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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Leave Michael Phelps and Chick-fil-A Alone, Jerk Journalists!

These two things. Leave them alone.

Any American who stayed up late every night to watch the Beijing Olympics during August of 2008 surely has fond memories of watching Michael Phelps pull off miracle after miracle. The barely twenty-seven year old swimmer has been working in the pool for twenty years, and has participated in the last four Olympics. After bringing so much pride to his country, it has been pretty disconcerting to see all the news stories attacking his performance at this year's London Olympics. Phelps is obviously past his prime, and is yet still winning medals. Yesterday he tied, then broke the Olympic record for overall medals with a silver in the 200 meter butterfly, and then a gold with his team in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay. This is an incredible achievement which could stand forever, and Phelps has the chance to win a couple more before he retires at the end of the 2012 Games. The seems like a pretty triumphant finish to a career to me, but from news stories, mostly published by Yahoo, you would think that Michael Phelps murders babies. As I checked my Yahoo e-mail numerous times throughout the day yesterday, I saw multiple stories with headlines like PHELPS DISAPPOINTS, and yet I never saw one article pertaining to his later victory and record breaking. Geez, Yahoo, leave the guy alone. Instead of focusing on the fact that Phelps got second in a race he has dominated for twelve years, why not highlight the fact that the guy dominated the same race for TWELVE YEARS, and just won his NINETEENTH OLYMPIC MEDAL. That stat is insane. Why focus on a barely there negative when there are such huge positives to be told?
Even Bob Costas, a sports reporter I usually respect, joined in the piling on, grilling a freshly victorious, still smiling and excited Phelps about the fact that he isn't as good as he used to be, instead of discussing his victory. Phelps, usually quite good-natured, and still somehow civil in his replies, simply stated that after dedicating twenty grueling years to being the greatest swimmer on the planet, he decided that for his final competitions he just wanted to have fun. Shouldn't that kind of "not winning is not the end of the world" attitude be lauded? This guy is the greatest Olympian to ever live. If he wants to let off the gas a little, why criticize him?
This morning, Yahoo got even uglier, as their lead and headlining article briefly mentions Phelps breaking the record at the end, but instead focuses on and is titled on Phelps' mother mistakenly thinking Phelps won gold in the 200 meter butterfly, and includes several closeup photographs of her changing, happy to sad expressions. You jerks! Not only neglecting this victorious American's accomplishments, but mocking his mother? What is wrong with you, Yahoo? What is your journalistic imperative? If you keep this up, you'll barely have time to continue focusing your energies on trying to force me to decide where I buy my chicken sandwich based on the gay-marriage opinion of the CEO of the chicken sandwich company.
If you haven't heard, the CEO of Chick-fil-A recently made the apparent mistake of mentioning that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Yahoo has posted article after article on the matter, including a make your own alternative Chick-fil-A sandwich that begins with the nauseatingly manipulative sentence:
"Chick-fil-A fans have been tearfully vowing to stop eating at the fast food chain since the privately owned company's president, Dan Cathy, told a religious newspaper that he and his company are against gay marriage."
Yahoo, you can go to hell. Whether I am for or against gay marriage, my greatest day to day struggle is attempting to feed my family, and if you think I am going to base the purchase of my food on the marriage beliefs of a company's CEO, you can die slowly in a fire. Should I stop eating the food my mother makes when I visit my parent's house? And screw you, too, Ed Helms. The Chick-fil-A CEO didn't say he didn't like gay people, he just said he supports a traditional nuclear family structure. How about I boycott one-dimensional, geeky screw-up, but seething with rage on the inside characters (that's two characteristics, not two dimensions).
I get it, Yahoo. You think we should pull against our own Olympians, and choose our food based on company owner political beliefs. Awesome. About time to find a new e-mail address.
And to the mayors of Boston or Chicago, who are publicly striking down Chick-fil-A building proposals in their towns because of the aforementioned CEO opinion:
Sweet! I always knew I would live in a fascist nation someday! What else should I do with my life, and where should I eat, most wise political leaders? And finally, here's an excellent article on Phelps' performances and attitude last night from ESPN.
POSTSCRIPT: I just noticed that Yahoo's default image is a Chinese gymnast, which is not a surprise at all.


Neal said...

People have all kinds of weird opinions on Olympians, feeling like they get to weigh in on things that they really have no business weighing in on. Missy Franklin's parents have been accused of not fostering her talent enough because they *gasp* live in a small town. The training facilities aren't as good there, so obviously it's been to her detriment, this teenager who is winning medals in the Olympics when many teens can't swim or swim half as well as she does.

I can understand some where the Michael Phelps bashing comes in. It's another angle to explore than the constant "he's awesome!" bit, and journalism often like going for negative or over the top articles to get more attention to their sites/articles. And to be fair, Phelps did miss out on practices for long stretches at a time after the Beijing Olympics and have that whole "picture of me with a bong" thing.

Still, it's more than a little ridiculous, and I hate the media tendency to write inflammatory things for ratings. All these articles also seem a slap in the face to the South African athlete that managed to keep up to Phelps in his best event and just barely win by what... 5/100 of a second? If you go by the news stories, they often ignore him and act like Phelps lost by yards.

As for the Chick-fil-A stuff... people need to take a reality check. My guess is that many people would not agree with everything a CEO believes, and that goes for anyone famous. I disagree with any number of things Hemingway believed or did in his life, but he still wrote great fiction worth reading. I try to remind people of that when they go after Orson Scott Card for having different beliefs than them, or now the Chick-fill-A CEO.

Stephanie said...

Well-said, Nic!

Stephanie said...

I have a gay friend who said something to the extent of, "Come on people. Chick-fil-a is closed on Sundays and plays christian music in the eating areas. The signs were there all along. If you waited until now to realize they have traditional Christian values, you were just in denial about giving up waffle fries."