On behalf of the entire tBBC family, I would like to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. This is my third straight 4th that I have spent outside of the United States and my views on the holiday have definitely changed over that time. Growing up I always enjoyed the 4th, it was a fun holiday that meant spending time outdoors, bbqs, watching a Capital Fourth and fireworks, and when I got older, having a few beers with Dad. While all of this was enjoyable, I wouldn’t really say that the holiday had a lot of special meaning to me. I loved America but the 4th of July always seemed more about having a day off work and enjoying yourself than anything.
I think some of the reason that the 4th of July didn’t have a special meaning to me was that I was sort of spoiled and took living in the USA for granted. When one is always living in a place, it is easy to overlook what makes it great, especially when you don’t have a lot of experiences to compare to. Living in Australia for just over two years now has been an eye opening experience for me in many ways as it has made me see myself and the US in a different light. I definitely see America’s faults more clearly now; yes, we have them and more of them than we would like to admit but I’m not going to get into those as that is way off topic for this blog and beside the point. However, despite all of its faults, I also see what makes America great far more clearly than I ever did before. A few months ago I was talking with some people at work about how much of a pain it is that American citizens living abroad still have to file US taxes even if they aren’t earning any money in the US or living there, something that citizens of most other countries don’t have to deal with, and how the various US tax laws restrict my ability to travel back to the US unless I want to get taxed by two different countries on my Australian income. One of the postdocs that I was talking to pointed out that I could get out of that by becoming a citizen of another country and giving up my US citizenship; he then asked if I would do that if I got a permanent job in Australia and became a citizen here. I was rather surprised by the question as the thought had never crossed my mind but I didn’t hesitate in saying no, I wouldn’t give up my American citizenship. The other postdoc was rather surprised by this, he is Canadian and said that if he was in my situation, he would give up his citizenship in order to avoid the annoying tax issues. The Australians that were with us all agreed with him and despite my attempts to explain my reasoning, I couldn’t really get any of them to understand why being an American was so important to me. Its not that these people weren’t proud of their country but there was just something different about how I felt about the US.
Summer is normally a slow time for Ohio State sports outside of recruiting. All of the spring sports are done and none of the fall sports have started practice yet, meaning that outside of recruiting there is little in the way of news. That isn’t true for all things connected to OSU athletics though as the past week has been anything but quiet for the Ohio State University Marching Band.
As I have previously detailed, the tryout process for the OSUMB is very demanding and highly competitive and prospective band members start preparing for tryouts well in advance. Prospective band members will spend the summer practicing their marching and playing, memorizing school songs, and hitting the gym to get in shape. In addition to their individual work, many prospective members will also attend Summer Sessions.
Summer sessions are optional practice sessions held at the band’s practice field where prospective band members practice and learn the OSUMB marching fundamentals that they will be evaluated on at tryouts. Summer Sessions are normally held every Tuesday and Thursday night during the summer, starting near the beginning of June, with occasional extra sessions occurring on other days; a full calendar of this year’s Summer Sessions can be found here. Summer Sessions start at 5:30 pm for percussionists and 6:30 pm for everyone else and goes until 9:00 pm. Squad leaders and experienced members of last year’s band lead the sessions, teaching new people the basic fundamentals and helping everyone to improve and polish their marching and playing. While primarily designed to teach the fundamentals to new people, lots of members of the previous year’s band will attend the sessions in order to polish their skills; during my time I would say that the majority of members from the previous year would come back.
Writing survey questions for research studies is a very tricky task that must be done carefully in order to not bias the results. Not only must one be careful in the wording of the questions in order to not bias the survey taker or lead them toward a certain response, even the order of the questions must be taken into account. Researchers have long known about the existence of what is called the “order effect” where the order that questions in a survey are asked actually effects the response. For example, a 1997 Gallup poll asked whether respondents considered Bill Clinton and Al Gore honest and trustworthy. There were two versions of this survey, one with the question about Bill Clinton first and the other with the question about Al Gore first. Among those that took the version with the question about Clinton first, 49% said that both Clinton and Gore were trustworthy and 28% said that neither were trustworthy; the rest said only one of the two were trustworthy. The results were different with the other version of the survey as 56% of those who got asked about Gore first said that both men were trustworthy while 21% said neither were trustworthy.
Researchers normally use standard probability theory to explain human reasoning but this theory is unable to explain the order effect. Thus, researchers have mostly viewed the order effect as a source of noise in the data that they try to control for by varying the order that questions are asked to different survey takers.
Last week brought sad news for everyone connected to TBDBITL as Dr. James Moore, known to most as Doc, passed away at age 80. For over 20 years, until his retirement at the end of the 2004 season, Dr. Moore had served as the percussion instructor for the Ohio State Marching Band, contributing to evolution of the band and becoming a beloved figure to all band members
Dr. Moore didn’t have the background that one would necessarily expect for someone who would become such a major part of the Ohio State community. Doc was born in 1934 in Jackson, Michigan (birthplace of the Republican party, the coney island hot dog, former NFL coach Tony Dungy, and NASA astronaut James McDivitt). Not surprisingly for someone from a town only 40 miles away, Doc attended the University of Michigan for his bachelors and masters degrees. Fortunately at this point Doc’s eyes turned south and he attended Ohio State for his PhD.
Ohio State obviously made an impression on Dr. Moore and after a career that included three years in the US Army teaching at the Armed Forces School of Music in Washington, DC, he returned to OSU in 1981 as the percussion instructor for the marching band. While many people think of drummers as people who just hit things really loudly to help keep a beat and make noise, Doc knew that percussionists where just as musical as any other musician and he helped bring about many innovations that improved the musicality of the OSUMB percussion section. Dr. Moore introduced multiple tenor drums, known as toms or quads, and tonal bass drums (bass drums of different sizes and thus pitches) to the section. By having toms and bass drums with different pitches, the percussion section could now play melodic lines, enhancing the sound and color of the band.
The concept of ‘pay it forward’ is something that is very familiar to Ohio State fans thanks to people like Woody Hayes. For most of us, paying it forward takes the form of donations, in the form of time, money, goods, or a combination of these, to various causes and groups that are important to us. For many of us, that includes donating to Ohio State so that the university can continue to grow and impact that lives of future students for years to come.
This week was graduation at the University of Sydney and several of the students from my department received their degrees today, including the student I supervise who received his Honours Degree; Honours is a weird Australian thing which is an extra year on top of a Bachelors without exactly being a Masters. As part of the graduation ceremony speeches, various higher-ups in the university encouraged the new graduates to continue being involved in the university by coming back to visit, joining an alumni society, and of course with strong hints that they should donate. This led to a discussion afterwards between several people in the department on the concept of donating to the university where you got your degree. As I have noted in a previous article, alums in Australia do not donate to their university anywhere near as often, or as generously, as those in the United States. In general, the attitude in Australia is to view universities as more of a service provider with the students as their customer; I find this incredibly ironic considering that universities in the US operate far more like businesses than those in Australia. For whatever reason (I speculate on a possible reason in my previous article) students at Australian universities do not seem to develop the emotional connection to their alma mater that those in the States develop.
Buckeye fans enjoy seeing Ohio State at or near the top of rankings for a variety of things including numerous sports, academics, and research spending. Thanks to the all-around strength of OSU, we’ve gotten rather used to seeing the university we love at the top of those lists. However, not every list is one that you want to be at the top of and OSU fans and alumni had that reinforced this week when the Institute for Policy Studies named Ohio State as the Most Unequal Public University in the country; several other Big Ten schools also had the misfortune of appearing on the list as the rest of the top five were Penn State, Minnesota, Michigan, and the University of Washington. The IPS rankings were based on a combination of high pay for top administrators, high student debt, and large increases in low-wage or contingent faculty labor.
The fact that last year OSU’s Gordon Gee was the highest paid president in the country, earning over $6 million a year, meant that the university automatically was under scrutiny in the administrative pay category. Now the fact that Gee got paid a lot isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Ohio State is a huge, complex university and the job of president comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Gee also did a very good job according to most reports and he connected well with the students.
Gee’s high salary does become an issue though when it is coupled with growing student debt. According to the IPS report, the average student debt at Ohio State rose 46% to over $26,000 between 2006 and 2011; that was a rate that was faster than the national average. A big reason for that rising student debt is that since 2006, tuition at Ohio State has risen from $8,406 to $10,010 for Ohio residents and from $20,301 to $25,726 for non-residents (room and board was another $10,000 per year on top of that); that is an increase of 19% for in-state students and 27% for out-of-state students.
Football has always been a dangerous game and while most people have always recognized that there was a chance that players can be injured at any time, that risk has generally been accepted as a cost of doing business. However, in recent years research into the long term effects of concussions and other repeated head traumas have shown that perhaps that cost is too high. The research into the dangers of repeat blows to the head have led to the passage of new rules on all levels designed to reduce the numbers of blows to the head sustained by players and to make sure that players who suffer potential concussions are evaluated properly by medical personnel before being allowed to return to the game.
While many of these rules have been met with disdain from fans who see them as the “pussification of football”, the truth is that something needed to be done to reduce the amount of head trauma sustained by players as it has become clear that the long term consequences are very severe. A question that needs to be asked though is whether or not these new rules are making a difference, are we reducing the amount of head trauma that players experience.
Ohio State clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation Joseph Rosenthal sought to answer this question as part of his pursuit of a Master of Public Health degree from OSU. Rosenthal and his colleagues looked at data collected from the High School Reporting Information Online (HS Rio) system which tracks injury information from a sample of 100 high schools across the country that have a certified athletic trainer on staff. Rosenthal looked at data from 2005 to 2012 across a total of nine sports: football, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, baseball, and softball. The study found that the concussion rate went from 0.23 concussion per 1,000 athlete exposures in 2005 to 0.51 concussions per 1,000 exposures in 2012.
The end of the school year normally brings about a slowdown in Ohio State news. School is over and seniors have graduated, spring football has concluded, non-revenue sports are finishing up their seasons/post-seasons, and fans are dealing with season ticket renewals for next year. The end of the school year isn’t slow for everyone though, as evidenced by the busy week for the Ohio State Marching Band and Athletic Band.
Drum Major Tryouts
One of the major reasons that the Ohio State University Marching Band is so good is that each and every member must try out every season, forcing them to work hard to ensure that their skills are in top shape. While tryouts for the 225 musicians in the band occur just before the start of football season, the first two members of the 2014 band were determined last weekend at drum major tryouts. While most every marching band has a drum major, their duties vary widely. For most high school, and many college, bands the drum major acts as a field commander, standing on a podium to conduct the band during their on-field performances. At Ohio State, conducting duties are handled by the directing staff but the drum major still serves as a leader of the band, giving signals to the band during on-field performances and parades. The drum major also has a showmanship role, performing routines with a metal baton that helps add additional visual flair to the band’s performances. To learn more about the OSUMB drum major position, check out www.ohiostatedrummajor.com.