In an intensely competitive final, Australia’s Sally Pearson punched a 12.35 in the 100m hurdles for the gold and two Americans, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells, thrust their chests across the plane for silver and bronze. And yet, the only hurdler we’re still talking about is my girl Lolo Jones.
This time, it’s not because she fell. Or because she’s pretty. Or because she defied odds (and ends, and evens) to compete on the world’s biggest stage.
To set the stage, you need to know that Lolo Jones is a media darling who gets all the attention and sponsors. She’s the pretty one. The virgin. There’s Something About Lolo. Everybody Loves Lolo. How I Met Your Lolo.
Harper and Wells are sick of hearing about Lolo Jones. And, with their silver and bronze medals, they had the opportunity to change the narrative. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think there’s no better way to make your point than on the scoreboard, or in this case, on the podium. And when you’re up there and she’s not, you don’t have to say a damn word about her. Now’s your chance to tell the story you’ve been dying to tell.
But they’re so bitter and resentful that they just can’t help but rub it in. They’re so happy that Lolo placed fourth, taking home none of the medals and all of the heartache. Instead of focusing on their terrific athletic accomplishment, Wells and Harper sang a chorus of nyah nyahs aimed directly at Lolo.
In their moment of glory, the Jan and Cindy Brady of the 100m hurdles sounded glib and resentful, a page right out of the Mean Girls burn book. So now, we’re talking about Lolo Jones again.
You guys are idiots. For real. You blew it. In your catty, backbiting interview, you eroded any goodwill I had for your athletic accomplishment. I think my dad summarized it best in how he so articulately categorized Kobe Bryant:
“Great basketball player. Shitty human.”
– My dad
Everybody loves a winner, but Harper and Wells made it impossible.
You want to get noticed? You want fans and peers and sponsors to know your name? You want to tell your story? You want glory and fame and a contract? Then don’t for one second talk about the woman who’s dominated the limelight when it’s your time to shine. Not even if you hate her. Especially if you hate her.
Lolo is marketing gold whether she medals or not. She has a perfectly toned body and celery green eyes and caramel skin and a brilliant smile.
But there’s something even more beautiful about Lolo. In Beijing, we watched her crash but keep running. In London, we watched her put it all on the line and still come up short. We’ve seen her rattled and shaken and devastated.
And yet, she still has hope. She still has class. We’ve never seen her lash out.
She’s still running hurdles, no matter who says what about her. We’ve never seen her give up.
The courage! The audacity! Have you ever seen anything so beautifully human in your whole life?
Compare that woman to the Angry Birds, cackling away and taking joy in someone else’s pain. Now ask yourself, who do you want your daughter to be like?
Lolo Jones’ appeal goes beyond her good looks, deep into her heart and soul. Lolo is marketable because people want to be Lolo Jones. Shoot, I want to be Lolo Jones. Because after the spikes have been hung up, I still have a lot of living to do. And I’d rather do it with humility and grace than with venom.
Lolo’s smile will continue to sell me Oakleys and Asics, but I doubt Harper and Wells will rake in the endorsements and glory they sought so badly. Why is that? Because haters gonna hate but no one wants to buy schadenfreude.
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Not to confuse the narrative here, but I’d like to make just one additional point, this time about Michelle Beadle, who I believe is an accomplice and instigator in this whole ordeal. Beadle fails to ask a single question about the race or about Harper or Wells as athletes or people. She focuses entirely on the context of Lolo Jones. It’s hard to tell if she casts the bait or goes after it, but it’s clear that she would rather dish the hot goss than do actual journalistic work.
Beadle is lazy, superficial, and unsubstantive. Because apparently, gossip is more important than covering actual athletic achievement. Which, I think is what Harper and Wells had beef with in the first place. Ironic, right?
Because she employs what I’d describe as shitty coffee talk journalism, Harper and Wells don’t realize that in 197 seconds they undid all the glory they achieved in 13. That’s the price of just keeping it casual with your gal pals! She’s not your friend; she’s preying on you. And that’s why you won’t get a shoe deal.