The Real Reason the Olympics Suck

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Mariel Zagunis, the U.S. flag bearer in the Olympic opening ceremonies, lost her semifinal sabre match yesterday. She was a two-time medal winner facing enormous pressure. She was way ahead of her opponent during most of the match and then collapsed utterly in the last couple of minutes. Afterwards she was in a daze. All she could talk about was how badly she had done, how disappointed she was. In the midst of all that, she failed to fulsomely congratulate the play of her opponent.

This is what most of us call “being human.” A devastating disappointment affects people like that, at least for a few minutes. But Washington Post columnist Mike Wise doesn’t care:

Say buh-bye, America. Mariel Zagunis’s Q-rating just left the building.

….I met Mariel Zagunis in Athens in 2004. Zagunis then was this likable teen with a blond ponytail who did spot-on impersonations of a three-toed sloth because she watched so much Animal Planet….Contrast that with Wednesday’s unsmiling, hyper-focused, I’m-not-talking-to-anyone-but-my-coach-between-matches ball of stress, who remained in an autopilot daze even after she lost.

Etc.

Yep, that’s what’s important. Zagunis, in the aftermath of a crushing letdown, wasn’t quite the bubbly teen that Wise remembers from eight years ago. She’s not as media savvy as, say, Kobe Bryant, and after her bout she continued to say that she could have won if she hadn’t lost her concentration, instead of vacuously thanking God for the mere opportunity of attending the games, the way you’re supposed to. And for that she deserves to be publicly slagged by some idiot columnist searching out something new to write about.

I think this is what I dislike most about the Olympics. Not that it’s tape delayed. Not that the commentators are annoying. Not the commercialism or the nationalistic hype. It’s people like Mike Wise. Go back into your cave, will you? Leave the rest of us alone.

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And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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