SPORTS GALORE: Going off on Lolo Jones

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 2:52 pm on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

So finishing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles isn’t good enough?

I pretty sure the actual runner I’m speaking of, Lolo Jones, would possibly say that. After all, she was the one working her tail off the past four years with the hope of winning Olympic gold.

Maybe you’ve heard by now or not, but for New York Times sports writer Jere Longman, finishing fourth, as Jones did this past week in London, isn’t good enough.

Apparently, Jones is pretty attractive (she is). And if you’re attractive and receiving attention from the media and sponsors without Olympic gold, then your career is a joke.

That is basically what Longman said in his column “For Lolo Jones, Everything is Image” on Aug. 4.

Longman compared Jones to former tennis star Anna Kournikova. Kournikova earned far more in endorsements because of her looks than she ever did on the tennis court, which by the way she never won a tournament.

On the other hand, Jones has won before, just not Olympic gold. Jones is a three-time NCAA indoor champion and she has won multiple events as a professional runner. She has just never won a Olympic medal.

Jones was one her way to winning the 100 hurdles at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but hit the ninth hurdle while leading and ended up in seventh place.

To be honest, I had never heard of Jones before that race. I was watching when that happened. I became a fan of her when watching how she handle the loss. I remember talking about it on my radio show at the time.

I also haven’t thought or even heard much of Jones since. That is until the London Games began. But even then I haven’t heard a whole lot about her and was even wondering if she was going to compete.

Longman thinks she has received too much attention. Maybe we watch different channels?

I guess I don’t understand the reason for the criticism. Mind you, some of the most critical sports writers and announcers are probably guys that never competed in sports. They think hanging around locker rooms gives them an understanding of what it takes to be a professional athlete.

I’m not sure if Longman dislikes Jones for being attractive? Or because she talks about her faith (Catholic), or poses in skimpy photo shoots (I missed those too) or because she is a virgin? I’m not sure why any of it concerns him?

He thinks it is unfair (we’ve been hearing this word a lot lately) that Jones has endorsements and others do not. He thinks the endorsements are only because she is attractive and not a world class athlete.

She earned her spot at the last two Olympic teams. No one gave her an exemption. Coming up short at the Olympics is not a failure.

If you’re on television or have an endorsement there is a good chance you’re attractive. That’s the way it works and that bothers Longman, but I don’t see any need to knock Jones the way he did because of it.

I wouldn’t mind finishing  fourth at the Olympics. I wouldn’t mind fourth in the world in anything. Heck, I wouldn’t mind fourth place in a lot of things.

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