Monday, February 27, 2006

Self-centered little brats

Was I the only one who was a bit embarrassed by some of our Olympic athletes?

I'm not going to mention names here, because these people seek attention at any cost. What is sad is that these few high-profile athletes and their childish actions overshadowed many fine athletes who have worked hard for years to get to the Olympics and competed honorably.

We had one world-class skier who was favored to win a number of events, but messed all of them up and walked away empty-handed. That would be excusable, except that in an interview after he lost the last event, he had a very blasé attitude, and talked about how it was all good because he had fun hanging out in bars until midnight before competing.

Then there was the American snowboardcross racer who was leading the gold-medal race but felt the need to show off with a showboat jump move. She crashed a stone's throw from the finish line, and lost the gold medal. There is certainly a time to celebrate a win, but it is on the other side of the finish line.

One snowboarder said that he hoped to win a gold medal because it would "help me pick up lots of chicks."

And of course a lot of attention went to the two American speed skaters who had a public name-calling match in the media over who would or wouldn't skate in a relay race.

It used to be that being a part of the American Olympic Team was about national pride and sportsmanlike competition putting team and country ahead of self. These days it seems to be about individual attention at any cost. This trend appears to have started with professional athletes and celebrities such as Dennis Rodman who depend on media attention to get bigger contracts and higher-paying endorsements. By doing something shocking, they can get their names in the headlines, which builds their name recognition. This year's Olympic Team reflects that self-focused culture, and the attitude they display is being picked up by our teenagers as well. Our teenager sees sports as a way to attract attention by showing off flashy moves, but without the discipline, persistence, or focus on teamwork to excel as an athlete. If we can't get rid of this "it's all about me" outlook, we are going to turn into a nation of self-centered brats.

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