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Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Morality of Attitude

As usual, I am watching the Olympics tonight, and also as usual, I am watching "my" sport, skiing. Tonight the men are racing slalom, an even at which Bode Miller excells. Then again, whenever he has applied himself, he has usuall excelled.

Not this time around. While his recent comment basically saying that the dominant attitude, "If you can't win, don't play" undermines the various sports, his comments and attitude displayed tonight undermines the respect I used to have for him.

Bode came out and said that he was not at the Olympics to win medals, but to have a good time. He claimed to have been in better shape than those who won, but I beg to differ. Sure, the sport is demanding, but he seemed exhausted at the end of his races...every single one. He has NOT applied himself, not matter what he said. He claimed that he wanted to make skiing fun.

What this tells me is that Bode is burned out. If skiing isn't fun anymore, then it's understandable why we aren't seeing Bode at least give a decent result. I also think he's lying when he says he doesn't care about medals.

There is something more to this story, but this "Rebel without a cause" attitude ain't it.

I also think his attitude is harmful and misleading to his team. After all, his entire team is striving for medals. Now, is that to say that they actually EXPECT to earn the medals? No. They are STRIVING. They are TRYING and at the Olympics, the podium is the goal of every athelete there...with the exception of Bode Miller, apparently.

If he is not striving for a medal, then clearly he does not care to do his very best, which is not at all representative of what the rest of his team is about. It is not in any way shape or form, the Olympic Spirit. It's not as if he's sacrificing a medal for a nobler cause, ie giving his skis to someone who broke theirs. Nope. Bode has decided to be all about himself to the detriment of his team. He mislead them and he mislead his fans.

Fine if he wants to make skiing fun for himself. He can go and do that recreationally. The Olympics is about striving for medals, for putting one's best foot forward, and about living a dream that most people never even dare to envision.

And Bode has trampled this under his self-indulgent feet.

So I think this is as good a time as any to point out the fact that those in a position such as his, ie: an Olympic Athelete, there is a certain morality that goes along with the honor. The morality is the obligation to uphold the expetation that you will do your best, even if you don't feel like it. Because ultimately, the Olympics (or other world-class events) are NOT about the individual, but about the teams, about the countries, and about diplomacy.

In a sea of diplomacy and true peacefulness, Bode has made himself a hedonistic island. I hope he's happy there. That's all he was after, anyway.

I think I might have to label him the "Loser of the Year". Not because of errors, but due to attitude.


Julie D. said...

I think that is why Bob Kostas was as condemning in summing up as I've ever seen on an Olympics highlight. And rightfully so.

Ray from MN said...


The Olympics lost something when the "professionals" began to compete. Many of the stars are already millionaires when they arrive at the site, stay in posh hotels (or their own RV)and can afford the expensive night clubs.

Granted there was hypocrisy in the past, but it is more fun to watch when all the contestants really want to win and are surprised and excited when they do.

First of all, the professionals don't want to get hurt because that will limit their potential income in the future. Then they think about winning.

Additionally, there are too many junk sports. It's a problem for the advertisers in that most of the viewers, U.S. and elsewhere, don't know or care the first thing about winter sports. So they throw in the hot dogging events to attract viewers.

Adoro Te Devote said...

I think true sportsmanship has been lost. The other day (I blogged about this), Bode was saying that all the focus on "being the best" in high school atheletics takes the fun away, and I agree with this. His insight into this is not new. But he's taken his idea completely in the opposite direction and has completely done away with sportsmanship.

I think in these Olympics we saw a great deal of sportsmanship...such as the Norwegian coach giving a pole to a Canadian (?) cross country skier, citing the very morality I comment upon.

Many athletes go to the games KNOWING that they will not medal, but they still do their best. Why? Because doing their best got them there, and so they know they are obligated to go on trying. Besides...when we see the underdogs win gold, we know that this is a true Olympic moment, and a new star is born.

Bode could have been a hero, but instead, he chose the low road. Fine if he's burned out, but then if he's not going to try, then he should have made way for another skier who would have at least been willing to give it his best.

Jman said...

I think I agree with you on Bode Miller, but I'm sure he there is stuff going on he's not letting us in on. I'm sure your not far off when you say he is burned out. It almost seemed he boxed himself in, into this attitude. He seems to proud to admit that he is disappointed. Its too bad, I think he does have a good message -- you don't have to get the medals, but he undermines it when he says that he gave an inspiring performance. They didn't really seem that inspiring. Kildow on the other hand, seemed to give a really inspiring despite us knowing she probably had no chance at a medal. Often times its not only the wins that make a great champion, but a humility in the loses.

I think there is a problem with people thinking athletes need to win or they should quit. But I also think with the athletes its more the exception than the rule. Most work in obscurity, most will never be famous, with a fan base of mostly family and friends (and little cousins.) How can you say that there are atheletes who don't do it for the love of the sport, when most of the athletes at the Olympic trails don't end up making the team, even after they sacrificed so much? I remember someone I know who is on the Aussie row team saying in the cafeteria of their training center is "10x365x2." For most of them to realized the Olymipic dream its going to take training twice a day for 365 for tens years. (ok there will be some down time in the off season & sick time.) They do sacrfice a lot.

Adoro Te Devote said...


You are absolutely right. I actually had a cousin who nearly made the 1980 (?) Olympic team in diving. She worked so hard, and she was basically a shoe-in. No doubt that she was going to get a shot at a medal. Well, the day before trials, she was practicing her moves and she landed wrong and broke her collar bone. She opted to go to a "normal" life after that, not wanted to train so hard for another 4 years only to have her dream wrecked by a simple misstep.

I always feel so inspired by the Olympians we see, whether they make the podium or not.

Our Word said...

I think Ray hit it on the head - too many professionals, too many sports. Remember that up until 1988 the Winter Olympics were only 11 or 12 days long.

In order to satisfy the demands of TV, they've had to lengthen it to be the same duration as the Summer Olympics, and they don't have enough to fill the time. So they wind up with some of these "untraditional" sports, and they still can't fill the gap.

Oh well - maybe they can ask Bryant Gumbel how to turn things around. :) In the meantime, I think your comments about Bode are right on.

Jman said...

Gumbel will say add football and basketball, and maybe baseball. After all everything else really isn't a sport is it? Hehe, atleast that seems the idea I get from some of these sportscasters.

Yeah, I do remember you talking about your cousin. It just always seems odd that someone would stop training and skip the Olympics if one thinks one could make the team. But then when you considar the training, thats a lot of work.

Adoro Te Devote said...


When you think about it, though, it really does make sense. I remember learning about this when I was a child, during the Olympics because my Mom was commenting on how my cousin was supposed to be there. I wondered how she could give it up, too. Even a child can see the importance of making the Olympic team, and basically, I guess, my cousin did.

But to have all that stopped by an injury. I think that had she been able to go on, or her injury had occurred at a different time, such as during competetion, she would have gone on. But given the time, the harsh training, the expense, etc., well...she had to make a decision. She was 20 or so at the time, I think, and then would have been 24 the next time around.

My guess is that she weighed the time committment she gave to her sport and then the reality of life and what she had left to accomplish outside of her sport, and made the decision to move on.

God bless her and all those we never get to "meet".

I think you're right about Gumbel and a lot of those sportscasters, and I've met a few in person (locally, Dubay), and I have not been impressed by them. I still think it would be fun to put them all on a set of World Cup skis (made differently than commercial skis), and send them down the Hannenkam course in Kitzbuel, Austria. Sure we could have medevac helicopters standing by, but that wouldn't impress upon them the reality of the sport of skiing that I love so much.

Most athletes only DREAM about having the physical condition of downhill skiers. Most never make it.