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Not just what's happening in and around the Olympic Movement and International Sports but what it all means.
Mike Rodgers ran the 100 meters in 9.89 seconds in the preliminary rounds of the U.S. track and field national championships Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.
It was the fastest 100 meters, anywhere in the world, so far in 2018.
This raises several questions.
Why is Rodgers running that fast in — the prelims?
Why, moreover, is a 33-year-old Mike Rodgers running in the 9.8s again after a 2017 that saw him run a best 10-flat and a 9.97 in 2016?
Rodgers ran 9.92 in Prague on June 4. And — here is the inexplicable thing about professional track and field — it has to be asked: why he is running that fast in 2018? For what reason?
Pride gets no one paid. Respect is awesome, and 9.89 is respectfully quick. But, again, track is a professional sport.
And this is what in track circles is called an “off-year.” There’s no Olympics, no world championships.
When our youngest daughter was just 18 months old, we were at a friend’s house here in Los Angeles. In the back was an unfenced pool. In a flash, she had toddled out to the pool and jumped in. Alertly, my wife ran across the house and jumped in — fully clothed — after her.
Another story. When I worked at the LA Times, we were at a party down in Orange County with some newspaper friends. We were all much younger parents then, and there were all kinds of little children around. I happened to be on duty at the hot tub when one of the kids, who was just 2, just that fast, sank to the bottom. I fished her out.
Our daughter went on to do years and years at the LA County junior lifeguard program and a couple days ago finished her freshman year at Northwestern. That 2-year-old just graduated from Michigan.
These stories have happy endings.
Way, way, way too many don’t.
Please: let’s come together in the aftermath of the sorrowful drowning death of 19-month-old Emeline Miller, daughter of Olympic ski star Bode and his wife, Morgan, the professional volleyball player.
Let Emmy’s death be a call to action.
Congress does some really dumb stuff. And we are purportedly awash in, to use the term of the moment, fake news.
That said, It’s almost hard to know which is more irresponsible, the dumb proposal introduced Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to criminalize doping in international sports, or news accounts of the bill, particularly in the New York Times.
This bill isn’t anything resembling sound public policy. It’s political revenge porn.
The odds of it becoming law, meanwhile, are slim, and any attempt at fair and balanced reporting ought to have started there.
Along with a host of other reasonable observations grounded in, you know, fact. Or reasonable conclusion.
As it is the year 2018, three things in life are certain: death, taxes and defeat by referendum of a proposal to stage an Olympic Games.
Whoops. Strike that. Make that four: the International Olympic Committee’s consistently tone-deaf response to voters’ rejection.
Make no mistake:
For the IOC, rejection Sunday by voters in the Swiss canton of Valais of a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Games by Sion — very near the IOC headquarters in Lausanne — amounts to a full-on crisis.
It’s a familiar refrain that in long-lasting marriages the husband wakes up every morning and, first thing, says to his loving bride: I’m sorry. For what? Anything. Everything. Whatever.
In American public life, meanwhile, there is a familiar — more, expected if not demanded — ritual of contrition that must be performed as a condition of potential redemption. First and foremost: there must be an apology. Those two words — I’m sorry — must be said in earnest and, similarly, meant for real.
This brings us to international relations, in this context sports politics, in particular the sporting authorities who operate in the Olympic space, almost all of whom are connected to their governments in some or significant fashion. Such diplomacy rarely comes packaged in a simple declarative as straightforward as, I’m sorry. Diplomacy relies on semantics, on nuance, on shades of meaning.
These things make the International Olympic Committee go around. They make the World Anti-Doping Agency work, too. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality.
In that spirit, a recent letter sent by senior Russian authorities to WADA president Craig Reedie — with copies to IOC president Thomas Bach and International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons — offers everyone a way forward in a multilayered dispute that has been going on now for years. To pretend otherwise is, similarly, to ignore reality.
Takeaways from Wednesday’s hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sparked by the Larry Nassar case:
— The NFL anthem protest policy was announced literally in the middle of the Congressional hearing. So no matter how important this hearing, it was immediately dwarfed by the NFL. That is a hard truth in the American sporting and cultural landscape.
— The cues were clear before Wednesday’s session that Congress seems remarkably disinclined to undertake a wholesale restructuring of the Olympic system in the United States. To reiterate a point made over and again in this space: the U.S. Olympic Committee is not boss of 49 national governing bodies. Instead, the USOC and NGBs are affiliated.
— What’s also crystal clear is that sexual abuse is a serious problem in Olympic sport. No one should pretend otherwise. It’s a problem in society at large. It would be the height of naivete to think that sport should be immune.
— What’s equally, profoundly clear is that it’s going to take real money to address this very serious issue. So who has stepped up? The USOC. Anyone else?
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About Alan Abrahamson
Alan Abrahamson is an award-winning sportswriter, best-selling author and in-demand television analyst. In 2010, he launched his own website, 3 Wire Sports, described in James Patterson and Mark Sullivan's 2012 best-selling novel Private Games as "the world's best source of information about the [Olympic] Games and the culture that surrounds them." Read full bio.