Around the Dorm 3/5: Sochi’s Legacy, Anthony’s Decision and Jeter’s Farewell

In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” George Tatoris, asks our expert panel three questions: how will the Sochi Olympics be remembered in years to come, should Carmelo Anthony stay on the Knicks for more money or leave New York to win a title, and is Derek Jeter’s retirement as big a deal as Mariano Rivera’s retirement was for non-Yankees fans?

1. Now that the Sochi Winter Olympics are over, how will they be remembered in the years to come? 

Peter: These Olympics will mostly be remembered as a cautionary tale to future hosts about preparation, as Russia’s significant inadequacies overshadowed what was a pretty dull event sportswise. Nothing captured America’s or the world’s imagination, which is the barometer for a good international sports event — see the 2010 World Cup  —  and there were a lot of disappointments from a U.S. perspective. Instead, we’ll remember how the $51 billion spent on having the Olympics did more harm than good for the host: Russia couldn’t keep its shortcomings out of the limelight, as shoddy buildings and services for journalists and athletes, a frightening hacker presence and oppressive government policies — including against homosexuals and free speech advocates — reminded everyone why Russia is such an undesirable place to live. Sochi 2014 was a dud.

Mike: Oh, they’ll be remembered all right — if only for all the mishaps we saw surrounding these Olympics. Most Olympics do not feature athletes getting repeatedly stuck in bathrooms, fireworks mishaps and the dozens of other funny and strange stories that came out of the Games, and the lesser conditions we saw in Sochi will surely be brought up again in future Olympic years — especially when hearing bids from Russian cities. We’ll also remember these Olympics for the strange media mishaps, where the results graphics displayed the wrong flags next to winning countries, and for the heartwarming stories of Olympians rescuing the many stray dogs wandering the city’s streets. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Americans will remember the actual results of the Games very well, with the possible exceptions of recalling how both of our hockey teams collapsed in the medal rounds and remembering this as the year Shaun White finally stopped being the best in his field. These Olympic Games didn’t bring many fond memories for the American team, but they will definitely be remembered for other, less noble reasons.

Matt: The Sochi Olympics will be remembered for being fairly uneventful. And that is a very good thing. With all of the talk of terror threats leading up to the games and Russia’s anti-gay policies, the games could have been a disaster. Thankfully, there were no incidents in Sochi. Well, besides events being postponed because of fog, athletes getting trapped in bathrooms and elevators, hotels not being fully ready for use, and drinking water that was a dark brown color, that is.

 Mike wins for bringing up the failures of Olympic organizers, Peter gets 2 points for bringing up the failures of the U.S. , and Matt gets 1 point for bringing up the failures of terrorists.

2. Carmelo Anthony is at a crossroads. Should he stay on the Knicks, his contract would guarantee him more money in the long run, but the poor performance of the team gives him little chance to win a championship. Should professional athletes care more about the money or about winning championships?

Peter: As soon as a player shows that winning a championship has become second fiddle to anything, including money, they are not doing their job as a professional athlete. It’s hard to get excited about your team winning a Larry O’Brien Trophy your team doesn’t want to win. Only the excitement generated by NBA players and fans make the trophy coveted like it is, and without that, people will lose interest altogether and the league will hurt as a result. Anthony has already made enough money to guarantee his grandkids will be rich men and women. He should do his job, justify the fans’ interest and go for a title with a team outside of New York.

Mike: I think there are two different answers to that question. For the majority of professional athletes, namely the younger players and those who have never been superstars, caring more about money is the wise choice. It doesn’t matter all that much to a career role player how many titles he’s brought home if he goes broke within five years of retirement. But the big players like Anthony have already earned tons of money during their careers. I think those players, if they care about their professional legacies, should care more about winning titles than they do about their contracts. For Melo specifically, it’s a tough situation — he always wanted to play in New York, he’s making the most money he could possibly make there with both his actual contract and endorsements and his family loves him playing there. This would make it a lot tougher for him to leave and sign elsewhere, and his only real shot at a title is to become someone else’s second banana, which I don’t think Anthony would be OK with.

Matt: Anthony should strongly consider leaving the Knicks in the offseason. The Knicks are a disaster right now, and will be again next year. With huge contracts for Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani, the Knicks will have no cap space to spend if he re-signs. The team that is drastically underperforming this year will have almost the same exact look next year. Anthony has said he is willing to take less money to return to N.Y. so another top free-agent can sign with the Knicks in the 2015 offseason, but why would elite players want to join such a dysfunctional organization such as the Knicks? Winning championships should be more important to Anthony — and all professional athletes for that matter — than the money, and if he re-signs with the Knicks, he may never win a championship. Anthony should take the LeBron approach, and take his talents to a team like Chicago or the Lakers — both teams that are unloading players and salary in hopes of getting two top-tier players.

Matt wins for saying the Knicks suck, Mike gets 2 points for distinguishing between veterans and rookies, and Peter gets one point for bringing up the importance of fans’ excitement.

3. Derek Jeter will be playing his final season in the coming months. Should he be honored in every city like teammate Mariano Rivera was last season or should Jeter go out with less spectacle?

Peter: Jeter will leave the MLB with less spectacle, through no fault of his own. The MLB goodbye tours have been overdone for a while now, especially as Rivera’s own season of sentimentality was only a year ago. A lot of people were bored with these tours before the end of Rivera’s tenure, and Rivera was a better athlete than Jeter. He was convincingly the best player at his position of all time, a genuine once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, whereas Jeter has just been a great baseball player. More importantly, no one wants to see “Jeter Day” on the Sportscenter sidebar every time Jeter visits a new stadium for the last time — “Jeter says goodbye to Fenway!” is one more sappy farewell story I don’t need to hear. Jeter has been a fantastic professional and he deserves to be remembered as one of the great players of his generation, but I will appreciate him a lot more in the future if his last season goes relatively quietly in the news.

Mike: Should he be? That’s highly debatable — while Jeter is one of the very few athletes I’d put in the same near-universally-respected category as Rivera, I would also argue that Jeter did less for the sport of baseball overall than Rivera did. His contributions to the Yankees specifically were probably greater, so I think that the N.Y. organizations and fans should and will do much more for his final year than they did to honor Mo, but as he didn’t really impact that rest of the cities as much as Rivera did, I don’t think they should give Jeter all the ceremonies that they honored the closer with. Jeter has definitely earned a standing ovation during his last at-bat in each ballpark this year — which I’m sure he’ll get, and perhaps a little more from the Red Sox — but I don’t think he should get more than that. I also think that Rivera’s sendoff last season was so much fun and came with so much good publicity for the league and the individual teams that Jeter will get much the same treatment.

Matt: MLB will be losing the face of the league after this season. Derek Jeter will retire and will most certainly be honored at every park he visits this season. I do not believe he should get the league-wide send-off that Mariano Rivera received last year, though. Great everyday players like Jeter come around once every generation, but there will never be another closer on Rivera’s level. Rivera dominated the league for nearly two decades, en route to setting a nearly-unbreakable record for most career saves. He was the greatest closer to ever play baseball. On the other hand, Jeter will go down as an all-time Yankee great, but what he has accomplished over his career will be seen again.  Mike Trout in Anaheim is already turning heads for his numbers after just two seasons. Unlike Rivera, Jeter’s accomplishments and records will be broken.

Peter wins for pointing out the overdone-ness of player sendoffs, Matt gets 2 points for  pointing out Rivera’s greatness, and Mike gets 1 point for saying the MLB will embellish it. Jeter’s farewell anyway for publicity.

Around the Dorm ends in a tie, 6-6-6

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