In this week’s Special Edition of Around the Dorm it’s a battle of the editors as our editor-in-chief, Sydney Shaw, takes on two former Signal editors — Bobby Olivier and James Queally. Signal sports editors ask: Would you sign Ray Rice? Should Cincinnati teams embrace Harambe-themed promotions? Did Fancy Bear do the sport world a service or disservice?
1. Ray Rice is eyeing an NFL return. If you were a team owner, would you sign Rice?
Sydney Shaw: Signal Editor Sydney says no. When Rice assaulted his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in 2014, I was mad, but when the NFL gave him a slap on the wrist with a two-game suspension, I was enraged enough to write an opinion piece about it for The Signal. Rice’s actions were terrible, but the NFL’s were worse. Following that logic, if I were NFL Team Owner Sydney, I’d probably be terrible, too. So why not sign Rice? The move would be a headline-grabber at worst, and at best, a team-saver. Rice has admittedly seen better days as a running back and is approaching his 30th birthday, but he still knows his way around the football field and might be in better health than other players later in the season. A good owner puts her team on her back. That means caring about my millions of fans, not about one girl who got punched in the face. She married him, anyway, so how bad could it have been?
Bobby Olivier: The easy answer, in week two when most running backs still enjoy two functional knees, is no, who needs the headache? But give it a few weeks, and a team that’s banged up and already slipping from relevancy will likely go after him for some sort of Tebow-esque, “Hey, this guy’s back!” headline grab. And for a real owner, or for hypothetical me, his return should be based solely on whether or not he can actually play in the NFL. What he did to his girlfriend was horrible, and it ruined his career — a running back’s prime is about 35 minutes long and he spent most of it apologizing. If you need the roster spot filled, and he looks anything like the guy who ignited Rutgers University 10 years ago, let him pick up the pieces.
James Queally: This question is about football as much as it is about NFL owners doing something to shake the league’s miserable reputation when it comes to players who commit acts of domestic violence. But either way, the answer is absolutely not. Rice’s career was effectively ended by that elevator video, and it’s really the only permanent consequence suffered by a superstar in a league that has continued to employ Ben Roethlisberger and Greg Hardy in the wake of their own issues involving sexual or domestic violence. From a football standpoint, Rice’s yards-per-carry had been slipping for years, bottoming out at 3.7 in 2013, and that pedestrian number was buoyed by two blockbuster games against bad defenses (What up Bears, Lions?). Awful behavior aside, he’s a 29-year-old back heading for the age cliff, his elusiveness is fading and he probably can’t function as a bell cow back anymore. He’s not worth it from a moral or football standpoint.
Bobby gets 1 point for assuming Rice can still play well. James gets 3 for deciding on morals, age and skill decline. Sydney gets 2 points for doing what’s best for business.
2. Should Cincinnati sports teams embrace Harambe-themed promotions?
Sydney: They should at least give it a shot — after all, Harambe took one for all of us. What’s the worst that could happen? A heroic gorilla might lose his life because a mother couldn’t keep an eye on her kid? OH WAIT, that already happened, so Cincinnati owes it to him to honor his memory. In all seriousness, Harambe’s death sparked a nearly unprecedented internet reaction. If the Bengals decided to embrace Harambe-themed promotions — say, by having a person in a gorilla costume walk arm-in-arm with the team’s mascot — it would probably go over pretty well, at least with millennial fans. It even rhymes: Who Dey? Harambe!
Bobby: The obvious answer is no. But that’s no fun — I’m back in college, baby! So, hell YES they should embrace promotions tethered to the faux-forged legacy of a dead gorilla! I’m thinking banana smoothies at Reds games, Rainforest Night at the Cincinnati Cyclones minor league hockey games — the first 500 patrons get a real poison dart frog! — and of course, a WATCH YOUR FUCKING CHILD, WE CAN’T AFFORD TO KILL ANYMORE GORILLAS BUT CAN ABSOLUTELY STAND TO LOSE A SMALL HUMAN Day at the Cincinnati Zoo. Maybe the College can hop aboard this crazy train, too. Why not revive the shrimp and banana pizza (I think it was Cuban Night in Eickhoff Hall) that sent me to nutritional therapy for six months back in 2009? Long live Harambe, long live the College and God help you poor, debt-doomed liberal arts majors.
James: I mean, how else are they going to sell Reds tickets? I don’t get how this is really controversial. Then again, I’m old and barely understand how the internet turned this poor gorilla into one of those, what do the young ones call it? (puts on reading glasses, lights cob pipe) “Dank memes,” is it? While the whole Harambe obsession seems to have faded from outrage to conspiracy-theory humor, embracing the viral sensation in the city where the shooting happened could be a thorny issue. The Cincinnati Zoo’s staff has expressed dismay with Harambe becoming a bizarre cultural icon. I think the Bengals and Reds would be best served by staying out of this. People are going to come out in Harambe-themed gear and there’s no reason to try and stop it, like NFLShop.com did briefly this week, but the hometown sports teams don’t need to lean into it, either. If Cincinnati sports fans want to honor a rare and majestic beast without offending anyone, all they have to do is wear an A.J. Green jersey.
Sydney gets 1 point for trying to be serious. Bobby gets 3 points because he made me WANT to go to a Reds game. James gets 2 for trying his best to be hip.
3. Did Fancy Bear do the sport world a service or a disservice by leaking data from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)?
Sydney: Considering I wasted my time googling “Fancy Bear” only to find out that “none of the documents published by the group showed wrongdoing,” according to ABC News, yeah, I’d say it was a disservice. I could have spent my time coming up with a better answer for that Rice question before. It’s a disservice to the athletes who have to deal with the stress of people thinking they’re doping up when they’re really just taking approved medication so they can function on a daily basis. And less importantly, it’s a disservice to the folks in Fancy Bear who are partaking in the risky business of hacking into WADA databases for seemingly no reason. Get a real job, Fancy Bears.
Bobby: Those damn Fancy Bears, with their white teeth and their iPhone 7s and their… their… where am I? I haven’t moved the needle one way or the other in terms of ground-shaking reveals. The fact that Simone Biles takes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication raises neither of my eyebrows, nor do the Williams sisters’ therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), for which it appears they had the approved paperwork. Though it does re-illuminate the idea that some world athletes could have exploited the TUE system. But no major names have been released to ensnare public attention, and until then (hopefully after press time), the jury’s out as far as service or disservice. And speaking of bears, James Queally loves Minus the Bear, a grossly overrated band.
James: Disservice. Unless I missed something, WADA has never been known to give passes for actual performance-enhancing drugs and is a pretty reliable watchdog agency for Olympic sports. Did I really need to know that Biles takes medicine for ADHD, or that other American athletes have asthma inhalers? No. These are legitimate exemptions, and they’re fairly irrelevant to Biles’s ability to stick the landing or Venus Williams’s bonkers serving power. There are so many natural and unregulated substances you can put in your body to gain some sort of advantage. Green tea opens up your airwaves, should that be banned for track and field athletes? Unless we’re talking about a positive test for an actual anabolic steroid or a substance used to mask their use, I don’t need to know about someone’s prescription history. This might sound contradictory as a journalist, but some things should stay private.
Sydney and Bobby get 2 points for forgetting about the hard-working, Nexus-using fancy bears of the forest. James gets 3 points for the neato green tea factoid.