I've been thinking a lot about Lindsay Jacobellis, and I've come to the conclusion that a lot of people in the sports media don't get the snowboarding/skateboarding culture, and at the risk of sounding cliche, GenX in general.
I wanted to smack Bob Costas this weekend when he was interviewing her. OK, "What were you thinking?" was a legitimate question, but she basically replied that she was having fun, she got lost in the moment, and, well, it happened. And I believe her. That interview was preceded by a video bit with NBC lecturing Jacobellis, saying that yeah, Greg Norman choked at the Masters and Leon Lett hotdogged in the Super Bowl (thanks, Gila, for helping me get those names right), but this was different. How so, NBC? Is it different because they're guys, and heck, guys will be guys? Just exactly how is this different?
Lindsay was having FUN, Bob. FUN. Remember FUN? That's the concept we try to teach kids: that's what sports are FUNdamentally supposed to be about. FUN. In fact, I remember the days when the Olympics were strictly for amateurs. You couldn't be a pro and be in the Olympics. None of this "dream team" crap. People going out and playing these sports for the pure joy of it. The money would taint it, was the feeling. That's why we love the 1980 Hockey team. And Lindsay herself isn't that shook up about it. That's the sport, just like Apolo Anton Ohno shrugged off falling in his race four years back. "That's short track," he shrugs, very Dale Earnhardt, "That's racin'." That's the nature of the sport. That's why its FUN.
And the comparison to Norman and Lett is bad for another reason. In fact, they're the ones who should be raked over the coals, not Jacobellis. Norman and Lett are pros. They've been at this for a long time. They're seasoned veterans who are used to the media spotlight.They should know better. Let's not forget that even if Lindsay had brought home the gold, outside of a Burton Snowboards endorsement, she's not buying lakefront property with her winnings. At best, she'll be making a fraction of a percent of the $$$ from her sport that Norman and Lett make. So, let's rake this easy target over the coals. After all, she's not a pro. After all, she's half the age of the two other people you said could be excused for their messups. After all, nobody's every heard of her before this, nobody even knew her sport existed, and she doesn't have the limelight experience that these pros have. So, Bob, you just go and take potshots at this easy target. Because this time it's different. It's different all right. You don't get it, that's how its different.
Here's what I want to see happen, here's my fantasy: I want Jacobellis to come back in four years, and instead of being a good little girl smacked down back to behave like you want her to, I want her to train the hell out of herself so that when she's sailing down to that gold medal, not only does she grab that board, she doesn't just simply hot dog it. I want her to foot-long serious Klement's Italian Sausage it. She should end the race next time around by digging deep into her gen X snowboard skatepunk background and finish it with the flourish that only a reverse 540 can throw. Take that, Bob Costas!