It’s difficult to watch the grainy video of Janay Palmer without getting a knot in the pit of your stomach. A viral video of a football player lugging his unconscious fiancé around like a garbage bag was seen by millions of Americans, each pixel flickering as a celebrated millionaire athlete hauled his incapacitated girlfriend out of an elevator.
Its a shame to paraphrase the recording that made Clippers owner Donald Sterling the first American professional sports magnate to be banned from the NBA for racist remarks—the full thing is a breathtaking thesis on race and sex in this country.
A still from the NBC coverage of Adelina Sotnikova's surprising winning skate at the 2014 Olympics.
There are two ways to succeed at sports: by being memorable, or by winning.
Note that one achievement does not necessarily imply the other, and that in some sports the two can even be mutually exclusive. In a year’s time, ask the average American which athletes medaled at the bobsled events in Sochi, and then if they can remember which country’s lovably low-ranking bobsled team was the focus of the movie Cool Runnings. (Jamaica’s two-man bobsled team also qualified at this year’s games, ultimately finishing dead last. Now, quick: tell me who won the gold.)
Sad as I am to write this, it must be said: the Olympics are almost over. Part of me is thankful for this, as I’ve watched more hours of TV in the past week than my body or brain can adequately handle. As always, I have found the Olympics to be patronizing, exhausting, and simultaneously bloated and skimpy. And I also know that I will be desperately sad to see them go.