In this semester’s AtD championship, previous champion, Correspondent Drew Conn, will act as “The Ref.” Sports Editor Garrett Rasko-Martinis, Staff Writer Chris Rotolo and Correspondent Jason Cantor will discuss whether they think LeBron James will continue to play with the Cavaliers, how the publicity of mixed martial arts will affect those who promote it and which major sports city — New York, Boston or Philadelphia — is truly the best.
1. With the Cavaliers poised to make a deep run in the NBA playoffs, what gives Cleveland a better chance to retain LeBron James in the offseason – winning the championship this year or not winning it?
GRM: This is something I keep changing my mind about, but now I’m committed to the belief that if the Cavaliers win it all then James is going to stay in Cleveland. Probably the only thing holding back James from re-signing with his hometown team is the lack of hardware, and if the Cavaliers can change that this postseason, James will want to stay. People keep saying James may want to go to New York and, “start a dynasty there.” But Cleveland has put the best team around James to date, and if they can win it in the finals, James may not have to travel to create that dynasty. If the Cavaliers win it all, that won’t be in the back of James’s mind and he will stay with the team and the fans he’s grown to love and relish in finally delivering them the title.
CR: I don’t believe James will leave Cleveland regardless. The mutual love fest is too strong between Cavs fans and King James. However, James will be more likely to leave if Cleveland closes its season without a title. I believe these rumors of James leaving all started a few years ago when James openly criticized Cleveland’s front office for not providing their star with enough surrounding support. Since then, Danny Ferry brought in Mo Williams and a broken down Shaq, neither one can be considered a viable NBA star. So, in terms of this question, it would take a ring for James to forget his frustrations and stick around in Cleveland. But he won’t go anywhere.
JC: I think it all depends how Cleveland loses. If they are knocked out early and ugly, odds are that James will go find a supporting cast that is worthy of his greatness. If they win, James will return in search of a dynasty. Recent reports indicate that if James does resign with the Cavs, that it would be a three year deal. This three year deal would force the Cavaliers to remain competitive to hold on to James for the rest of his career. Even though James wants to be the second billionaire athlete (Tiger Woods was the first), he knows he is at the point that if he doesn’t win a ring soon, he will get the reputation of a player that can’t win the big games. Most of the teams that have the cap space to sign James aren’t very good, which makes me think he’ll stay with the Cavs unless they somehow get embarrassed.
DC: Jason gets 3 for acknowledging James’s near-obsession with becoming the first billionaire basketball player and for his extensive knowledge on the matter. I do not think James has the strong attachment to Ohio like Chris and Garrett assume because he chose Duke over Ohio State before declaring for the draft. But I give Garrett 2 for mentioning that the Cavs get better talent each year, and that this year’s group is the best yet. Chris gets 1 point for having the most confusing answer.
2. Recently, there has been much controversy surrounding mixed martial arts (MMA) after the pay-per-view antics of Anderson Silva and the street brawl after Strikeforce’s debut on national TV. How should promoters of this sport handle situations like these? Are these antics good or bad for the sport?
GRM: Both the brawl and Silva’s antics take away from what I consider to be one of MMA’s strongest features — the camaraderie and competitive spirit of fighting. I’m not saying that all MMA
fighters aren’t influenced by economics, but I legitimately feel from watching these fights — and keep in mind I am not a huge MMA fan by any means — that a lot of these guys fight to enjoy the thrill of competition. Unfortunately events like this undermine these aspects of MMA and just make it seem like it’s a sport where arrogant muscleheads just brawl without brains or conscious.
CR: I hadn’t thought about MMA fighting in months prior to this question, so I suppose anything that gets people interested and puts the organizations name in the limelight is good. The cliché “there is no such thing as bad publicity” applies here. MMA, as we have come to know it, is a fad, much like poker. And like that poker phase, MMA will soon fade. The fact that Anderson Silva’s actions made national headlines rather than the results of his match proves that he, the organization he fights for, and all nationally televised MMA fighting leagues are in the early stages of irrelevancy. What should promoters do? Nothing . Let the rabid pit bulls off their leashes to brawl in the streets. Will the reputation and credibility of MMA fighting take a hit? Yes. But it was already dragged through the mud when Kimbo Slice was employed and promoters decided to fix fights.
JC: In a sport that is already considered by many to be a brute, disgusting and distasteful sport this only confirms disbeliever’s predispositions. The Strikeforce card was aired on CBS, and was probably the first time a lot of people watched MMA. This was a terrible first impression for those fans. The promoters of the sports should hit fighters where it hurts, their wallets. The CEO of UFC (Dana White) apparently agrees. He has threatened to kick Silva out of UFC if he acts foolishly again. This is a step in the right direction, but a specific conduct policy full of penalties and fines should be laid out so these fighters do not embarrass themselves and the sport.
DC: Chris gets 1 point for claiming that MMA is a “fad” and “irrelevant” when it consistently draws more attention and interest from people our age than boxing … oh yeah, your argument was pretty weak as well. MMA fighters do not make a lot of money relative to boxers and other athletes, so fines or suspensions would likely have a strong effect on these fighters. But I give Garrett the 2 and Jason the 3, mainly because Jason mentioned White’s threat against Silva and that the UFC needs a legit conduct policy.
3. From a sports perspective, considering fanbase, prestige of the teams, sports complexes, etc. which of the following is the best sports city — Boston, New York or Philadelphia?
GRM: It has to be New York, even with my bias aside. In baseball, the Yankees have had more success than any other team in sports history, and they have the beautiful park and good fan base to put them far ahead of any other team in the baseball discussion. New York also wins it in football because of the Giants success throughout their history, and the Jets fan base that has endured heart break after heart break and only have one Super Bowl to show for it. Even though I will say the Knicks fans have stuck with awful teams in recent memory, and Madison Square Garden is a great place to play, Boston wins in basketball. In hockey, the combined success of the Rangers and Islanders, the loyal fan base that leads to continuous sell outs at Madison Square Garden gives New York the win in hockey.
CR: When I think of Boston and Philadelphia the image that resonates in my head is of their baseball fans. And often, when you come across a Phillies or Red Sox fan, you get to discussing who their favorite teams are, and, for some reason it is never quite clear. The line often uttered is “I love the [enter Phillies or Red Sox] and whoever is playing the Yankees.” At least Red Sox fans have somewhat of an excuse for rooting against the Yankees, both teams in the AL East and all. And as for fanbase — Nobody is more passionate than New York Sports Fans. Complexes — Yankee Stadium and The World’s Greatest Arena. And do I have to touch upon prestige?
JC: As a diehard New York fan it pains me to say it, but Boston is the best sports city. Even though every major sport is run out of NYC and despite it being the largest of the three cities with a very rich winning history, knowledgeable fans and brand new beautiful stadiums, New York City is not nearly as united as the other cities. If you’re from Philly, and especially if you’re from Boston, it is rare to find someone that doesn’t root for the unified hometown team. This brings people together. In addition, every major team in Boston has a history of being good, especially recently. The Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics have all won championships in the last five years. Fenway Park is probably the most iconic stadium of any sport in the USA. Every franchise in Boston is run the right way. I cannot say the same for New York and certainly not Philadelphia.
DC: Garrett gets 3 for stating how New York fans always stick by their teams, win or lose, which is something that cannot be said about the “what have you done for me lately” attitudes of Philly and Boston fans. Jason and Chris say opposite things about Boston fans, but I have to give the benefit of the doubt to Jason because he makes a good point about Boston only having 1 team for each sport (and logically should have unity amongst the fans) but I can’t give you 3 because I am not sure I agree Fenway is more iconic than Yankee Stadium. And also Jason mentioned that Boston has been much more successful than NYC in recent times, which Chris may have blocked from his memory.
Jason wins this semester’s championship, 8 – 7 – 3