Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, overcoming hardships we can’t imagine and achieving athletic heights we never will, is inexplicably destroyed by a New York Times reporter.
Let’s look at 100M hurdler Lolo Jones life, and then review what a New York Times reporter inexplicably wrote about her:
1. Raised by a single mother, she attended 8 different schools in her first 8 years of education. Her (unmarried) Father was in the Air Force and later served time in state prison.
2. In 3rd grade, her family settled in the basement of the Des Moines Salvation Army Church.
3. A few years later, her mother planned to move the family again, and Lolo ended up not moving and attended high school in Des Moines, living with families that her coach and mentor had arranged for her.
4. She worked in high school, and through college, and ran track. Families, doctors, orthodontists, and others provided mentoring and medical services to her gratis in order to help her along. She worked as a waitress, as a cashier at Home Depot, and as a personal trainer.
5. By all accounts she had very good grades, played cello, and of course ran track.
6. She attended Iowa State and later transferred to LSU. She was an 11-time All American in multiple track events at LSU.
7. Favored to win the gold in the 100M hurdles in the Beijing Olympics, she was in the lead and pulling away when she clipped the 2nd to last hurdle with her toe. She stumbled, recovered, and finished 7th. She was devastated.
8. In 2010, she had spinal surgery, recovered, and then had a severe hamstring injury.
9. In 2012, Lolo finished 4th by 1/100th of a second in the London Olympic finals of the 100M hurdles.
10. She is a devout Christian with extensive charitable work and donations to her credit.
Now for the New York Times. I don’t mean to sound surprised about a reporter at the Times being hateful, inaccurate, and an arm-chair quarterback who can tell us all how the world should be, while having not the slightest ability to actually do anything to make it so. But this situation is even worse than one might expect from this “newspaper”. 2 days before her Olympic final, the article rips Lolo for no rational reason, in many ways overshadowing her 4th place finish.
It’s worth reading the whole article for context (found here), but let me provide a few excerpts from this article, written by Jere Longman:
1. The headline: For Lolo Jones, Everything is Image
2. Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold.
3. Commenting on attention she has been receiving by the press: This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign.
4. 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. Comment: In an interview on HBO she was asked if she’s a virgin, which she answered yes and she and the interviewer discussed it for a few minutes. She also posed in the ESPN Magazine “Body Issue”, which photographs athletes’ nude bodies while covering their private parts. “Vixens” like Hope Solo and the US National Women’s Volleyball Team posed in the Body Issue as well.
5. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow. Comment: OMG, she likes Tim Tebow! A Christian who is a role model for millions, who sacrifices time and millions of dollars for charity, who strives to be a moral human being! This is an unforgivable sin to the New York Times.
6. 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. Comment: Jones at various times has held World and American records, and since when do we not give overwhelming credit to ANYONE who makes our Olympic teams?
7. She barely made the 2012 Olympic team with a third-place finish at the United States trials. Comment: “Barely made the Olympic team?” After spinal surgery and a severe hamstring injury? How lame she must be!
8. He quotes: “It reminds me of Anna Kournikova,” said Janice Forsyth, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario. Comment: Anna Kournikova never won a major tennis tournament, Lolo was an American record holder and a favorite to win the gold and was a toe’s distance from having achieved it, and finished 4th this year. In the category of athletic achievement there is no comparison to Anna Kournikova.
The New York Times “Public Editor”, who performs “unbiased” audits of content in the paper, wrote in response to complaints about Longman’s article: In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.
That’s the understatement of the year. A more appropriate response would have been: Lolo, you rock, and we are proud and actually amazed at what you have overcome and what have achieved!