Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympic Thought for the Day

I was watching the live feed of the men's 4 x 100 freestyle relay, where the commentary is provided by folks who seem a lot less America-centric than the folks doing commentary on NBC's prime time coverage.  And as the teams came out, one of the commentators pointed out what was, when she mentioned it, kind of obvious:  Every other team came out and raised their hands together or did something else vaguely team-like, but the American team "looked like four individuals."

And they did.  They really did.  They didn't look at each other or do anything to indicate they were aware of each other's presence.  Just four guys who apparently don't get along too well, each engaged in his own pre-swimming ritual, with no speck of teamwork or camaraderie to be seen.

And I was reminded of the other big Olympics story from this morning -- that Jordyn Wieber failed to make the Olympic All-Around competition, because, although she did really well, two of her teammates did even better, and there's a "max of two athletes per country" rule.  The news stories helpfully tell us that Wieber burst into tears when she saw that the second of her teammates had outscored her, and the internet is covered with pictures confirming it.

And that seems to be the problem, really.  Look, I get that all the female gymnasts want to be the next Nastia Liukin or Shawn Johnson or Shannon Miller or Mary Lou Retton or whomever -- medalling in the Olympic All-Around is pretty much a write-your-own-ticket for an American gymnast.  And I also get that Jordyn is something like 17, and this is an awful lot of pressure for a kid in her position.  So, yeah, she's disappointed, I get it.  But I also get that (despite NBCOlympic's headline "Wieber's Olympic Dream Dashed,") this is not, in fact, the end of the world.  Wieber didn't get injured; she didn't have a questionable drug test; there was no family tragedy she had to run home for.  She's still in the Olympics.  Hell, the U.S. is still in good position to win a team medal, if not the gold.  Wieber, in fact, has also qualified for the event final in floor, so she's even got a shot at an individual medal.  Hardly a dream dashed. 

But bursting into tears because your teammate (and, supposedly, really good friend) had the qualification round of her life and now has a legitimate shot at the All-Around title herself?  Really?  Wieber should be Aly Raisman's biggest cheerleader, not crying over her friend's success.

There's a lesson for the U.S. Ladies' Gymnastics Team in the results of the 4 x 100 relay:  stop being five individuals and start being a damn team.*

*If you really want, you can stop being a team on Wednesday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you still around?