Mount Hood

American football in Tunisia

Written by: Gretchen Sims | Editor-in-Chief

It’s hard to imagine the world of football outside of America, without the billion-dollar industry, massive stadiums and enthusiastic fans. However, American football is played across the globe with leagues in Germany, Canada, France, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Netherlands and, recently, Africa. 

While American football was established in Egypt and Morocco in the early 2000s, newer teams have begun to take over the scene as the sport works to make itself a recognizable sport across Africa.  

One of these African teams, the Carthage Eagles, sprung out of Tunisia and has secured its place as the National American Football Team of Tunisia. However, creating an American football team in Tunisia was not easy, nor did it happen overnight. The idea was first put forth on social media and grew from there by word of mouth. 

While the program grew slowly at first, the Eagles now consist of players from all over the world — most based out of Germany, France, Italy and Turkey — who are of Tunisian descent. This does, however, lead to obstacles in team building such as language barriers, travel challenges and differing levels of play.

Amine Ben Abdelkarim, an Eagles’ linebacker and the current program President, founded the first Tunisian team in 2014. Abdelkarim reflected on this as well as what inspired him to pursue building the team. 

“…I started practicing football when I moved to France in 2013. I joined a French team, Garches Kiowas. In 2014 I heard that Morocco and Egypt played two games to reach the World Cup, so I said to myself how come there’s no Tunisian team? Starting that day, it became my aim. Building a Tunisian national team based on experienced players who have Tunisian origin,” Abdelkarim said.

To many, the thought of an American football team in Tunisia was implausible. Additionally, Abdelkarim, the linebacker with a dream, had many obstacles stacked against him. 

“I started football at the age of 32… The age players end their careers…” said Abdelkarim. “(It was also crucial to) convince Tunisian authorities that we can practice that sport in Tunisia and it can attract people.”

The Tunisian government was persuaded to accept American football after the team hosted a program for over 70 Tunisian children, where they demonstrated their passion and love of the sport to the next generation. The camp was observed by the sports minister and mayors of the country. After the camp, approval was granted for the sport to integrate itself as a part of Tunisian society. 

The team’s success, however, can not be credited to just the players’ passion and love for the game. None of this would have been possible without Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Cevin Conrad, who assimilated players of all different levels, molding them into a cohesive team. 

Conrad was born in Oregon and moved to Germany after meeting his wife. It was there that Abdelkarim approached him about coaching the Tunisian team. 

“I started by looking for Tunisian players and at the same time a HC (Head Coach) who could be interested (in) the project. And this is how I met Cevin Conrad — the godfather of my daughters now,” said Abdelkarim.

Conrad was interested in the idea of a Tunisian national team.

“It seemed like such a crazy idea — and I helped build up football in Germany — I knew how tough something like that would be and I kind of wanted to hear what it would be about because it sounded kind of strange. That’s how I got in contact with Amine,” said Conrad.

One of their main obstacles was finding players and then bridging language gaps and distance between them.

“Amine told me about his dream to have football in Tunisia — have the Tunisians come together — and how they were a minority and how difficult it all was. I thought, well if I didn’t help them, probably nobody else would or could. So I decided to help Amine realize his dream.”

Soon after, Defensive Coordinator, Rene Hesse, was brought on board. The Eagles also occasionally host guest coaches from America. 

In 2017, the newly fledged Tunisian team faced off against the established Morrocan team for the Africa championship. This was the first African v. African game. Tunisia, who hosted, was far from taken seriously. American football in Morocco had been an established program for 10 years and their national team had played before, while this was the Tunisian team’s first game.  

The Tunisian team knew that putting up a good fight in this match would cement the validity of their program. 

Many of the players sacrificed much to be at the game. They left their families, their homes and, often, their countries to chase a dream that many didn’t think possible — the true underdogs. 

There was no extravagant stadium waiting for their arrival, nor millions of spectators, yet the enthusiasm that day rivaled that of an NFL game. Abdelkarim led his team onto the field, not knowing this game would put them in the history books and solidify the Eagles’ position in Tunisian sports. 

Yassin Ouarghi, a defensive tackle for the Eagles, was there in the 2017 game against Morocco. 

“It was a great experience. The victory was an amazing feeling because we worked so hard to become a close-knit team. It was our first official national game, and then we won by such a large margin. Additionally, the game was a home game, which made it truly special. Despite the sport not being very well-known in Tunisia, quite a few spectators came. Some relatives from both abroad and within the country came to watch the game. During the week leading up to the game, we held a workshop with children from the region. They also attended the game and were really enthusiastic and cheered along with us,” said Ouarghi.

The Morrocan team assumed they had the game in the bag.

Before the game, the Moroccan coach informed Conrad that, when they were 30 points ahead, he would send in his second-string players out of mercy so the Tunisian team would have a chance at scoring. 

“The statement from the Moroccan coach spurred me to push even harder to defend and represent myself, my team, and my country. The victory in the end was a real satisfaction. We were significantly superior to the Moroccans in every position and practically overran them,” said Ouarghi. 

The final score was 36–0, with Tunisia pulling out the underdog win.

It wasn’t just a victory for the Eagles, it was a victory for the future of American football. Conrad, an advocate for expanding American football to the rest of the world, was ecstatic about this win. 

“It was inspiring. A lot of things were riding on my back, but I just really wanted to help these people. So it was really moving to see the exuberation, the happiness, that these people, my team, the group, all together reached what they, at the beginning, considered an unreachable goal” said Conrad. 

“I didn’t do it for me, I did it for them. It’s a beautiful thing to see when you give to people and see how they can grow, and it brings people together. It was very very very inspiring. One of the memorable moments of my life.” 

Now, the Carthage Eagles only have the future to look forward to. 

The Tunisian team held a training camp at the end of December 2023 in Gummersbach, Germany. There, many newly recruited team members from around the world met for the first time. 

Skander Riou, an Eagles’ guard, was one of these recruits. Even though the team only had a few days together, they were able to bond ahead of the 2024 African Championship against Egypt.

“The team dynamic is pretty cool. It was my first time with the Tunisia team, but I had the impression I know everyone and we are all friends,” said Riou.

The next step for the team will be competing in the World Cup, but the Eagles have their eye on something more. 

The year 2028 will be the first Summer Olympic Games to include American flag football, allowing the Eagles to compete on the world stage. The Tunisian team, however, is a full-contact football team with little experience with flag football. There is hope for future Olympic cycles to include tackle football, but for now, teams must adapt to flag rules. 

To prepare for a potential bid for the Olympics, the Eagles have begun implementing flag football leagues into Tunisia’s established American football program. 

Regardless of the challenges, the Tunisian team is currently planning to take their team to Los Angeles in 2028. The team paints themselves as the next Jamaican bobsled team — striving to achieve the impossible — and asks for any American football players of Tunisian descent to consider joining their cause as they work towards etching their names into history books.

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Superbowl LVIII

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

This year, the Super Bowl featured a repeated matchup from 2020: the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. When these two teams last met in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs walked away with the championship — which was repeated this year. 

When fans were placing their predictions and bets, the majority of the odds were in favor of the Chiefs. The defending champions had stats and matchup history to support them. For the last 30 years, teams wearing their white jerseys have won the Superbowl, even when the odds were not in their favor. The only exception to this was the Chiefs in the 2020 Super Bowl, where they wore their red home jerseys and won — the color matchup, like everything else, was repeated this year: the Chiefs in red and the 49ers in white. 

The opening ceremony included performances of “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” by Post Malone and Reba McEntire respectively, which were ASL interpreted by Anjel Piñero and Daniel Durant. The colors were presented and accompanied by members of the United States Navy. 

The game itself started off with the Chiefs deferring the coin toss to the 49ers, setting the Chiefs to receive in the second half. Kickoff went off without a hitch, but on the 49ers’ drive, they fumbled, and the Chiefs recovered for their first possession barely three minutes into the game. 

The first quarter was a series of possession changes and flags; the 49ers with two for a false start and holding call, and the Chiefs with an offsides call. For the 49ers, defensive lineman, Chase Young, and linebacker, Randy Gregory, both had sacks in the first quarter. 

The second quarter saw the first score of the game: a 49ers 55-yard field goal put the score at three and zero. During the Chief’s first possession of the second quarter, they fumbled and the 49ers recovered. Almost immediately after, the Chiefs received a personal foul call against them for a horse collar tackle. 

The first injury of the game happened to San Francisco linebacker, Dre Greenlaw, who wasn’t even on the field at the time. He was on the sidelines celebrating and slipped and fell, injuring his Achilles tendon. 

The Chiefs received an intentional grounding penalty, which caused a loss of the down. This resulted in a punt to the 49ers and another personal foul on the Chiefs. At this point in the game, the Chiefs were getting aggressive: with two personal fouls and Travis Kelce yelling at Kansas City head coach, Andy Reid. Two more penalties were called, one on the 49ers and the other on the Chiefs.

A trick play by the Niners led to the first touchdown of the game, which was shortly followed with a field goal by the Chiefs. At the end of the half, the 49ers led 10-3. 

The Apple Music half time show boasted Usher, who had not initially announced who would be performing with him. Throughout the performance, he brought Alicia Keys,, H.E.R., Lil John and Ludacris onto the stage. Each artist had their moment in the spotlight, as well as several performers who appeared in shows in the Vegas casinos. 

The third quarter was a run of turnovers, low scores and more injuries for the 49ers, leading to the expectation that  the game would be slow play for its final quarter. When the Chiefs blocked an extra point, the game picked up speed, and both teams scored two more field goals, resulting in a tie game and an overtime period. 

In postseason overtime, teams have fifteen minutes and a possession to score — three additional timeouts are also given to each of the teams. The 49ers had possession first and managed to score a field goal, with half of the overtime quarter still left. Most of the Chiefs’ drive was spent regaining yardage from losing yards in plays. 

And, in the most jaw-dropping, insanely stupid play with six seconds left on the clock, the Chiefs scored to win 25-22.

Viewers in Western’s Arbor Park’s Sequoia Commons at the Super Bowl watch party had mixed reactions to the final play of the game. Supporters of the 49ers ended the game with yells of anger or even falling to the floor in the fetal position, while Chiefs fans celebrated with one another. 

During post-game interviews, no player said they would be going to Disney World, as is tradition, but the team will still parade through the Magic Kingdom in the near future. 

Another long-standing tradition in the NFL is for the winning team to dump Gatorade on their head coach and for fans to bet on what color the Gatorade will be each year. For the second year in a row the Chiefs opted for purple colored Gatorade. 

And for those fans who say Taylor Swift ruined football? The pop star was shown thirteen times throughout the entire four hour broadcast. Once during the opening ceremony and twelve times during the game itself. These thirteen times she was shown were when either Kelce or Patrick Mahomes did well in a play, as she was sitting with Mahomes’ wife, Brittany.

NFL play resumes for the 2024-2025 season on Sept. 6. 

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Athletes in the Health and Wellness Center

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

With the recent ice storm that struck campus, classes and resources usually available to students were canceled or unusable — including the weight room that athletes have for their team workouts. With their weight room being closed, this caused an influx of athletes in the Peter Courtney Health and Wellness Center.

While it was not a problem they were there — as they do pay tuition to be able to fund and use the HWC — the athletes did not follow many of the building’s safety rules and lacked etiquette.

One complaint from students was about the teams’ lack of spatial awareness, specifically on the weight mats. “They had their stuff strewn all over the mats and worked with several pieces of equipment at the same time,” said an anonymous student. “After I had a bench, someone was doing a plank right at my feet and someone used my bench, the bench that I was using, for rows.” 

During their time in the HWC, athletes left their bags in many different places around the lifting and cardio portion of the building, including the areas behind the treadmills and in the middle of walkways. In various spaces around the lifting and cardio floor, there are cubbies for patrons to store their belongings, reducing the risk of hazards. 

“We like to keep bags in cubbies, on hangers or in lockers, which is a safety thing,” an anonymous student worker said. “A lot of the athletes on the treadmills had their bags lined up along them, which was a huge thing because those bags could get caught and break our equipment.” This was a problem from Jan. 15 to Jan.19. 

Another issue HWC personnel had during this period was athletes dropping their weights on the ground, despite signage being posted all over the HWC. This included dropping dumbbells and barbells on the second floor. 

“We ask that you don’t drop weights,” the student worker said. “The reason for this is we’re a second-floor cardio and weight facility. It’s very damaging to the floors because it’s not on a base level, we’re on columns.”

The concern of an increase in the presence of staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that causes staph infections, was also voiced by a student, who was aware that the athletes were either not doing a good enough job of wiping their machines or not wiping them down at all. 

“We did a study recently with the biology department where we didn’t clean a couple pieces of our equipment and left that up to students and patrons to clean it themselves, and actively cleaned another set ourselves,” the student worker said. “We got swabs done and there was a higher likelihood of staph infections on the equipment we didn’t clean ourselves.”

A study conducted in 2019 by Mark Dalman and colleagues, collected a total of 288 environmental samples from 16 different facilities around the United States, from both sanitized and unsanitized pieces of equipment. The total prevalence of S. aureus was 38.2% on sanitized equipment, increasing to 62.5% on unsanitized equipment. 

Two female students also reported feeling uncomfortable in the space, which is unusual for the HWC. Generally, its patrons feel comfortable and relaxed in the campus-run space. 

“Typically, I feel safe at the gym. I have never felt objectified or even noticed at the Health and Wellness Center — it is a safe place for me,” one said. “However, the athletes made me so uncomfortable. Besides just them having no problem being in my space, they also had no issues staring at me and giving me looks that made me very uncomfortable.”

In the weight room that is specifically for student-athletes, each team has their own time they are scheduled to work out in the space. This often means that they do not interact with the other teams and those outside their sport in that environment. This could attest to the uncomfortableness in the HWC between the 15 and the 19, specifically with the male athletes. Female students reported being stared at by the athletes while they exercised.

The staff at the HWC request that they be mindful of the rules and mindful of the workers talking to them.

“We’re just students here, we didn’t make the rules.”

Many sources in this article chose to remain anonymous to protect their job or person. The Howl holds the right to these identities which have been verified. 

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Gender disparity in athletics

Written by:  Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor, Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Gender disparities are common in the world of sports. Female athletes are generally broadcasted less, paid less and pitted against others disparaged in the weight and size category. This problem is international and does seep its way into Western — although Western is better about these disparities than other schools and professional sports. 

One issue within the sports world is how limited professional sports teams have been for women. The first professional men’s sports league was Major League Baseball, founded in 1869, after the Civil War, with its first team being the Cincinnati Red Stockings — now the Boston Red Socks. The National Football League — NFL — followed suit in 1920. The United States eventually joined the Federation Internationale de Futbol and founded the National Basketball Association, known as FIFA and the NBA respectively, in 1930 and 1946.

Women’s sports, on the other hand, did not have the same starts or even advantages as their male counterparts did. For a period of time during the forties and fifties, there was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was created over concerns about Major League Baseball’s viewership during World War II. After this period, women’s golf became popular, and is currently the longest-running women’s professional sport — the first Women’s Professional Golf Association Tour started in the 1950s.

In June of 1972, Title IX was passed, which prohibited discrimination based on sex or gender. From this point on, women began to get a leg up in, not only education, but also athletics and other federally funded programs. Professional Tennis also became very popular among female athletes at this time.

It was not without its faults, however. Following the passing of Title IX, women still faced misogyny in athletics, as well as the struggle to establish their leagues. The Women’s NBA, Women’s FIFA, Pro-Softball and Volleyball leagues were not founded until the nineties, with many struggling to stay afloat throughout their history. 

Another issue in the professional sports world is that the women’s leagues are paid less than their male counterparts. For example, NBA players receive 50% of shared revenue from their teams and leagues, while WNBA players receive only 20%. In numbers, the average NBA player’s salary is $7.5 million a year. The average WNBA player’s salary? $116,000 a year. That’s a $7.3 million difference.

Further, discrimination is still strong against female athletes and their level of play and abilities. For collegiate softball, one of the most common sayings against the teams is, “450, dead center.” This refers to the differences in field size and pitching style in softball and how most men believe they could easily hit a home run off the softball pitchers.

Western’s sport disparities are minimal but still exist. Although Western seemingly handles any disparities well, they do not handle it perfectly. 

One thing Western excels in is its treatment of male and female athletes. Throughout interviews, female athletes report being treated well, an equal part of the athletic population and happy to be involved with the sports. 

“If there was inequity or inequality in treatment, I would know about it,” said Michael Gonzalez, the Student-Athlete Success Advisor. “Any problems, they come to me.”

Western also does a phenomenal job at broadcasting and advertising female sports — equally to male sports, if not more so. This is extremely important for funding, as advertising and broadcasting boost funding. 

According to Randi Lydum, the executive director of intercollegiate athletics, funding is distributed based on schedule and number of athletes and coaches on the team. Those with a more demanding schedule will receive more funding, while those who may travel less or have fewer athletes receive less funding. 

Scholarships are divided based on the NCA framework that gives the maximum of scholarships that Western can offer. “We try to make sure that the number of scholarships we’re giving… matches the percentage of student participation,” Lydum said. 

The school tries to ensure that female-dominated and male-dominated sports receive the same amount of scholarships, percentage-wise. Lydum states that they take equity in funding and scholarships seriously. Lydum also states that there haven’t been any actual complaints about the amount of funding from athletes or coaches to her directly. 

“…if there is a problem I want to get it figured out. Although Western does equality well, it is not done perfectly. An anonymous athlete states that “There should be changes in the budget according to which sports are more successful,” said Lydum. 

Western’s 2023 Budget Reports state that football received 14,282 in general admin overhead, with baseball and softball getting 6,290. Football gets 165,000 in travel with baseball and softball receiving 85,000, which is the most out of all the other sports. Football exceeds all other sports in recruiting, receiving 12,240 with the other sports getting 1,700–5,100 at most. 

It is easily seen how much of a discrepancy football funds receive in comparison to other sports. Why is that the case when football is easily not the top-performing program?

Football game outcomes are highly disappointing — losing eight of eleven games, with a winning percentage of .273. This is comparatively lower when compared to women’s soccer’s record of 8-5-6, with a winning percentage of .579, or even men’s soccer’s 11-3-3, .735. 

This may be a gender issue, or this may be an issue of putting money towards ‘needed’ costs rather than wins. 

Gender disparities have been found in athletics throughout history, dating back to the very beginning of these sports. It is extremely important to ensure gender equity in our athletics department to set an example for others, and although Western is more careful about equity than other colleges and professional sports, Western can continue to discuss equity. 

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What’s going on for athletes?

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Thursday, Jan. 18

5:15 p.m. — Women’s Basketball, HOME v. Simon Fraser University B.C.

7:30 p.m. — Men’s Basketball, HOME v. Seattle Pacific University

Friday, Jan. 19

All Day — Track and Field at Lauren McClusky Invite, Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, Jan 20.

All Day — Track and Field at Lauren McClusky Invite, Moscow, Idaho

2 p.m. — Women’s Basketball, HOME v. Western Washington University

4:15 p.m. — Men’s Basketball, HOME v. Montana State University Billings 

Sunday, Jan 21

All Day — Track and Field at Portland Indoor #1, Portland, Oregon

Thursday, Jan 25

6:15 p.m. — Women’s Basketball at the University of Alaska Anchorage

8:30 p.m. — Men’s Basketball at the University of Alaska Anchorage

Friday, Jan 26

All day — Track and Field at UW Invite, Seattle, Washington

Saturday, Jan 27

All day — Track and Field at UW Invite, Seattle Washington

4 p.m. — Women’s Basketball at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

6:15 p.m. — Men’s Basketball at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Wildcard weekend matchups

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Wildcard Weekend offered up a small number of matchups, with teams facing each other in hopes of making their way into the NFL playoffs and the road to the Superbowl. Before the weekend started, only two teams had secured their spots in the playoffs: the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North and the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West.

With the wildcard matchups, some players ended up facing their former teammates and coaches, and some teams met their match following their program’s history.

Houston Texans v. Cleveland Browns, Jan. 13 — In March of 2022, the Browns announced a trade for Texans’ quarterback, Deshaun Watson. During the 2023 season, Watson was injured and replaced with backup quarterback, Joe Flacco. Since starting, Flacco has led the Browns to their eleventh win and has led the Browns to victory in four of five games. Had the Browns won, Flacco would have faced his old team, the Baltimore Ravens.

Kansas City Chiefs v. Miami Dolphins, Jan. 13 — Historically, the Miami Dolphins have lost eight straight games in weather colder than 40 degrees. This is not anything new for the team, as their record in cold weather temperatures is 25-46-1, and all but one of those games have been on the road. With a projected high of six degrees and a low of negative seven degrees, the Dolphins fell to their odds of loss. 

Dallas Cowboys v. Green Bay Packers, Jan. 14 — The last time the Packers lost to the Cowboys was in October of 2016, and the team has not lost to the Cowboys in Dallas in recent history. The Packers even lead their matchups in NFC divisions and playoffs 5-4, and with this win, the matchup record comes to 6-4.

Detroit Lions v. Los Angeles Rams, Jan. 15 — In 2021, the Rams and the Lions traded their starting quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff — Stafford to the Rams and Goff to the Lions. Since the trade, the two quarterbacks have maintained similar stats in their seasons. The Lions have gone 13-5 and the Rams finished 10-8. This was also the Lions’ first playoff game in thirty years, and Stafford’s first time playing in Detroit since the trade was made. 

Saturday Night Football — Houston Texans 45, Cleveland Browns 14; Kansas City Chiefs, 26, Miami Dolphins 7

Sunday Night Football — Green Bay Packers 48, Dallas Cowboys 32; Detroit Lions 24, Los Angeles Rams 23

Monday Night Football — Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32, Philadelphia Eagles 9; Buffalo Bills 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

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Mens rugby participate in Pacific Coast All Star

Written by: Sierra Porter | Staff Writer

Every year, National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) hosts men’s and women’s Collegiate Rugby All Stars, where skillful and dedicated players are selected to represent their schools on an all star rugby team. 

The NCR evolved from the National Small College Rugby Organization, NSCRO. Its goal was to support the growth and development of small college rugby, as well as having equal opportunities for men’s and women’s rugby. They still support this goal, but also focus on furthering the growth of collegiate coaches, players and teams. 

The NCR runs five major national championship events, including the men’s and women’s XVs National Championship after the Fall season, the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s in the Spring and the mid-year All-Star Tournaments, bringing in the best players from around the country. 

All star players are observed playing in clubs or colleges throughout the year and those selected are considered to be some of the best; this year, three members of Western’s very own men’s rugby team were selected to demonstrate their skills on the Pacific Coast Grizzlies all star team. 

Junior, Isaac Bare, Senior, Braedon Eltagonde and Senior Sangato Letisi, were among the best when selected to be part of the Grizzlies. The three traveled down to Austin, Texas last weekend, Jan. 6-7, with the help and contributions of people in the Western community. 

The Grizzlies started out strong with their first match on Saturday against the Independent Whites — high energy, hard hits and motivation made for a successful first game with a 12-0 win for the Grizzlies. Letisi holding down every scrum, Eltagonde’s efficient defense and Bare with a beautiful catch in the lineout, were no doubt essential in this win. 

The Grizzlies had a difficult battle the next two matches and ended the weekend 1-2. Regardless of the end score, it was clear that Bare, Eltagonde and Letisi represented Western with pride and showed why they deserve to be all stars. 

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