Thursday, August 21, 2008

If We Were French

As the world has been transfixed by the amazing accomplishments of Jamaica's Usain Bolt at this year's summer Olympics, I cannot help but think of an alternate scenario, one which would see our nation cry foul over the unbelievable chain of recent athletic events. To fully understand this alternate reality, one must bear in mind that the United States of America has gone without winning a gold medal in any sprint (100m, 200m, or 400m relay) competition for the first time since 1976. Let us imagine for a moment, that instead of celebrating Bolt's accomplishments, as we have, the nation chose to view Bolt as a phony, an affront to our national pride:

Surely, for this transgression against our national pride to have occurred something must be amiss. How can we just sit back and let this arrogant perpetrator relish in his achievements, basking in what must be an artificially attained glory? How can we let the legacies of Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson et al be tarnished by such a blatant act of cheating? Usain Bolt, a promising sprinter prior to these games, but in no means a contender for greatest sprinter ever, has suddenly - and suspiciously hastily - thrust himself into the hall of sprinting greats. Are we to believe this is a product of will power, of determination, a spectacle displaying the extent of humankind's ability? No. Instead, remember Ben Johnson, Linford Christie, and the cacophony of foreign cheats that have repeatedly tried to soil our national parade ground that is the Olympic sprinting medals podium.

Sound pathetic and unbelievable?

In short, it is; and it's disgraceful as well. Of course, that hasn't stopped another nation from taking this exact course of action when one of their beloved sports was dominated by an outsider. I'm referring, of course, to the treatment of Lance Armstrong by the French. A national hero in America, Armstrong is, to this day, considered a villian in France. As with Bolt, there is no reason to believe Armstrong's heroics were the result of anything other than unmatched preparation and unbelievable execution. The French, sadly, have chosen to believe otherwise.

So, let us continue to praise Usain Bolt for his amazing feats, and quietly note our own abilty to gracefully acknowledge when we have been bested by a superior athlete; for sport is still one of the arenas where Americans still display all of the characteristics and qualities that makes us a truly great nation.

P.S. Even though it may go against a lot of the dignity I speak of in this article (and taking into account what a polarizing state Texas has become recently), you've still gotta love this bumper sticker (Lance has publicly worn a tee-shirt emboldened with the same phase):


  1. Texas anagrams to Taxes.

    Texas is 268,820 square miles, while France is a mere 260,558 square miles.

  2. It's interesting that two hotly contested events in which the USA lost gold did not go unprotested. The men's 200m was protested by the USA which resulted in 2 more American medals awarded to the 4th and 5th finishers. That protest is also under protest by the Dutch Antilles, who lost their silver (and only) medal because of the American protest. In gymnastics, the USA and China were the 2 favorites. The USA came up short, and now the Chinese have come up... too young!? Granted the age issue was publicized well before the start of the games, but it's funny how issues that have fizzled suddenly flame up. I think that although we can all acknowledge that Usain Bolt is the superior sprinter, the USA is still not well known for quietly accepting defeat.