Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Empathy for Alicia Sacramone
On a serious note, modern sports media LOVES to focus on the "gritty" individual who elevates his or her game to a previously unexpected level under the brightest lights. We often forget that the opposite happens too - sometimes people "choke" when the stakes are the highest. Usually we empathize with poor Alicia because that is soooooooooo hard, while we shit our pants over those who excel in the "clutch" (the David Ortiz corollary) . . . however, honestly, these are top-tier athletes who have practiced and perfected their respective craft over hundreds of hours. There is no evidence that certain individuals "choke" - in fact, our sample size (often one or two events) means it's much more likely that dumb luck is the biggest factor.
However, "luck" is a shitty lead for NBC - instead, we get a crying 20 year old woman. We live in a weird world - I don't think we can characterize her performance as anything other than "choking" but I'm also not sure that characterization is really all that important. I have no idea why this seems so strange to me, or why I even sat and watched Olympic gymnastics tonight (actually, yeah I do - also I was drinking with friends, but w/e), but there it is.