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Olympic spirit? Ratings push

If you read the reports from Turin and the watch the coverage on the networks of NBC, you would think that there was a major news story going on in the world of speed skating. I’m even giving into the hype by writing something here. No matter, this is more a case of people trying to create drama during a Winter Games where most of the drama, as far as American media is concerned, has not materialized.
The debate over who is right in the war of words between speed skaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick has almost become more important than the dispute itself. For as much as we want to believe that the Olympics are about winning one for the team and the country, the obvious fact is that they are an opportunity for individuals to shine. They are also an opportunity for your dreams to come true. It may help to remember the goals that the individuals had before arriving in Italy earlier this month.
Davis was focused on one medal and one medal only: the 1,000 meters. He fashioned all of his training to accomplish that one goal. If you’ve been competing in the sport for 17 years, working to achieve a gold medal in a race where you enter as the odds on favorite, would you consider taking part in an event that you feel would hurt your chances? If making sure he was “the first black male” had anything to do with it, you’ll never really know, since I have a feeling that it was more about his accomplishing the feat for himself, his family and friends in Chicago more than anything else.
Hedrick was driven to be a dominant force in these Olympics. His personal goal was to equal a feat only accomplished once before: win gold in all five speed skating events. Serving as team captain, he felt that everyone would want to assist him in accomplishing that goal. One could argue that since Davis chose not to compete in the team pursuit that Hedrick felt as though he was not being given all possible assistance to achieve his goal.
I found it funny how the two men appear to have approached the game. Hedrick seemed to be viewing the Games as a race against Davis. His quotes in yesterday’s Associated Press article all but stated that was how he felt. Davis viewed it as a race against the clock and the world, and not just Hedrick. While Davis may come across at time to be egotistical according to reports, he is no more egotistical than an individual that wants to hoard all of the gold for himself.
The Associated Press report yesterday stated that Davis skated in the last pairing, “…knowing the time that he had to beat.” I find it interesting that the report does not mention what time he was aiming for, Fabris’ time or Hedrick’s. In the end, Davis had the last word, even though it was not with Olympic gold. He was just fast enough to humble the Texan. He beat Hedrick twice, which probably upset Hedrick more than anything else.
Are we really going to care after the games end February 26? Unfortunately no; the individual pursuit only seems to matter once every two years when the United States acknowledges the rest of the world’s interest in events other than those that we deem important.

Published in2006 Winter OlympicsUncategorized