As a practicing observationalist I continually get a kick out of journalists—those individuals that purport to be unbiased people just dispensing interesting information as they dig it up. The Lindsey Jacobellis snowboarding incident was a veritable hoot for not only journalists, but the Olympic media people too.
To refresh, Lindsey was the 20-year-old American snowboard whiz expected to contend for a medal in the woman’s snowboard cross event. Four chicks snowboarding over jumps and through tight turns until the finish line became a rearview mirror thing. In the four-chick finals Lindsey had a commanding lead with two jumps to go and one racer awaiting a stretcher a few turns back. On the next to the last jump Lindsey wiped out. She would finish second and take the silver.
The color commentator insisted she was showboating on the jump resulting in her posterior drag through the powder. It looked exactly like what the experts called “The Method.” Lindsey denied she was showboating in her first post-race interview. She claimed grabbing her board was to stabilize her jump that was somewhat off-line. Later she would also claim the wind was a problem too—another reason to grab the board.
In her interview with Bob Costas later in the day the showboating inquiry resurfaced. She said it was a “possibility” that she was showboating but that things were happening fast. So after two interviews there was not yet a solid confession.
Back to journalists. The Denver Post and the New York Times both insisted she showboated. They’re likely right. However, they should have reported what Jacobellis stated, to stay within the unwritten rules of journalism.
The color commentator with Costas stated her flub was unprecedented in sports, relative to its statue—gold medal at stake; Olympic worls stage, etc. What made this incident unique was the showboating and subsequent loss of the big enchilada—the gold medal. Had she won, or if this was a high school lacrosse match then the story never would have achieved legs. But this was prime time in Torino.
Observationally speaking, the media pumped this event up at the expense of Jacobellis to up its ratings. The journalists inserted its opinion at the expense of reporting to sell more papers. I suppose Jacobellis will eventually come clean if this was truly more than a board stabilizing tactic, and indeed simply a crowd-pleasing move intended to punctuate her perceived gold medal performance. Jacobellis’ probable song and dance is no less offensive than the blathering of the so-called rational, unbiased experts exploiting her misfortune to further their hypocritical careers. Perhaps they deserve each other.
Imagine the outcry if the New York Times headlines read, “O.J. Simpson killed his wife but denies it. Jury selection begins tomorrow.”