Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Reuters, Lovable Losers, and a Rant About the Media

Many of you probably have come here after reading the Reuters news story about this blog (it also showed up on Yahoo! News and the New Zealand Herald). Now I'm happy with the coverage, and I had a really nice chat with the reporter, Bernhard Warner, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this "lovable losers" angle. I don't think last-place finishers are necessarily losers; they just happened to come in last.

Not that I'm complaining about the story, but the media in general loves the Eric the Eel and Eddie the Eagle stories -- the winter athletes who've never seen snow before, the marathon runners who finish hours behind the pack. But these stories, interesting and entertaining as they may be, are not representative of the whole. Finishing DFL doesn't mean you were brought to the Games on a short bus; sometimes the coverage in these stories strikes me as just a little patronizing, especially if they're from little countries like São Tomé or Mongolia -- patting them on the head for participating and not taking them seriously, even though most of us couldn't even come close to doing what they just did.

Many last-place finishers are serious competitors -- especially in events with pre-Olympic qualification -- and some are even medal contenders. There are lots of reasons for finishing last, from being rattled by an interfering spectator to deliberately throwing the race. What I hope this blog will accomplish is to shed some light on last-place finishes of every sort.

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  • At 10:23 AM, August 25, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I too feel that the news community missed the point. The idea is that just to be there is pretty impressive, and all who compete should be recognized. One more pointe (two actually), in a way I have more respect for the folks who aren't there just to be #1, because you know 2 things, 1 - there is a %99.9999 they are not doping, they are training, hard, and doing their best, 2 - They are there for the pure competition, to go head to head and do their best, not battle for their next million dollar sponsor. Hail the LPFs.

  • At 7:04 PM, August 25, 2004 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Absolutely. There is a world of difference between DFL, DNS and DNF.

    The DNS's were injured, and probably knew it before they failed to start. Perhaps they could have given their place to a more able countrymate?

    The DNF's were incapacitated. They might have known it before the start, but who knows? They were DFL's without the balls.

    The DFL's were just plain crap. But usually representing smaller countries, they personify the Olympic spirit. If from large countries, they should realise that it is not them personally, but their country which is being laughed at, which should soothe their souls immensely!