Olympic Behavior: An analysis of recent American medalist’s actions

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 23, 2010 7:36 am

In light of Scotty Lago’s early departure from the Olympics due to behavior violations, I thought it was time to investigate the issue and get some opinions of the more recent American athlete behavior. Should the athlete’s seemingly inadvertent behavior be this scrutinized?

Eight years ago we experienced one of the most televised of behavior infringements at the Olympic games with Bode Miller. His drinking and partying ways were unwelcomed, unaccepted, and a true test to the patience of the IOC. Bode is well know for his “party at the Olympic level” comment and although it may seem tame for many of us, at the Olympic games it became quite controversial.

When I talked to some of my recent contacts in the ski business about it now, many of them are able to laugh at the scenario. Although my good friend, Chad Jones, who works PR at Big Sky Montana made a good point that if you were a serious competitor of Bode’s who may have been beaten “you want him to take the competition as seriously as you have. These athletes have been training specifically for eight years” and to have someone stroll in and make a mockery of it seems childish.

The Bode incident definitely upset the American public but like with the recent news of Scotty Lago, opinions are split. “Why shouldn’t they be able to have fun and be themselves at the Olympics,” states my brother, Jarett Hannon, a competitive skateboarder. “Look at skateboarding, for example. We take the sport serious but we still have fun and joke around. Just because we are cracking jokes doesn’t mean we aren’t serious about the sport.”

Because both sides of the issue are very biased and opinion heavy, it makes it difficult for us to make any sort of rational assumption of IOC decision making. Should Scotty have gone home early? Should Bode be forever branded with his past behavior?
In the interview after Bode’s first silver medal this Olympic games, he was promptly asked by the press “and what will you do to celebrate?” Bode replied sternly with “Nothing. Spend some time with my family.” It was clear to see the restriction and forced restraint. On one hand why shouldn’t he celebrate? Although on the other, millions of people are watching his every move and when you have such a mass audience you must be sensitive to differing opinions.

After much debate on the subject there was one statement in relation that stood out to me the most. After chatting about the news of Scotty to Chad Jones his last projection stuck. “It doesn’t have anything to do with his personality or place in the sport. At the end of the day, he is at the Olympics and is therefore a role model whether he likes it or not.”

Scotty and Bode may be restricted in their actions at the Olympics but Chad has truly dug to the core of the issue. They may not have chosen this fame or level of competition although there is integrity in being an Olympian. Matter of factly, when there is an entire nation cheering you on (young and old) you need to treat it with respect.