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Olympians should get by on hard work and talent, not technicalities

A small scandal has developed in this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

It seems one of the freestyle skiers, American Elizabeth Swaney – who was competing for Hungary – just wasn’t any good at it and probably should not have been one of the 24 women’s skiers competing to qualify for the ladies halfpipe.

She did, in fact, come in dead last.

After witnessing her lackluster performance, some Olympic reporters likened her to an inexperienced skier going down the bunny slope. Inquiring minds looked into her background to see how the heck she got there in the first place.

It seems, by my interpretation, that Swaney is a bit of an adventurer. She traveled the world participating in qualifying events where she apparently had a better chance to qualify. She earned Olympic qualifying points at some competitions, for example, that awarded points for 30 skiers – even though they didn’t have 30 skiers that entered.

In other words, she skated (or rather skied) in on a technicality.

It isn’t her first attempt at an outrageous achievement without the normally expected qualifications.

Yahoo Sports reported she tried to run for governor against Arnold Schwarzenegger when she was 19 years old.

I should be on her side. I mean, I get it. Life is too short to achieve all of one’s goals. A shortcut here and there can be a fun way to beef up your life’s resume.

I’ve made some humorous additions to my own bucket list.

For example, did you know that I’ve danced on Broadway, performed at Carnegie Hall and had art hanging at The Louvre in Paris?

It’s all true, at least technically.

I danced on a street corner on Broadway with fellow theater geeks on a school trip to New York many years ago.

Then, more recently, when my friend got a behind-the-scenes job working for Carnegie Hall, he took me on a tour of the office. =

I stood on his desk chair and sang and acted out “I’m a little teapot.”

He wasn’t impressed, but I got to tick performing at Carnegie Hall off my list.

Getting art hung at the Louvre was easy. It involved a small yellow Post-It note, a common ballpoint pen and a quick stick of my doodle to the inside door of a stall in the mademoiselles’ room.

Voila. I had art hanging in The Louvre.

Here’s the difference. I’m kidding.

I don’t take these as serious accomplishments, nor do I use these fun “accomplishments” to diminish the hard work of people who’ve spent their lives trying to be good enough to do these things for real.

For example, a nephew of mine is a working actor in New York City. Professionally, he has performed on Broadway and in Carnegie Hall.

I don’t make those jokes to him. He earned his accomplishment. He deserves the bragging rights – even if he wouldn’t boast.

So yes, Elizabeth Swaney can she is an Olympian. She put in some effort – perhaps the bare minimum – but is it something she can be proud of?

What may just be a cute joke or a life footnote for her is the life’s goal of so many others out there.

Thousands of the world’s top athletes have dedicated their entire lives to being among the best at one thing – just so they could earn their right to be there and perhaps take home a medal.

So – at least the way it looks on the surface – if all of this was a joke for Swaney, it was a bad one.


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