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.