With the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympics only hours away, we thought it best to remember the father of the Modern Olympics Baron de Coubertin who said. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
And we also thought it was time to remember some of our favorite Olympian moments.
This first one actually happened before the Olympics, during the U.S. National Championship for Figure Skating when one hopeful but not quite good enough figure skater Tonya Harding, had her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and his crew kneecap, her main rival Nancy Kerrigan. At first it all went well for Tonya, as Nancy Kerrigan was out and Tonya won! And more importantly the win put Tonya on the U.S. Olympic Team 1994! But then it all unraveled, with one of the kneecap crew, giving up everyone else, as lowlifes usually do. Tonya claimed she knew nothing, nothing and absolutely nothing. But then her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, was identified as the assailant and leader of the kneecap crew. So Tonya did what lowlifes do and copped a plea. And, after doing her probation and community service, Tonya went onto the usual has been routine of wrestling, boxing, multiple marriages and celebrity porn. But all isn’t lost if we remember the words of the Barron, who thought being a total loser wasn’t so bad, as long as you were there.
Next up Benjamin Sinclair Johnson wins the 100 meter dash in the 1988 Olympics! Ah but then they tested him and found steroids in his urine. His coach Charlie Francis was beside himself claiming that the test was fixed! Coach Francis claimed everyone took steroids and everyone knew when to stop taking the steroids so they wouldn’t show up in the inevitable urine test, after the race. Besides Francis said his guy didn’t take the drug he tested positive for, he took another steroid so the test had to be fixed! But the Olympic committee wasn’t swayed and they stripped Benjamin Sinclair Johnson of his Gold Medal and gave it to Carl Lewis who had come in second but more importantly, aced the urine test. So we can see how as the Baron pointed out, winning isn’t everything.
Then there is the sad tale of Jim Thorpe, who was easily the best all around athlete of his era and maybe any era. Jim Thorpe won both the pentathlon and the decathlon, in the 1912 Olympics, only to have his medals taken away later. It was uncovered that he had played professional minor league baseball for two, seasons. This was in a time when the amateur athlete was the ideal, as the amateur competed for the love of the sport. The professional it was believed, only did it for the money. Of course Jim Thorpe was hardly the only college athlete to do this but most played under assumed names. For example it was long rumored that a young West Point Cadet had done the same thing but he’d played under the name “Wilson”. Manny years later, one of his friends asked him. “There were two guys named Wilson playing in this AA league which one, were you?” The now retired 34th President of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower smiled and said. “The one who could hit.”
And, that brings up our last idea which isn’t from the Barron but it applies to the Olympics and most everywhere. Whatever you do, don’t get caught.
Dicens simile factum est
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*Vincent Thomas Lombardi