What the Heisman Nominations Say About America

For a number of obvious reasons, the announcement of the annual Heisman Trophy nominees is among the more-anticipated events in sports. For one thing, it's one step closer to awarding one of this country's most-heralded trophies. The actual trophy design itself is a thing of legend. For another, the list of nominations gives American sports fans a glimpse of some of its favorite archetypes. This year, however, reveals a fascinating shift in that American iconography.

We all know those classic sports profiles. The coach's son, the small-town gym rat, the underprivileged overachiever. Sports fans love hearing these stories because they remind them how great the opportunities America offers can be. But a quick look at this year's Heisman nominees could show some of the fundamental changes going on in American society.


It starts with the two quarterbacks who were runner-ups last year, Texas' Colt McCoy and the former Heisman winner, Florida's Tim Tebow. Both young men are easily the two most instantly-recognizable figures in amateur sports. They're both hugely athletic and successful, incredibly charismatic, and are already legends at their respective academic insitutions. But in a fascinating glimpse at a changing America, both men are devout Christians, with Tebow even vowing to remain celibate until he is married. But considering the CDC’s findings on sexual activity among American students this decade, Tebow's declaration shouldn’t be too mind-boggling.

In fact, the one athlete among the nominees who should appear most obvious, is actually something of an anomaly. The son of a former NFL player, Alabama’s Mark Ingram actually grew up in Flint, Michigan. While the children of pro athletes are actually under-represented in Heisman voting, no member of Alabama’s historic football program has ever won the award. Conventional college sports archetypes are further deconstructed with the remaining two nominations.

Stanford’s Toby Gerhart is majoring in Management Science and Engineering and was his high school valedictorian while Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh was born to a Cameroonian father and Jamaican mother and was raised in Oregon. For a variety of reasons, these aren’t the conventional profiles we're used to seeing when running down the list of Heisman finalists. It’s not an unwelcome phenomenon, but more than anything else, it might be a unique glimpse into America’s constantly-shifting student culture.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Should teachers be fired for nude pics from their past?

Lauren Miranda sent a nude selfie to a boyfriend years ago. Somehow one of her students discovered it.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Math teacher Lauren Miranda was fired from her Long Island school when a topless selfie surfaced.
  • Miranda had only shared the photo with her ex-boyfriend, who is also a teacher in the school district.
  • She's suing the school for $3 million as well as getting her job back, citing gender discrimination.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less