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The Rant

Poor performances in Games don't seem to matter

Posted: Thursday February 23, 2006 8:55AM; Updated: Thursday February 23, 2006 10:04AM
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Last week I mentioned that I had not watched one second of the Olympics. One week later, that statement still holds true. In fact, I don't think I've put on NBC since it aired two new episodes of Scrubs on Feb. 7. As for MSNBC, CNBC and USA, those stations aren't in my rotation to begin with, so they're easy to avoid.

However, just from reading headlines in newspapers and on this site, and from talking to colleagues in the SI.com office, I'm having a hard time figuring out how the Olympics supposedly showcase "the best athletes in the world" when it seems you can screw up numerous times yet still win a medal.

The U.S. men's hockey team went into Wednesday's game against Finland with a 1-3-1 record, yet if the U.S. had won (it lost 4-3), it could've played for a medal. Huh? Is this akin to the NBA and NHL, where regular-season records don't matter and the playoffs are filled with mediocre -- no, make that crappy -- teams?

Last week, on the Mike and the Mad Dog radio program, which is simulcast on the YES network, the hosts had a field day talking about (and showing on TV) clips of a skater who was dropped by her partner and then skidded across the ice and crashed into the boards. This duo somehow won a silver medal.

Then there's Bode Miller. Miller has made headlines for everything but winning. So far he's 0-for-4. But skiing's bad boy will get yet another attempt at winning a medal when he competes in the slalom on Saturday.

And then, just this morning, I heard that skater Emily Hughes finished seventh in whatever event she participated in two nights ago. Yes, she still has a mathematical chance to medal.

How can anyone take these Games seriously when medals are handed out to repeated losers and athletes who perform in substandard ways? Does screwing up in any of these events ever matter? In many cases, it doesn't seem to make a difference. 

What it comes down to is this: It's as easy to win a medal in the Olympics as it is to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.