The Olympics are supposed to be about sportsmanship and honest competition. At a time when our faith in the purity of athletic endevors is supposed to be renewed, we are once again reminded of the ugliness lurking in the shadows, and the incompetent and toothless organization that enables this behavior. No, not the NCAA, although this description could just as easily apply to them, but the International Olympic Committee.
It is precisely because the NCAA has been so absolutely negligent in addressing the elephant in the room that I find this behavior intolerable, and with the IOC, it is the same sad pathetic story. Imagine my surprise when I found myself in lockstep with a former hitman on our basketball legacy:
Jacques Rogge is so bought, so compromised, the president of the IOC doesn’t have the courage to criticize China for telling a decade of lies to land itself these Olympic Games.
All the promises made to get these Games — on Tibet, Darfur, pollution, worker safety, freedom of expression, dissident rights — turned out to be phony, perhaps as phony as the Chinese gymnasts’ birthdates Rogge was way too slow to investigate.
One of the most powerful men in sports turned the world away from his complicity. Instead, he has flexed his muscles by unloading on a powerless sprinter from a small island nation.
Wetzel is talking about Rogge's criticism of Usain "Lightning" Bolt regarding his celebration during one of his races. While I am somewhat ambivalent about his showboating, I don't see Mr. Rogge pointing out that the rest of the field would have done the exact same thing in his position. How do I know this? Because the silver and bronze medal winners were hamming it up on the track as well. 3 for 3 is a pretty damning sample size.
So what? What does this have to do with UCLA? Replace Rogge with Miles Brand, China with SUC Football, small island nation with Donnie Edwards or even John Wooden (contacting Kevin Love). It's the same sad story. And in this sad story, we may have a depressing glimpse of the future: Rogge attempting some terrible slight of hand by criticizing Bolt, for gestures that no one else seemed to be offended by.
American sprinter Shawn Crawford, who crossed the line fourth in the 200 but was upgraded to the silver medal after the disqualifications of Wallace Spearmon and Churandy Martina, said he saw nothing wrong in Bolt's showboating celebrations.
"I guess there's mixed feelings among athletes," he said. "To me, I don't feel like he's being disrespectful. If this guy has worked his tail off, every day, on his knees throwing up like I was in practice, he deserves to dance."
In our analogy, let's say this is Brand coming down "hard" on SUC's already decrepit basketball program due to the OJ2 Scandal. He'll go for the low hanging fruit and hope that it is enough to satisfy the masses.
I hope Mr. Brand is watching carefully, because the end of Wetzel's piece puts him on notice (with the appropriate parallels applied):
Apparently, Rogge would prefer 12-year-old gymnasts too frightened to crack a smile.
It got better when, in the same press conference, he pretended to forget all the lies China (SUC) told him to get this bid, all the troubles, all the challenges, and praised the host nation. Yes, these have been an exceptionally well-run Games from a tactical standpoint, and the Chinese people have displayed otherworldly kindness.
None of which denies the promises broken (recruiting violations), the innocent jailed (assault, rape, roids), the freedoms denied (FREE HOUSES FOR REGGIE BUSH) — the kind of issues someone with Jacques Rogge’s (Miles Brand's) standing should be talking about.
He has no spine for that. Not for China (SUC). Not for any big country (football moneymaker). He had to criticize someone (Wooden), he had to make headlines, he had to show he was a tough guy (SUC Basketball?). So who better than someone from somewhere that can’t ever touch him back?
Yes, Usain Bolt is the problem of the Olympics. He’s the embarrassment. He’s the one who needs to learn.
Why do we have rules if no one is willing to enforce them? Why would anyone play by the rules at all? China sure doesn't. Neither does SUC. And the honest programs are left in the lurch.
(And the similarities keep on coming. The IOC has "ordered an investigation" into China's 12-year-old gymnasts. Given Rogge's Brand-like behavior so far, where do you think this "investigation" is going to go?)