His name was Jamain “Juice” Stephens. He was a much loved mountain of a young man who played for the football team at California University in Pennsylvania. He died Sept. 8, and he is believed to be the first college football player whose death can be traced to COVID-19. He was not yet 21. Yet the billion dollar insult to our senses that is college football continues. Three of the Power Five conferences have commenced with their tortured marches. Positive tests and postponements litter their trails already. Then the Pac-12 Conference — after axing all fall sports on Aug. 11 — announced Sept. 24 that its members will play a seven-game football season beginning in November, the last Power Five conference to suckle off the cash cow in a poisoned pandemic. Has testing improved since Aug. 11? If so, can the common student take advantage of it? According to the University of Oregon (Coronavirus.UOregon.edu/cases), the school is on high alert for COVID-19 student cases on and off campus. Money speaks for sports, though, even if UO President Michael Schill insists otherwise.
• We hear from a local bike store manager that his industry is struggling to adjust to the pandemic. The good news is that people have more time, are seeing the climate impacts of burning fossil fuels and demand for bikes has never been greater. The bad news is that many of the big bike factories were shut down by the pandemic, so local bike shops report having hundreds of bikes on order with indefinite delivery dates. Be patient and keep pedaling!
• You may have noticed a new byline in Eugene Weekly the last week or two. Meet Chandlor Henderson, one of nine budding journalists across the country to earn a Google News Initiative Fellowship. The GNI fellowship aims to address the lack of diversity in newsrooms across the country. Henderson has hosted a hip-hop radio show and is an amateur photographer. He is a student at Lane Community College in Multimedia Design and will be covering music, arts and politics, and working on a Solutions Journalism reporting project.
• The first-ever televised presidential debate in 1960 was probably the first time anyone ever saw a presidential candidate in makeup. Sixty years later, President Donald Trump debuted clown makeup when he made the Sept. 29 debate a mockery. Trump interrupted vice president Joe Biden, spouted lies constantly, refused to condemn white supremacy and even rallied the Proud Boys. Biden held his own despite having a blowhard next to him, and we think viewers agreed with him when he told Trump to shut up and called him a clown. With Trump’s continued doubling down of sowing doubt in the November election, it’s clear the biggest loser of the debate was the American people.
• Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden held a press conference with Planned Parenthood Saturday Sept. 26, in response to the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the uncertainty facing women’s reproductive rights as well as basic health care given by the Affordable Care Act. Shortly after the event, Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Both senators say they believe this act is a threat to our democracy and a grab for power, not that anyone expected anything different from Trump. It seems that the only hope is convincing Republican senators to vote against the nomination. “We can make it clear that if they want to turn back the clock on health care to the days when coverage was for the healthy and wealthy, they are going to lose their seat,” Wyden told EW after the conference.
• Kudos to Toni Pimble, founding artistic director of Eugene Ballet, who is among the four people and one arts organization to receive Oregon’s Governor’s Arts Awards for 2020. Other recipients are Darrell Grant, a Portland jazz musician; H’Klumaiyat Roberta Joy Kirk, an artist in Warm Springs; Portland writer, editor, designer and typographer John Laursen; and the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus. Delayed by a month due to fire and smoke, the awards will be given out 6 pm Oct. 15 in a virtual ceremony you can see on the Oregon Arts Commission Facebook page.