Sunday, February 26, 2006

Olympic-sized Negativity

I've noticed a bunch of columnists and talking heads denigrate the U.S. Olympic performance in Torino. The Salt Lake Tribune, an incredibly nasty and negative paper, has consistently bagged on a number of athletes and developments, never for a moment letting alone or appreciating any victory, except of course for its own: "I knew these spoiled American brats would fail. I told you so!"

Some of our athletes are, undoubtedly, spoiled brats. And yes, they are American too. Put these two characteristics together and we have the makings for a pretty nasty being it seems. For nothing is impugned more in the Tribune, and a host of other fine papers, than wealth, privilege, and ability; Nothing seems to say wealth, privilege, and ability more than 'American.'Thus, the American Olympic athlete is a prime target for media scrutiny and dissection.

It should be obvious to any candid observer, however, that while the American Olympic athlete may very well be wealthy, privileged, or vane, he or she may be none of these things. The only immediate similarities shared among our many Olympic athletes is their general ability and flag. In any case, I wonder how our athletes at these Games differ greatly from those of other countries. And if this is the case, why it is that the spoiled brats of America, however many there truly may be, are put forth as the very bane of the Olympic spirit and the very image of rampant immorality?

Let me be blunt please. I think that the media generally and the Salt Lake Tribune specifically have created the monsters they seek. I believe that the media is a generally nasty thing, like taxes are a nasty thing, and that it has carefully fashioned the caricatures which we so well recognize: the rebel bad boy, the dramatic ice queen, the choker, the angry black guy, and the no-name surprise who thankfully came through where our scrutinized and hyped rebel, drama queen, choker, token "ethnic," etc., failed. And its all been about some kind of failure, despite the fact that America is behind only Austria in the medal count and the fact that most of our athletes are nice, simple, and competitive people. All in all, the media formula is a tired one.

Let me continue being blunt. Olympic athletes aren't often well spoken, well adjusted, humble, team players, good sportsmen, or even well educated. They probably don't vote how you do, they probably have secret sinful lives, and they most definitely aren't going to stay indoors and undercover during the Games. They probably will have gratuitous amounts of sex, use drugs, drink hard at after parties (or at 'during' parties), talk shit, and generallly provide all sorts of lurid tales for discerning talking heads to present for our consumption. What shall the media present for us then?

"BODE MILLER: He's the biggest bust in Olympic history" from the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Olympian quest for advertising gold turns to lead:
Disappointing Olympics for U.S. team will hurt the endorsement potential for many U.S. Olympians" from the

"America's 10 biggest busts of Olympics:
Bode, Weir, Kwan just few of many U.S. disappointments in Turin" from NBC Sports.

"U.S. brats take joy out of the Games" from the Salt Lake Tribune.

"Opening ceremony too much pomp and circumstance" from idem.

"Speedskating melodrama spices up bland games" from idem.

"At least we don't have to talk about Bode anymore" from idem, etc., etc., etc.

What a bunch of crap...


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