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The Ugly Olympic American?

Matthew Engel at the UK's Financial Times thinks so: The protest by the US team that cost Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles his silver med

Matthew Engel at the UK's Financial Times thinks so:

The protest by the US team that cost Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles his silver medal in the 200 metres was seen by some, perhaps unfairly, as bullying of a small nation. There was also the bizarre election scandalette in the poll among competitors for athlete-representatives to the International Olympic Committee. The US tried to ensure victory for its candidate, Julie Foudy, by offering team members a $50 (€34, £27) shopping voucher if they voted.

The consolation for Americans is that they believe they are triumphant. The medals table is unofficial and, indeed, frowned on by the Olympic Charter, which insists the games are “between athletes . . . and not between countries”. Nonetheless, its format is well established: the number of golds decides the placings, with minor medals used to settle ties. At least, it is well established outside the US.

The American media add up the golds, silvers and bronzes, giving them equal weighting, which is ludicrous. By an amazing coincidence, this puts the Americans on top, well ahead of China. The normal method has the US far behind. But guess which way plays better in Peoria?

Engels thinks that the problem, other than the effect of George W. Bush’s presidency on America’s global standing, is because America doesn't play team sports the same way as the rest of the world - for the joy of taking part rather than the joy of winning.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, might agree with him. At least, so suggests Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post as she satirizes him for condemning Usain Bolt for his celebrations while ignoring alleged underage competitors and helping supress political protests at the Games.

Sour grapes from losers, or a sign that just maybe Ugly Americanism should try to keep its head down in public so as not to furnish convenient distractions?

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