In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Colleen Murphy, asks our panel of experts three questions: How did the NCAA selection committee do this year? Was Adam LaRoche right for quitting baseball because of his son and who is to blame for the 100 athletes suspended for using a newly-banned substance?
1. How good of a job do you think the selection committee did with choosing this year’s March Madness teams?
Kevin: The selection committee did a horrible job picking the field for March Madness this year. Syracuse University, Michigan State University and University of Tulsa shouldn’t have been in the field of 64 and teams like Valparaiso University, Saint Mary’s College and Monmouth University all deserved to get in over these three. The committee needs more basketball people on it (former coaches, media members) and a better-defined criteria for who gets a bid and who doesn’t. Right now, the committee is a mess and I don’t know if it’ll get any better the way it is right now.
Michael: I want to say the committee did a bad job, but honestly, I like what they did. There were some incredible snubs this year, especially Monmouth, whose bench would be amazing to watch in the tournament. However, there isn’t a clear-cut winner this year and I honestly love that. A majority of the time, we have this bracket where we say, “This team is going to go to the Final Four and win.” This year alone, many brackets have been busted thanks to the losses by Michigan State, University of Kentucky and West Virginia University. This year, a record 10 double-digit seeds made it to the Round of 32, and honestly, they all have a chance to keep playing on. While there were — and always will be — snubs, this bracket has been very entertaining.
Jennifer: The selection committee team repeats the same procedure every year when it comes to deciding the 68 teams that make it into the tournament. Every year, there are surprises in the choices the committee picks and this year they didn’t disappoint. My grandpa, Walter, an avid college basketball fan, felt that Seton Hall University should be seeded higher than sixth, considering they won the Big East Championship recently. However, he retracted that statement the following day because on St. Patrick’s Day, Seton Hall had no luck against Duquesne University, losing, 97-76. As for the women, the University of Connecticut has dominated the past three years, and this year, predictions are in their favor. The most well-known teams that have dominated in previous years seem to have a better chance at seeding higher. The more reliable the team, the better the seed!
Kevin gets 3 points for giving a solution. Michael gets 2 points for saying the selections made the games entertaining and Jennifer gets 1 point for mentioning the women’s bracket.
2. Chicago White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche retired after the team told him to stop bringing his 14-year-old son to the clubhouse so often. Which side do you think is in the right and why?
Kevin: Personally, I have no issue with LaRoche bringing his child into the clubhouse. However, I side with the White Sox in this case because they have the right to say that he can’t bring the son in there. The baseball clubhouse is still a workplace and there needs to be some semblance of professional standards. At any other job in America, if workers brought their children into the office every day, it would be a disaster.
Michael: The White Sox were in the right, but part of me respects LaRoche in a weird way. The team has the final say on what happens in the dugout — who comes in and what goes on in there. I doubt the kid would be a nuisance, but maybe management thought he could be a distraction that may hurt the team later on. Then again, with the recent story about St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguer Tyler Dunnington quitting baseball because of the homosexual death threats his teammates openly talked about, when at the time he kept the fact that he was gay a secret, maybe having a kid away from a clubhouse isn’t a bad thing. Even if it wasn’t happening in Chicago, I’m sure there are some things said in a clubhouse that a kid shouldn’t hear. In the end, though, I can’t dislike a father who put his son first.
Jennifer: There is nothing like father-son bonding time, however, the time a player spends in the team clubhouse to train and work on improving his skills is important, too. Ken Williams, the team president who told LaRoche to “dial down” the amount of time his son spends in the clubhouse, said to Fox News, “You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?” The White Soxs have encouraged players to bring their children to work with them, but the constant presence of Drake LaRoche, the 14-year-old son, might have been a distraction to his father, who struggled in 2015, batting just .207 with 12 homers. LaRoche turned down his $13 million contract in order to spend time with his son because #familyfirst.
Jennifer gets 3 points for suggesting the son could be a distraction. Kevin gets 2 points for putting the workplace first and Michael gets 1 point because bad things are everywhere.
3. About 100 athletes have been suspended for using the newly banned substance meldonium. Where do you think the blame for this high number of suspensions lies most?
Kevin: The sports officials of the countries and the athletes are at fault. Athletes need to know exactly what’s going into their bodies, as the rules for doping around the world for sports is often strict and confusing. However, there are clearly some issues with the specific national federations, since there are large numbers of athletes, specifically in Russia, that are testing positive for this drug. There are question marks on whether this drug is actually a performance-enhancer, but if it’s illegal in the sport, everyone involved needs to be aware.
Michael: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and sports officials should be clear what drugs are going to be banned and give some time frame. I am not defending athletes who are actually trying to get an edge in their respected game, taking steroid B since its legal, unlike steroid A. I’m defending the athletes who have actual medical conditions or being nursed back to health, only to find out the substances they were taking are now banned. The groups looking to keep the games clean should tell athletes ahead of time, “This substance may become banned in a future rule.” Now, while you can say this may give cheaters an advantage, it would mean treatments could be altered.
Jennifer: The WADA has suspended athletes for this drug pretty often in the past three months… maybe because this meldonium has just been officially banned as of 2016. Basically, meldonium is a drug that’s prescribed to treat heart disease and to increase a blood flow to organs. It cannot be sold in the U.S. and can only be found in Latvia. This drug can enhance one’s performance and can boost one’s oxygen uptake. Sharapova had been taking this Latvian drug for the past ten years and was unaware that Mildronate was the same thing as meldonium. The WADA sends emails to all athletes when new restrictions have been added and Sharapova, in particular, did not click on the link to check. The blame for the high number of suspensions probably lies most heavily on the negligence of athletes who don’t double check to see if a new drug was added to the list of banned substances.
Kevin gets 3 points for putting the blame in the right place. Michael gets 2 points for showing empathy and Jennifer gets 1 point for pointing out athlete carelessness.
Kevin wins Around the Dorm 8-5-5.