Saturday, February 18, 2006
PC, The Olympics, and Panache
Current mood: irritated
Anybody who’s paid any attention to the media that last couple have days has heard the story of US snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis’ gaffe that lost her the gold medal. To hear the media’s take on, you’d think the method air that caused her to fall and, hence, lose out on the gold, may as well have been her flippin’ the bird to all of America. I mean, America’s all about winning, right? No matter what: style, sportsmanship, ethics, whatever. We just want to win and anyone hurting our “American Dream” should be chastized. Hey, maybe Jacobellis is a terrorists. Had we ever thought of that?
When did this happen? What the hell is going on in this county? Okay, the girl probably got a little celebratory, certainly lost focus for just a sec, and muffed a move that she probably doesn’t fall on one time in a thousand. And she lost. Big deal. It’s just a race. And she wanted to win it with a little panache. What’s wrong with that?
It’s French, I guess. We used to lionize panache. Now we have rules against it. Aren’t sports supposed to be fun? When did everything become about winning and losing? Only one person can win. Is everyone else truly a loser? And, if this is the case, what kind of reflection–or psyche–is that going to instill on society? Win or go home. That certainly doesn’t leave much hope for most of us, does it?
Jacobellis is going to be remembered as the girl who ‘lost the gold medal’ when, in fact, she was trying to make the gold medal actually mean something.
A famous French rock climber Patrick Edlinger once said, “If you’re just trying to get to the top, it’s a waste of time. The idea is to do it in a style that’s pleasing to the mind and body.” And this is in a situation that’s life or death.
I think US could definitely use a little right now. We’ve become the big bully of the world; throwing our weight around, not following the rules of the rest of the world (even though we helped write them), making terrible excuses for our complete lack of ethics. We’re thugs. We’ve got no style. All we care about is “winning”.
Their’s a lot more to life than winning. Weren’t we the country that coined “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”?
Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest American heroes. Yet, I believe, the America who treats him as a demi-God has forgotten just how the champ became a hero. You want to talk panache? He was the king of it. He may not have been the greatest fighter of all time, but he was the undesputed world champion of panache.
Ali looked good. He sounded good. He could work a crowd. Hell, he could work an entire country. The man was 100% style, and we loved him for it. Even in defeat, he was about style, telling the world that Joe Frazier “was too ugly to be champion” even after smokin’ Joe has pummeled Ali senseless. The man had style. He had panache. And he was the embodiment of “America”.
Nowadays, we want our athletes to be politically correct. To give bland interviews where they credit their victory to “my teammates,” or “God”. To get respect, you have to win as if it were graced to you.
Of course, you can’t lose either. We are terrible losers. Our women’s hockey team, after being completely out hustled, out coached, out fought, walked away in digust. No homage to their oppenent. Some of our players wouldn’t even shake their hands. “Win or go home.” It’s no longer how you win; it’s only that you win.
At least Jacobellis didn’t yammer on using excuses:
“I was having fun,” she said. “Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead. I wanted to share with the crowd my enthusiasm. I messed up. Oh well, it happens.”
This, my friends, is panache. She didn’t want to win; she wanted to live. Yet our press is spinning this with shock, disdain, even horror. “How dare you do anything to risk an American win. You must hate America!” We are becoming–no, we are–the world’s primadonna.
What the USA really needed was for Jacobellis to glare at Switzerland’s Tanja Freiden (who won the gold) and say, “you’re too ugly to be Olympic champion.”
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.-Edward Abbey
Live Your Life