What is this all about? Maybe you should read the READ ME READ ME.
july 24, 1996: oLIMPic
Yesterday I was the Cruel Site of The Day. Life is good.
And because of that, I must have received about 500 letters.
I need to talk briefly about the Olympics now.
I do not really watch the Olympics.
I am a cynic when it comes to sports. I tend to think of athetics as an entity created in order to transfer wealth to white male hands, and to glorify virtues that tend to reside in men more than in women.
Nonetheless, on Tuesday afternoon, I turned on the television to NBC, and, with Public Enemy playing in the background, I watched some very young women toss and flip and flop and fly around a gym decorated with big Nike banners. It was nice. Public Enemy goes well with everything, it seems.
But -- as is usually the case -- something Bad happened.
A blonde small chick with a bandage on her left ankle and leg ran towards the vault. She shoved herself off the vault with both arms, did a couple of twists in the air, and landed on both feet. She lifted her left leg. She saluted the judges. She fell to the floor. She started crying young girl tears from very frightened eyes. Her teammates started crying. The auditorium started crying.
Her coach, that Bela dude, sprinted towards her. Bela's wife's eyes grew glassy. Cameras appeared out of nowhere, as did a stretcher. Aa crowed swarmed. She is carried away. Her twisted young face exploded with agony.
Her name is Kerry Strug. The U.S. and Russian team were neck to neck, and Kerry's vault was said to be the "breakthrough" -- the score that made the U.S. team a gold winner for the first time in Olympic history. She was a hero. Then why was she crying?
A short while later Bela carried Kerry back to the floor for the awards ceremony, where she joined the other six young women on the team in rising to the platform -- strong, proud, hopeful, sad, tiny women. Flowers were handed out and trophies placed around their necks. Five white women, one Asian American woman, one African American woman. One small blonde woman with tears of fear, confusion, and betrayal on her face.
Mary Lou Retton cheered. Proud parents glowed.
I became cynical.
How can we allow these children to torture themselves like this? Age 13, hardly a life. They are athletes. Sure, they can get their education later. Sure, they have time to date, attend beer bashes, and mosh at punk shows later. Sure, they devoted their entire life to something that does not leave a noticeable mark on the state of humankind (although it might help line the Nike CEO's pocket). But certainly they deseerve a little more respect than, say, Sharon Stone, who devotes all her time (as a friend of mine says) to looking "hot"?
Is Kerry a hero? Is she a martyr? Is she going to recover?
I wish that someone could explain to me why this is necessary; why we create this huge incentive for people to commit such a large part of their lives to a sport, just to engage in a week of competition in order to prove that capitalism is better than communism and socialism.
What I learned Tuesday is that sports is not very different from any other human tragedy -- loss, sacrifice, betrayal, artificial goals, anticlimax, small favors, pain.
With Kerry's twisted face burning on my retina, I wish I had not turned on the television at all.
I am proud of Kerry. But I am ashamed of this world.
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Copyright 1996 Rebecca Eisenberg firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights Reserved.