Chris Graham: Oh, Lolo
“They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes, and instead they just ripped me to shreds,” the hurdler said after her disappointing fourth-place finish in the 110-meter Olympics event.
Apparently, I’m making myself one of the bad guys by even bringing it up, but I’ll soldier on.
How the media ripped Jones to shreds is through a New York Times piece that compared Jones to former tennis star Anna Kournikova as a female athlete who perhaps gets more attention for being pleasing to the eye than for her results.
The comparison, Jones noted, isn’t entirely fair – Jones holds the American record in the 110-meter hurdles and is a two-time world-indoor champ.
(Kournikova, for her part, was ranked as high as #8 in the world singles rankings and won two Grand Slams in doubles. So much for her lack of results.)
As far as the ripping to shreds, that’s it. The Times compared her to Kournikova. The implication that Jones is rewarded more than others in her sport is probably fair. How many other 110-meter hurdlers have their own TV commercials running Stateside in this Olympics?
For all of her records, Jones has failed twice on the sport’s biggest stage – including her bad-luck eighth-place finish in Beijing in 2008.
One thing that Jones, and other sports stars who have issues with media coverage, need to keep in mind is that what they do on the track or the field or the court or in the arena is not interesting enough in and of itself to lead to the wealth that they can accumulate from being sports stars.
Basically, great, you can run faster or throw or kick a ball harder or more accurately than the rest of us. Those talents alone only translate to dollars when people pay money to watch you.
And when they pay money to watch you, they reserve for themselves the right to applaud, criticize, jeer, sit on their hands, whatever they want to do.
The story in question, comparing Jones to Kournikova, actually came out before Jones’ disappointing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles.
Turns out that maybe the Times writer was right on in the analysis.
We are still talking about somebody who didn’t win a medal in an obscure race, after all.