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Time to tighten up?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
In the Bode thread Jstraw posted the following opinion:

Quote:
I like coaches that leave star players behind on roadtrips when they break curfew. I like seeing a T.O. shown the gate for being an ass even if he is one of the best in the game. I like the way Gene Hackman treated a cocky Robert Redford in Downhil Racer. I think that honoring the spot in the roster with more than just results matters. I know the teams and sponsors only pay lip-service to this but I believe in it.
This raises and interesting guestion. In the aftermath of the -Torino Bode Show- spectacle of last winter, and as we enter a new season of WC competition, do you think it's time for the US Ski Team to tighten up their behavior requirements for team members? Do you think they should have strick curfews and no drinking/party policies, etc.?

Do you think by accepting a team jacket, and all the financial support from both the public and business sponsors that comes with it, an athlete relinquishes (or should) some degree of authority over the scope of the personal behavior and actions? Do you buy into the concept that team members represent not only themselves, but the nation that is picking up their tab, and thus should be subject to certain behavior standards?

Or,,, do you think that such governance is fine for adolescent athletes whom we're trying to shape into responsible adults via the venue of organized sport,,, but that these are adult athletes of which on snow performance should be the only measuring stick and determinant of their athletic fate?

Do you feel that it is not the job of the ski team to demand their team members be individuals that fit the mold of what society considers dedicated athletes of high character? Do you believe the only demand the ski team should place upon their athletes is that they earn their spot via their performance on the snow and that they maintain that team spot in the same manner? Do you think the manner in which US team athletes conduct themselves, and the affect those individual choices have on their athletic futures, are their personal cross to bear?

Or, do you see a middle ground? What say you?
post #2 of 22
Hi Rick, it's good to see you posting again.

Um, as an ordinary not-involved-in-racing-skier, I don't think that USST skiers should be restricted based on their off-the-slopes social behavior but should rather be given place on the team based solely on race performance. The team exists for the sake of competition, and competition is about performance on the course, at least that is my perspective.
post #3 of 22
If it's a team, and each member is representing that team, or even the country, then they can do what they want, and if they let the team our the country down, then they should face the consequences. If they have no sense of responsibility, they don't deserve any respect.

Now, that is not saying that someone can't go out for a drink, but if the drink effects his race performance, then either he doesn't drink or he doesn't race.

Do your actions project a good image of who you represent?
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Do you think it's time for the US Ski Team to tighten up their behavior requirements for team members?
Is the following along the lines of what you're asking?

US Ski Team - May 3, 2006

What is the difference in being nominated and actually being on the Team?
Being named to the U.S. Ski Team is a two-step process. First, active athletes who qualify based on published selection criteria are nominated to be a member of the U.S. Ski Team. Secondly, the eventual team roster is based on athletes who accept the responsibilities of being a part of the U.S. Ski Team and are planning to compete in the 2006-07 season.
Can nominated athletes just join the Team?
No. It is a privilege, not a right, to be a member of the U.S. Ski Team. Athletes who are nominated must next understand and accept the responsibilities of being a member of the Team.
What are the responsibilities?
A member of the U.S. Ski Team is a part of an elite team that sets the standard for the sport. The responsibilities are twofold. First, nominated athletes must learn about the athletic training and competition program for that Team. And they must agree to participate fully in that program. Secondly, athletes must learn about USSA’s standards and core values, including the USSA Code of Conduct. And they must agree to adhere to those standards and values at all times.
Why are these responsibilities important?
USSA is the only Olympic sports organization in America to fully fund national team programs for qualified athletes year-round, every year. The money to support athletic programs including coaching, sports science, medical support, athlete travel and other benefits all comes from the American public.
The U.S. Ski Team consists of committed athletes who have earned a right to take advantage of this rare privilege. Out of respect for those Americans who have contributed to create this opportunity, and out of respect for teammates who honor this privilege, nominated athletes who choose to participate will be held to this high standard.
What are the next steps to accept the nomination?
Coaches in each sport will work with nominated athletes to first educate on the responsibilities and to discuss a personal commitment to the Team. Each athlete will then sign an athlete agreement that specifically details the responsibilities.
When will the Team be named?
The formal announcement of the 2007 U.S. Ski Teams in each sport will take place sometime this summer; there is no specific date. The team will include those nominated athletes that have formally committed to participation in the athletic program and have understood and agreed to the responsibilities of USSA’s standards and values.
Can nominated athletes be announced publicly?
No, it is premature to assume that nominated athletes will be named to the Team. Every athlete, from rookies to veterans, must agree to accept the responsibilities of being a member of the U.S. Ski Team before they will named to the Team.
Can athletes not nominated be named to the Team?
In some cases, yes, it may be possible. If some nominated athletes choose to not compete or to not accept the responsibilities of being a part of the Team, in some cases additional athletes may be nominated if permitted within the published selection criteria. This may vary from sport-to-sport.
post #5 of 22
The reality is that ski racing is an expensive, non-mainstream sport where athletes and teams struggle for recognition and sponsorship. Bode Miller to a certain degree has changed that in North America. He's single handidly brought ski racing into the public eye, and with that lots of sponsorship dollars. For those reasons alone the USST will not give Bode the boot.
post #6 of 22
Apparantly the new "Core Values" were an attempt to address some of these issues and lay down some restrictions. Supposedly, Bode and Ligety were quite animate when these were announced and stated demands for better treatment of athletes and the availability of services by USST.
post #7 of 22
Bode is the one of the best skiers the USA has ever produced. Keeping him off the team is a ridiculous idea.

If there was some way to get him to swear off alcohol until he retires, that would be great. I think the drinking is holding him back more than attitude (his attitude is to ski his best which is right on).

How great would Babe Ruth have been if he wasn't an alcoholic?
post #8 of 22
Even with all of his "behavior" off of the slope, Bode still performs better than 99% of the skiers out there. The team has long been a refuge for "characters", and in some cases that behavior was, if not encouraged, at least winked at as long as the results were there.

I'm not the biggest fan of Bill Marolt and some of the management of the team. They've ground more than one promising athlete into the dirt in their quest for results.
post #9 of 22

There's another way to look at it...

...which is that Bode drinks a little and runs his mouth off a lot. So what? The NFL, to take another example, has had steroid users, out and out criminals who have gotten thrown in the slammer for one or more malfeasances, and a bunch more who have a serious 'tude problem, and they all get plenty of license to continue playing...what's a little drinking and mouthing off compared to that?
post #10 of 22
You can't linit these guys too much. I like the quote that someone posted on one of the Bode threads last winter, that said something like "you expect a guy to hurl himslef down a frozen hill on two waxed sticks in a spandex suit at 90mph, then expect him to go have a nice cup of tea?"

This sport requires at least as much aggression and attitude as it takes to line up on the line of scrimage in an NFL game. You can't expect someone with that kind of fire and drive to instantly turn it off and be a sponsor's wet dream and do Oprah interviews. It may be doable for some, but you'll always have the more aggressive personalities that won't fit that mold.

I think he should be required to follow the established laws and rules. He should be required to not inhibit his condition in a manner that affects his performance, and show up for training, any required inspections, and don't disparage your team, sponsors or country, etc. But if he, or any other member of the team, needs a good stiff drink and a few groupies putting their tounges in his ears, then let him have his fun as long as he doesn't end up hung over, too tired, or late for something the next day (which would fall under "affecting performance").

These guys have awfully short careers. They ought to be allowed to enjoy more than just a fast time on the race course for all the hard work they put in.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
Even with all of his "behavior" off of the slope, Bode still performs better than 99% of the skiers out there. The team has long been a refuge for "characters", and in some cases that behavior was, if not encouraged, at least winked at as long as the results were there.

I'm not the biggest fan of Bill Marolt and some of the management of the team. They've ground more than one promising athlete into the dirt in their quest for results.
Bode's behavior caused some problems and it appears to have been addressed by the team and by Bode. The team doesn't tolerate just any behavior even by winning racers. Example Jeff Harrison World Junior GS champion got the boot. Normally a world junior champion goes on to have a world cup career of note at a minimum and most of the champions on the WC these days were World Junior Champs as well. So it is clear there are limits to the administration's tolerance. Read that as Bill Marolt's tolerance if you want. Seems like Marolt was around back when the Mahres were racing too. Is he like Dorian Gray or something?

- Fossil
post #12 of 22
IMHO it's down to the coaches to discuss this with the team members and come up with accepted practices that are realistic. After all, the coaches are on the road in foreign countries the same amount as the athletes and are therefore best-placed to judge the pressures they're under.

I know my brother and I could not have lasted on the tour for so long if we had not been able to go out "on the razz" every now and then. For me what makes the big difference is: is that before a race day or before a travel day?

Having said that, if you party hard enough, it can take you a whole week to recover. I remember Daron admitting one year that he was "under the weather" at Garmisch because he had celebrated too enthusiastically at Kitz! But hell, he had just become the only American ever to win two Hahnenkamm downhills, he was one of the veterans on the team, and he probably decided that to celebrate that feat properly was more important to him than his result in Garmisch the following week. These are the sort of "judgement calls" that the coaches have to participate in and that's why it's tough to have hard-and-fast rules.
post #13 of 22
I think that a racer should be able to do whatever he wants to do provided it does not affect his performance. Perhaps with some stipulations like they have in other sports, for example professional soccer players are not allowed to ski; so as not to risk their legs and knees, and many other sports have such restrictions in the contracts. Bottom line is if you can get away with never training, drinking all day, and never sleeping, and still win, then go ahead, rock on. But, if youre off your game its time to start scrutinizing, and if any of the vices are directly related to the lack of performance then its either give them up or step down...its just that simple. At my job those who perform best are given more slack, and if they continue to perform above and beyond then they basically call their own shots and literally can come and go as they please, no need to even come into the office! But those who are not up to par or are just making it, have to follow the standard rules to the letter and sometimes even go that extra mile.
post #14 of 22
Unfortunately, because ski racing is a fringe sport, we rely heavily on sponsors to finance pretty much everything. The sponsors want results, but not if the person getting those results is going to embarrass them. There's a reason why Bill Johnson didn't get a free ride after the Olympics. It's a hard line to balance on- the typical American "winning-is-everything" attitude VS the need for corporate image.

Bode won't get booted, but they can certainly squeeze him out by imposing rules across the board that make him feel uncomfortable. His choice. Koz did it on her own, and so can he.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by XJguy View Post
for example professional soccer players are not allowed to ski;
So should professional ski racers be allowed to play soccer? (I remember a few discussions with coaches about that one... )
post #16 of 22
i think if you are sponsored and sign your life away to commercial or team contracts etc you are bound to certain standards of behaviour, but they shouldn't be too harsh or over bearing. The more people with personality the better, esp if the ski world wants to make people take notice of their sport.

my gripe with the whole thing of professional sport is when they make professional atheletes 'role models'.

Let's face it, most professional athletes aren't the brightest so if it wasn't for the fact they are brilliant at their chosen sport, they'd be working some pretty average jobs and living average lives (nothing wrong with that).

All of a sudden you can belt down a mtn at mach 10 and everyone expects you to be setting the standards for morality. I understand the kiddies are looking up to sports people across the globe but there has to be a line somewhere.

while your public persona should be setting a benchmark, what you do in private should be ..... private.

we had the case here in australia where one of the wallabies was kicked out of rugby for 2 years for testing positive to cocaine for his first offence. this is a guy who does charity work, is well liked by his team mates and is a bit of a celebrity, and is all of a sudden banned from playing any professional sport for 2 years.

steroids yes, epo yes, any type of performance enhancing drug, sure, sack them forever. but a recreational drug (yes i know illegal) has cost him his career.

you or i can go nuts on the stuff and never worry about losing our job, or be banned from working for 2 years.

i just think he was hard done by. he was stupid, and got caught, and maybe should have got a warning at least, but is now in disgrace for something many people do regularly ...... and it wasn't even in a match or the nights before.

do kids really wonder what bode or any other sportman get up to in the private lives ...... i doubt it!

sorry for the diversion in topic!
post #17 of 22
Quote:
think if you are sponsored and sign your life away to commercial or team contracts etc you are bound to certain standards of behaviour, but they shouldn't be too harsh or over bearing. The more people with personality the better, esp if the ski world wants to make people take notice of their sport.

my gripe with the whole thing of professional sport is when they make professional atheletes 'role models'.

Let's face it, most professional athletes aren't the brightest so if it wasn't for the fact they are brilliant at their chosen sport, they'd be working some pretty average jobs and living average lives (nothing wrong with that).

All of a sudden you can belt down a mtn at mach 10 and everyone expects you to be setting the standards for morality. I understand the kiddies are looking up to sports people across the globe but there has to be a line somewhere.

while your public persona should be setting a benchmark, what you do in private should be ..... private.

we had the case here in australia where one of the wallabies was kicked out of rugby for 2 years for testing positive to cocaine for his first offence. this is a guy who does charity work, is well liked by his team mates and is a bit of a celebrity, and is all of a sudden banned from playing any professional sport for 2 years.

steroids yes, epo yes, any type of performance enhancing drug, sure, sack them forever. but a recreational drug (yes i know illegal) has cost him his career.

you or i can go nuts on the stuff and never worry about losing our job, or be banned from working for 2 years.

i just think he was hard done by. he was stupid, and got caught, and maybe should have got a warning at least, but is now in disgrace for something many people do regularly ...... and it wasn't even in a match or the nights before.

do kids really wonder what bode or any other sportman get up to in the private lives ...... i doubt it!

sorry for the diversion in topic!
Just a little aside, cocaine can be viewed as a performance enhancing drug since it can make an exhausted athlete more focused and less tired. There's a reason why rock stars never sleep and it's not because of the constant groupie harassment.

Even at the Uni level, we are held to the same standards as Omlympic athletes when it comes to doping: pot can lead to fines or even suspension from any competition for up to 1 year. 2 years for cocaine can seem harsh, but it is still an illegal substance that could, in hteory, give an athlete an edge over another natural competitor.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyRay View Post
Just a little aside, cocaine can be viewed as a performance enhancing drug since it can make an exhausted athlete more focused and less tired. There's a reason why rock stars never sleep and it's not because of the constant groupie harassment.

Even at the Uni level, we are held to the same standards as Omlympic athletes when it comes to doping: pot can lead to fines or even suspension from any competition for up to 1 year. 2 years for cocaine can seem harsh, but it is still an illegal substance that could, in hteory, give an athlete an edge over another natural competitor.
I guess it's kinda old school at this point, but cyclists have been known to use a combination of cocaine and herion! I guess the junk kills the pain of hard riding and the coke keeps the rider from nodding out...
post #19 of 22
i hear you on the 'coke as a PE' call but this fella got caught out no where near competition. still, he knew the consequences but i guess i just think the consequences are harsh.

i have no sympathy for steroids or other performance enhancers though. they are just plain cheats ... ban them!

i guess my point was more that just becasue you are great at any sport, surely that doesn't mean you don't have a right to privacy or your own lifestyle choices.

if you are sponsorded though, and your antics affect your performances then you might have a case to answer though. Esp when you are representing your country on our tax dollars.
post #20 of 22
I say let all athletes use all the PE drugs they want...its impossible to stop them and it allows the humans to perform at their limits. Takes lots of training to use drugs properly with the desired effect and not dieing. There is this erroneous assumption that if you take a PE you will be unbeatable, it is so wrong, you must first be doing everything right, and work twice at hard at training in order for the drugs to do thier thing, that is how you gain the edge. Sitting on the couch watching TV while poking steroid needles on your butt does not a champion make.

I would like to add, take a look at professional bodybuilders, no athlete takes more drugs than them, they are walking pharmcological experiments. Yet they are not dieing left and right, in fact the few the deaths associated with proBB are usually due to salt imbalances caused by diuretics. Of course the media immediatly selectively, if not ignorantly, sites the fact that they were on massive amounts of steroids. Regardless of the fact, those guys train harder than I think anyone in sports, they have to eat every 2-3 hours, (that means waking up in the middle of the night!), they have to carry their food with them when they go out, the list goes on, to top it off they train for most of the day, every day...its a really crazy lifestyle. My point is, it takes more training than the norm and superior genetics as well as education and careful monitoring to reap the benefits of PE drugs as an elite athlete...they are not wonder pills.
post #21 of 22
Cool, that makes sense. Then kids would see athletes on a par with circus freaks (and body builders) as role models. Which would probably be a good thing.
post #22 of 22
If you look at the doper's life once they leave competition (and some while they're in competition), you'd never want to legalize it. Bode has made some decent points on defining minimum levels instead of a zero tolerance.

However, that's not on the table and will never be as long as Dick Pound and his buddies are around.

My role models are the J1/J2/collegiate athletes that are in the gym day after day, throwing themselves down the hill in an effort to ski faster, and still maintaining good grades because they realize there is life after (and during) racing. Then again, I'm old.
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