Poor Team USA. Tied with Latvia in Hockey yesterday. We're starting to look like bunch of blowhards, aren't we? I know it's in large part the media's fault. They hype up posterboys like Jeremy Bloom and Bode Miller as a means of hyping the games themselves, but when the athletes they choose to hype don't live up to the hype, then what?

Neither Bloom nor Miller have lived up to the hype so far, that's for sure. I've seen Miller referred to in the press as "the American maverick" but if by that they mean "an unbranded range animal," they should have a look at his ski bunny outfits. Talk about branded. Audi, Barilla, Briko, Quattro--the kid's usually got so many brands plastered on him he's like a skiing billboard. He placed fifth in the Men's Downhill. Old Mr. Big Balls, Daron Rahlves, who's given new meaning to "nasty, brutish, and short," placed tenth.

Bloom's a master of self-promotion. And came in sixth in Men's Moguls. Team USA garnered a bronze in the competition, but since it wasn't won by an A&F model voted "Sexiest Athlete in Sports" it was a little disappointing for the media. I mean, first of all, Toby Dawson, who actually took home a medal, is Asian-American, and that's so NOT A&F.

Bloom's profile on NBCOlympics.com looks like a page out of Tiger Beat Magazine. It's pure, unadulterated masturbation fodder. "King of the Hill," NBC gushes. Dawson's profile is somber by comparison: "Admittedly not the best athlete" NBC concedes, but at least he's "consistent". On ABC this morning, Dawson got no mention. "The real hero," according to ABC, was Lindsey Kildow, who despite injuries finished eighth in Women's Downhill. Well, that's admirable. I mean, that she competed with her injury and all. But Dawson actually won. But he's not as cute as Kildow, much less Bloom, so who cares.

Aside from the choice of who to hype, though, is the way they're hyped. I think the lion's share of athletes conduct themselves admirably (although stories like this one on CNN about sub-par food service in the Olympic Village make Americans sound like spoiled brats), but the portrayal of Team USA in ads for the Torino games has tended to be as bullies barking USA USA USA! It's a lot of gorilla-like chest-pounding and posturing. Personally, I think Olympic athletes should conduct themselves as ladies and gentlemen, not loud-mouths and braggarts. They are, after all, our goodwill ambassadors. And the truth is, if you've really got the talent, you don't need the bombast.

Not to beat a dead horse, but look how Toby Dawson just went about his business and took home the bronze, while flashy-assed Jeremy Bloom left empty-handed. Is this a metaphor for America at large? For the inordinate value we place on flash, over substance? Not to mention the media's seeming unwillingness to grant hero status to Asian-American males.

I think the USA USA USA! chant itself is in bad taste. Is it sports or politics? I mean, you remember people busting out into the chant at Ground Zero when Bush showed up with his bullhorn. Of course it's more of a sports chant, but since 9/11 it's become a succinct statement of American foreign policy, too. The point of it is to shout down and drown out anything else. Period. But politics isn't sports, and the United States of America isn't Team USA. Promoting the Olympics with this politically-tinged bombast defeats the point of the Olympics themselves.


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