A double whammy of bad sports news Wednesday for yours truly: The Duke-North Carolina game I was so looking forward to got postponed until next Thursday thanks to a horrendous ice storm in the Carolinas (of course it was the right move to cancel the game, people’s safety is way more important than a game), and Derek Jeter announced he’s retiring. Oh well, at least we had Shani Davis’ gold medal to celebrate. Oh, wait…
Imagine you were Shani Davis on Wednesday.
You’re a two-time Olympic gold medalist in speedskating, having won the 1,000 meters the last two times, in 2006 and 2010. For months leading up to Sochi, you’re told that you’re the heavy favorite to make history and become the first U.S. male to win the same event at three straight Olympic Games.
Most of America only cares about you once every four years. You have one shot to achieve glory, one small little race that lasts just over a minute.
You’ve waited four years for this one moment, and it’s the only moment you’ll get for another four years.
And then the moment comes, and you crumble. You not only don’t win gold, but you finish 8th, like you’re some also-ran skater.
It was shocking. It was humbling. And it was oh so cruel.
“I’ll have to live with this race the rest of my life,” Davis said afterward. To state the obvious, that’s the vicious thing about the Olympics: There’s no “next season” like there is in the NBA or the NFL. You don’t get a do-over like in a regular season baseball game.
This was it, one shot, one chance… and then it’s over.
Shani Davis gets another shot at glory, in the 1,500 meters in a few days. Maybe he’ll turn the narrative around, and get showered in the adulation he deserves.
Or maybe, his one moment of failure will be what we remember.
Man, I love the Olympics. But they can be so, so hard on these athletes’ legacies.
**Next up today, I love this story. A 10-year-old Norwegian boy was caught having stolen his parents’ car.
The lad drove the car into a snowbank after driving 10 kilometers, which I think is all kinds of impressive for a 10-year-old.
But the best part is that after police were called thanks to a witness who saw the car go into a snowbank, this is what the kid told the authorities:
“The boy told the snowplow driver that he was a dwarf and that he had forgotten his driver’s license at home,” said Baard Christiansen, a spokesman for the Vest Oppland police district.
I love it. I’m stunned the police didn’t believe him.
Police said no charges would be filed and the case was closed.
“We have talked to them, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to pay very close attention both to their children and to their car keys in the future,” Christiansen said.
You would think. Either way, that kid’s got a hell of a story to tell his friends at school.
**Finally today, the courageous announcement Sunday by Michael Sam, who is poised to become the first openly gay player in the NFL this fall, continues to have fallout and ramifications for so many.
Wednesday we heard some negatives from a place you really hoped we wouldn’t: Sam’s father, who told the New York Times that he still loves his son and wants him to be successful in the NFL, but that he was “old-school” and he is bothered by a gay player in the league. Sam Sr. added the late Hall of Famer Deacon Jones “is turning over in his grave.”
Clearly, this is a man who is struggling to deal with his son’s sexuality, and I think we can understand that. All of a sudden Mr. Sam has been thrown into the national spotlight.
Wednesday we also got this insightful profile into Michael Sam’s very rough childhood, and the extremely passionate defense of Sam from Dale Hansen, a Texas sportscaster and not someone who I previously held in high esteem.
In just over two minutes, he cuts exactly to the crux of the ridiculousness of the argument that NFL players won’t be comfortable with Sam in the locker room.