February 16, 2010 at 11:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Redemption

Redemption. It’s a word that, in my opinion, has been both misused and overused in coverage of these Olympic games.

The narrative goes something like this: Hannah Kearney got redemption for winning moguls gold after failing to even qualify for the final run in the 2006 Olympics. Lindsey Jacobellis will seek redemption later today when she competes in the snowboard cross, an event that she would have won in Torino had she not started celebrating a few feet too early. Alexandre Bilodeau won redemption-by-proxy for all 33 million Canadians by winning Canada’s very first home-soil gold. And Bode Miller, with his devil-may-care attitude and party-boy lifestyle, was redeemed in the eyes of his fans and critics for winning bronze in yesterday’s downhill, after ‘slacking off’ four years ago.

These are nice soundbites, and they make for compelling television drama, but they don’t mean much. In reality, world class athletes are just like us: imperfect. They have good days, and they have great days. And they have not so great days, too. And, in elite international competitions, they’re up against dozens of other world class athletes who are, give or take a fraction-of-a-second, just as skilled as themselves. Even on a great day, the difference between winning gold and going home an ‘unredeemed’ fourth-place-or-worse loser can be as insignificant as, in the case of Bode’s downhill, literally 0.1 seconds every 4 years.

That being said, watching Bode’s awe-inspiring bronze-winning run, then hearing him wax poetic about the significance of the Olympics and how much this means to him, definitely qualifies as one of the feel-good moments of the Games, if not one of the most ‘redeeming.’


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