Welcome to Around the Dorm, a sports knowledge competition with two tablespoons of knowledge, a cup full of humor and a dash or two of Tobasco. Today’s competitors should seem familiar to you: last week’s champ and WTSR sports director Patrick Lavery; The Signal sports editor Lauren Kohout; and The Signal staff writer Ray Lodato. I, of course, am your ref, Rob “Chris Berman needs to retire” Viviano.
1) Simple question. If you were on the track and field team, what event would you do and why?
PL: Long jump. It brings me back to my days in the sandbox, and I like to party like it’s 1999. Hey, you ask a simple question, you get a simple answer.
LK: One word: decathalon. Made up of the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500-meter run, the winner automatically becomes the greatest athlete in the world. Plus, you get to do everything. To be a decathalon participant is to be good at everything, and who wouldn’t want that?
RL: Definitely the 100-meter dash. In the world of track and field, this is definitely the “I’m Keith Hernendez” event – a competition so myopic in nature and so fantastically and inherently egotistical (one against all at its finest) that when you’re good at it not only do you know, but everyone else knows. It’s like being a wide receiver in the NFL – you’re out on an island, individually competing against others and if you win, you better believe you’ll have the opportunity to talk trash and deservedly so. The 100-meter dash is an event so lightning fast and spectacular in nature that it’s hard to think about any other track and field competition. After all, are there many things cooler than having the title, “Fastest Man Alive”?
RV: Sometimes, my job is very simple. Because everyone wants to be the fastest man alive, and people actually remember the 100-meter dash competitors (unlike the other competitions), Ray gets 3 points. The decathalon is awesome, but it suffers from the same thing the World Series does when compared to the Super Bowl – a bunch of little events adding up to a victory doesn’t entice people the same way one all-or-nothing event does – Lauren earns 2 points. Pat put enough words to earn 1 point.
2) I played soccer and lacrosse before, neither of which is a sport that has earned the respect it deserves. Which one will America largely support first: the highly regionalized but 100 percent North American lacrosse, or soccer, the “world’s most popular sport,” which America happily relegates to ESPN8?
PL: I’m really wrestling with this question. I’m deciding what to do: should I appease Rob and say lacrosse, because I know he’s in love with it, or go with the more common answer, soccer? I’m torn between going for the points and going for the right answer. And then, as I read the question again, the answer comes to me. Soccer has plenty of respect; we’re practically glued to our TVs for a month during the World Cup, and every 5-year-old kid’s parents sign them up for recreational-league soccer. My parents should have locked me in a room instead of signing me up for soccer, but I actually really enjoyed it until that one day I scored on my own goal. America is currently supporting soccer just fine, but it should support lacrosse, and I think it will do so very soon. I went for the points and came up with the right answer … see, you can have your cake and eat it too.
LK: If all other sports became extinct in the world and all that was left was lacrosse and soccer, then lacrosse would become the new American pastime. America loves contact sports, which is why football and NASCAR are number 1 – hello crashes? The only time soccer is popular in this country is during the World Cup. Lacrosse is physical, interesting and fun and would easily dominate over soccer.
RL: Neither. Lacrosse and soccer will not come to the forefront of the American sporting scene for a very long time. Soccer in America topped out in the 1970s with the North American Soccer League and the New York Cosmos, when they acquired such premier talent as Pel? (albeit well past his prime) and Giorgio Chinaglia. Yet, big surprise here, it still couldn’t last. It was the “it” sport for a very short time, but it fizzled out and Major League Soccer is a mere shadow of what the NASL was. Lacrosse? Not happening anytime soon. Many sports are too similar to lacrosse in inherent nature (physicality in football, sticks and nets in hockey) for it to catch on. Why is NASCAR succeeding? Why is it the fastest growing sport in America? Because it’s different from most American sports and has captured a very large audience with its unique attraction.
RV: As much as I hate awarding points to those who ignore the boundaries of my question, Ray completely diffused my idea of either sport ever being in demand and informed me NASCAR is the future – 3 points for crushing my dreams. Pat both appeased my blatant love of lacrosse and pointed out that we have a nation of young kids indoctrinated in soccer – 2 points. Lauren, you deserve more points for a great answer, but competition leaves you with 1 point.
3) Which bottom-feeders of the NFL will earn the “best” record by the end of the season: Oakland, Tennessee, Tampa Bay or Detroit?
PL: Rob, these questions suck. But I’m encouraged by what I see from rookie Tampa Bay quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and I’ll tell you why. Every year, my dad watches the Thursday night college football games on ESPN, which usually feature various matchups between mid-major schools. And every year, my dad predicts the player he’s seen in these games who will be the “next big thing” in the NFL. Two of his previous picks have indeed gone on to big pro careers so far: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Last year, he picked Gradkowski, who’s not very physically imposing but has a lot of heart and is a dead ringer for Vin Diesel. He didn’t look bad at all last week against New Orleans in his first career start. He may not lead the Bucs back to the playoffs, but he has the best chance of turning around this particular winless team. Tampa Bay’s my choice.
LK: Tampa Bay will have the best record because the Bucs win every year. They have the most seasoned team with a veteran quarterback and defense and a veteran coach. When it comes to the Titans, they are not known for winning and are really young. Detroit has a rookie coach and a horrible owner. The Raiders have an old coach that has no chance of making his team better. Oakland should be kicked out of the NFL and would be if it didn’t have the most intimidating fans with their crazy Viking helmets.
RL: Tampa Bay, definitely. Oakland is, by far, the worst football team I’ve seen in five years. From top to bottom the Raiders are a disgrace – from Art Shell staring blankly onto the field as his team is being decimated, to the team’s superstar, Randy Moss, claiming “no one cares what’s going on around here.” Detroit is always rebuilding and Tennessee doesn’t have the personnel to compete. Tampa Bay, while in possession of an aging defense, has a quality coach, a running back just waiting to break out and a rookie quarterback who has shown flashes of brilliance in his one start. I picked the Bucs to upset Cincinnati this weekend.
RV: Due to three nearly identical answers, I am picking petty things to decide this question. Pat, I love Vin Diesel and your father, but not as much as I dislike Art Shell – 1 point. Lauren, the fact that the Titans are not known for winning is true in the immediate past, but I distinctly remember them being one yard away from winning a Super Bowl a few years back … but yes they did implode after that – 2 points. This leaves you Ray. I was afraid I was the only one who noticed that Art Shell just takes up space and doesn’t really do anything – 3 points.
It’s been done – the elusive sweep has been accomplished by a series of witty and extremely on-target remarks by Ray Lodato. He wins this game 9-5-4.