Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jim Souhan Writes (and Probably Throws) like a Girl: Underhanded

As of Monday night, the US had won seven gold medals, the second most in US Winter Olympic history. However if you read most sports columns, a picture of complete failure is painted. Jim Souhan is always eager to point out faults, but this week SI.com’s Jacob Luft joins him. I wrote the same article last week, but since Souhan and the Star Trib editors failed to read it, we’ll try again.

Last week after skier Lindsey Kildow crashed, Souhan wrote not
one but two warm fuzzy, feel good stories about Kildow’s toughness and courage. This week, after allowing Kildow four days to heal, he throws an underhanded dart at Kildow for failing to medal.

The title of his article is How the wanna-be mighty have fallen. If he wants to rip Bode Miller, fine. Why does he lump Kildow in this article? She shouldn’t have even skied, let alone take eighth place. That sounds like the Olympic spirit.

He has taken every opportunity to jab Bode Miller. Miller is a World Class skier, but also has a reputation for flaming out. The Olympics have seen the latter. So what? Other more compelling stories get a chance. Austria's Hermann Meier overcame a serious auto accident to win a silver medal. It is an interesting story, but he's not an American so who cares.

Luft writes a whopping 324 words to express his discomfort with the US team’s poor performance:
I have a simple rule when watching this stuff every couple of years: We shouldn't lose to any country that I can't find on a map. Considering that my geographic knowledge is based almost completely on playing the board game RISK in grade school, you can imagine how upsetting these Olympics have been for me. (How many medals does Kamchatka have so far?)

How narrow-minded can you be? The nerdy Risk joke really drives his point home. Luft may consider his piece tongue-in-cheek, but readers shouldn’t work so hard to identify it. If he is truly disappointed say so, if he doesn’t care, then don’t write about it.

Aside from the Salt Lake City games, this has been the most successful US winter team ever, and there are still five days left. Sure the US should have won more medals, but there are always upsets and disappointments. When Miller failed in the men’s combined, another American Ted Ligety surprised everyone by winning the gold. It seems to equal out.

Luft also takes issue with the men’s hockey team. They aren’t that good. They lost to Slovakia and Sweden (sans Peter Forsberg no less), both with more talent. Russia, Canada, the Czechs and Finland all have more talent than the US. The men aren’t disappointing; their talent is middle of the pack which matches their results.

The US is not assured or entitled to medals. This isn’t the ’92 Dream Team versus Angola. Lots of countries have World-Class athletes. Why do these writers refuse to enjoy great performances by other countries? Like Janica Kostelic, the Croatian skier who had 13 knee surgeries, and still won two medals in Torino? No it’s better to discuss the US and some mythical failure. I for one will not lose any sleep over Apolo Anton Ohno or Johnny Weir(d) not medaling.