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

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

I agree he’s an outstanding swimmer and Brazil is a very dangerous place. With that being said if anyone on this thread got drunk, vandalized property, and then filed a false police report of being robbed to cover it up i’m pretty sure you would be arrested and not accused of making a “dumb mistake”……why don’t someone try it and post how that worked out for you. I’m willing to bet it won’t be the same as Ryan Loche.

6 years ago

Maybe if your American Olympic Swim Team also trained their team to understand that the Olympic Athletes are ambassadors of the Country they represent. That they are going to be in the public eye Internationally and represent what is supposed to be everything that is greatest about the country they hail from. Maybe if you taught him that how he conducts himself will directly effect his entire team both in grandeur and in shame. That they, just like all celebrities, must be responsible for their actions or pay the price. No, this is not something you should brush away as something done and move on! Take it! Wear it! Be ashamed! Its the very essence of your prideful swimming organization… Read more »

6 years ago

Funny. Or should I say, ironic? Then why are you still talking about it?! Oh, I get it. You get to instruct everyone on what they should do, but it doesn’t apply to yourself. Yeah, everyone enjoys having the last word.

john bastos
6 years ago

Familiar with the saying “You’re only as Good as Your Last Job”? There is a bit of truth in that. Everyone makes mistakes, that is for sure, however some of us make them at critical points of our lives, and that does define most of us. If you cannot handle your own PR, make sure you have smart people to do it for you. Specially if you are an athlete worth millions. Even more if you are at the end of your career and will need to rely on your image rather than how fast you are in the pool to continue to be attractive to sponsors…

6 years ago

I reckon he knew that if told the truth, he would lose his sponsorship deals & impact his reputation within the US swim team and beyond. As a visitor, it was a cheap shot to use Rio’s poor crime record to cover up what he did and think he could get away with it. I find it hard to sympathize and wonder would there have the same outpouring of sympathy had this been a black athlete

Wet Cat Mom
6 years ago

Lochte has never really been a trouble maker – not that I can remember. Let’s change the subject to college season coming up and all of its cover-ups of drugs, sex, cheating, breaking the laws and how those kids go unpunished and coaches cover it up…….

6 years ago

I think Ryan was just trying to get attention. He had the crash hair, grills, shoes, and now vandalism. Just throwing that out there.

6 years ago

I totally agree with Charles Hartley .The incident is blown out of proportion. A lot of alcohol intoxicated people behave like Ryan and nothing happens . Language barrier , alcohol ,guns flashing ,security people God knows from where that lead to this situation. and the media just looking for sensation . Theses are young people and this was time for them to relief the stress to celebrate. They deserve it too.