Thursday, February 23, 2006

Does Shani Davis sound like a 2 time Olympic medal winner to you?

"Eff the U.S. Media and NBC-

U.S. Speed Skating and Chad Hedrick need to be exposed for their satanic plot."

That is the headline and lead sentence to the top story on

Personal conflicts between elite athletes are generally played out in a subtle theater. Statements of mutual respect, sideways glances, tepid handshakes. But after the 1,500 meter speed skate on Monday where Shani Davis took Silver and Chad Hedrick finished bronze, they both were forced to submit to a withering 30 minute press conference where they were repeatedly asked to comment on their "relationship."

The questioning concluded with Davis commenting that he wished Hedrick could have been a good team mate and shook his hand after Davis won the 1000m to become the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the winter Olympics, as he had been when Hedrick won the 500m (There's that phrase again -- Peyton Manning seems to have started something, to talk about actively being a good team mate when your first inclination is to be a jerk).

I'm sorry, but Shani Davis talking about being a good team mate is like Andy Dick talking about being sober -- possible but unlikely. This is a man that lives and trains in Calgary while the rest of the "team" lives and trains in Salt Lake City. He didn't just blow off the team pursuit-- he blows off everything it means to be on the US Speed Skating team, and then takes it personally when others take that personally.

At the end of it all, speed skating is an individual sport, and whatever Shani Davis does on the ice works for him -- he's won two Olympic medals -- but he's trying to have his cake and eat it too. Shani Davis needs to understand the difference between being a team mate (forget about being a good team mate) and being gracious at the finish line. I have no doubt that if Shani Davis had truly been a team mate, Hedrick would have been there at the finish line to congratulate him.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Christopher King said...

Well, Shani was certainly there all the way for Chad in the 10K.

And Shani, like most black men in America, has his deamons with which to deal:


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