I’m not going to write about how Willie Ballgame is apparently being given the second base job to lose; I prefer to be optimistic when spring training starts, and any team with a starter named Bloomquist will kill that optimism faster than anything you can imagine. So, no Willie for me today.
Which means it’s back to the Olympics, and the news that Michelle Kwan withdrew from competition after re-injuring her groin. This is the best news of the Olympics so far.
For those of you who don’t follow such things, the way US representatives to the Olympic figure skating team are chosen is via the national championships – the top three finishers at the nationals in an Olympic year get to go to the Olympics. This makes sense – you want your best skaters to represent your country, so take the medalists from your national championships, and there you go.
There was only one problem, this year – 26-year-old Michelle Kwan, two-time Olympian, previous silver and bronze medal winner, and one of the best American skaters ever, was hurt at the time of the nationals and could not compete. One would think, at the age of 26 (8 years older than the average skater), and with her record of accomplishment, Kwan would go gently into that good night, and let some other skaters go to the Olympics.
But no – Kwan petitioned the US Skating Federation to be allowed to compete in Turin anyway, even without competing at nationals, thus bumping one of the three women that earned a spot. Kwan was given a chance, at a closed skate, to show the federation that she was able to compete, and she did just that. She was subsequently given a spot, bumping Emily Hughes off the team and setting up her fairytale last Olympics and her last shot at a gold medal.
This is completely, totally, and blatantly unfair – the Olympics are, and always have been, about performance in the present, and they’re most definitely NOT a lifetime achievement award. If you can’t qualify via the normal means, you shouldn’t be allowed to go, plain and simple. It may sound harsh, but everyone else abides by the rules – why should Kwan be allowed to bump a qualifying skater, just because she’s Michelle Kwan?
Now, of course, the Media Pathos Machine is all over this story – poor heroic Michelle, denied her one last shot at a gold, as if she needed that to validate what has been a great career. It’s all crap – she never should have tried to be on this team in the first place, because SHE MISSED NATIONALS. It’s simple. You miss qualifying, you shouldn’t qualify. She’s not gutsy, she’s not brave, she’s not being denied an opportunity, she’s just another in the long line of athletes who held on too long, didn’t know when to let go, and just generally refuses to recognize that it’s time to go away.
I know very little about ice skating – like most Americans, I watch it once every four years and that’s about it – but I always liked Michelle Kwan; this episode made me lose a lot of respect for her, though.
I promise, sometime this week, there will be baseball content in this space. Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday. Thank effing goodness.