August 15, 2008

Ara Abrahamian Wins Award For Medal Toss, Saved By Passport


Between 1am and 9am, a previous 2 paragraph version of this post managed to offend Swedes, Armenians, wrestlers, the Olympics, bronze medals and mats.

In the interest of completeness, I will this time include the French.

Background: Ara Abrahamian, Swedish wrestler, wins the bronze/loses the gold. At the podium, he steps down, tosses the medal on the mat, and says, "this medal means nothing to me.  I wanted gold."

That's Roget's antonym for sportsmanship.   Because competitions are so clear--winner/loser-- you're supposed to reserve your emotions.  I'm not saying you have to be the Charioteer of Delphi if you win, but tossing your medal on the mat when you lose is a definite no.

I am told that he was robbed, that the judges didn't make just a bad call, but purposely made a bad call.   I believe you.  You don't need to convince me that Olympic judges border on corrupt, are susceptible to bribes or even petty personality/nationality controversies. 

But that fact makes his behavior worse, not understandable.  That's the point of sportsmanship.  We know you were robbed, tossing the medal doesn't support your case; Better if he quietly taken the bronze, noble in the eyes of the world.

Because if we didn't think you were robbed, we'd just think you were a jerk. 

To illustrate this, imagine if this guy was American.  The world would completely lose their marbles.  "Did you see that fucking American!" would be all anyone would say about Beijing 2008-- and that would just be coming from the Americans!

The Swedish wrestler had to be restrained by team-mates earlier as a row erupted with judges over the decision...    

Can you imagine what would have happened if an American wrestler went at the judges?

Which brings me to the French.  Michael Phelps decided "eat, sleep, swim" would be his tagline, and without reading too much into it, maybe it signifies an individual devotion to self-improvement in the service of himself/team/country.  But when the French choose, "we will bury the Americans"-- is that a bit broad?  Even "we will bury Michael Phelps"  makes more sense, since he actually is their enemy, but "the Americans" actually aren't.

Flip it: imagine Phelps had said, "I will bury the French."  If he actually wins, people will just dismiss him as an arrogant American who should have drowned.  And if he loses, how did saying that help him?  It makes him look, well, French.  And that's all anyone would talk about, those arrogant Americans.

You will observe that no one, anywhere, is writing that the French team were a bunch of arrogant losers who got, as they say, pwned.  That's a double standard, yo.

So Abrahamian was saved by a Swedish passport.  Because he's Swedish, he doesn't carry any other baggage-- his tantrum only reflects on him and the judges.   An American wrestler who tosses a medal would be General Assembly level outrage.

Especially if the American wrestler was robbed.  Somehow, people would see it as a sort of justice, yeah, he was robbed but see how he's acting?  He doesn't deserve to win anyway, he doesn't represent the spirit of the games, those Americans think they can do and have whatever they want.   

"It's all politics," said Swedish coach Leo Myllari.

You said it, brother.  People working out their grievances in ways and in forums that have nothing to do with either the way or the forum, and so creating new grievances.   The judges, I'm sure, thought they were righting some social/personal/political wrong through the medium of point deductions; the French were voicing the cultural hopes of the world; all under the unfortunate maxim of the powerless: there is no justice, get justice however you can get it.