Skip to comments.Athletes Behaving Badly: What Happened to America’s Olympians?
Posted on 03/07/2006 5:57:37 AM PST by Mr. Silverback
Every two years, America looks to its Olympic athletes for an unparalleled display of drive, sacrifice, team spirit, and patriotism. Unfortunately, this year, many of our countrys best athletes provided us with a very different kind of display.
Drive and sacrifice? Much-hyped skier Bode Miller barely managed to step out of the local bars long enough to participate in his events. Not surprising, then, that he didnt win a single medal.
Team spirit? Speedskaters Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis provided a whole new twist on that concept, with their very public bickering.
Patriotism? How about figure skater Johnny Weir attending practices in a jacket with the old Soviet Union logo on it? Weir downplayed the outfit, explaining, I just admire Russian culture. Apparently, no one ever educated Weir on what the Soviet government did to Russian culture (and would have liked to have done to our own culture).
The list goes on: Aerialist Jaret Peterson was expelled from the Games for punching an acquaintance. Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis decided to show off on her way to the finish line, resulting in a fall that cost her the gold. Hockey player Mike Modano skipped his final team meeting after the U.S. team was eliminated, and then publicly blasted USA Hockey for forcing him to make his own travel arrangements.
It wasnt just about winning or losing gold medals either. Figure skater Sasha Cohen and mogul skier Toby Dawson didnt manage to win gold, but both were honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee for their fighting spirit and mature attitude. And there were plenty of other examples of inspiring behavior, like speedskater Joey Cheeks donating his entire winnings to refugees from the Sudan. But it seemed as if, for every feel-good story to come out of the Olympics, there were at least four or five that made us cringe.
True, its not the first time an Olympic athlete has embarrassed himself and his country. But its difficult to remember a time when so many of them were doing it all at the same time. The American media and the public were understandably disgusted with the behavior of some of our best and our brightest. As the Washington Post reported, As a whole, the U.S. Olympic Committee learned that its athletes need some lessons in comportment and team play. . . . So many American athletes seemed consumed with their own self-fulfillment.
Self-fulfillment. That certainly rings a bell. Isnt that the very same idea that so many American parents and teachers have been instilling in their kids from their earliest days? We have been telling them, in effect, that life is all about doing whatever will make them happygo after their own desires, unmindful often of what happens to other people. This idea of exalting the self has so permeated our culture that now even some of our most disciplined and hardest-working citizensour athleteshave fallen prey to it. The old Olympic ideals we once took for granted now seem like a foreign language to much of this generation.
America may have been left with a bad taste in its mouth as the Olympics ended. But maybe these athletes are just reflecting the values we have embraced. And if so, we have no one to blame for this sorry display but ourselves.
This is what has ruined the Olympics for me. The events are replaced with a sickening schmaltzy stories that bring almost nothing to the table. Here's a hint NBC, Everytime you glorify Bode Miller, you are NOT showing me an Olympic event.
Plus NBC's stranglehold on the Plympics means if I am not landing on NBC, I don't even know the Olympics are even going on. And if you do land on NBC, you get to see one event every hour and I get so bored with the in-between stuff that I turn the channel and never come back.
Oh, sorry, didn't see your post.
"And if you do land on NBC, you get to see one event every hour and I get so bored with the in-between stuff that I turn the channel and never come back."
Not to mention the commercials.
"Just win, baby"
Lyrics (partial) from: 'What Have We Become?" by DC Talk
What have we become?
A self indulgent people
What have we become?
Tell me where are the righteous ones?
What have we become?
In a world degenerating
What have we become?
this chorus is wispered in the background - any guesses on the wisperer?
Speak your mind, look out for yourself
The answer to it all is a life of wealth
Grab all you can cause you live just once
You got the right to do whatever you want
Dont worry about others or where you came from
It aint what you were, its what you have become
There is nothing wrong with competition or following your dream.
What's wrong is not recognizing one's abilities as a gift. One has, then, a responsibility to the Giver of the Gift.
NBC is just following the lead of ABC Sports -- the network that created the template for Olympic coverage. You may not recall, but back during the Cold War Days the US didn't exactly light dominate Olympic competition. The sidebar stories were a way to distract from the fact that the Soviets, East Germans and (in boxing) the Cubans regularly kicked our butts. In the Winter games we might only net a half-dozen medals, total.
NBC did, however, show a lot of sports on their cable feeds. That coverage was pretty good. I generally avoided the prime time network coverage for the reasons you stated.
This kind of nonsense isn't unique to U.S. athletes. In fact, the biggest "negative" story out of the recent Olympics should have been that bizarre case involving the disgraced coach of the Austrian ski team, who -- in a scene that sounds like something out of a Cold War spy thriller -- was chased out of the athletes' quarters during a pre-dawn raid, fled the city, and was later arrested while sleeping in his car on the side of the road in some mountain pass in the Alps just across the border in Switzerland or Austria.
I disagree that both of them were at fault.
Hedrick skated in a team event, Davis did not. Davis was not a team player.
I wrote a note to the U.S. Olympic Committee asking them to not invite Davis back.
Tell me where the prime stuff was.
I was spoiled by the 64 and 68 Olympics coverage of ABC and hosted by Jim McKay I believe. It seems that the coverage was live for about ten hours a day. Not much of the personality profiles. Those get bland very fast.
A class act that hasn't been mentioned is Michelle Kwan. She was very gracious in her speech when she stepped down, and she made her decision soon enough that Emily Hughes was able to participate.
Sorry, I disagree with you on this one -- Davis told his team captain all along, from way before the Olympics, that he did not want to compete in the new team event, just his individual event, and the team captain put his name down for the team anyway, depriving some other guy of a chance to go to the Olympics, hoping he could shame Davis into changing his mind.
We won a bunch of medals in stupid X-style "sports" that we invented. If it wasn't for those, we would have been buried by Latvia (or similar).
4 or 8 years from now, the countries that can afford to coddle its children to do crap-sport stuff will start edging us, just like we have lost the edge in Basketball.
As for folks complaining about 'pro' athletes competing, each and every athlete started out as an amatuer and worked their way up to the top. If they are the best at the sport then they deserve to be at the Olympics.
Also, I liked the fact that the gal snowboarder had the guts to try and give a little extra show for the crowd. The fact that she fell because of it just made the games more fun to watch - at least she tried to push the envelop (besides it was snowboarding -- )
All things considered, I thought the curlers were quite dignified.
But what is truly indisputable is that Warren Sapp sucks. A lot.