Lions around the dorm

Playoffs, don’t talk about Playoffs! Well, we’re not. This week in Around the Dorm, we discuss the multitude of crippled superstars in the NFL, why the NHL bores the crap out of me and half of the country and whether or not Kimbo Slice is forced to be reckoned with outside of the Internet. Opinions Editor Michael O’Donnell, Sports Assistant Bobby Olivier and Staff Writer Kristina Shemming do battle while last week’s champ Brandon Lee judges.

1. Has the NFL season dulled down because so many superstars are injured? Just to list a few guys who are down for a good portion of the season or the entire season: Tom Brady, Osi Umenyiora, Shawne Merriman, Tony Romo, Willie Parker and Marques Colston.

MO: Injuries can hurt a sport, absolutely, but there are so many superstars in the NFL that support for the league and its teams is as strong as ever. If anything, this makes the season more interesting, as the current parity in the NFL is providing new division leaders, new rivalries and almost certainly new playoff teams. Who would have ever predicted the Bills would sit atop the AFC East at this stage of the season? Much of that divisional success has to do with Brady’s injury, as the Pats are struggling without him. When the superstars go down, their teammates step up, new stars are created and current stars raise their game, once again. Bottom line: This is what inevitably happens to a league to keep it fresh and hip to its audience.

BO: On the contrary, I believe the NFL season is actually more interesting, as the injuries of a bunch of big players have allowed other teams and players to stumble into the spotlight. For example, Kerry Collins, a dead player to most, is now leading an undefeated Titans team after superstar quarterback Vince Young went down. And who honestly could have imagined a Bills/Falcons Super Bowl possibility? Rookie QB Matt Ryan is playing great for the post-Michael Vick feel-good Dirty Birds and running back Marshawn Lynch is running all over opposing teams on the other New York team. A resurgence of past Super Bowl losers is happening as well. The Bears and Panthers are looking like contenders nearly midway through the season. Coverage is getting evenly distributed throughout the league and it’s good for the sport.

KS: Sure, the NFL has been plagued by some injuries this year. But every NFL team has 53 men on its active roster. The comprehensive list of injuries listed above has six players on it. Two of them, Colston and Tony Romo, will be back within two weeks. Willie Parker’s replacement, Mewelde Moore, ran wild through Cincinnati this week. And I’m pretty sure most NFL fans couldn’t even tell if Merriman or Umenyiora were on the field on any given play. What I’m getting at is the injuries this season are insignificant. They are a tiny blip on the NFL radar. These injuries have created great parity in the league this year, with any team winning on any given Sunday. This is great for the league, great for fans and even better for ratings.

BL: O’Donnell gets 3 points for saying new stars are created when others get injured. Olivier, you would’ve gotten 3 points, but a Bills/Falcons Super Bowl possibility is out of the question. I agree with the Bills, but the Falcons aren’t a contender, especially since they are 0-2 in their division. These injuries are significant. The Cowboys lost to the Rams without Romo at the helm and the Chargers’ and Giants’ pass rushes just aren’t the same. Shemming gets 1 point.

2. After several rule changes, the NHL was supposed to attract more fans and become more exciting to watch. The 2008-2009 season began last week and nobody seemed to notice. There’s checking and fights, but why is hockey still one of the least-watched sports in America?

MO: The NHL has struggled terribly since the 2004-05 lockout to keep its loyal fans and attract new ones. However, the NHL has always been considered the bottom sport of the “Big Four.” Ice hockey has its roots in Montreal, and it has always been much more popular in other countries such as Canada, France and Russia. The NHL is mainly an American based sports league, and with the exception of NBC, the league is not reaching many homes with its broadcasting networks consisting of Versus, HDNet and the NHL Network. The NHL would be best-suited to advertise its young American stars – Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane. But besides those few bright spots, the NHL is doomed to be the “worst of the best” in the major sports world.

BO: After literally asking someone the other day whether hockey was still in preseason, I can definitely agree that hockey is not big on America’s sports list. It’s not the scoring anymore, because now they score about as much as baseball games. It’s not an excitement factor, or shouldn’t be, because of all of the hits and fights. I really think it’s just not an American sport. Basketball, football and baseball all were created in America, and simply enough, hockey wasn’t. Soccer has the same problem. Hockey gets great ratings in Canada, just not America. I honestly don’t think anything will save hockey in the United States unless Matt Millen gears up for the Red Wings and the fans take turns throwing pucks at him. Otherwise, nothing is going to help hockey in America.

KS: I know more types of toothpaste than I know hockey players. That’s the first and biggest problem with the NHL. Everyone in the world knows LeBron James or Adrian Peterson. They’re the rising stars of their respetive leagues, but Sidney Crosby could walk down essentially every street in the United States completely unnoticed. Most people reading this probably just wondered aloud who Sidney Crosby is. Professional hockey needs a face, but it’s hard because no one knows the players, let alone the stars. See this month’s issue of Sports Illustrated for evidence. A hockey player is only featured on the front cover in Michigan and Canada. The success of a sport is heavily reliant on youth. This isn’t Canada, so no one grew up on the ice. Few even have access to a rink. It’s hard to breed fans if there’s no interest.

BL: Shemming fights back and earns 3 points. The NHL does need a face, even though it may be toothless. You’re right Olivier. When you think about American sports, you really don’t think about hockey. 2 points. I like how you included broadcasting in your argument, but O’Donnell, Sidney Crosby is Canadian. But thanks for proving how popular hockey is in the United States.

3. Kimbo Slice has received a lot of publicity, especially on the Internet. However, he rarely competes against major fighters. Is he really worth all the hype?

MO: Kimbo is worth all the hype. Every single YouTube regular could tell you who Kimbo Slice is, as his legend on YouTube is a huge reason he was found and the reason he has achieved his level of success nationally. He is a big, hungry, physical fighter, and he has only been competing within the confines of a Mixed Martial Arts federation for over a year, debuting in June 2007. His quick loss to Seth Petruzelli just a few weeks ago keeps competition fresh as people realize he is still a human being. Whether he goes to UFC remains to be seen, but even after his loss, millions of people still want a slice of Slice.

BO: Lets just put it out there right now. Kimbo Slice is not a trained UFC fighter. He broke skulls online against God knows who, but when he fights real fighters, he does not perform nearly as well. If he takes on some big-name guys, that would be a promoter’s dream. If it was Slice vs. Chuck Liddell, for example, that would be the most-watched fight in UFC history. Most people are tired of Slice at this point because, basically, he is not the real deal. The more he fights and gets beaten, the more people will realize that he is not worth watching. Kimbo Slice is just a bump in the road and a novelty the sport can use now and discard at a later date.

KS: Kimbo Slice is all bark and no bite; it’s as simple as that. But we won’t have to worry about that anymore, because his 15 minutes of fame are definitely over. Slice faced his first legitimate fighter recently in Seth Petruzelli and was knocked out in less than 14 seconds. I hope nobody ran to the bathroom quickly because there’s no chance they caught that fight. We all know Kimbo can beat up on 250- pound men in his backyard, but a few short months just isn’t enough time to make him a credible fighter. He is a purebred athlete, but stands no chance against highly trained UFC fighters who have a mixed martial arts background. He isn’t worth the hype. The jig is up. Everyone knows he’s a joke.

BL: The truth will eventually come out and the more Slice fights, the more people will realize he’s all hype. 3 points for Olivier. Slice isn’t worth the hype, but he’s still a hit on YouTube and has a few delusional believers. Very close to 3 points, but you’re getting 2 points instead, Shemming. How does his loss to Petruzelli keep competition fresh? With enough YouTube videos, I could become a famous fighter. 1 point for O’Donnell.

Unlike his Yankees, Bobby can win in the clutch, 7-6-5