22.8.16

REVEALED PREFERENCES.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is now better known for his late-night pub crawl with some buddies than for his ability to swim faster emulating an eel rather than performing his assigned stroke.  National Review's Maggie Gallagher notes, "His antics don’t speak well of American culture in the age of Trump and Clinton."  She goes on to describe his behavior as a "man-boy problem."  Actually, it's what happens when you enable dysfunction for some people, but on performance-enhancing drugs.
“Let’s give these kids a break—sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on,” Mario Andrada, communications director for the Rio Games, whom the Washington Post described as the “human shield of Rio,” said on Thursday.

But of course, as many have pointed out, Ryan Lochte is not a kid — he’s a 32-year-old man, or man-boy.
Standard enable-the-sports-stars stuff, which Mr Lochte probably benefitted from starting in middle school.  But there will be consequences.
Winning, carousing, having lots of sex, being sort-of famous, lying to cover up one’s own misdeeds; these are the values of all too many “successful” Americans in the age of Trump and Clinton. I hope Lochte experiences some consequences in the form of reduced value to those corporations who help him cash in on Olympic fame by using his name and face to sell their products: Speedo, Gatorade, Mutual of Omaha, Nissan Altima, Gillette, Proctor & Gamble, are you listening?
Rod Dreher would at least like a plea-bargain.
I wish they would send Lochte back to Brazil to face up to what he has done. Maybe the Brazilians will agree to stand down from extradition in exchange for Lochte spending the next month here in the subtropics, helping people muck their houses. Maybe it will teach him something. Sounds like this 32-year-old has a lot to learn about manhood from a 10-year-old Louisiana boy named J.J.

As for the news media, who have made Ryan Lochte and his spoiled-child act into days of headlines, well, I’m afraid they are beyond rehabilitation.
Ah, but the Nothing But Clinton network, which was also covering the Olympics, devoted several segments to an interview with Mr Lochte. He sounded positively Clintonian, in a parsing-words sort of way.

But, as with Crooked Hillary, the enabling began long ago.  As National Review's Patrick Brennan notes, there is a massive sports infrastructure in the United States, involving a lot of public money, even if there's no Soviet Style Ministry of Sport doing the coordinating.  No.  The enabling begins as the stars emerge.
Other countries do have nominal university sports programs, and Nick Saban’s salary certainly isn’t boosting us at the Olympics. But even a tiny slice of the budget of NCAA programs would dwarf the budgets of, say, Great Britain’s UK Sport, and possibly China’s own opaquely funded sports efforts.

Meanwhile, at the high school level, numbers are hard to come by, but Americans almost certainly spend much more money and time on promoting sports in our K-12 educational system than our peer countries do, too.

And then there’s the U.S. Olympic Committee and the whole range of nonprofits, like USA Swimming or US Sailing, that help organize and train athletes outside of our schools. In addition to program fees and revenues, they rely on donations from foundations, individuals, and corporations – all subsidized by the federal government up to 40 or so cents on the dollar, thanks to our charitable tax deduction (which is uniquely generous on an international level).

Now, I’m not saying this all adds up to sports socialism. I’m not objecting to any of it in particular, really: Supporting civil society with tax incentives is certainly a good, American idea; college and high school sports are great, etc. Voters and politicians like sports, and publicizing how much public money goes to support them may not change policies one iota.
It's not the money, it's not even the reliance on the small platoons. Rather, it's the message the young people get.  All the accolades go to the successful athlete, not the successful 4-H tinkerer or chess player; and we have the vulgar "mathlete" for competitions in algorithm-slinging.

Yes, Mr Lochte stands to lose a lot of endorsement income he might otherwise have earned.
The revelation that he allegedly lied about the incident—feeding into the stereotypes about crime in Brazil and pumping himself up with his nonchalant “whatever” attitude in response to a supposed gun pointed to his head—may “virtually eliminate him from future endorsements,” Bob Williams, chief executive of the celebrity-endorsement deal firm Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, said to the Wall Street Journal. “Advertisers have become far less tolerant of controversial behavior of any type, and this is yet another type of controversial behavior that doesn’t reflect well on a brand.”
This just in. Speedo to Ryan Lochte: You're fired.

Here's Betsy Newmark, this morning.  "There's a moral lesson for your children when you're trying to teach them not to lie. You can't look to today's political leaders, but you can sure point to Ryan Lochte."  That was a talking point on conservative radio on Friday: why are Olympic athletes held to higher standards for celebrity endorsements than political figures, particularly Democrats, are?

Two possibilities.  One, companies that hire celebrities for endorsements are sending a signal of permanence and probity.  A cheating athlete undermines the message.  Two, there is a much deeper bench in athletics than there is in politics, or in much of business and education.  Think about it: a century of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union and second wave and third wave feminism and the League of Women Voters and the American Association of [Democrat] University Women and the starting lineup is Naggin' Crooked Hillary and Preachy Elizabeth Warren?

Seen: the lineup of Olympians and medals in the dozens.

Not seen: political leaders, of any party, with probity.

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