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Wrestler snubs bronze: Another view

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In Finneye's post on the Swedish wrestler who threw away his bronze medal, he gave some of the background surrounding the players involved. For another look at the act, we got this from Roger Brigham, himself a wrestler at the Gay Games.

Writes Brigham: "Look at the expression on the Swede's face. He's screaming because he can think a bronze will carry much less endorsement value than a gold or silver. He's screaming because he's convinced that anything less than a gold was a 'failure.' "

By Roger Brigham

One of the very clear messages that resounds through all of the serious literature on the current doping climate of the sport is that it has reached the state that it has because of the money injected into the elite spectator events. In the TV-rules-all sports, the pressures on professional (and let's be realistic -- these guys are professionals) athletes to win are enormous, the political pressure placed on the sports organizations is enormous, and the all-too-human failings that inevitably incur in officiating (whether through corruption, as with the famous figure skating judging; prejudice, as always occurs in figure skating; incompetence, as in the loss of 400-plus pound wrestler Chris Taylor of Ohio State in 1972 simply because one judge thought his weight (450 pounds) was an unfair advantage; or idiocy, as when judges who felt bad for an inferior Korean boxer in 1988 and awarded him a victory over Roy Jones, who had simply demolished him) become amplified and end up overshadowing the efforts of the athletes. And the effort, more so than the result, is what we should always remember in sports and strive to emulate.

Brian Orser in 1988 skated probably the second best men's figure skating routine in history, and was called a failure by the collective Canadian media because he won a silver. Elizabeth Manley that same year jumped around with little artistic polish and was hailed as the Second Coming by the same press because she won a silver medal over American Debi Thomas.

This year Michael Phelps is being hailed as the 'greatest Olympian of all time.' Yes, he is the most prolific Olympic gold medal winner ever. But does that really make him the greatest ever, is it really possible to say one athlete is ever the greatest at anything (the whole can't step into the same river twice thing), and should any of that matter?

The IOC does not even keep official medal counts by countries. Those are tabulated by the countries themselves. I guess the accountants need them for their reports.

Look at the expression on the Swede's face. He's screaming because he can think a bronze will carry much less endorsement value than a gold or silver. He's screaming because he's convinced that anything less than a gold was a 'failure.' He's screaming because he forgot to be thankful that he didn't learn that morning that he had a fatal brain tumor, he didn't get struck by a bus, he didn't come down with avian flu that made him miss the competition, and he didn't get a text message from his girlfriend saying she is leaving him for another woman. In other words, he is forgetting about how glorious the ride has been that got him to this point where he could see how close a gold was, but that life offers no guarantees.