The NY Times' Jere Longman thinks that US Olympic track star Lolo Jones relies way too much on her great looks rather than her actual accomplishments on the track:
Still, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.
Women have struggled for decades to be appreciated as athletes. For the first time at these Games, every competing nation has sent a female participant. But Jones is not assured enough with her hurdling or her compelling story of perseverance. So she has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.
Longman goes on to quote some academic comparing Jones to tennis player Anna Kournikova who was quite beautiful, yet never won a singles tournament in her sport. (Personally, I'd also add in golfer Michelle Wie who insisted on playing in men's tourneys before she ever did anything on the women's tour; she has only two victories on the LPGA tour at present.) Jones, in a subsequent interview, expressed sadness and disappointment with the article.
But is Longman being even close to fair with regards to Lolo? Not even close.
Check out Jones' vital stats. National indoor titles in the 60 meter hurdles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Two gold medals in the World Indoor Championships in that event in 2008 and 2010. She holds the American record in the 60 meter hurdles, for cripe's sake. In 2008 in Beijing, Jones was favored to win the 100 meter hurdles and was on the verge of doing so -- until she tripped over the second-to-last hurdle, and finished seventh. Longman does mention the Olympics in Beijing and that Jones was leading the race in his column, but neglects to note she was the favorite and most likely would have won if not for the trip, which is a fairly common occurrence in hurdles.
Are these accomplishments Anna Kournikova or Michelle Wie-like? No freakin' way. Far from it.
Longman's column was so off-base that Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane felt compelled to respond:
I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong.
Bravo to Art for that.
What's even more hilarious than how off-base Longman's main point was is the notion that Jones shouldn't attempt to take advantage of her inherent beauty for monetary gain. In contemporary America, there's nothing more "American" than this, and media outfits like the Times are responsible for a lot of it. And you know what else? Why doesn't Mr. Longman write up a column about possibly the greatest style-over-substance personality in modern memory: One Barack Obama, president of the United States, and a person the NY Times has supported without fail since he became a candidate for the highest office in the land?Posted by Hube at August 9, 2012 01:37 PM | TrackBack