Thursday, August 21, 2008


Usain Bolt is a fast man. He runs faster than any human being alive and for that matter - any human being who has ever lived. He not only won the Olympic sprints, he made the other runners, who also happen to be very, very fast people, look slow.

And not only is Bolt fast, he runs so easily that it actually looks like he's running slow, kind of jogging along. I know he's not, but it just shouldn't look so easy, you know? If he is going to crush the competition into oblivion, at least he should make it look like he's working at it.

Not only is Bolt fast, and not only does he make it look easy, he has a really good time while he's doing it, and it shows. He's out there posing, mugging the camera, dancing, taking off his shoes, messing around with other runners - he's having fun. He's 22 years old, the fastest human on earth, and he's having fun.

Which, apparently, is not okay with the Olympic people. "That's not the way we perceive being a champion," said Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, and confirmed stick in the mud. It seems Bolt's behavior might be perceived as disrespectful to the other runners, and not fitting for an Olympic champion.

Never mind the thousands of people screaming their lungs out in the bird's nest for him

or the other runners obvious admiration for his accomplishment, saying things like, "I love watching him when he does his thing" and calling him names like "Superman 2."

But the sight of a young man thumping on his chest and throwing out his arms at the end of a race is just too much for the IOC, or at least for its president. He said, "He might have interpreted that in another way, but the way it was perceived was 'catch me if you can.' You don't do that. But he'll learn. He's still a young man."

I think it's that "You don't do that" line that gets under my skin. Because when Rogge says "you don't do that" of course what he means is "I don't do that." Obviously, Usain Bolt does do that, and Rogge just thinks it is somehow not reflective of the Olympic attitude or something.

And because "he's still a young man" that means obviously he just doesn't know what's appropriate. The corollary being, if he were older he would therefore know what was appropriate and then act ... well, ... appropriately. But it doesn't cross Rogge's mind that Bolt might, in fact, know exactly what Rogge thinks would be appropriate and has another idea altogether about what "appropriate" really is.

AS USUAL, I see something here that the church might learn. (You knew I'd get to it eventually, didn't you?)

Here's the question: How often do church people say "You don't do that in church" when what they really mean is "I don't do that in church"?

And further, how much do church people say, "The young people might be a bit ... 'energetic' ... now, but they're young and they'll learn how to act more appropriately when they grow up" or something along those lines? As if being energetic in church is something we should grow out of over time.

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE the people in church who are doing things differently know exactly what all those "church people" think would be more appropriate, and have their own ideas about what makes something appropriate.

And maybe, just maybe, we shouldn't expect the young people in our churches to one day grow up to be just like all us old folks. Maybe we should just let everybody be who we are and figure out how to be okay with that.

Usain Bolt says, "I do not compare myself to other people, I am just trying to be myself." And I for one love watching him be who he is.

Update: Pink hair in Springfield schools: Disruptive? Apparently, "You don't do that" also applies to hair coloring. I hope Springfield School administrators are rooting out all those teachers who are hiding their grey!


Questing Parson said...

Your last quote of Bolt could be advice every pastor could take.

Larry B said...

I love that bolt celebrates - it was genuine.

I can see the need for restrictions on the kind of celebrations that sometimes show up in the NFL end zones as the celebration loses it's meaning when it becomes about showmanship rather than genuine celebration.

The real challenge is to allow genuine celebration without allowing it to be overtaken by those who would use it for glorifying themselves. (That would apply to sports and church).

I can see how the IOC might be concerned about the celebration getting out of hand, but Bolt is not the right person for them to make their case on. That was their mistake.

Dave in NKC said...

Amen brother!

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. I seem to be on the other side of this one. As one whose lived with a runner and been around races a big portion of my life, I would have to agree with the IOC. His reaction seemed quite arrogant and ungracious. The fact that he "pulled up" at the end of the race while thumping his chest was indicative of "Look at me! I could have done even better, I just slowed down because I knew I could and you still couldn't beat me."
I don't think I saw him shake hands with any of the other runners or even give them a pat on the back. I can only hope that the camera panned away and missed that part.