Latino Stereotypes in the U.S. Entertainment Industry

As the Latino community becomes an increasingly large part of the U.S. population, it has become harder and harder for people to ignore their voices. For many years in the U.S. entertainment industry, Latinos have been stereotyped and underrepresented. In TV, film, and sports, Latinos are often reduced to caricatures that contribute to the stereotypes of the loud, unintelligent, hypersexual maids and gangsters. The stereotypes are detrimental to the further inclusion of Latinos in an already blended American society. This will serve as an exploration into the stereotypes that are used to marginalize the grow Latino population in the U.S., as well as a window into some of the things that are being done to stop these stereotypes and force the media to recognize Latinos are complex, multidimensional people, just like any other person.

Common Stereotypes                                                                                                                                  The Maid: One of the more common portrayals of the Latina is as a domestic worker, typically as a made. The maid comes in many forms of the stereotypical Latina. She is typically either a young, sexy woman or a portly, older women. The maid often perpetuates the stereotype of the one-dimensional character lacking intelligence.

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Consuela, from Fox’s Family Guy, is a recurring character has the maid who speaks little English and is rarely viewed as anything but the maid. via Tumblr

The Sexpot:  In an instance of hypersexualizing the Latina, another common stereotype is the sexpot. Raquel Welch, Rita Hayworth, Eva Longoria, and Sofia Vergara are some of the many actresses who often played the curvy and spicy sex symbol. As Tanisha Ramirez of the Huffington Post explained:

The problem here is that this idea of the curvy, sexy and sultry Latina denies many Latinas their cultural identification based on their physical appearances and sexual attractiveness, alone. In essence, this sort of thinking traps our culture within our bodies, ignoring the values, ethics, and traditions that contribute to our sense of culture and community.

The Latin Lover: Suave, sexy, and intimate are just a few of the terms that are often used to describe the Latin Lover. Antonio Banderas and Ricardo Montalban are two actors who have commonly played the Latin Lover role as the dangerous, greasy man who is out to chase skirts.

The Gangster: Dating back to even before the 1960s when West Side Story which features a rivalry between a Caucasian and Puerto Rican gang, Latinos have often been depicted as the thugs in many TV shows and films. This stereotype is very harmful to Latinos in a today’s media climate, where politicians spread fear-filled rhetoric about immigrants – labeling them as thugs, drug dealers, and rapists.

Speedy Gonzalez                                                                                                                                          There’s a well-documented history of the stereotypes and racism of many children’s cartoons, one of the more famous ones being Warner Brothers’ Speedy Gonzalez. “The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico” was a tiny mouse who appeared in the Looney Tunes cartoons starting in the 1950s. Sporting a large yellow sombrero, a white shirt and trousers, and a red kerchief, Gonzalez was dressed to match “traditional Mexican attire.” Voiced by Mel Blanc, the child of Russian-Jewish parents, Gonzalez has an exaggerated Mexican accent, while also speaking Spanish occasionally.

While many Hispanics view Gonzalez as a cultural icon because of his intelligence and pursuit of justice, many viewers, then and now, are offended by his hyperbolic accent and attire, as well as the fact that he sometimes plays the role of the Latin lover. Gonzalez’s rival was the greengo pussygato Sylvester, while of the other mice in the show were often portrayed as lazy drunks, a common stereotype that was especially prevalent while the cartoon was still on air. Cartoon Network later pulled Speedy Gonzalez from air, citing “ethnic and racial prejudices.”

Gloria Delgado-Pritchett                                                                                                                      Sofia Vergara has been a controversial figure when in comes to the representation of Latinas in the media. While her presence and success is something to be lauded, many people find the characters that she plays further Latina stereotypes. Her best known role in the U.S is as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in ABC’s “Modern Family.” The show describes Gloria as “extremely passionate,” “not afraid to say exactly what’s on her mind,” and “drop-dead gorgeous.” While this may seem like a fairly basic description, these elements of her character fall in line with the stereotype of the loud, ditsy, and sexy Latina.

In one episode, “Fulgencio,” Gloria’s mother and sister, Pilar and Sonia, visit from Colombia. This episode has been one of the most criticized in terms of a hyperbolic perpetuance of the Latina stereotype. As Dalene Rovestine of Paste Magazine stated in her review of the episode:

In most episodes, Gloria’s typical Colombian, I-lived-in-a-village jokes are tolerable because they’re few and far between. A whole episode of it from three women was not tolerable or funny in the slightest. Example: her sister asks where the garden is and wants to wash her clothes in the river—just because the woman is from a developing country does not mean she’s an idiot.

Because of the types of characters Vergara often plays, people will pander to these roles for her in public appearances. In the video below, we see Vergara appearing at the 2014 Emmy’s, literally being placed on a pedestal as a sex symbol and made to be the butt of the joke because of the beautiful airhead that she portrays on TV.

Tony Montana                                                                                                                                              The story of a Cuban thug rising to the top of the Miami drug world, Scarface‘s Tony Montana is perhaps the most famous stereotyped character. While the film is lauded as a classic, Montana’s character embodies several stereotypes. For starters, he is played by Al Pacino, an Italian American, who has an over-the-top accent. Montana is a reckless, machismo, sex-crazed man. He wears flashy clothes and owns wild furniture. And his power, money, and drug-driven tactics often overused in the film industry.

Latin Flair                                                                                                                                                       One of the most common stereotypes we see of Latino athletes in the perception of the “latin flair.” Because Latino ballplayers play with fire and passion (just as any other athlete does), they are often criticized for the way these characteristics manifest themselves. While this tension does not stem from the media itself, they have only made matters worse by fueling ideology behind stereotypes of Latino athletes. Many members of the media denounce the Latino ballplayers for the way they play the game, saying that they are too “flashy.” For many Latino athletes, exuberance and celebration have always been a part of the way they play the game, and are just “having fun,” says Carlos Gonzalez, an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies from Venezuela. One example of the issue that some take with “latin flair” is the bat flip in baseball. While some athletes and media members alike see the act as a means of showing up the pitcher, for many athletes it is simply a way to celebrate.

One popular way to draw attention to stereotypes is through comedy.  On FX’s The League, characters discuss the stereotypes that are used by broadcasters when covering Latino athletes.

Kevin: If I’m talking about a Latino player in baseball… Ozzie Guillen is a –

Ruxin: Firecracker

Kevin: Firecracker.

Ruxin: Latin guys are always firecrackers.

Pete: Sparkplug.

Kevin: Sparkplug in the clubhouse.

While this may seem silly to some, these stereotypes further the alienation of Latino athletes in the U.S., while many are already subject to a language barrier.

Another stereotype of the Latino athlete is that they are stupid. Latino players are often seen as fast and aggressive, characteristics that are fueled by physical talent and ambition. Many media members take this to mean that Latino athletes aren’t as intelligent as others. Colin Cowherd, a former ESPN Radio personality now employed by Fox Sports, had his expiring contract with ESPN terminated early due to comments that he made regarding the intelligence of Dominican baseball players. The following comments were made after the Miami Marlins named General Manage Dan Jennings as the Manager of the team:

“You don’t think a general manager can manage? Like it’s impossible? The game is too complex? I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball’s just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities. A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have.”

Cowherd’s comments were condemned by Major League Baseball and several Latino ballplayers. He later issued a statement apologizing, but his comments brought to light the popular perception that Latino athletes are less intelligent.

Challenging Latino Stereotypes

Not Just Immigrants                                                                                                                               While many TV shows and films portray Latinos as recent immigrants who have landed in America, a few shows have be applauded for portraying Latinos as Americans. The George Lopez Show depicts an average Mexican American family and is recognized as a major success as an accurate portrayal of Mexican American life. Ugly Betty challenged the  stereotype of the sexy but ditsy Latina and portrays a young, intelligent Betty Suarez from Queens. She often has to overcome her unfavorable look and awkwardness in order to improve her place in the fashion world. These shows, as well as some others, depicted some characters as having little to no accent because of their upbringing in the U.S.

#LatinasSpeak                                                                                                                                                    A group of five Latina periodistas (journalists) grew tired of the stereotypes that Latinas face in the media and began the #LatinasSpeak movement. Michelle Huete, Rubi Martinez, Griselda Flores, Joanna Renteria, and Brenda Sotelo decided that they were done being reduced to the characteristics and physical attributes of a Latina and wanted to be recognized for their strength and intelligence. Their hope is to raise awareness of the stereotypes that Latinas face and to “encourage and promote women empowerment and sisterhood because it’s time to work together instead of bringing each other down. We want to voice what we are and what we are not.”

 

National Hispanic Media Coalition                                                                                                        The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) released a report in 2012 detailing the affect that media portrayals of Latinos have on public opinion. The report found that “Stereotypes people believe to be true about immigrants and Latinos reflect the images, characters, and stories they commonly encounter in news, television, film, and radio programming.” The NHMC was created to protect and promote Hispanic and Latino media, as well as to dispel of different stereotypes.

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Latinos Beyond the Reel                                                                                                                                  Filmmakers Miguel Picker and Chyng Sun examined the misrepresentation of Latinos in their film Latinos Beyond the Reel. They found that the stereotypes that are often used to represent Latinos (gangsters, bandits, harlots, drug dealers, etc.) are dangerously harmful to the Latino community and cause many to fear Latinos as a threat to the American way of life. Ultimately, Picker and Sun explained how a “narrow range of distorted images allowed to stand for an entire population can blind us to the full humanity of the real people they represent, and ultimately challenges viewers to consider what alternatives are necessary.”

Hofstra Students Bid Islanders Farewell

After the Islanders were eliminated from the playoffs in game 7 against the Capitals, Islanders fans reflected on the memories they had with the team. Hofstra students, who find the Islanders to be part of the community, speak about what the team has meant to them, and how they will miss the team being next door.

Donald Sterling and the Overlooked Presence of Racism

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Shelly Sterling intends to keep her share of the Clippers. See what her lawyer has to say about it, here.

To hear my podcast about Donald Sterling, Affirmative Action, and racism, use this link.

In 2006, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was sued by the Department of Justice because of housing discrimination. This story went largely unnoticed at the time, though one reporter made sure to address the importance of this incident. ESPN’s Bomani Jones covered the story appropriately for the time, though it didn’t quite get the publicity it deserved. Jones discussed the past issues that Sterling had (he was sued by 19 people for housing discrimination in 2003) and how racism was still being vastly overlooked as playing a crucial part in society. Flash forward to 2014, and it’s fair to ask, has much changed?

As Jones said in his 2006 article, “It’s not Sterling’s job to bring attention to his ethical transgressions. That’s the job of the media. And as it relates to Sterling, we have dropped the ball.” The attention wasn’t given then either. Not only did the media drop the ball, but the public and the NBA did as well. If all we do is point fingers at Donald Sterling, than we are not going to accomplish anything. This isn’t a man who, as an 80-year-old man, is going to change. He doesn’t feel remorseful about anything he said because he believes the things that he’s said. Taking away his ownership and banning him from the NBA isn’t going to change much for him.

Sterling was sued in 2009 by former NBA star and then Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor. In the lawsuit, it came out that Sterling was believed to have said something along the lines that he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach.” Even when he says things that make him sound like a plantation owner, people weren’t willing to stick their neck and say something. I was shocked not by anything that Sterling said, but by the fact that this was somehow a surprise to a large majority of the people. Because Sterling’s previous incidents had been swept under the rug, where all he got was a slap on the wrist, what should have come as no surprise, ended up being a shock to the public.

This is a man who sat courtside with his girlfriend, while his wife sat across from them. He clearly doesn’t care about being caught up in controversy, and doesn’t appear to have any morals. Had we looked more into all of the events that previously took place, the NBA wouldn’t have been put in the position where they had to ban him. The players did a good job by threatening to not play, forcing the hand of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver banned Sterling, and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA Constitution. The fact is that Sterling shouldn’t have been able to own a team this long after all of the controversy in his past. However, there was never anything quite like this offense, which could be held against Sterling.

The best thing for the NBA to do would be to find a way to convince Sterling’s wife, Shelly, to give up her share of ownership of the team. To save face, they could force the team to be sold to former Laker great, Magic Johnson. Since Johnson was the leading voice in the NBAs anti-Sterling movement, it would be good for the league, and Sterling, to sell the team to a beloved and well-respected man in Magic Johnson. In the end, it comes down to not just the media, coaches, and players; it comes down to the fans. If they want Sterling to stay out, and keep from others like Sterling ending up as owner of an NBA team, then it’s time for everyone to speak up, and not just when we’re handed all of the evidence. As Magic said, Sterling’s remarks are a “black eye” to the NBA, but they are also a sign that maybe things haven’t changed has much as we thought.

Did you enjoy this article? Below are links with more information on Donald Sterling and the NBA.

Nate Silver, of fivethirtyeight, breaks down NBA fandom by race.

Watch ESPN’s, Keith Olbermann, give his take on what he thought the players should do.

FanGraphs and Sabermetrics

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Have a listen to the Mr. Fundamentals podcast, with me, Josh Wilson.

The above images may seem foreign to most of you reading this. There are enough lines, dots, squares and circles to have your head spinning, but if you want to properly understand baseball, you would do well to look into graphs and tables, such as the ones above. While baseball is often seen as a conservative sport, less likely to welcome change, the sabermetic movement showed up on baseball’s doorstep, and it is here to stay. The game is no longer just about runs, home runs, runs batted in, pitcher wins, saves, etc. As other sports look more into statistical analysis and sabermetrics, baseball is already fighting its first battle with the old, curmudgeons who are anti-sabermetrics.

In more recent years, more and more MLB teams have gravitated towards using statistical analysis and sabermetrics to analyze player performance instead of using the stats on the backs of baseball cards, and the infamous “eye test.” While the eye test is certainly still very useful in the game today,  it has its time and place where is should be used, and others where it needs to tucked away. The eye can only take in and the brain can only store so much data. With graphs, data tables, and other useful tools, sabermetric databases can be used to help make the game better, the players better, and everyone smarter.

We’ve seen several examples of the usefulness of sabermetrics in the game so far. Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball, is a perfect example of how teams can benefit from the use of these advanced statistics. Sabermetics throws out  all bias, levels the playing field, and allows one to take a deeper look into a player or team’s strengths and weaknesses. They allow teams to make wiser investments in players, after all, baseball is a business. We’ve seen several teams embrace the sabermetric revolution with open arms, including the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have Bill James, who is widely considered “The Father of Sabermetrics” in their front office. The game doesn’t change too fast, but our understanding of it does, so don’t be left in the dust.

 

For more information on sabermetrics, explore FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, SABR, and many more books and websites that use statistical analysis.

NCAA Championship Game Preview

After an exciting Saturday night of Final Four Basketball, Championship Monday is finally here. 68 teams began this tournament with a chance to win, and entering Monday, we are down to two teams. The #7 seeded Uconn Huskies will face the #8 Kentucky Wildcats in Arlington, Texas at the AT&T Center Monday night 9:10 ET. Both teams took exciting paths to make it here. The Wildcats capped off their impressive run with a huge Aaron Harrison three-pointer, which gave Kentucky a 74-73 lead over Wisconsin with just 5.7 seconds left. Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson gave the Badgers one last chance with a jumper from three feet inside the three-point line, but his shot rimmed out, and the Wildcats advance to Final Four.

Kentucky’s margin of victory across five tournament games is 18 points, the lowest total of any team, since the tournament’s expansion, to make it to the finals. The Wildcats will meet a Huskies team that has looked better and better as the tournament has gone along. DeAndre Daniels has been a key cog in the Huskies run, as he is averaging 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds during their five wins during this postseason. The Huskies, unlike the Wildcats, rely on most of their play coming from their upperclassmen Daniels, Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey, and Lasan Kromah. Kentucky was the preseason number one, and a heavy favorite entering the season, but with an up-and-down season, they fell outside of the top 25 entering the tournament. The Huskies were ranked 18 in the preseason, and ended up back at 18 entering the tournament. Both teams will now look to make it up to number one on Monday night.

To hear my prediction, checkout my podcast as I breakdown the NCAA Championship game between Uconn and Kentucky.

American League East Preview

Here is my latest podcast. Matt Radowitz joins me as we preview the American League East.

NBA 2K14 With Rob and Josh

In this series of pictures, we see Rob and Josh playing NBA 2K14 on PS3. Rob plays as his favorite team, the Los Angeles Clippers, while Josh plays as his favorite team, the New Orleans Pelicans. No game on 2K goes without laughs when it comes to Rob and Josh. Here we have Rob getting […]

Slurs in Sports: The NFL Trying to Rid of the N-Word

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On July 31, 2013, a video surfaced of Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver Riley Cooper, a white man, shouting “I will fight every N***** here,” while at a Kenny Chesney concert. This event took place as football training camps were starting up, with Cooper’s words creating a divided locker room of those who were willing to forgive him, and those who weren’t. This may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in the NFL’s eyes. The use of the N-word has long been taboo, especially amongst people who aren’t black. Following reports from this past week that say the NFL has proposed flagging a player with a 15-yard penalty for the use of the N-word on the playing field, there has been some backlash amongst athletes.

It’s hard for me to speak on the use of the word in the locker room, especially with the fact that I’m not around an NFL locker room much. However, I can tell you that the word has been used as a term of endearment on teams that I have played on, and I know it exists as a term of endearment amongst black, college and professional athletes. The word is certainly still used as an ethnic slur towards black people, however, many black people do use it without any intention to offend anyone, only as a way to address someone as a friend or acquaintance. But many people would like to rid of the term because of its historical meaning and negative connotations.

Hall of Fame linebacker, Harry Carson, perhaps put it best when asked about the use of the N-word as a term of endearment, saying, “I find it very disheartening that in our society today we’re having a debate about the n-words being used as a term of endearment. If that’s a term of endearment, go up to your grandfather, or an elderly black person, and use it on them. See how they react. For those who use it, I say they have no sense of history.”

I’m not here to focus solely on the usage of specifically the N-word in society, and sports, but other slurs that are used as well. While I applaud the NFL for trying to clean up the language on and off the field, this change will be very hard to enforce. While the NFL is working towards eliminating this hate speech towards black players, the league still has a team that uses a derogatory nickname for Native Americans. The NFL still hasn’t focused its efforts on what is one of the league’s most glaring issues. Not only is the NFL neglecting to recognize the issues that the Native American community has with the league, but they also are not doing their best to address issues with the LGBTQ community.

In the NBA, we’ve seen players get fined for using the term “f*ggot” during games, but the NFL has yet to address this issue. Now, unlike in the NBA, the players are much further away from mics, cameras, and fans, which means we’re hearing and seeing less, but the term is certainly used throughout the league. If the NFL wishes to stop the use of the N-word, then they can change Washington’s nickname, penalize the use of all derogatory terms and do their best to eliminate all hate speech, whether it is used endearingly or not.

An Early Look at March Madness

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With March just around the corner, the sports world is gearing up for one of the most exciting times of the year: March Madness. While the remainder of the regular season and conference tournaments still have yet to play out, it’s time to take an early look at what teams look poised for a deep run in the tournament, what teams may make an early exit, and what teams may surprise people. We’ll start with those who are ready to make a deep run in this year’s tournament.

The Favorites

Florida Gators
The Gators have rattled of 19 straight wins on their way to a 25-2 record. Led by seniors Casey Prather, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, and Will Yeguette, the Gators are one of the older teams at the top of college basketball right now. Not only are they a more experienced team, but the Gators play nine guys 10 or more minutes per game. When March rolls around, it’s good to have some experience and depth, and the Gators have both of these.

Wichita State Shockers
The Shockers are the lone remaining undefeated team in Divison I basketball. Last year, Wichita State made a surprise run to the Final Four before being defeated by the Louisville Cardinals, who went on to win the national championship. The Shockers are led by senior forward Cleanthony Early, whose 15.8 points and 6 rebounds per game lead the Shockers. Alongside Early are guards Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet, and Tekele Cotton, whose breakout performances in last years tournament have carried over to this season. Like the Gators, Wichita State has nine guys playing at least 10 minutes a game, and their experience in March last year should help them make another run this season.

Duke Blue Devils
After dominating early on in the season, Duke began to struggle once ACC play started up. This was due, in large part, to the struggles of freshmen phenom Jabari Parker. In Duke’s last 10 games, however, they have gone 8-2, with Parker averaging 19.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Not only has Parker stepped up his play, but Duke’s team defense has been much better than it was earlier in the season, with players such as Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Tyler Thornton stepping up their games in recent weeks. With Parker, sophomore Rodney Hood, and a great supporting cast, Duke is ready to go deep into the tournament this year.

Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks have had the toughest schedule so far this season, so unlike Wichita State, this team is battle tested. With two of the best standout freshmen, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, the Jayhawks are one of the most talented teams in the NCAA. The Jayhawks have what many teams do not: front court depth. With Embiid, Perry Ellis, Tarik Black, and Jamari Traylor, Kansas doesn’t have to worry as much about their bigs getting into foul trouble. Of course, when the tournament comes, it helps to be able to score, and that is no problem for Kansas, whose 50.3% shooting from the field is second best in the nation. Look for Wiggins and Embiid to step up their game once March rolls around.

Michigan State Spartans
After being bounced in the Sweet Sixteen the past two years, the Spartans will look to make it much deeper into the tournament this year. Led by seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling, as well as sophmore phenom Gary Harris, the Spartans are one of the best teams in the country at doing it all. They score, rebound, and defend better than most teams, but will need a healthy Branden Dawson if they hope to make a championship run. Dawson broke his hand in late January, but is expected to return soon. With Dawson healthy, and Payne, Appling, and Harris clicking, Tom Izzo’s squad should have to problems playing deep into March.

The NCAA Is At It Again

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As if we weren’t already tired enough of laughable penalties being handed out by the NCAA, they added another penalty to the list after they made three Oklahoma University football players were forced to pay $3.83 after eating too much pasta at a Sooners athletics banquet. Apparently the players ate more than their share of pasta, and were forced to make the payment. Fortunately, the NCAA wasn’t too exceedingly greedy where they asked for the $11.49 to be paid to the NCAA, but instead they had to pay this penalty to a charity.
This is just one of the several cases of stupid penalties that have been handed down by the NCAA. This once again harps on the question of benefits for student athletes, and how poorly student athletes are compensated. Whenever I hear people argue that a “free” education is a good enough compensation for student athletes, I can’t help but laugh. Many student athletes could get a free education or at least discounted education based on scholarly work alone. For all of the hours that athletes spend practicing, they are far from fairly compensated. They don’t have the time to work, so they have no income. Unlike other students who can play music, paint, work in labs, etc, athletes can’t use their skills to make money while they are in college.
I don’t know that there is a perfect system where all athletes can be fairly compensated, because like any other business (yes, college and college athletics are businesses), some people are worth more than others. I’m not saying college athletes need to be paid on a large scale the way professional athletes do, but certainly the NCAA could afford to share the wealth that they have accumulated of the years. I’m not putting it on the schools to pay their athletes because it has become common knowledge that many schools lose money from their sports teams. However, I do think it should be the NCAA’s responsibility to pay athletes considering all of the money that they make off of athletes. Is there going to be a perfect system? No. But I have no doubt that there can be a functional system with the NCAA paying the athletes at least a little bit, and drastically loosening up on some of these silly rules, that lead to athletes having to pay $3.83 for having too much pasta at an athletic banquet, or a women having to pay $20 for washing her car on campus. Come on, NCAA.

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