He finished 10th? As in, behind 9 other skaters? Seriously?
Look, to be an Olympian is an incredible feat and something that is worthy of anyone’s respect. But there’s a monumental difference between being entitled to respect for your achievements and what NBC has handed to U.S. Figure Skater Adam Rippon during their coverage of these disappointing Olympics.
He’s been everywhere. He’s been interviewed, re-interviewed, featured, promoted, and his presence has overshadowed every other Olympian on the squad thanks to the fawning coverage. For awhile I passed this off as the standard bias of figure skating in the Winter Olympics. There’s nothing I despise more than watching the luge finals or the ski jump finals and having the coverage cut away to figure skating warm-ups.
I just assumed Rippon was our best skater and since there’s a natural bias every four years towards those who perform triple sow-cows and camel spins, that’s what was going on. Then I found out he wasn’t our best. Not close. And he wasn’t close to the world’s best. There are nine others better, in fact. Not to mention there are other American athletes in these games that are better at their sports than Rippon is at his.
Is it the Michael Sam phenomenon? You remember Michael Sam, the 249th out of 256 players drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. He had an ESPN film crew stationed at his house on draft night – something top first rounders don’t even get – and received inordinate amounts of publicity throughout his short NFL career. Why? For no reason other than he was gay.
Same story with Jason Collins. Towards the end of his rather mundane, unspectacular NBA career (again, playing in the NBA at all is quite an accomplishment), Jason Collins was likely to be overlooked by teams searching for someone with more talent and ability. Collins bought an insurance policy by coming out of the closet, generating tons of media attention as the NBA’s first openly gay player, and sweetening the deal (free publicity and style points for progressive tolerance) for teams to sign him. Collins’ retired a year later.
So was it that? Was all the attention heaped on Rippon simply because he was gay? Maybe that plays a part, but remember that Canadian pairs skater Eric Radford is openly gay and received nowhere near the attention of Rippon. True, he is from Canada, but he also won a gold medal. And there are other gay American Olympians who are no worse in their sport than Rippon is in his. But they didn’t get hired immediately as their competition ended to be a commentator on NBC.
And they don’t get absurdly toadying headlines like:
“I have gotten a lot of attention just for being myself,” he said. “A lot of people when they come to a competition are afraid to be themselves, no matter who they are. One thing I want to come with from this competition — I am not a gay icon or America’s gay sweetheart. I am just America’s sweetheart and just an icon. If you have a personality like mine it’s for everybody.”
“[Adam Rippon] your infectious spirit and positive attitude have been an inspiration.”
Huh? Positive attitude? Wasn’t this the guy who exhibited an off-putting juvenility when the Vice President of the United States offered him well-wishes and said he was proud of him?
Wasn’t this the guy who said, “I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence” all while talking about Mike Pence at every opportunity?
Wasn’t this the guy who played into a non-existent feud with Pence simply for the headlines? After all, while Rippon has made it clear he despises a man he hasn’t met, and actually refuses to meet, there’s no indication that Pence harbors any hostility in his heart for Rippon.
How is that kind of hateful conduct regarded as an “infectious spirit and positive attitude?” It sounds more like partisan, ideological posturing, and a refusal to choose unity and brotherhood over your martyr complex.
Actually, I think we just figured out the mainstream media obsession with the 10th place skater. He hates the right person. How sad.