Sunday, July 31, 2011

Phillip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune and myself on are on the same page: Michael Phelps is not a good sport!

Lindsay sent this to me and she has been one of the few readers to agree with my criticisms regarding Michael Phelps rhetoric post a humiliating loss. Thanks for posting this article in the comments section, Lindsay:

From the Chicago Tribune:
"With the training I have had in the last six to eight months, that's all I had in the tank. . .The reason why I haven't been able to swim as fast as I wanted the last two years is: It's all my fault. . .That time (Lochte's) won't win a gold medal next summer."

And this is what Phelps said after the 200 IM, when Lochte became the first swimmer to set a world record since the 2010 ban on the hi-tech suits that had made record performances meaningless:

"I didn't win because I wasn't as prepared I should have been."

[Link]

The last two sentences of the article totally kill and it is a must read. Ryan Lochte's retort was gracious and accurate as well.

Now, if I am going to illustrate a negative, I have to offer a positive: how should an athlete act post a devastating loss?

Maria Sharapova was favored to win Wimbledon. Throughout the quarterfinals, the semifinals, throughout all her matches she never lost a set and she was seemingly unstoppable. Then in the finals she met a teenager named Petra Kvitova who displayed no fear and was hitting balls right at her feet. When Sharapova lost the Wimbledon final, she was devastated. She was seemingly holding back tears as she paraded around court side with both her trophy and a smile. Later, when interviewed by the press she said nothing but flattering statements about her opponent's serve and ability.

To hate losing that much and yet see her mind fight her body and control both her anger/sadness displayed an athlete taking the high road rather than succumbing to alpha-female narcissism.

The photo above is Phelps doing breaststroke. I chose it because he looks like he is crying. ;-)

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was a great column, really hit things on the head. Thanks for posting. Phelps and Lochte are reported as good friends, so i wonder what they say to each other back at the hotel. Lochte, frankly, has the better, more sportmans-like personality. Would rather share my lane with him.

TedBaker said...

I siad this about a year ago(?) and I'll say it again: Good losers get lots of practice.

Phelps has a hunger and it near radiates off him. Dude wants to win. He's wants to be first to the next stop light, he wants to win the next hand at poker, he wants to win and hates, hates, hates losing.

Much respect to him. I'm not a good loser either.

Tony Austin said...

...And good losers like Maria Sharapova make $47-million a year. :-P

TedBaker said...

I'm betting Maria Sharapova is a pretty bad loser, too. She may hide better than guys like Phelps but you don't make $47 million 'cos you like second place in whatever race you're choosing to run.

Tony Austin said...

The point here is manners, grace and inspirational athleticism versus crass narcissism.

Anonymous said...

Sharapova has won 3 grand slams and I have doubts that she will win one again. She gets most of her money from her image and selling things. She just got lucky.. a white, appealing Russo-American hybrid.

Phelps = 4 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze which honestly is only 1 gold less than Lochte. If he really works on it, he can beat Lochte and hopefully he will at London.

Lochte is crass to me anyway. Into getting the 100k to 'blow at Las Vegas', turning up with that tooth shield.

Likac said...

Talking about manners and bad sportsmanship, that dude Phillip Hersh from chicagotribune.com won't let people comment on his article. How pathetic is that? I left a comment there but it was never published. I didn't pay too much attention, I thought I made a mistake while signing in, but today another person told me about the article and how the comment she made wasn't published either. So this tells you everything you need to know about the writer and his credibility.

Tony Austin said...

Exactly!

You nailed it. Your key phrase: "...If he really works on it, he can beat Lochte and hopefully he will at London. ..."

If he does not work hard by choice then he should not disparage the winners by qualifying his losses stating he could have done better. Well, then do better!

I too have been highly critical of Lochte's behavior outside the pool; (I suspect he has deficits beyond his control and I think I may pull back on future criticisms), but in the pool he is professional, warm, friendly and he appreciates the age groupers watching him. He has a good heart, and he is professional when he wins or when he loses.

Sharapova is definitely easy to look it. In my opinion she should have won in Paris. I was astonished how Li Na upped her game to that level.

Tony Austin said...

I too think that writers should be accessible for any and all feedback albeit a comments section or an email address.

I have been schooled so many times, and embarrassed but I always learned something. I have also torn people apart like John Leonard for threatening a retired school teacher and myself, and a pompous writer by the name of Craig Lord.

A comments section is important so as to rectify false statements or bad data.

An anonymous option is important so people can speak freely without the fear of punishment.

Reezy Nation said...

Lochte never made the "100K to blow in vegas" comment to the public. Rogan said it, and i bet it wasnt meant to be put national tv..

Lochte was nothing but gracious when he was on TV on Saturday. He never makes derogatory comments about other swimmer.. its only what he has done wrong and what he can do.. Do I believe he waiting to ;long to be sick of coming is second- YES. But it doesn’t diminish the fact that he wants to win and believes he can win and go faster. I think its going to be a duel in Omaha and London and its going to make for great swimming and great press.

I am more concerned for what’s coming next.. Someone –I think it was Christine Magnusson made a comment that there weren’t any college guys on the team. This makes me nervous when Phelps and Lochte are winning all the gold metals. We need some Missy Franklins on the men’s side.. Dave Nolan??

Anonymous said...

Your just as much as a liar as that writer for believing that stupid pathetic story of lies. MPs fans follow him on twitter and know how much praise he's had all week for ALL his teammates Lochte included:

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Nice work over here to @ryanlochte....amazing meet...and first person to break a #wr since 09!!!
31 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Congrats to team #USA @NatalieCoughlin @arschmitty @Cullen_Jones @DavWalters @eliZAbethP_1126 @khoff09 (cont) http://tl.gd/c2l2kb
31 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Its wild to think that tonights 4x100 medley was my last world championship swim of my career....amazing to (cont) http://tl.gd/c2krhl

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Last day! Last event....medley relay....let's go boyyys....glgl to @TylerClary and @ryanlochte in 4im....finish up strong for the #USA
31 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
RT @david_schwab: 16 y/o Missy Franklin just won 2nd gold in 45 minutes at Swimming Worlds. Watch out #2012 #2016 #2020 #2024? #FINA2011
30 Jul


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Nice one girls!!! Sick race to watch!RT @NatalieCoughlin: Yay. Gold medal, 4x100 MR. Have been on that relay for (cont) http://tl.gd/c1vtd5
30 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Nice swim to @TylerClary tonight in the 200 back!! Gettin another medal for #team usa


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
That's what I'm talking about!!!RT @ryanlochte: I was so tired going into the relay tonite but I got some (cont) http://tl.gd/c1bacf
29 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Always good to have amazing teammates to come together and get the job done! Well done boys....#USA GOLD Medal (cont) http://tl.gd/c1b53t
29 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
@TyMcGill and I through for tom finals in the 100 fly...
29 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Nice work this am from the usa relay @Rcberens @davwalters #PVK and #DWYER....top seed going into finals!
28 Jul


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
@
@BrendanHansen22 thanks man...can't wait til ur here with us man!!! Looking forward to the next year!!#2012
28 Jul


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Happy with my swim tonight! Always a good race with @ryanlochte....always a fight to the end...hats off to him...first WR at the meet...
28 Jul


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Me and @ryanlochte get to swim next to each other tom! This makes it 5 for 6 I believe...going in to tom 1-2 let's gooooo.....#USA
27 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Felt good in both races and very happy the events tonight....time to get ready for the 2im with @ryanlochte legggo
26 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
Big race tom 200 I'm abnd 2fly final....let's do it @ryanlochte jeaaahhhhhh!!! Hhahahaah...good night tweep world,!!! Sleep time!
26 Jul


MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
And I would like to thank @ryanlochte for his words he gave me when I was in the ready room before the 200....thanks dogggyy #jeah
26 Jul

MichaelPhelps Michael Phelps
That's what I'm talking bout... Hellll yeaaAaaaaa #USART @ryanlochte: Me and @MichaelPhelps going 1 2 in the 200 (cont) http://tl.gd/bvi414
26 Jul

Those are not the words of someone who is a poor sport, he is completely gracious to all his teammates.

ITS ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC that the writer wrote those pack of lies by picking and choosing his quotes, MP is allowed to be disappointed in his performances regardless of the circumstances of his training. That you would call him a poor sport without going out of your way to verify MPs point of view just makes you as much liar as Hersh.

Tony Austin said...

My opinions are lies? (Who knew?)

Lindsey said...

It was my pleasure. Tony, you were the first person I thought of when I read the article.

@TedBaker:

I believe we might be differing on what the definition of what a "bad loser" is. A bad loser isn't someone who hates to lose. A bad loser is someone who is ungracious and full of excuses when they lose. They try to excuse their performance by belittling that of the winner's through saying things like "I'm not in shape."

"Good losers" do not get lots and lots of practice. They are rare and how they react to defeat shows more about their strength of character and sense of self than any number of visits to the top step of the podium.

You can hate losing with the fire of seven suns, but that has nothing to do with how well you should be able to handle defeat.

Tony Austin said...

That shows you Ted! :-P

Anonymous said...

Great picture - it does look like he is crying!

Tony Austin said...

I love breaststroke shots: some people look like that have watery, Santa Claus, beards. Others like they are crying. There is always some form of abstract water that you can anthropomorphize into an odd circumstance or emotion. :-D