Bring On Bode

Until about six weeks ago, I had never heard of Bode Miller. Apparently I have been living under a rather large pile of rocks.

People in Europe have known his name for years. There he’s on a level with a rock star, and by now, pretty much everyone in this country has at least heard or read his name. Bode Miller managed, although it was perhaps counter to his wishes, to get on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, and that came close on the heels of a 60 Minutes appearance that took on a life of its own after Bode alluded to possibly having skied in competition in less than a total state of sobriety. That produced the predictable Puritanically inspired shockwaves.

So, yes, in case anyone else is still under a rock pile or just arrived from Pluto, Bode Miller is American and he is a downhill ski racer–a very fast one. What makes him star-worthy, besides being young and a hunk and winning lots of ski races, is both his unorthodox skiing style and his unorthodox approach to racing and life. That’s what I like about him. He skis because it’s fun for him and he pays no attention to those who would ‘improve’ his unorthodox style. He skis for fun and not for medals–that’s what he says, and I believe him.

Having grown up in the very backwoods of New Hampshire where in winter it easily goes to 20 below and stays there for weeks on end, and in a house with no electricity or running water, I guess Bode figured that conventions don’t apply to him. And he’s right. Conventions would have turned him into just another hard body hurtling down mountains at speeds not recommended for promoting longevity.

I guess because Bode doesn’t fit the mold, US Olympic officials look at him like a terrorist bomb that could detonate at any time, most inconveniently blowing up their carefully constructed and tightly controlled image of the wholesome-at-all-costs Ideal All-American Athlete. In my most humble opinion, these officials need to lighten up and loosen up and expand their vision.

Reportedly, Bode ‘continued to irk’ the US officials because of his outspoken views on the athlete’s village–saying only that it wasn’t the healthiest living environment to be in while preparing for a major competition. What’s wrong with that? It’s quite obviously the truth. How could throwing anyone, top athlete or otherwise, into a dormitory environment days before a major performance be the optimal preparatory experience? Come on, guys–Bode is just stating the obvious.

Bode likes to ski, but he doesn’t like the hoopla that goes with skiing at his competitive level–the interviews, the instant recognition wherever he goes, the interruptions to his privacy. I wouldn’t like those things either.

Ironically, I found an illustration of just what Bode means as I was trying to access his web page on Nike’s website. It was simple. I wanted to go to Bode’s page to hear what he had to say. But wait, it wasn’t so simple after all.

Turns out that you have to download a particular version of Flash onto your computer before you can open the page, which apparently is a video. Well, I don’t want to see a video, I just want to hear or read what Bode has to say. But to do that, I have to do this download and that means closing down all of the open pages currently on my computer’s desktop, and then shutting the computer itself down–all of this just to access this page. What a pain. This must be how irritated Bode feels about what he has to do just to get to compete–he has to jump through all of these publicity hoops as a preliminary. What a pain.

And who are we kidding? The sports writers and the media in general love it when Bode ‘irks’ the Olympic officials. It gives them something to write and talk about. On both the Time and Newsweek covers and in a recent interview of Jack MacCallum of Sports Illustrated and Mike Wise of the Washington Post, Bode was labeled among the “Bad Boys.” I guess that’s because he says what he thinks–and, that he thinks at all. And even worse, he tells the truth. Interesting that that makes him “bad” in a country that prides itself on free thinkers and speakers. So what if Bode likes to party? So what if he speaks his mind? So what if he has never been one to follow the rules? So what if he questions whether he should even be at the Olympics? To me it’s all the more power to him that he hasn’t been corralled and tamed into being some boring, predictable, goody-two-skis Downhill Racer. Aren’t we a country of proud non-conformists? It‘s what I’ve always thought, and if that is true, what’s all this Bode bashing about? If you ask me—and even if you don’t—what we need is more guys—no gender discrimination intended—like Bode Miller. (Perhaps the Democratic Party could learn a lesson or two from him—or better yet, recruit him.) So, let the games begin…and bring on Bode!

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