Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Opinion of Others' Opinions - The Olympics

Thank God the Olympics are over so I don't have to hear every asinine comment about every action or tweet made by, to, about, or among Olympians. Don't get me wrong, I used to LOVE the Olympics, but I think that bloggers who know nothing about athletics, social media, and disgusting nationalism will ultimately ruin all enjoyment for me...

*Patriotism vs. Nationalism*
American Athlete Under Fire For Carrying Mexican Flag by Chris Chase
Leo Manzano, a Mexican immigrant who became the first American man to win a medal in the metric mile since 1968, draped himself in the flags of both his countries after his race at Olympic Stadium. That decision earned some cheers, but mostly jeers from Mexican-Americans. ...
Why would he carry a flag of the country his parents left when he was 4 years old? ...
I talked to a friend with a Mexican background and she was vehemently against Manzano's action. "It's fine to be proud of your roots," she said, "but not in this context."
"mostly jeers"... really? My guess is that if I were to walk up to 20 random Mexican-Americans on the street in my neighborhood, showed them the picture of Leo Manzano holding the U.S. and Mexican flags, not a one of them will think there's anything wrong with it. One Mexican-American CNN contributor and your "friend with a Mexican background" do not speak for all Mexican-Americans (or even 'most' of them).
Are you somehow dishonoring America by expressing love for the country of your birth? If your parents live separately, and you live with your father, is it a dishonor to your father to say you love your mother? Honestly, it puzzles me that anyone would care.

Personally, I'd be happy if all the medal counts and flag waving (outside of medal award ceremonies) disappeared. Never happen? Yeah, I know - it's an opinion.

*Drugs and Doping*
Unease, Anger as Chinese Swimmer Fights Doping Doubts by Mike Collett-White and Alan Baldwin

I thought the article above was pretty even-handed overall. There are reasons why China is scrutinized more than other countries. BUT, here's a thought (two actually): Maybe, just maybe, she's not the only one in the pool who could be using performance enhancing drugs. And, maybe, just maybe, she's THAT good.

Folks, John Q. Public knows almost nothing about drugs and sports. They think that if there's drug testing, and no one tests positive, then no one is using. That's essentially the same thing as saying that if a sport doesn't test at all, then there is no drug problem (and not that long ago, people thought that about baseball!!!!).

If you want to get drugs and doping out of sports, you have to test... frequently and for everything, AND with a zero-tolerance policy. One strike and you're out. A suspension is not enough. A suspension is not enough because the athlete has already gotten their scholarship, sponsors, endorsements, and pro contract. In the athlete's mind, if they are suspended after all of that, they have, essentially, already won.

For what it's worth, I don't have strong opinions about drug use in sport. I think that as long as there are high stakes, there will always be people who try to find an edge to exploit. When I was an athlete, it was a non-issue - my job was to do the best I could and let the chips fall where they may. If I won, great. If someone else won (who might have used drugs or doping to do so), well, I had some work to do. I didn't waste time wondering or worrying about who was and who wasn't. I still don't.

*Nature vs. Nurture*
What Make's a Great Olympian? Sometimes it's Genetics (and I wrote a book so it must be true!) by Jon Entine
This is so full of B.S. that I really don't know where to begin. The author says:
Running is the most egalitarian of sports, a natural laboratory. ...Theoretically, then, the medal podium for runners should resemble a rainbow of diversity.
...and so here, the author begins with a horribly false premise - that because everyone can run, then what happens on the track reflects genetic superiority of the finalists rather than their training, hard work, sacrifice, culture, and environment. He has fixated on a single characteristic and assigned causation from a very simple correlation without accounting for a multitude of other factors.

No one says that genetics don't matter - everyone, I think, knows that talent is necessary, but not sufficient. Talent is simply one of the many, many ingredients that go into a champion. It is the 21st Century and despite scientists debunking the myth of race, people keep trying to keep that artificial wall alive. 30 years ago, some people believed that blacks did not have "the genetics" to be champion swimmers, or football quarterbacks, or golfers... 20 years ago, a lot of people would have laughed at the idea of Asians in the NBA... Isn't it time people got away from assigning success or failure to a man-made construct like race?

Related Squat Rx Posts:
The Genius In All of Us
Commitment Follows Competence (and The Matthew Effect)
Do Your Heros Have To Be Heroic?


Esteban said...

Nice recap of some Olympics news I definitely missed.

Boris said...

Thanks Esteban.

Jords said...

All round one of the most intelligent posts within the strength training blogosphere.

Boris said...

Thanks Jords.