2010 Winter Olympics: Bode Miller and America's Obsession with Success

Mr. Jones and MeCorrespondent IFebruary 22, 2010

WHISTLER, BC - FEBRUARY 21:  Bode Miller of the United States celebrates his Gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men�s Alpine Skiing Super Combined on day 10 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Medals Plaza on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

What would America think of Bode Miller if he failed to win a medal in Vancouver?

With no knowledge of his actual dedication to his sport, the headlines would read something along the lines of, "Bode Miller Still Can't Be Bothered with Skiing."

Instead the headlines read, like ESPN analyst Jim Caple's "Miller Catches the Olympic Fever."

America is obsessed with success, and Bode Miller is the latest proof.

Take a look at Ray Lewis. Almost one year to the day after being involved in an incident that left two men dead, Lewis led the Ravens to their Super Bowl XXXV victory and collected Super Bowl MVP honors. His involvement in the murders has all but been forgotten since.

How much do you think America will forget about Tiger Woods' infidelities when he wins his first tournament after returning to golf?

Bode Miller was amongst the best skiers in the world in 2006 when he openly admitted that he considered skiing a “wasted” act and that he was more concerned with partying.

After failing to medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Miller stated it “was an awesome two weeks,” mainly because he “got to party and socialize at an Olympic level.”

His failure to win a medal, despite being considered a medal favorite in each of his five events, didn't seem to matter in the least to him.

After several unapologetic interviews, Miller's reputation as carefree party boy grew, prompting one member of the media to call him “a tedious bore given to statements that smack of hypocrisy.”

Miller made the 2010 Winter Olympic ski team, despite hinting that retirement was a possibility as recently as last year. As of Sunday, Miller has claimed gold in the Super Combined, silver in the Super-G, and bronze in the Downhill in Vancouver.

Some may argue that Miller's is a story of redemption, but I disagree.

Miller's is a story of the power of success and America's obsession with it. Success has a strange way of eliminating prior fault in America.

Over the course of his three medal-winning races, Bode Miller was less than one total second away from missing the podium altogether.

Less than one second between the old selfish Bode Miller and the new dedicated Bode Miller. Less than one second corrected an image Miller spent years destroying.

Should America be proud of Miller's success at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games? Of course—the achievement of anyone winning an Olympic medal is monumental.

But should his success in Vancouver forgive all of the mistakes he's made and the bridges he's burned?

I don't think so.