US Winter Olympian Bode Miller Was Right — And I'm Not Being Sarcastic
It's been four years since Bode Miller fizzled out in Turino and I'm finally coming around to the notion that maybe he was right all along.
No, it's not just because he is now officially by any reasonable measure, the greatest skier in my nation's history.
It's because four years have come and gone since Turino and I've thought about a few things since then...
Back then, I thought that Bode Miller was a jerk... And I still think that he's a jerk.
But, my opinion does not and should not count.
Because a week from right now, I will be done watching the Winter Olypmics. I'll stop paying attention to skiing for another 47 months, just as I won't pay two bits of attention to speed skating or luge or snowboard-cross. In fact, with the exception of hockey, there is no Winter Olympic sport that I deem worthy of my spectatorship until 2014.
Like most Americans, I won't give a crap about the Olympics after my two-week fill is done, because to me this is all a huge spectacle.
To me, the Olympics is not just about honor and patriotism. It's also about the sadistic joy of seeing a pressure cooker in action. It's about seeing good, ordinary people define their entire existence and life's purpose in some act that lasts for about a minute.
People like Lindsay Jacobellis might be extraordinary humans, but how the hell would I know? All that I know about her is the combined four minutes of boarding that I watched this year and in 2006.
But Lindsay is not a personified version of the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball — stored in some dark closet somewhere for 99.9% of its existence. After Vancouver is done, she will continue to work. And work. And work.
And the same goes for Bode.
He will practice for hours each day, just like an NBA bench-warmer who makes ten times as much money as him.
And he will compete in other events like the World Cup, which will probably serve as a better indicator of his skiing skills than does the Olympics. Just like an 82-game NBA season is a better indicator of a team's ability than is a random five minute sample of one random game. Ever heard of aberrations?
Bode Miller's 2006 Olympics was an aberration. He failed partly because he acted like a jackass. But he also failed because, well, maybe that week just wasn't his best ski week.
So before everyone calls him a cry baby, answer me these two questions:
1) Are you going to pay any attention to his career or watch him represent his country in the years 2011, 2012 or 2013?
2) If Tim Duncan's entire legacy was defined not by his 10+ years of performance, but instead by a random ten minute sample pulled arbitrarily from his past, would that be a very fair way to judge this man's ability?
Bode's point in 2006 was pretty simple: the Olympics are a spectacle. They are a reality TV show, complete with tear-jerking backstories and they are dressed up in a bunch of grandeur.
But, they are still a rotten way to define a great athlete's legacy or determine which competitors get the million-dollar endorsements.
Back in 2006, I bought the media's argument that Bode was a jerk because of how he performed at Turino. I was wrong. He may or may not still be a jerk, but it's not because he shrugged off Turino.
He was right about the Olympics.
We love them the same way we love American Idol or Survivor.
The only difference is that we *know* that those two shows are pure entertainment and only Bode seemed to realize that so too is the spectacle that NBC has brought us these two weeks.
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