Rant #945b: In Which I Hate America and I Also Hate Your Freedoms
I have been an Olympic obsessor ever since I was eight years old watching the 1976 Games and falling in love with Nadia Comaneci. My favorite was probably the 1992 Games in Barcelona because I had just been there, and for some reason, the competitions seemed addictively emotional.
The last time I complained about Americans in the Olympics, three things happened: everyone (including my wife) told me I was a butthole; I posted a picture of Misty May’s derrière that became one of the leading search terms for this blog; and I predicted the Tar Heels’ 2005 NCAA Championship three months before the season even started.
Two years later, I’m sure I’ll still get shit for this, but I’m completely underwhelmed with our team, and find myself rooting for Fins, Aussies and the Norse. Take Bode Miller: I don’t care what he does with his off-hours, in fact I wish him all the whoring and freebasing he can fit in. When he admitted he sometimes drank booze before skiing, pundits around America chastised him for being a bad role model, but I just thought none of these pundits had ever been to fucking Aspen.
Their hand-wringing was such crap; government health officials and sportswriters at small papers never find a parade too inane to rain on. Let’s face facts: American sports heroes stopped being role models about fifteen years ago. Jordan and Rose gambled, Kobe raped, every millionaire goes on strike every three years, and Charles Barkeley is a self-admitted asshole. The Olympics are often no better, as our 2004 Men’s Basketball team of prima donnas slept on the Queen Mary and rode the Hubris Train all the way to the BRONZE in a sport WE INVENTED.
(On a side note, it means taking back the gold in 2008 will be a source of pride, and who benefits? Koach K, of course, who will be lauded as the man who brought glory back to the Americans. In reality, it wasn’t Larry Brown or George Karl’s fault nobody would listen to them in 2004. The whole thing fucking stinks, and I’ll be rooting for Croatia.)
Anyway, million-dollar Nike endorser Bode Miller, after finishing fifth in the event he was supposed to dominate, said the Austrian guy had a once-in-a-lifetime run and he could never have beat him. A half hour later, a Frenchman did. In essence, Miller never took responsibility for his performance, simply lamely choosing to believe he ran into a buzzsaw. The extra 15 lbs in his gut might not have helped either.
In her article (don’t bother, it’s a NYT paid subscription and you wouldn’t have read it anyway), Selena Roberts quotes skier Damon Rahlves on his 10th-place finish: “Whatever.” “Whatever” is the “fuck you” of all spirit, and I should know, my generation invented it.
Hannah Kearney, the favorite for the moguls, didn’t even qualify. Apolo Anton Ohno – 1500m gold medalist last time – slipped while needlessly trying to pass another competitor during the preliminaries and is out of the competition.
Despite NBC’s desperate lunge at keeping Michelle Kwan in the news for three straight weeks, she’s about the only one showing some class. She knew she wasn’t good enough to compete and stepped aside, not even staying to do commentary.
Shaun White (the “Flying Tomato”) is another kid who is just too innocent and loves snowboarding too much to be blinded by pride and the blazing sun of future endorsement deals. I love this kid, and indeed, he’s making my hair of 1985 super cool again. And Joey Cheek, donating his $25K to Darfur? Stud.
But they seem like exceptions. The Olympics are far from over, of course, but they already taste funny. The public relations maven of the United States, Bill Marolt, gave Team USA a brand name tagline plastered over everything they touch: “Best in the World.” Like most American moves of late, it lacks nuance, seems stunningly obnoxious to every other country, and isn’t even true.
If you plan on being less-than-stellar, at least act graciously; if you plan on being an unflappable rebel, at least win something – but to be both is now quintessentially American.