What’s the number one lesson we’ve learned from the U.S. Swim Team Ryan Lochte debacle? Don’t break shit.
Follow that one rule and all you athletes, amateur and pro, can pretty much do what you want.
Things got messy in Rio when Ryan Lochte, and his band of deviants, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, saw their robbery story fall apart. Now they’ve embarrassed their country and their families when none of this had to happen.
All these young guys had to do was avoid hurting anyone or anyone’s property, and the United States government wouldn’t have to contemplate invading Rio after the Olympics wrap up. These cool guy swimmers could have had their fun drinking and sexing it up with the locals (shockingly, this is what young folks do on vacation), and no one would have minded.
Americans would have been proud to watch these guys stand on the podium and receive their medals for all the years of hard work they’ve put in. But by aggressing against a gas station bathroom, Lochte and his gang caused themselves a giant headache.
Some poor bastard owned that gas station. It was his property, and these four men harmed him by destroying his property. It’s no different than if the station owner pissed in Lochte’s personal swimming pool while he practiced his backstroke.
It doesn’t appear that these Olympians will face any severe criminal punishments. It’s more of a public relations nightmare at this point, with Rio’s government officials feigning indignation over the thought that their country is home to lots of criminal activity.
If Rio didn’t have such a bad reputation for their unsafe streets, the mastermind of this lie, Lochte, would not have thought to use the robbery story in the first place.
The biggest lesson to be learned in this silly situation is that athletes can have their fun, and they won’t get harassed by the media. They just can’t get away with leaving property destruction in the wake of their partying ways. And it’s never a good idea to make yourself available for a quick interview about a made up story, when you have more practice backstroking than backtracking on lies.
For Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, they only hurt their public image. Though Lochte was the only one with brand appeal before this incident anyway. Lochte probably cost himself a few bucks in endorsement deals for the time being.
But in about six months this will blow over, and swimming fans will forgive and forget. That is unless he makes it even worse with another lie going forward. Now that he’s hired Matthew Hiltzik, this crisis management expert is sure to keep Lochte from letting more idiotic things ooze from underneath that swim cap.
I’m not sure why high-level athletes don’t keep public relations experts on standby at all times. The entire U.S. Olympic team could be well served by having a crisis hotline, just in case they put themselves in a bad spot.
Most athletes are not quick-witted enough to make the right calls when things go sideways at a party, traffic accident, or apparently at a gas station bathroom stop.
It’s unrealistic to expect well-known athletes to act like hermits at big events like the Olympics, although that’s what I would advise if I were hired to guide knuckle-headed swimmers. Yet, it’s not too much to expect for these athletes to “do no harm,” when they go out on the town.
The public will turn a blind eye to the Olympic Village orgies and the doping possibilities of every single country. But once any level of violence occurs, that’s when the shit hits the fan.
This incident could have resulted in one of the swimmers being shot or simply thrown to the ground by the security guards. Had that happened it would have been the athletes’ fault for disrespecting the property of another man.
They chose to act-a-fool. And they’re lucky to only be facing embarrassment and some fines for what happened.