Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Damn Greedy Americans

I'm sitting down watching RTE's coverage of the Olympic Shot Put competition. Beautiful, ancient setting. Ideal television really. I'm not too bothered about who'll get the medals.

Then it comes down to the last throw (should be "put") by American Adam Nelson, who's just behind Ukranian Yuri Bilonog. Nelson lets loose with a really long put, but his momentum carries his foot just out of the ring.

When he sees the red flag for a foul, he starts arguing with the officials. I'm still not too worried because it's not the first time I've seen an athlete argue with officials when they know they've just missed something special or when they feel hard-done by. Often it's painful to watch because we viewers have seen clearly that the referee/umpire/whatever is right.

But, then Tony O'Donoghue ruins it for me. First he vents his disgust at Adams for his reaction, but then the clincher. O'Donoghue explains that the worth of a gold medal in endorsements in the United States is so great . . .

In other words, Adams is not angry about losing, but he's angry about the money he's not going to get. Now, I have no idea what was going through Adams's head at that moment, but neither does O'Donoghue. Maybe Adams was mad about the money or maybe he was just mad that he lost. Hasn't O'Donoghue ever seen an athlete react badly on the playing field when things don't go his way? {By the way, I sincerely doubt a shot put gold medal is worth that much in the US.}

Athletes from many nations, including Ireland, make fools of themselves arguing with the officials when the officials are clearly right. It's part of the make-up of many athletes – they're bad losers.

What bothers me is that O'Donoghue's assumption that it was about money is because Adams is American. Americans are, don't you know, particularly greedy. Europeans compete for the love of the sport, Americans for cash. No European would cheat or try and pull a fast one on the officials (don't mention Kostas Kenteris or Michelle Smith)

This is anti-Americanism. It's part of the culture of the Irish media, but it's actually more obvious the greater the remove from "hard news".