CBS News’ Brian Montpoli says it is time to “Stop The Bode Bashing”, though with all due respect, I think there will be little discussion of Mr. Miller on a grand scale for some time to come. (link courtesy Jay Strell)
Miller has given people a warts and all portrait of who he is “ a guy who sometimes drinks with his friends and doesn’t put the pursuit of medals ahead of his happiness. He’s not an automaton denying himself the pleasures of everyday life but a human being seemingly unwilling to apologize for that fact. Even his Nike ads are about how he doesn’t think “inspiring” performances necessarily correspond to victory. There is a case to be made that someone with Miller’s talents should care more than he does, and if you want to condemn him for not ascribing to the medals-above-all-else narrative that is relentlessly pushed on all of us, go ahead “ though his perspective seems increasingly common among winter Olympics athletes. But it’s unfair to attack Miller for not living up to your expectations, or the expectations of a media that decided to thrust him into a role that he never really bought into in the first place.
Yes, it would have been wise for Miller not to have done all those magazine covers, even if he always took pains to stress that, sure, he wanted to win, but that wasn’t all he wanted. If he was more PR savvy, he might have better understood the downside to all the exposure, something he could only escape by winning, a feat that generally leads the press and public to forgive any perceived transgression. Of course, such an understanding would have made him, in essence, Michelle Kwan.
More than the magazine covers and “60 Minutes”, I think the Nike ads are what buried Bode. The whole “it’s not about winning medals” spiel seems pretentious enough to most folks, but coming on the heels of….not winning any medals, well, that’s just poor timing. That great Xreme icon Marv Levy did a Snickers commercial mocking his inability to win a Super Bowl ; he didn’t however, make an advertisement saying it didn’t matter.
I suspect there is some portion of the public sophisticated enough to not have a fucking heart attack over matters of winning and losing. The same, however, cannot be said, of the sports media who were covering an actual competition.