gold medal in betrayal


Okay, so this is the blog where you tell me to go back to Mother Russia. You’ve been warned.

The United States is winning the most medals at this Olympic Games, and you know what? I’m embarrassed. Our country has behaved so reprehensibly in the last four years that I cringe almost every time I see them hoist the Stars and Stripes aloft.

Obviously there are a few exceptions. I liked our woman who won the bronze in the marathon, and the swimmers seem like very nice people (except for that Hall guy, who must be kind of a cock). And I was sad for the American rifleman who accidentally shot his opponent’s target.

But let’s face facts: our athletes have more equipment, more money and more product endorsement deals than any other country on the planet. Our basketball team – who, to the crowds utter delight, just lost to Lithuania – has $678 million in contracts and is sleeping on the Queen Mary.

With a tin ear for world politics, the Bush campaign released commercials featuring the Iraqi soccer team, to which the members of the Iraqi soccer team said, “fuck off, murderer.” I hope the rumors of Bush going to Athens to see a soccer game come true; he’ll be ridden out of town on a rail.

It really has come to this for me: my country’s government is so morally bankrupt that I can’t cheer for people representing us, even if they’re honest, hardworking platform divers. I’m with Meghan over at Slate – Carly Patterson may have won the gold, but her milky-pudding-white visage is wholly uninspiring. Give me the stork Svetlana ANY day of the week. Her petulant pride in being a Russkie was about the only honest emotion I saw.

SportsCenter complains about how bad our basketball team is, when they’re the ones that turned the sport into me-first cockfight. ESPN bemoaning a bronze medal is like Fox News being surprised when Bush does something awful. The only thing that keeps me from actively hoping our basketball team fails is the coaching staff, all of whom are from Chapel Hill.

And that’s when it hits me. I have no “home team” feeling for America anymore. It may come back, but for now, it’s lost. My tribalism, which kept me so delighted and psyched and deliriously happy to be an American for 33 years, has vanished. I have just as much joy when France, or Namibia, or Eritrea benefit from either a gold medal or a scientific breakthrough. I’m on the home team of the “world,” for lack of a better phrase, and the Americans just keep fucking it up.

I have but one team left for all of my heart: the North Carolina Tar Heels, a university and sports team I love that just happens to be in the United States. You will have to pry my cold dead fingers off my replica of the 2005 NCAA Championship Trophy.

Oh, and Misty May’s ass.


0 thoughts on “gold medal in betrayal

  1. oliver

    “Her petulant pride in being a Russkie was about the only honest emotion I saw.” Oh, come on. Eyes off the thongs and the NBC packaging. There’s a lot of sincere emotion out there. Anyway, McPeak is hotter than May.

  2. chris

    The Williams family is all about junk in the trunk.
    IIRC, Holly McPeak had breast implants.
    It’s too bad that Misty May and Holly McPeak are no longer on the same team…they would have great porn star names.
    Mia Hamm is the cutest of all.

  3. Tessa

    Come on, dude. The American athletes, for the most part, have conducted themselves with dignity. It seems to me that they are ah-shucks, apple pie, suburban kids who work really hard and look weird in make-up.
    That lovely Texas diver-lady spent a good deal of her time encouraging and complimenting other divers – teammates and otherwise. Phelps left the pool without fanfare, sacrificing what would have surely been a victory lap to offer his teammate the chance for redemption and flirt with a co-ed in the stands. And Aaron Piersol’s first comment after being disqualified and reinstated was an apology for the emotional roller coaster ride for the three swimmers behind him – none of whom were American.
    Sure we are overfed and over-endorsed and occasionally inarticulate but those athletes are sweet not cynical. They may not being inspiring and feisty and Ironblock but they are not deserving of your contempt and they are not Bush. Stay nuanced – it’s one of the few skills the left has.

  4. Piglet

    You can have Misty’s ass if I can have mile-tall Kerri Walsh and her abs of steel. Mrowr! I never noticed beach volleyball until now. Not only are these two players super-hot, but they play the game like chess. When the camera gets them from directly overhead, I can see the strategy at work, and that’s cool.
    And the gymnasts no longer look twelve years old, so I can thrill to their impossible feats without feeling like I need to scrub myself.
    I gave up cheering for “America” at these games a long time ago. After all, some of “their” athletes are from really cool countries, and some of the so-called “Americans” are really from the most hostile foreign countries, like Texas. I just find the ones I like, usually for their “charisma”, and go for them.

  5. Sean

    This is the first Olympics since September 11, 2001 for these athletes. Security concerns were through the roof. We’ve got athletes competing over there who have no hope of a medal, no hope for an endorsement deal, no hope for a job doing their sport after the Olympics, and a promise that more people will hate them once they get to Athens than will support them.
    To write what you did about the American team is shockingly short sighted. As the standard bearer for democracy in the world, we are the embodiment of country-as-choice; at some point the ancestors of every single one of our athletes made a choice to leave their country and come to America. Our country is no more than what we make it, has never been more than what our ancestors have made it. To disparage the American athletes as supporters of one tiny radical fringe element of American culture that will be looked back on as a weird reactionary right wing spasm (that will last only a few more months) is to ignore every person who has ever been to the Left of this president.
    To decide that every representative of America is also a spokesman for Bush is a lot stupider than deciding that every person with ties to oil who is from Texas is a representative of Bush, and I assume you know how stupid that is. America is not this, and we will right ourselves.

  6. kevin

    I hear you Ian.. I too am not to proud of being an American right now, but I cannot agree with you not supporting our athletes.
    How about Bobby Julich winning bronze in the cycling time trial.. that guy went to the bottom and has now proudly crowned his career.. i couldn’t be happier for him.
    I don’t really like hearing the national anthym being played.. I feel that it brings too much political/nationalism.. perhaps we could do without that.

  7. Greg

    With a few exceptions (primarily Gary Hall Jr. & the men’s basketball team,) I think our atheletes have been honorable and admirable. I too develop a strong case of flag fatigue and a certain degree of embarassment about our country during the olympics, but I think I relate that embarassment more to the false pride that americans take at the hard work of a select few just because they compete under our flag. Are the accomplishments of the Korean gymnasts any less great because they don’t look like us and they’re competing for a different flag? I love the olympics and the accomplishments of all the athletes, just spare me the flag-waving please.

  8. Greg

    On second thought, leave the men’s basketball team out of my criticism. Sure, they’re overpaid, but on an individual level I don’t think they’ve been embarrasing. The fact that they haven’t lived up to the general expectations is a reflection on the american public’s arrogance about our capabilities and disrespect for the other nations competing. the fact that USA basketball has not sent a team capable of winning the gold should not be a condemnation of the players on the team, but rather, it should be a condemnation of the USA Basketball administrators that arrogantly assumed any random group of NBA players should be able to win.

  9. Ian

    I agree with all of you – I’m being un-nuanced, short-sighted and it’s not fair. But I can’t help how I *feel* about it. I never said it was an emotion I came by honestly, I’m just wondering aloud how I could have changed so much.
    Seriously, when I was 8, I had the Official 1976 Olympic Book and filled in every winner, and showed my parents when we won a gold nobody knew about (archery, hammer throw, etc.).
    This is MY failing, not those of selected present athletes.

  10. salem's little sister

    I was a coach last year for the USA Equestrian Team at the Speacial Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland. Representing the USA and marching in to the Opening Ceremonies before 85,000 people was the highlite of my life. Never have I been so proud to follow our flag and support the Special Olympians who had worked so hard to make the team. The athletes that competed at the Games overcame lifetimes of ridicule and disdain, to show the world what they can achieve if only given the chance. There were delegations from 160 countries and the athletes competed in many of the same events going on now in Athens.
    I was living in gasp. . . Texas and I trained and coached 3 athletes from the same state. Should the crowd have cheered less for us being from Bush’s home state? Having lived in Texas for 6 years, I can tell you that not everyone, including me, is a Bush loving Republican. Not once during the Games, did the war or political preference rear their ugly heads.
    The Olympics should not be about politics. They are the celebration of what people with passion for a sport can achieve.

  11. eric g.

    I just shed a sympathetic tear as I pulled out my 1980-81 Carolina media guide with its back-cover photo of Al Wood in his Olympic uniform with a “USA” basketball and the American flag behind him. All dressed up with noplace to go…


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