You know, I haven’t been paying much attention to the LoLo Jones saga until today. Lori Jones is a track athlete for the US team. She is a specialist in hurdles.
LoLo came from a very humble background to compete at the highest level of track and field. For whatever reasons…her natural beauty; her desire to tell her life story, her marketing campaign (which included a nude photo shoot) and her inability to win Olympic titles…she’s become a lightning rod for criticism. LoLo did an interview with NBC Sports where she wept over a New York Times article describing her as pure image.
We know LoLo is a top flight athlete, but she has not yet won an Olympic medal over two Olympics. However, she’s mounted a marketing campaign that’s heightened expectations. An Olympic official in the Times article said the neglect of US track stars (and multiple medalists) Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells, while LoLo received massive publicity is sort of like “Anna Kournikova.” It’s a reference to the Russian tennis player who made a fortune off her beauty but failed to win a tournament. Harper and Wells are not beautiful in the classic sense. They have not nearly generated the attention LoLo has, in spite of being winners. There’s some resentment there, and its easy to understand why. LoLo has fanned the flames herself with efforts to draw attention to herself.
The lack of attention for our (perceived) less beautiful athletes is more an indictment of our society. Some of us remember the 1984 Olympics where Florence Joyner (Flo-Jo) was the star; she was glamourous. She was (and still is) the fastest woman ever; her records in the 100 and 200 meter still stand. The difference between LoLo and Flo-Jo is, Flo-Jo brought home the medals. Flo-Jo won four golds and three silvers in her two Olympics. But her sister-in-law, Jackie Joyner-Kersee drew negative comments from even other athletes over her appearance. Despite being one of the great athletes ever, despite being named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated–she won three golds, a silver and two bronze medals across FOUR Olympics–Jackie Joyner-Kersee remains relatively anonymous.
LoLo should have expected the criticism. We are Americans. For athletes desiring to make the big bucks…male or female…you not only have to win, you have to look good doing it. Ask Ryan Lochte, who won five medals but was widely perceived as being a failure for not meeting his own lofty standards.
We get LoLo. She’s trying to strike while the iron is hot. LoLo wants to make the money while she can. When you have a hot body, you have to use it while you can. We don’t begrudge her for doing that. She does have to be aware that criticism is going to happen. Anyone who strips for money is going to get treated like…a stripper.