From a Week of Pride, to a Week of Shame for U.S. Olympic Swimming

Charles Hartley, a free-lance writer based in New Jersey, has written more than a thousand published sports articles. He earned Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Journalism. In addition, he was awarded his Bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University where he majored in English and Communications.

Ryan Lochte made a big mistake that tarnished the Olympic Games. What he did, said and how he behaved was wrong. We’ve all heard the story by now because the whole world has been reporting on it.

This swimmer has been vilified plenty in the past week. Enough. Let the guy move on with this life and stop ripping him for being an idiot and stupid like he was in the first paragraph of a column about this incident in the Washington Post: “Ryan Lochte is the dumbest bell that has ever rung.”

How would you like it if you read article after article of people who didn’t even know you making fun of the fact that you’re an idiot and stupid and made a huge mistake? It would sting real bad, wouldn’t it? They don’t know how intelligent you are or aren’t but take shots at you because they can and are mean-spirited.

The guy has worked his entire life to be a great swimmer and has become one of the world’s best. He goes out and does the wrong thing one night and now is being trashed for being a selfish, mindless punk.

It would be different had he done something more serious like assaulted or killed someone. But he didn’t do that. He drank too much with his friends, vandalized property, and fabricated a story about what happened.

I don’t believe there was ever any deep malicious intent on his part to hurt anyone. The event just happened, took on a life of its own, and it’s unfortunate. I believe he feels bad for the pain it caused the three other teammates and the rest of the athletes in the Olympics who didn’t get the attention they deserved because the story about his wrong-doing dominated the news for the past week.

Do you really think he wanted to tarnish the Olympics? Do you think if he knew fabricating the story would turn into this international scandal he would have told the same story the same way?

I don’t. This situation got way out of hand and overblown. The timing and location created a powder keg of political and personal emotions that exploded in his face.

Does anyone feel bad for this guy?

I do. I don’t condone what he did, but he’s a sympathetic character in this.

All that swimming for all those years since the age of eight and now, instead of being remembered as one of the greatest swimmers in the world, his reputation gets sullied. Now people will remember him as the guy who acted like a jerk and said the wrong thing at the Rio Olympics, not that he’s the world record holder in the 200 meter individual medley and winner of numerous Olympic Medals.

People are too quick to rip people when they do something wrong and love to point out when they think someone is stupid because it makes them feel smart. They trash the target’s life and wish that they don’t live well in the future. Lochte was likely going to get many endorsements in the coming years because of his swimming accomplishments.

But now it’s less likely. Are we supposed to be happy about that? I’m not. I think it’s sad for him and repugnant of the people who seem to feel good that he won’t get the endorsements.

This whole international incident is a colossal shame. It has overshadowed all the fantastic accomplishments by the U.S. swimmers at the Olympics. During the first week they were the best show at the Games; in the second week, because of Lochte’s actions, they were the worst even though  swimming events were over. The focus shifted away from that great week of swimming to this unfortunate incident.

One week was great, the next terrible. One right after the other. The contrast between the two could not be more stark.

How many of us have gone out and drank too much alcohol and behaved poorly as a result and told some story to get out of trouble?

I suspect many of us have. Show more compassion for Lochte and the other three swimmers involved with this incident, as well as the Brazilians involved.

Nobody involved really wanted this to turn out the way it did. It just happened.

Instead of Katie Ledecky’s gold medals, we’re talking about bathroom vandalism. Instead of Maya Dirado’s gold medal in the 200 backstroke, we’re talking about two Olympic swimmers being taken off of an airplane to be questioned by Brazilian authorities.

Instead of talking about Lochte’s swimming, we’re talking about his fabricating.

Instead of happiness, we’re talking about sadness.

Instead of American pride, we’re talking about American ugliness.

Two weeks, back to back, that could not have been more different.

This article is written by and courtesy of Charles Hartley

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Yada

For once I totally agree with and appreciate a Charles Hartley article.
That said, people ain’t gonna stop talking about it.

Billabong

Charles is taking the mick, just like he does in all of his articles. He is laughing at all of the fanboys. In the words of America greatest comedic duo, you have all been “fished in”!

Yada

I’m pretty sure this one is in a more serious vein.

50free

It seems like after this incident everyone acted like Brazil were great hosts when they have had many major problems.

Attila the Hunt

1. Rio and Brazil have many major problems. Fact.
2. Lochte made mistakes. Fact.

These two things are not related, let alone having cause and effects relationship.

Brazilian Lawyer

Licht’s mistake and Brazil’s corruption intersected. Not cause and effect, but a collision.

theroboticrichardsimmons

are you actually a brazilian lawyer or do you just play one on TV? if so, i’m really curious what your take is on this whole situation.

50free

After Lochte took advantage of Brazil people are more likely to sympathize, thus be more forgiving about their major problems.

Carmen Escobar

Thank you for writing this article. While I also disagree with the lie and the vandalism, I have been speaking up supporting the swimmers. Ryan didn’t deserve this treatment at all. We have all been stupid not once, but several times, and I highly think we have done even worse things than this.. So why is everyone feeling with the right to contribute to destroy someone’s reputation like that? I grew up in a corrupt country, and I know Brazil is in that line and despite what everyone says or heard or read, I am convinced the swimmers were not the only ones “acting against the law” that night and the following days… So this nonsense trash talk needs to… Read more »

Joe Bagodonuts

I understand the sentiment of your comment, but have to disagree for the reason that context matters. While I may have tipped a few too many in my college days and found a nearby tree on the long walk back home at 3:00 a.m., I did that at 22 & in the context of a run-of-the-mill Saturday night on campus – not as a 32-year-old representative of my country at the quadrennial global sports gathering that is the Olympics. I wouldn’t then further compound things by telling lies in multiple international media interviews. At each moment along the way, between the incidents and each of these retellings, I have to assume that Ryan had pause to contemplate his actions and… Read more »

Carmen Escobar

Well if we are going down that line, “what lochte did” is not acceptable at any age. I understand what you are saying, but this isn’t an age problem. It is the fact that lochte is paying a huge and unfair price for this. Mostly because of the social media impact that this is having. Besides, how is acceptable to have people pointing a gun at you just like that? How come people don’t say anything about it? Brazil is not a fair country (government, police included) at the moment, and they took advantage of the swimmers.

H2O Bruin

A gun was pointed at him because he was being argumentative, combative, and animated. Kinda hard to reason with drunk people. I don’t know if it was justified but there was a reason for it. Bentz’s statement corroborated this fact as he recollected that Lochte was arguing and he told Lochte to sit down and comply. Lochte’s not innocent for his behavior. Stop selecting fact in order to fit your narrative.

Carmen Escobar

Am not, and if you read my first comment, I disagree with the lie and the vandalism that happened from the swimmers. Of course that’s not acceptable. But it’s equally unacceptable the cruel reaction from the people. it would be nice if an equal reaction happen towards true crimes where innocents are killed in the street an put the killers in the spot. But that’s not the case (I mean, it seems generally ok to have someone pointing a gun at lochte, and that is scary). So we are being selective and Hippocryts in a way right?. The sad part is that people have short memories.. They forget the happiness that same swimmer brought to the US with his performances… Read more »

H2O Bruin

Hi Carmen, Very fair comment. I actually forgave Lochte already. He has done enough penance. The fact that he went on Brazilian TV and apologized to the Brazilian people was enough already. I think it is unfortunate when people begin to pile on. That’s why I’m not really going to comment further on Lochte gate. Sometimes he makes me laugh with crazy antics. But the stuff that has transpired recently was so unbelievable that I think a Hollywood scriptwriter could have never imagined. Well, at least no one was seriously injured and that is a good thing. Sad for Lochte that he lost his sponsors but maybe he will learn from this and will a much better person because of… Read more »

Widebody

Come on. Lochte was quite successful. He got people talking about him instead of Phelps.

swimmy

Yet most are perfectly fine with Phelps dui x 2 (Lochte was in a cab) with the last one at 29 years old.

coacherik

Pretty sure he got raked over the coals as well by lot of people, let alone getting a suspension and missing world champs. There is no way to equate the to, however when it came down to it, Phelps faced it right away and head on. Lochte lied on national television and left his boys twisting in the wind.

bobthebuilderrocks

It’s interesting, because I saw an interview in which Lochte said that even he would take a cab if he was ever drunk.

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