Was The NY Times Criticism of Lolo Jones Fair or Foul?
Lolo Jones has found a place in the hearts of her fellow Americans, as her journey to the Olympic stage has been well chronicled months leading up to the 2012 London games. Like many other Olympians, she has struggled through poverty and her road taken to where she is now has been a long and arduous one.
So one would think that everyone would rally around her and wish her the best in her future races, apparently NY Times sports reporter Jere Longman who wrote the piece aptly titled ‘For Lolo Jones, Everything is Image’ he seemed to be more preoccupied with ripping her for her personal beliefs more than anything else. The article was scathing from the get go and seemed extraordinarily personal, almost as if Lolo had dumped Jere back during the 7th grade dance or something. He went on to write in the article:
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…If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler.
The line was especially below the belt and begs me to ask: What the heck did Lolo even do to piss any one off? Longman’s article almost went so far as to call Lolo a hypocrite for posing nude for ESPN: The Body meanwhile calling herself a devout Christian. Longman went so low as to enlist the help of a woman to help back up his baseless argument, Janice Forsyth who is the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario (try saying that three times fast) who referred to Lolo Jones as ‘Anna Kournikova’. For those not too much in the know about Ms. Kournikova she was former pro tennis player who was pretty much the Kim K of the tennis world, so suffice to say this is a pretty big slap to Lolo’s face, and still I must ask…why?
Jones is a fairly accomplished track hurdler who breezed through her stint in Beijing only to come up short in 100 meter hurdles after stumbling, Lolo is now seeking redemption. The long winded attack on Lolo’s character, where Longman essentially called Lolo a sell out who was setting women in the Olympics back due to her candidness towards the camera and good looks
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.
…someone arrest her! This year Jones may not be the ultimate favorite as she was in Beijing but her story is still one that resonates with her being 29 years old and her window damn near closed, can she make one more run at it?
Longman wrote this article to knock Lolo’s hustle, for whatever reason he’s just not fond of attractive women who dedicate themselves to a craft and set a strict code of ethics for themselves.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment, were there remnants of truth to his accusations? I mean let’s be honest, what other hurdles jumpers have graced the covers of magazines this year and are telling their stories of their rise up during prime time? Lolo has been on late night talk shows and at the center of sports documentaries all without even medaling in an Olympics event. One can see how she would be a great face to market to the world as her story strikes a nerve and her looks draw attention, one could ask if Lolo is playing willfully ignorant to the publicity she’s gotten which has begun to eclipse her actual athletic merits.
At the end of the day though, Lolo is in search of the same thing that Lebron and so many other household name athletes want–ring protection, or in Lolo’s case gold medal protection, that will ward off critics like a can of raid. Once Lolo has reached her goal in the Olympics–even just by medaling she’ll have more ground to stand on when detractors question her place in commercials with the likes of Phelps and Bolt. While she has quite literally a long track ahead of her the solution to all of this is quite simple: win.