Athletes used to have higher ethics in the past – scandals were rare, by no means comparable with those emerging from the rock’n’roll world of sex and drugs. Yes, we heard the names of the greats a few times, in highlights that didn’t exactly honor them, but somehow they managed to keep their careers intact. A better crisis management strategy I guess. The world still remembers Jim Palmer as Jim Palmer, and Bjorn Borg’s “transgressions” with a minor are all forgotten. Does anyone still remember what David Cone did in 1989? Or how Cristiano Ronaldo had fun in October 2005? What happened with Rick Pitino? Oscar de la Hoya still has a reputation, doesn’t he? Even my husband’s hero, Wilt Chamberlain, is no stranger to “transgressions” – it’s all in his autobiography A View From Above.
Somehow, despite the fuzz and the buzz, these athletes are still legends. This goes to teach us that, in the end, the value of an athlete is his/ her performance in sports, and not performances of other kind. No matter how much the media will tear them apart, no matter how many private details surface to the public, Wilt Chamberlain’s value in basketball remains unbeatable; and Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest golfers of all times.
But there is something else these athletes seem to ignore. Such incidents were rare in the past, but lately, since Tiger Woods apparently set a dangerous trend, more and more names join the list of shame. And in the end, the people who should be pictures of health, ethics and moral values, the people our children grow to admire, and idolize, are the people who betray our trust the most.
So the winter Olympic games in Vancouver are still on, and the fever of winning an Olympic medal sometimes gets to one’s head. Like Scotty Lago who considered that his crotch deserved a higher honor than his neck. That’s where an Olympic medal should hang, unless I am mistaking. A joke, I presume, but in the middle of the joke, a girl kissed that medal, so strategically placed, and someone had the presence to shot a few spicy and racy pictures. Then the same girl bit the medal (probably trying to figure whether it was genuine bronze?) Now Scotty Lago makes hot headlines. His reputation is a bit shaded, his career in danger to end in shame if he doesn’t handle things right. The first step, admitting his mistake and having the courage to take the honorable decision to leave the games has been made. He apologized to officials at the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association and decided to go home.
Scotty Lago didn’t hide, he didn’t lie… His decision is admirable, and smart: the steam from the media will pass in a few days.