but more importantly, recognizes that it is his responsibility to stand up to these injustices and make the league a better place for black coaches and staff.

“God has gifted me with a special talent to coach the game of football, but the need for change is bigger than my personal goals,” Flores said in a statement put out by his law firm, the Wigdor firm. “In making the decision to file the class action complaint today, I understand that I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL, others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

To no surprise, each NFL team that Flores called out quickly and vehemently denied his allegations. They all made statements regarding their pride in the organization, the fairness of the hiring process that they all stand by, and their search for inclusion and diversity. According to all of these teams, Flores was simply just not the most qualified candidate. However, Flores knows that this wasn’t the case and believes that it is his responsibility to shine a light on and expose the long list of racial injustices that take place within the NFL. 

Flores has forced the nation’s attention to a handful of key points. He would ultimately like to see Commissioner Roger Goodell and other high-level NFL executives address all of his concerns including the increased influence of black individuals in hiring, increase “the objectivity” of hiring/terminating GMs, head coaches, and coordinators, increase the number of Black coordinators, incentivize hiring/retention of Black GMs, head coaches and coordinators and transparency of pay for GMs, head coaches, and coordinators. Rather than addressing these concerns, the NFL claims that these allegations lack merit and that no action will be taken, demonstrative of Flores’s very own point of systematized racism.

The NFL has endured countless incidents regarding race, from Kaepernick’s kneeling to black athletes getting underpaid. While the league has put “End Racism” on every helmet, little action is taking place. And to Flores, the dynamic between the ownership of the NFL and the average employee is reminiscent of American history and the days of plantation owners. 

“The owners watch the games from atop NFL stadiums in their luxury boxes, while their majority-Black workforce put their bodies on the line,” Flores said.

While the NFL denies all of these allegations, the people and the fans know that Flores’ words ring true. The league needs to listen to these valid concerns and take action. And, with Brian Flores already being out of a job, he is determined to do whatever it takes to get the African-American men and women that run the NFL the opportunity, appreciation, and respect that they deserve. 

13 seconds remaining in the divisional round of the 2021-2022 NFL season and Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills have Patrick Mahomes on the ropes. With a long field in front of him and facing a deficit of 3 points, Mahomes needs to drive the Kansas City Chiefs into field goal range. After a quick completion to Tyreek Hill, 8 seconds remain on the clock. Mahomes snaps the ball and quickly finds Travis Kelce who is able to run deep into Bill’s territory. The Chiefs kick the field goal, and one of the most competitive games of football in recent history is headed to overtime. Little did Josh Allen know, one single coin toss was standing between him and the field. Kansas City wins the coin toss and Allen is forced to watch from the bench as Mahomes picks apart the Buffalo defense, scores a touchdown and celebrates his fourth consecutive trip to the AFC Championship. It is after historic events like this that make the NFL community ask the age-old question: Can the NFL overtime rules be changed?

The NFL’s rules for its 15-minute overtime period in the postseason state that “both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.” However, most teams that lose the coin toss don’t ever get that opportunity. In fact, coin toss winners are 10-1, winning 90.9 percent of overtime contests in the playoffs. Furthermore, seven of the 10 winners scored the sudden-death touchdown on the opening drive, demonstrating how much influence the coin toss really has. Should a heads or tails call actually determine the ending of a game with such high stakes? Most of the NFL community doesn’t think so and demands change. However, there is a group of fans who argue that it’s just a part of the game. 

A smaller population of the NFL fan base tends to disagree with this need for change. In fact, they have one very simple suggestion to all the NFL teams that have complained about these overtime rules: Play better defense. These teams claim they don’t ever get an opportunity on the field to win the game, however, all it takes is four stops to get your quarterback and offense back on the field. While the Bills are complaining they didn’t have a fair chance to win the game, rather than blaming the coin, some believe that they need to put the blame on the defense. After all, they did let Mahomes throw for 177 yards after the 2-minute warning and lead an eight-play, 75-yard drive ending with a Travis Kelce touchdown and subsequently ending the game. 

The Buffalo Bills are certainly still hurting after this loss, however, Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs know exactly how they feel. After losing to Brady’s 2018 Patriots on the first drive of overtime, the Chiefs lobbied the NFL in an attempt to change this very rule. Their proposal mandated that both teams have an opportunity on offense, regardless of the result of the first drive. They also wanted to eliminate the second coin toss altogether and stick with the pre-kickoff coin toss to decide possession. NFL executives were hesitant to support this proposal and it was soon tabled due to a lack of support. The Buffalo Bills are definitely wishing they had supported this proposal four short years ago. Since then, the Ravens and Eagles have also made the case for altered and improved NFL overtime rules. However, it was to no avail. 

After the heartbreaking loss in 2018, Mahomes was on the right side of the rule this time and he certainly isn’t complaining. 

“Yeah I mean it worked out well for us this time,” Mahomes said to a local TV station WDAF. “Whenever you got two teams going back and forth like you’re going, it kind of stinks that you don’t get to see the other guy go, but I’ll take the win this time. Obviously, it hurt me last time. But all you can do is play the way the rules are explained and that’s what we did today.”

Teams are becoming desperate to minimize the impact of the coin toss and this has led to a few different NFL overtime proposals. Part of the fanbase wants the NFL to adopt college football overtime rules. The college football overtime rules call for a two-possession series in which each team has an opportunity to play offense and defense starting on the 25-yard line. The team that scores the most points during regulation and overtime wins the game. If the game is still tied after an overtime period, another overtime period is played. However, if the game were to go to a third overtime period, teams are required to run a two-point conversion in an attempt to end the game. This overtime format is seen to be vastly more entertaining for the fans and fairer for the players.

Another proposal looks to replace the coin toss before overtime games with field goal kicks. This proposal would have the team that lost the game’s initial coin toss decide on a certain distance for a field goal to be kicked. Then, the team that won the game’s initial coin toss would have the opportunity to decide if they would like to kick the field goal or defer. The team that ends up kicking has one chance to make the field goal and get the ball first in overtime, otherwise, the opposing team gets it. While the team that loses possession will still have to play strong defense to win the game, this proposal at least eliminates the element of chance and randomness that comes with a coin toss. Instead, it will come down to the skill and talent of the team. And isn’t that the whole point at the end of the day?

While these NFL overtime rules come into question every few years, only time will tell if the NFL is planning on inciting this necessary change. The case has been made many times now and the reasoning is quite clear, however, the NFL remains hesitant. In the meantime, the only suggestion that can be made is to play better defense or win the coin toss. So, if you were in Josh Allen’s cleats, heads, or tails?

Players love it and coaches hate it. The new NCAA transfer portal is changing college sports, especially football, at its core. It has brought a component of professional free agency to the collegiate level, thus creating an open door for tampering and completely changing the dynamic of college sports. Many coaches have said that this could be the end of college football as we know it. 

The NCAA’s recently announced one-time transfer rule allows athletes to transfer to a different school one time during their career and play immediately without getting permission from their current coach or school. Previously, athletes had to get permission from their current school and then sit out a year as a penalty for transferring. Players love the flexibility this allows after signing their initial letter of intent and the ability to move immediately one time in four years without punitive consequences. However, coaches hate everything about it. The transfer portal has created various roster management issues and other financial problems due to the recently instituted Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rule. College football is straying from its roots. It is becoming a game for personal and financial gain rather than a team sport eyeing a National Championship. And this change allows for coaches and football programs with money to have unfair, overarching control over these young athletes.

“Brutal,” an anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “This rule puts every coach trying to run a clean program in an untenable situation. You’re enabling NCAA rulebreakers. You’re inviting tampering. They’ve opened Pandora’s box and are allowing players to take their ball and go home when things don’t go their way. What kind of message is that? Are we not in the business of building young men?”

Truthfully, however, this does go both ways. As for every coach that says they are in the business of “molding young men,” there is a player who watches their coach leave their program for a higher paying program. Coaches can’t expect to move freely in their jobs while forcing players into a situation where they are punished for leaving. So while the transfer portal has leveled the playing field, it is clear that money has become too intertwined with the world of college sports.

Furthermore, the transfer portal has created serious issues regarding player scholarships. Currently, programs are locked into a 25 scholarship limit per season and if one of those scholarship players transfers, that scholarship position is unable to be filled, leaving the school at a major disadvantage. Recently, coaches and NCAA executives alike have been vouching for a change to this rule. The proposal was that if a school were to lose 5 scholarship players, they would be able to add another 5 scholarship players. Most coaches believe that this needs to be done in order to close a loophole that has been created within the NCAA. If a coach were to get fired or leave a school, they could potentially bring a group of players with them, leaving the previous program gutted. The player’s perspective is that this loophole allows coaches who didn’t recruit them to push them to the transfer portal. Coaches can use roster management in conjunction with the portal to free up scholarship spots on the team. However, filling those roster spots can be quite difficult. 

“Those players are in the portal for a reason,” one anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “A small minority are guys that can help you, guys that for one reason or another didn’t make it where they began. But a majority of those guys are either player’s other schools missed on, players that are just guys, those with academic problems, or those who have been in trouble off the field. We wouldn’t recruit a majority of those guys coming out of high school.”

Arguably the biggest pitfall of the new NCAA transfer portal is the recruiting violations that are now running rampant throughout the league. Coaches are recruiting off other rosters, players are leaving their schools and poaching teammates from their old rosters, and some players are even discussing transferring when shaking hands with their opponents at the end of a game. This has become an incredibly difficult thing to police, but it has been made clear that further regulations are necessary as the transfer portal grew by an astonishing 60% this first year.

“It’s a circular nightmare,” another anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “They won’t trust us, we won’t trust them. There’s no common ground, no chance to take a guy who might be facing some adversity and help him through it. Now the young guys with talent and even the upperclassmen with experience are going to always have those free walking papers in their pocket.”

While there have been great transfer success stories such as Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, and Jake Coker, the new NIL rules paired with the transfer portal are completely altering the recruitment process. This shift might be geared towards player rights, but it has ultimately become an overt pay-to-play and pay-to-win model. Additionally, recruiting will no longer begin and end at the high school level. Coaches will be forced to continue to recruit players on their roster, in an effort to keep them from leaving for a starting job or a city with higher-paying NIL deals. 

While this new transfer portal rule allows for 1 free transfer without consequence, players have the option to transfer again. Approved waivers allow the athletes to transfer as many times as they would like without facing any repercussions. The number of approved waivers has skyrocketed since the NCAA’s alterations to the transfer portal. Once again, this means that the recruiting process truly never ends as teams are losing and gaining more players than ever each year, negatively impacting the team chemistry and culture. 

Ultimately, the transfer portal is giving the power back to the players. However, it has unintendedly created a pay-to-win model in the NCAA. It makes the rich richer and the elite football programs even more elite. This has completely changed the dynamics of college football. While it was once a place to build young student-athletes up, help them get an education, and attempt to win a national championship as a team, college sports are becoming further individualized every day. Now, at this point, college sports are essentially just a lucrative stepping stone for these athletes on their path to the professional leagues. The NCAA is a mess right now, but with a new draft of the NCAA constitution being released in early 2022, hopefully, new rules and regulations can improve this transfer portal situation and restore college sports, particularly football, to its fundamentals. 

Every person in sports has one thing in common: they want to win. For years, winning was determined by ownership, front offices, and coaching. Their decisions regarding which players to draft, trade, develop, and coach had a significant impact on the outlook of the franchise. Then, in 2003, everything changed.

Oakland Athletics’ General Manager, former player Billy Beane revolutionized the world of sports forever. Beane used sabermetrics to discover the secret to success in baseball and improve the often imperfect science of sports. This was the first known use of the prioritization of statistics and data to make personnel decisions in professional sports. Beane’s thought process was simple. He theorized that a team with a high on-base percentage was a team more likely to score runs and, as a result, more likely to win more games. Beane built his team around that central tendency and helped the Athletics find success. Ever since Beane’s introduction, sports analytics has not only revolutionized baseball’s modern era but professional sports as a whole.

Today, every major professional sports team has at least one analytic expert, most frequently supported by an entire analytics department. The current sports analytics market has an evaluated net worth of $774.6 million, a small price in comparison to its expected growth. Due to analytics’ profound impact on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and most other sports, the market is expected to grow at an astronomical compound annual growth rate of 31.2% by 2025, increasing its worth to well over four and a half-billion dollars. 

This exponential growth is a result of the competitive advantage that analytics provides a team. Mathematicians record hundreds of categories of stats on each individual player, crunching those numbers in order to provide an overall assessment of the athlete’s compatibility with the team and help make the work of scouts and general managers easier. Analysts create an overall profile of a player to determine if that player is worth drafting, signing, trading for, or even cutting.

The increased popularity of data analytics has even trickled its way down to the fans. Websites like FiveThirtyEight have over 20 journalists counting and crunching numbers for fans to gain a better understanding of an upcoming game, series, or season. Additionally, they track and project player performances as well as overall win-loss records and game results. The increased accessibility that these websites provide to fans has certainly contributed to the rampant run analytics has taken throughout athletics. 

Basketball has also been heavily impacted by the widespread use of data analytics. National Basketball Association (NBA) teams now use a form of a technology called “Player Tracking” which evaluates the efficiency of a team by analyzing individual player movement, on and off the ball. Each team now uses six cameras, installed in the catwalks of arenas, to track the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second. This data provides a plethora of statistics on speed, distance, player separation, and ball possession. However, the way in which the data is used, determines how effective it can be. The sheer volume of data that is currently collected makes decision-making difficult for NBA franchises and results in some teams better utilizing their data than others.

Besides helping teams win, data analytics also drives customer engagement. Teams are running data-driven campaigns to understand what and when fans are watching, via app logins and online video views, in order to maximize their fan engagement. Additionally, this data is used in order to improve the in-stadium gameday experience, concession sales, improve parking lot congestion, and increase the front and back-office intelligence and overall understanding of their athletes and fanbase. 

Most recently, data analytics has made its way into the National Football League (NFL) in a fascinating manner. Harvard University senior Ella Papanek is a research and strategy intern who assisted with Cleveland Brown’s analytical preparation for its 2021 AFC wild-card game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL has quickly become a data-hungry league with websites like Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference popularizing the globalization of analytics. Papanek developed a player projection model for Cleveland’s analytics team to assess and plan for the upcoming game accordingly. Papanek is indicative of the ever-expanding market of data analytics and the countless job opportunities developing in the field.

While Billy Beane thought he was just going to turn around an abysmal Oakland Athletics team, he instead revolutionized sports forever. Data analytics has become an integral part of all major sports and provides coaches, general managers, and other stakeholders with a competitive advantage in predicting outcomes and assessing individual player performances. Professional sports have just recently scratched the surface of data analytics and the opportunities and benefits that will one day amount from it are endless.


On May 14th, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, thus providing each state the decision and opportunity to legalize sports betting. This decision has revolutionized the sports gambling world, propelling the betting industry into an incredibly lucrative market space. As the rate of sports gambling continues to increase exponentially in the United States, the industry’s future remains bright. But what will the lasting impact of the wide legalization of sports betting be?

Aiming to profit from the newly legal industry, 25 states and Washington D.C. have chosen to legalize sports betting and 80% of the other states are expected to do the same in the next few years. Since then, over $20 billion in bets have been placed (ESPN). In 2020, U.S. sports betting generated one billion dollars in revenue, and that number is expected to grow sixfold by 2023 (Forbes). If betting is legalized by all 50 states, the estimated revenue would exceed $19 billion a year. 

Many companies and organizations are attempting to capitalize on this rapidly expanding industry. This includes major sports leagues in the U.S. such as the MLB, NBA, and NFL. These leagues have come to understand how strong and dedicated the sports betting demographic can be and they have chosen to support that fanbase. Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s senior vice president and head of fantasy and gaming, explains the matter.

“We want to meet the fans wherever they are and so, if [betting is] how they’re choosing to engage, we want to support that,” Kaufman-Ross said. “We’ve seen the data that shows people who play fantasy sports, people who bet on sports, they are some of our most engaged fans. They consume more content than traditional fans – they watch more games and for longer periods of time.”

Partnerships between leagues, teams, and betting platforms have also exploded in popularity in recent years. The MLB’s Chicago Cubs just inked a $100 million deal with DraftKings and the NBA has secured deals with Genius Sports Group (GSG) and Sportradar. Many other organizations are following in their footsteps, with the hopes of benefitting the leagues, teams, fans, and other companies.

“The wealth of data around US sports is impressive and the customers’ appetite is massive,” Kaufman-Ross said. “That translates in fantasy-type games being hugely popular but also, from a sports betting perspective, it’s showing a higher propensity of data-driven player propositions. The leagues have made a big step towards providing real-time data to licensed league operators and that is the basis of a partnership that can be successful for both leagues and operators while delivering a better experience for the fans and customers.”

In this past Super Bowl, over 23 million Americans reported plans to bet a total of $4.3 billion (Forbes). 7.6 million of those bets were placed online, up 63% from the previous year. Due to technology’s constant accessibility, online gambling is becoming the most popular medium. An increase in gambling addictions has come with this change.

After reviewing over 140 studies and reports related to sports gambling and addiction, the National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) offered a statement. “Recent research suggests that gambling problems may increase as sports gambling grows explosively at the same time that mobile and online technologies evolve to create seemingly unlimited types of wagering opportunities.” Additionally, the NCPG found that sports bettors have at least two times higher rates of addiction than other gamblers, and these rates of addiction increase in an online format. This is because online gambling provides increased convenience and privacy. 

Online sports betting has also made it easier for minors to get addicted to gambling. Many minors are able to illegally create accounts and begin betting from a young age. A recent study found that 75% more students are gambling now than in 2015, but many people are now working to counteract this growing movement. Moving forward, organizations such as the NCPG are working to research the dangers of gambling addictions and educate the public. Additionally, they are aiming to prohibit TV advertisements for sports betting and to enact stricter laws/regulations surrounding the topic. If the industry is able to reduce the amount of underage gambling as well as addiction, then the future will remain increasingly bright and astronomically lucrative. Sports betting truly is sweeping its way through the nation. So, with that being said, in one of the biggest games of the year, Alabama +3 or Georgia -3? You heard it here first: Roll Tide!

Every single day thousands of UCLA students stream down the Hill, walking to class. Every single day thousands of students roam Bruin Walk and study in Royce Hall. Every single day thousands of students pass by the beloved Pauley Pavilion. And every one of these days, these students pass by the statue of our legendary, renowned head coach John Wooden. It leaves me wondering one thing: Can Mick Cronin fill these shoes and truly be our next Coach Wooden?

Mick Cronin was born on July 17th, 1971 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cronin has always had a love for basketball and has played for as long as he can remember. As a 5’3” high school point guard, Cronin led the city in assists, was second in three-point shooting percentage and earned all-city honors in basketball at LaSalle High School. However, after an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), his playing career was sadly forced to end. But, Cronin didn’t let this obstacle get in the way of the game he loves. 

After high school, Cronin attended his hometown school, the University of Cincinnati. While accompanying his father, a coach at the University of Cincinnati, on a scouting mission to Cincinnati Woodward High School, Cronin was offered a job coaching the freshman team and serving as a varsity assistant coach. In his short tenure there, Cronin accumulated a very impressive record of 57-3, leading Woodward to three city championships. Additionally, Cronin helped develop six players who would go on to play Division I basketball. Coach Cronin was officially born. 

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1996, Cronin remained at the University as a video coordinator, eventually being promoted to assistant coach. Cronin worked there until 2001 and very quickly gained the reputation of being able to elevate and recruit top talent. Cronin was soon offered the job of recruiting coordinator and associate head coach at Louisville under Rick Pitino and in his first year he attracted a top ten recruiting class. By 2003, Cronin was ready for his first head coaching position at Murray State. In three seasons here, Cronin led the Racers to two NCAA tournament appearances and was named the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year. By 2006, Cronin returned to his alma mater to be the head coach and face of Cincinnati basketball.

Cronin arrived at the scene to find a relatively depleted basketball program, with scarce recruiting in the past year. Cronin’s team was so understaffed that he was forced to recruit future NFL linebacker Connor Barwin from the Cincinnati football team to play for the basketball program. Cronin’s team may have struggled early on throughout his tenure, but he quickly righted the ship. By the end of the 2017 season, Cronin had amassed a 166–63 record, spent 45 weeks ranked in the AP Poll, and reached 6 straight NCAA Tournaments, while picking up 4 NCAA Tournament wins. During this period, Cronin’s legendary recruiting record held up once again. In the 2009-2010 season, Cronin recruited Lance Stephenson to the team, a player who had just become the all-time leading scorer in New York state high school basketball history. During his one season at Cincinnati, Stephenson was named the Big East Rookie of the Year and later had NBA stints with multiple teams. In Cronin’s most successful season as head coach, he led 6th seeded Cincinnati to a win over 3rd seed Florida State in 2012. This allowed the Bearcats to reach the Sweet 16, while recording their only ever win over a higher seeded team in tournament history. It is safe to say that Cronin left his mark on this university. 

Leaving Cincinnati was a difficult decision for Cronin. On one hand, the school felt like a home to him. But on the other hand, Cronin couldn’t turn down the opportunity that he was presented with. That opportunity was to become head coach of one of the most legendary and historic basketball programs in the world. He was honored to be yet another successor to the almighty John Wooden and write his name down next to some of the UCLA greats.

In his introductory press conference with UCLA, Cronin revealed how excited, overwhelmed and thankful he was to be given this opportunity. He wasn’t sure that this day would ever come. 

“Yesterday was the toughest day of my life professionally – telling the team that you love you’re leaving,” Cronin said. “I never thought I’d have that meeting, to be honest with you. I never thought that day would come, that I’d ever have to have that meeting. But, 11 National championships, having the best players, graduating elite student-athletes, all of the above is at your fingertips here. I understand it’s a tremendous challenge – tremendous challenge. But it’s also a great opportunity. And one that I was not going to pass up. Because I came from a situation obviously where I was at home. We had great success. But I had a chance to be the coach at UCLA. Let’s be honest. The chance to be the coach where John Wooden coached. This is not a hard decision. To be named the head basketball coach not only at John Wooden’s program and UCLA but to be named the head basketball coach at the world’s foremost No. 1 public institution is an unbelievable, incredible honor for me. So I’m overwhelmed a little bit. But, trust me, I’m prepared. You’ve got to embrace it. You only live once.” 

Cronin’s first year as head coach was off to a shaky start, however he was able to eventually turn it around. The Bruins went on to win 11 of their final 14 games, en route to a second place finish in the Pac-12. Once again, the basketball community took note of Cronin’s coaching abilities as he was awarded Pac-12 Coach of the Year and NABC District 19 Coach of the Year honors. The Bruin’s ended the season as one of the top rebounding teams in the nation and had three straight victories against ranked opponents, giving the UCLA fanbase a taste of what was yet to come. Furthermore, one of the most promising aspects of this season was seeing the player development that is capable in the hands of Cronin. Chris Smith earned the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player of the Year award and Tyger Campbell’s safe, smart and reliable basketball performances were encouraging to see after his freshman year ACL injury. Cronin and his fiery demeanor made it clear in his debut season, the future is bright.

Cronin’s second season served as a complete revival of UCLA basketball. He led the Bruins to a 22-10 regular season record, but, after a disappointing Pac-12 tournament the Bruins finished fourth in the conference. Luckily enough, UCLA was granted a play-in game to the 2020-2021 NCAA tournament, allowing Cronin to make history. Cronin became one of five coaches to lead their team to all 10 of the past NCAA tournaments, joining the elite company of Mark Few, Tom Izzo, Bill Self and recently retired Roy Williams. This tournament run proved to be historic, as the Bruins went on to upset Brigham Young University (BYU), Alabama, Michigan and eventually suffer a heart-breaking, buzzer-beater loss to Gonzaga. 

In a press conference after this legendary run, Cronin had a message for the nation as he declared that UCLA basketball was finally here to stay.

“Nobody picked us,” Cronin said. “Nobody believed in us. And that’s how we like it.”

Cronin and the UCLA basketball team are hungrier than ever to show the world what this basketball program is made of. And, after last season, they are starting to get the recognition that they deserve. Keeping in theme of Cronin’s elite player development, UCLA had a trio of selections to the year-end All-Pac-12 team in 2020-21, including Tyger Campbell (first team), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (second team) and Johnny Juzang (second team). Juzang was arguably the nation’s biggest breakout star and is ready to run it back this 2021-2022 season under Cronin’s tutelage. 

Cronin is entering his third year as The Michael Price Family UCLA Men’s Head Basketball Coach, with a cumulative coaching record of 406-196 (.678 win percentage), in the Bruin’s most highly anticipated season in recent memory. Entering the season as the nationally ranked number two seed, UCLA had an electric overtime victory over 4th ranked Villanova, proving to the nation that the Bruins mean business. UCLA will look to dominate the Pac-12 this year and hopefully compete for a national championship in March. A highly anticipated final four rematch between UCLA and Gonzaga is right around the corner this Tuesday, as UCLA looks to rewrite the history books and steal away that number one ranking in the nation.

This UCLA basketball team is full of depth but also possesses elite scorers and lockdown defenders. The Bruins are serious contenders this year, but this reign will look to continue years down the line under Coach Cronin’s guidance. Cronin has the team playing a quick paced offense this year, spreading the wealth around and getting their various sharpshooters as many looks as possible. On the other side of the ball, Cronin has the team playing aggressive defense, featuring more full court-press than previous years. The team’s movements and rotations are looking strong and all signs point to NCAA success. Cronin is strategically utilizing his large inventory of weapons, making UCLA one of the more, if not most, dynamic and lethal teams in the conference and nation. 

While hopes are high for this season, Cronin’s elite recruiting and talent development paired with the love and care he has for each player should enable the Bruins to be a basketball powerhouse for years to come. He has fostered a unique basketball environment here, one in which will certainly attract future stars down the line. Cronin has turned the likes of Johnny Juzang, Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr, and Jules Bernard into elite college basketball players. Who’s to say what he can accomplish with 5 star recruit Peyton Watson this year or 5 star recruits Amari Bailey and Adem Bona next year? While winning is starting to become synonymous with his name, Cronin’s hallmark recruiting abilities have reestablished this basketball program, and established it with the intentions of longevity. Last year’s Final Four run was very exciting, but Cronin knows his job isn’t done yet. He yearns for that 12th National Championship and he has the weapons and basketball expertise to bring it home to Westwood. Maybe one day he can get a statue right next to John Wooden, because Cronin and UCLA basketball alike are here to stay.

Life as a professional athlete is very different from life as a corporate employee, particularly financially. As an athlete, you get your money on a reverse trajectory from the norm. A draft or signing bonus would be more than enough to constitute the ordinary person’s retirement fund, mortgages, and future childrens’ college funds. However, without careful consideration, that money can be, and often is, gone before they know it, leading to a life of financial ruin and regret.

A Sports Illustrated statistic states that a staggering 78% of all National Football League (NFL) and 60% of all National Basketball Association (NBA) players will declare bankruptcy within 1 and 5 years of retirement, respectively. The NFL is at the forefront of this growing dilemma due to their incomparably low average career lengths. In the three years or less than the average pro career lasts, NFL players make an average of $2 million per year. Athlete Essentials, a wealth management firm that caters to athletes, acknowledges that most NFL draftees are too young and immature to acquire such large amounts of money, as well as they being unequipped to manage or save that money to last. These young athletes, who often come from nothing, suddenly enter a world in which they have just been handed more fame and money than they ever could have imagined. Many tend to fall into a lavish lifestyle characterized by million-dollar cars, mansions, parties, and more. But by the third or fourth year of their careers, many players begin to struggle to live up to their lifestyle’s lavish standards as their signing bonus begins to dwindle. Before long, many athletes have begun living well beyond their means and are desperate for another paycheck. 

Furthermore, athletes tend to overproject their own levels of success, which can quickly lead to financial ruin. If a talented athlete is expecting a second multi-million dollar contract to be waiting around the corner, there is a fairly decent probability that they are going to squander most of their first deal. This can be exponentially more detrimental when an athlete gets injured. With the way the NFL contracts are structured, a large percentage of athletes’ salaries are non-guaranteed, meaning that if a player has a devastating career-ending injury, there is very little that can be done. These players, expecting to make millions of more dollars over the course of their careers, find themselves with very few options and oftentimes large amounts of debt. And don’t forget, only about 50% of players in the NFL have their college degrees, while the other 50% might struggle to find a future job somewhere else. While you might see established NFL stars such as Tom Brady walk in wearing a $12,000 suit and pricier watch, it is starting to become evident that athletes like him represent the minority, not the majority of the leagues. 

The lack of financial guidance that the NFL fosters is almost entirely liable for this situation. There is very little systemic support offered within the NFL offices and very little financial mentorship offered by staff or even players. This poor financial decision-making is often passed on from generation to generation, furthering this endless cycle. 

However, the NFL has begun implementing programs and guidelines in order to educate and assist all of the athletes that enter the league. The NFL has begun encouraging young NFL players to budget their initial paychecks until they are sure they will have steady income down the line. Additionally, the NFL is urging all athletes to hire a financial advisor to help manage spending habits and maximize their investment portfolios. NFL safety Glover Quinn, recently decided to store away 70% of his post-tax income with the intention of being able to live comfortably and support his family through retirement. This is the type of financial planning that the NFL is encouraging and believes will save the future of countless players. The NFL doesn’t want these young athletes to ignore the urge to splurge, but they want them to do so in a controlled, advised manner. While these players might enjoy competing with each others’ extravagant lifestyles and purchases, it isn’t sustainable and would be disapproved of by any reasonable financial advisor. 

While the NFL is beginning to incite change on the professional level, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has to be more prepared than ever to do the same. With the recent Name, Image, Likeness Laws that passed across the NCAA, which allows for student compensation, younger athletes than ever will be coming into very large amounts of money. These college students have been given a platform, and depending on the school and popularity of the sport, have the potential to earn millions of dollars in income ever before playing a professional second of sports. These athletes are even younger and have less experience managing money than professionals, but the NCAA and its new initiatives are on it. 

In a recent survey published in the Journal of Athlete Development and Experience, every athlete that participated responded that they would benefit from learning financial literacy and education. Over 60% of the athletes hadn’t received any source of financial education in high school and only 9% had since met with a financial advisor. It is also said that very few students knew about the NCAA’s existing financial literacy instructional videos, however, they are in the process of getting those videos more attractive. Additionally, the NCAA is working on making financial training available through videos, tips via text message, workshops just for student-athletes, meetings with a peer counselor, book recommendations, mandatory classes, and seminars, and even through an app on your phone. Corporate partners are very enthusiastic and willing to come to talk with athletes about budgeting, establishing credit, and planning financially for their future, and it is proving to be a necessary step for all young athletes. 

While thousands of athletes have been forced to declare bankruptcy, the major professional and college sports associations are working tirelessly to prevent this in the future. These athletes are handling significant amounts of money at increasingly young ages, and it is incredibly important that they are responsible for it. With the help of financial literacy lessons and advisors, hopefully, the financial state of retired/injured athletes will begin to improve. This is a very serious issue within the industry, and the governing bodies like the NFL and NCAA are finally starting to treat it as so.

It is once again that time of year. Football season is winding down and basketball season is revving up. Soon enough there will be thousands of students lining up outside of Pauley Pavilion waiting three-plus hours just to get inside. Camping out in line will all be worth it to see the basketball team, adorning their fresh Jordan brand jerseys, lacing up their new, clean white kicks, and starting off a season overrun by lofty expectations. After last year’s historic final four-run, the UCLA men’s basketball team is hungry to prove that it wasn’t a fluke.

 The 2020-2021 regular season campaign was a tumultuous one in which the Bruins lost All-Conference First Team senior Chris Smith to injury. Additionally, they went on a late losing streak in January and saw themselves get eliminated from the PAC-12 Tournament in the semi-finals to an overperforming Oregon State team. However, UCLA was ready by the time tournament season came around. They ultimately looked like an entirely different team, a team that was firing on all cylinders. A team that was led by Mick Cronin’s impressive coaching and Johnny Juzang’s lights-out shooting. That’s the team that every Bruin fan is anxiously waiting and hoping to see come firing out of the gates this 2021-2022 season. 

After only losing two players from last year’s roster, both of which had already been phased out of the Bruin’s roster rotation midway through the season, the Bruins bring back an entire starting lineup and supporting cast that is stacked on paper and full of chemistry. 3rd-year student and floor general Tyger Campbell makes his return to captain last year’s 11th most efficient offense in the nation. Additionally, Campbell looks to lead the team in assist rate (30.2%) again while averaging 13.7 points and 4.7 assists per game in the late stages of the tournament. Campbell’s high level of basketball IQ and ability to control the pace and play of the game make him a valuable asset to the Bruin’s starting five.

Few players in the country will enter this 2021-2022 season as touted as Johnny Juzang himself. After flirting with the idea of entering the NBA draft, Juzang ultimately decided to run it back with the Bruins and the student body couldn’t be more grateful. After an abysmal shooting performance all season, Juzang broke out in the tournament and his hands got hot, falling just four points shy of setting UCLA’s all-time record for most points by an individual in the tournament, 141 versus 137. All eyes are on Juzang this year as the rest of the country wonders if he is capable of leading this Bruins team on yet another deep tournament run as he also vies for the Naismith College Player of the Year honors.

While Johnny Juzang is certainly the star, none of UCLA’s success would be possible without his right-hand man, the team’s leading rebounder Jaime Jacquez Jr. Additionally, Jaime Jaquez led the team in minutes played, starting all 32 games, producing 21 double digit performances and averaging marks of 15.0 points, 6.3 boards, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Jaquez maintained the highest offensive rating on the team and is prepared to be a serious contributor this year as well, hopefully en route to a second final four appearance and maybe a national championship. 

After a shaky start to the season offensively, Jules Bernard really kicked into high gear later on. Bernard ended the season with nine double-digit games in the final 12 and helped improve the Bruin’s spacing and defense while providing reliable ball control in place of Campbell and Juzang. In his final season as a Bruin, Bernard hopes to hold on to his starting lineup spot but has a bench with high star recruits eager to take his place. 

The Bruin’s center position will almost certainly be filled by Cody Riley, however, he is going to have to perform to keep his starting role. After playing and starting in 31 games last year, after being used in a higher percentage of possessions than anyone else on the roster, and after tallying 19 double-digit nights, Riley has secured his job. However, nobody would be surprised to see Cronin mix up the lineup at some point in this season as he is anxious to debut four-star Rutgers transfer, Myles Johnson. Johnson has become a highly anticipated transfer due to his status as one of the deadliest shooters and rebounders of all Big 10 posts. The recent graduate transfer logged an impressive 68.2% shooting clip while averaging 8 points and 8.5 rebounds. Johnson and Riley will make a very formidable, strong defensively, and reliably offensively center duo.

The Bruins bench and role players are chock full of athletes ready to contribute to the team’s success. David Singleton is ready to serve as an elite shooter and defensive wing for the team. Jake Kyman is prepared to hit his threes and hopefully continue with some of the success he found in big moments his freshman year. Jalen Clark had a very impressive second half of the season. He is emerging as one of the conference’s youngest, best, and most reliable defenders and is said to have improved drastically on offense this offseason. Clark should see an expanded role on this team and will hopefully be able to capitalize on it. 

Arguably the most highly anticipated UCLA Bruin would be the incoming recruit, 5 star Peyton Watson. Watson was the highest-ranked basketball player in the state of California and courtesy of his 6’8” stature will be competing for minutes at forward. Watson is expected to be offensively and defensively and is a projected lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft. Hopefully, he is able to restore UCLA’s athletic glory and bring a national championship to Westwood before he is drafted. Additionally, with recent commitments from the class of 2022, the Bruins seem to have success on the basketball horizon. Bringing in two top 20 players from the national rankings, the Bruins will be led by 5-star recruits Amari Bailey and Adem Bona. This wave of success will only further improve UCLA’s commits and lockdown talented players from the class of 2023 and 2024. Mick Cronin and the Bruin’s look to be in the midst of rebuilding the UCLA basketball dynasty and it all starts with this year. Sitting at number 2 on the preseason power rankings and with expectations of a Pac-12 championship and deep tournament run, this season is certainly going to be one for the ages. Four’s Up! Let’s go win a national championship.

“If we restart youth sports from zero and rebuild it based on children’s physical and emotional needs,” Mark O’Sullivan, a researcher, soccer coach, and youth development expert asked, “would it look like it does today? Hands up for no.”

O’Sullivan asked this question to a large audience of parents to the children of Wasatch Soccer Club and MetaSport FC, two highly competitive soccer clubs based in Utah. These parents pay hundreds of dollars for registration, plus uniform fees, referee fees, state league fees, and more, all in the hope that their kids are getting the best development possible. The most competitive of parents spend thousands of dollars on private training and dedicate hundreds of hours to their children’s athletics. And yet, when O’Sullivan asked this question, every single hand rose to the sky as murmurs of the word “no” spread throughout the crowd. 

Ultimately, American youth sports are on a steep decline as the “pay to play” ideology becomes increasingly intertwined with the youth sports culture. From 2011 to 2017, according to the Aspen Institute, the number of kids aged 6-12 who regularly participate in team sports dropped from 41.5% to 37%. Furthermore, the institute noted that the percentage of kids who participate in high-calorie-burning sports has declined from ​​28.7% to 23.9%. As sports participation levels decrease at the youth level, high school sports participation in 2018-2019 saw its first decline as well since 1989. While youth sports were once dominated by pickup basketball and recreational baseball, today’s youth landscape is increasingly focused on exclusivity, specialization, and professionalization. Almost impossibly, the youth sports industry has grown to an unfathomable $17 billion, bigger than Major League Baseball and the National Football League. 

This pay-to-play aspect of youth sports is creating inequalities throughout the sport as wealthy families shell out thousands of dollars on one-on-one training from pro athletes, weeklong camps, and leagues made up of super teams. On the other hand, low-income families are finding it harder and harder to financially support their children to play. According to the Aspen Institute, just 34% of kids from families earning less than $25,000 a year played a team sport at least one day in 2017, compared to 41.9% in 2011. But among families that earn over $100,000 a year, participation has risen from 66.4% to 69%.

With all these financial barriers being constructed, youth across the country are missing out on many of the benefits that youth sports offer. One of the things young athletes enjoy most about youth sports is the relationships they build. After playing together year after year, traveling together, and growing up together, youth sports serve as a means of allowing so many children across the country to meet their best friends. Additionally, youth sports allow for children to develop a strong work ethic and healthy competitive drive. 

Recently, the Changing the Game Project has announced its goal of “returning youth sports to our children.” They are attempting to have the 10,000-hour rule become the bedrock philosophy of youth sports, encouraging athletes to train for 10,000+ hours in order to become a top player. This rule motivates parents to force their children into specializing in one sport rather than getting a taste for all of them. While specializing in a single sport can be seen as a child’s healthy aspirations to succeed, “extrinsic influences” were common in these situations. 

Due to the extreme amounts of money in the youth sports industry, parents need to be aware of questionable operations and programs. Reputable programs are in must-win positions at all times and if they lose, they risk losing money as well as some of their most talented players. In too many of these programs, winning is a higher priority than player development, demonstrating a flaw within the youth sports system. Additionally, these programs are incredibly volatile as they are always at risk of losing their most talented players to other, more successful programs. This can lead to what is known as the “cascade effect” were supporting players follow the most talented players in an attempt to develop amongst the nation’s best youth and win more tournaments.

Arguably the most toxic component to modern-day youth sports would be the cutthroat nature of their search for prestige, bragging rights, and success on the future level. Hundreds of thousands of athletes alongside their increasingly competitive and involved parents, vying to be the 2% of high school athletes that receive a college scholarship. This cultivates a system in which coaches are forced to tell a kid when they aren’t good enough or that they don’t have a viable future in the sport. While youth sports used to be a casual way for children to exercise and have fun, it has now become a system that applies immense pressure in order to breed athletes who have that slight potential for stardom at the collegiate or professional level. 

On the other end of the spectrum, new national recreational leagues have developed to offer varying forms of youth sports. Leagues like i9 Sports offer for-fun games until athletes reach high school in order to promote a reduced pressure athletic experience. Additionally, these leagues offer the less talented players a chance to get a starting role versus playing limited minutes in some of the highly competitive leagues. 

While youth sports will continue to evolve, it is important to ensure that your child is in the right league setting for their own mindset and development. The pressure and stress caused by these competitive leagues can be detrimental to certain youth, inciting O’Sullivan to make the claim that the common model of youth sports is “linear.” While it may work for some, it doesn’t work for all of the nation’s youth. His point could be likened to someone throwing a bag of eggs at a brick wall. If one of them doesn’t break, we’d hold it up and proclaim, “Look! The system works!” However, Sullivan deems it necessary to develop a new system of youth sports that is encouraging to all participants and fosters a more inclusive and supportive environment for families of all socioeconomic statuses and backgrounds.