|I'm looking at the Bode situation from purely an athletic performance standpoint, and you're looking at it as a conformity to social expectation issue. I'll cross over and take a look-see from your peak if you'll stroll over and take a look from mine.
From a purely athletic standpoint, Bode's season, including the Olympics, is a letdown only when compared to some of his past accomplishments, (and unfairly, to the expectations other people put on him). And yet, he's still kicking the ass of most racers on the circuit. I'd bet good money NONE of them are licking their chops and writing him off for good.
Many winners have had off years, including the great Klammer, who almost got kicked off the Austrian team in the late '70's and failed to qualify for the 1980 Olympics to defend his gold medal, and yet went on to win more races including Kitzbuhel a couple times and the downhill title in subsequent years. ( http://www.ski-db.com/db/profiles/klmfr.asp
) It's virtually impossible for an athlete to remain at the peak of their performance over an entire career, especially in a sport with so many variables as alpine racing.
And Bode is honest about it; maybe a lot of people don't like to hear winners candidly say they aren't 100% sure they can win. Personally, I don't think his attitude toward winning or trying to win has been so cavalier as is his honest assessment of where his mind and body and equipment and skills are at in relation to the competition. He often says he is into racing for the fun, and that he isn't having as much fun this year. He had his best results when he was having the most fun, and yet people are taking him to task for not being serious enough. Maybe they should be taking him to task for not having enough fun instead.
Call it ennui, an existential crisis, burnout, depression, alcoholism, or whatever, but it appears his biggest problem this season isn't that his performance isn't up to past levels, it's that he seems OK with that, and has shared that candidly in the press. And because of this, they are totally roasting him for not trying to bullshit them. Would they rather he be a liar? Apparently.
Personally, I loved Muhammed Ali. His big loud mouth made Bode Miller look like a shy wallflower. It's easy to forget that at one time Ali was one of the most hated men in America for that loud, outrageous mouth, despite his awesome skills in the ring. He never censored himself, and he didn't always back up his bragging with results either.
Eventually they stripped his title away for being outspoken about his views and for standing by his personal principles. And yet despite the hate originally directed at him, he eventually became almost universally loved anyways.
I'm not saying Bode Miller is another Ali, but I'll still defend his right to say whatever he damn pleases on principle alone. I think that if history has anything to teach us, it's that all is not as it may presently appear. What appears to be foolish or arrogant or upsetting to people one day, may indeed be worth remembering and defending and repeating and celebrating the next day.