In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Tom Kozlowski, asks our expert panel three questions: Should the NHL stop sending players to the Olympics as a result of injuries to players like John Tavares, is Sports Illustrated putting Barbie on the cover of its swimsuit edition a legitimate controversy, and if the Indiana Pacers are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.
1) The New York Islanders’ John Tavares, arguably the best player in hockey, suffered an injury at the Olympics, which will sideline him for the rest of the NHL season. Should the risk of injury at the Olympics keep the NHL from sending its players to the games, and if not, should the IOC compensate teams when players are injured?
Andrew: While the injury to John Tavares is unfortunate, there is no reason why the NHL should stop sending its players to future Olympics. While there is the possibility of getting hurt, this tournament is one of the only times where these athletes have the opportunity to represent their country. While winning the Stanley Cup is very challenging, the hockey players are given the chance to win that title each year. The main reason why NHL players should go to the Olympics, though, is because of longevity. It is well known that the Olympics happen every four years, but in fact, in a recent study, 54.7 percent of all NHL players retire before making it to their fifth season. From their standpoint, the players may only have one chance to play on an Olympic team, so they must do whatever they can to make it count.
Chrissy: I don’t believe the risk of injury should keep NHL players from participating in the Olympics because I think many players would be willing to risk themselves to compete in the Olympics. It’s truly an experience to compete in the Olympics and many NHL players are able to do so — it becomes a spectacle to watch different players play for different countries. The risk of injury is absolutely there, but I think the players should have the choice to decide to participate or not. I don’t think the NHL should prohibit it at all. If a player does not want to risk anything, then he can decide himself if he wants to go or not. Therefore, I don’t think it is the responsibility of the IOC to compensate teams when a player is injured because it was the player’s and the team’s choice in the first place to go, and they should be willing to accept the circumstances.
George: To say Olympic injuries are a threat to the NHL is to ignore the nature of hockey itself. Ice hockey is a violent sport, and injuries are inevitable in any venue. Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski, for example, was out for two weeks after injuring his ankle in a recent Devils game. Long absences from injuries are commonplace in hockey, so why does it matter if the injury occurs during the Olympics? It’s not like there’s no risk out of the rink either — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang suffered a stroke recently that had nothing to do with the sport he played. It’s all luck. What happened to Tavares could have happened to anyone, anywhere. At the same time, it’s entirely reasonable for the NHL to want money — the Olympics are borrowing the players that make them money, after all. It makes sense for the IOC to pay for what ends up being damaged under their care.
Andrew wins for using a variety of statistics, Chrissy gets 2 points for saying the Olympics are a great opportunity, and George gets 1 point for saying chance is a big injury factor.
2) Sports Illustrated is stirring up controversy again with its swimsuit issue, this time by putting Barbie on the cover. Is the backlash against one of sports’ biggest publications deserved, or is this a non-issue?
Andrew: The backlash is completely unnecessary, and, to be honest, it works in the favor of SI. While there are many complaints going around, this publicity stunt is only making people talk more about this reputable news outlet. In a time when magazines and newspapers are steadily on the decline, the media must do whatever it can to get ahead. The reason many people buy the swimsuit issue is to look at beautiful women. While the cover may be different, there are still pictures of models on the centerfold, making it a non-issue. SI is a business, and if it means that they have to put Barbie on the cover to sell more issues, then so be it.
Chrissy: I believe backlash against the Barbie issue of Sports Illustrated is well-deserved, because SI has chosen to put the fakest form of a woman to put on its cover. This is even worse than the scantily clad swimsuit models they put on there normally. Barbie is the oldest form of something that gives girls false expectations for themselves. She’s plastic and not proportional to what a real woman is supposed to be. I know young girls are not reading this magazine, but I still think it gives the wrong message to the world. Barbie has been criticized since her creation in the mid-1950s for giving girls false expectations, so I believe putting her on a magazine that normally has real women — albeit in perfect shape and ridiculously photo-shopped — would be offensive to many people and inadvertently sends the wrong message.
George: The controversy surrounding the Barbie cover is ill-founded: We should be praising the folks at SI for publishing such a progressive cover, not criticizing them. In all the years publishing has existed, not once has a doll been plastered on the cover of a publication that normally centers on humans. This is because dolls have always been labelled with demeaning terms like “different,” “creepy” and “not alive,” but not anymore. Now, the wall separating the animate and the inanimate has fallen, laid to waste by the progressive minds at SI. No longer will sentient beings be above the non-sentient. All will live and not live in equality. Today, it is dolls — tomorrow, it will be indefinite lumps of plastic — and the day after tomorrow, rocks.
George wins for saying SI is being progressive, Andrew gets 2 points for saying the controversy helps SI, and Chrissy gets 1 point for highlighting the negative impact of Barbies.
3. The Pacers made the biggest splash in the NBA on deadline day, improving their depth by acquiring small forward Evan Turner. Does Turner affect Indiana’s title odds, and, regardless, are the Pacers the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference?
Andrew: While the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are still the Eastern Conference favorites, the trade acquiring Evan Turner certainly helps the Pacers’ title chances. Although the Pacers have a strong starting five, they have struggled in the past to get their bench involved. The acquisition of Turner helps to solidify this problem by adding much-needed depth to Indiana’s roster. While the Pacers had to give up the talented Danny Granger to receive Turner, Indiana definitely made the smart move. As of late, Granger has been suffering from injuries and has not played to his fullest potential. By picking up the 76ers small forward, the Pacers are earning a more consistent and reliable player — ultimately giving them the best chance to take the title come June.
Chrissy: I believe Evan Turner does not necessarily affect Indiana’s title odds — though he will contribute heartily to it. The Indiana Pacers are currently leading their conference with a 43-13 record. They have emerged this season as the dominating team in the Eastern Conference and will continue to dominate if things keep going the way they have so far this season. Turner has been a vital aspect to the 76ers and will continue to step up for the Pacers. After playing in the league for only three years, he has been more than impressive, and Pacers fans should be excited that he is an addition to their team. Regardless of this acquisition, the Pacers are still favorites to win the Eastern Conference title because of the stellar play they have exhibited thus far. Turner will no doubt only add to their success, but they have been on the road to victory since the beginning of the season.
George: Evan Turner is a decent player, but he isn’t enough to tip the scales against the favored Miami Heat — at least not on his own. Where Turner is now, he makes an excellent bench starter, something the Pacers need if they want to score higher than the Heat, but they’ll need their entire team to pull together if they want to come out on top. And it’s not impossible for the Pacers to do that — after all, last season they performed admirably against the Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs. For the Pacers to get out of the Eastern Conference, they all need to be on top of their game — not just Evan Turner.
Andrew wins for saying the Heat are still favorites, Chrissy gets 2 points for saying Turner will contribute, and George gets 1 point for saying Turner’s impact will be limited.
Andrew wins Around the Dorm, 8-5-5