This past weekend Jamaican runner Usain Bolt got defeated in a 100 meter dash by American Tyson Gay. For most runners this would be a fairly insignificant loss. It’s not an Olympic year. Not even a world championship year. But for Bolt? It’s only his second loss since 2008. So why would I, a self-proclaimed “track guy”, find myself cheering wildly over the shitty karaoke contest droning on behind me in a bar Friday night when I saw ESPN covering the defeat of the athlete some have proclaimed to be the “savior of track?” Because Usain Bolt sucks. Why would a rabid track and field enthusiast like myself nearly slosh my other rabid love out of its bottle, while doing the Tiger Woods fist pump in a bar full of strangers? I say again, because Usain Bolt sucks. You may be saying to yourself, “Chris, you’re just a hater.” Or, “Chris, you’re just jealous because he’s from Jamaica and you’re an American Homer.” Well, here are my scientifically researched facts on why I can’t stand Usain Bolt.
1. Bolt Constantly Showboats for Cameras
This phenomenon is nothing new for sprinters in the track and field world. However, as impressive as Bolt’s list of world record performances is, perhaps his most impressive feat during his career is the 123,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 idiotic poses he’s struck for camera crews in his fairly short career. Bolt can run 100 meters in a blistering 9.58 seconds, but during that same fraction of time he can hit 187 poses. Tyra Banks has posed less for cameras than Usain Bolt. Bolt flexes more in a preliminary round than the cast of Jersey Shore and the Mr. Universe pageant put together. I’ve seen, and been annoyed by, showmanship antics in the past, but Bolt has taken the art form to an entirely new level. When he’s announced, or sees a camera for that matter, he takes the opportunity to strut around like it’s his own WWE fake-wrestling introduction. The only thing that’s missing from Bolt’s over the top strutting, preening and dicking around is James Brown dancing like he did for Apollo Creed’s intro in “Rocky 4?*. And the worst part? Now other guys have started following his lead. Young runners from the island countries have started preening, shimmying and dancing around like Chad Ochocinco in the endzone. . .before they even run. Thanks Usain.
*Author’s note: yes, that’s at least my 123,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 mention of the “Rocky” movies in my blog.
2. People Keep Referring to Him as the “Savior of Track”
Since Bolt’s showboating is seen by some as a great marketing tool, I’m sure he’s encouraged to bring “some personality” to the sport. Track’s ratings have long been hurting and Bolt posing like a D-Lineman scoring his first Touchdown ever isn’t going to turn people on to a sport that some people just don’t get. Why can’t people that enjoy track just realize that it’s never going to achieve main-stream status. Especially not in America when this so called “marketable star” isn’t even from here and has such a thick Island accent that Sean Paul is more readily understandable. Track in America is a lot like Tech N9ne. It doesn’t have to be mainstream to be incredible. What Track marketing and PR executives need to realize is what Tech did long ago: be the best at being non-mainstream and you can make a pretty good living. Track may never be “saved.” But it can still be “really friggin’ awesome.” Bolt won’t do what Michael Johnson or Carl Lewis couldn’t.
3. If He Wasn’t Jamaican He Wouldn’t Get Away With Shit
We all love Jamaicans. They seem so relaxed, have pretty damn good rum, and have a resort named after a kind of flip-flop. They just seem care-free. Which is exactly why Bolt gets away with being a cocky d-bag and exactly why there haven’t been nearly as many whispers of “steroids” as there would have been if he was an American. Is Bolt doping? Probably not. I’m sure he gets tested more than any human being not named Lance Armstrong. What pisses me off is that people don’t even seem to want to consider the possibility. I’m not sure if it’s because they believe that Jamaicans are incapable of creating the sophisticated methods of cheating that Americans are, if they are just so tired of talking about the “s” word in track that they don’t want to bring it up again, or if they think that if too many rumblings about Bolt pop up that it would be the death knell to the sport. Let’s be clear: Usain Bolt’s coaching staff doesn’t live in a grass hut down by the bay. They don’t listen to a radio fashioned out of a coconut like Gilligan. The Jamaicans are every bit as capable of cheating as Americans. That being said, I hope he’s not cheating. I just think that if he was from the U.S.A. and ran as fast as he did, the accusations would run rampant.
His showmanship, touted by some in the track world as “fun” and “youthful” are the same kind of celebrating that U.S. runners used to get slammed for in the international media. In 2000, the U.S. men’s team won the 4×100 meter relay and went a little crazy. They were thoroughly destroyed for it by media outlets around the world for the entire next year. Bolt hits some of the same poses and he gets a deal with Puma. I’m just saying.
4. In Conclusion
Bolt sucks. Is he fast? Hell yes. Is he cheating? Doubtful. Is he going to single-handedly propel track to “Monday Night Football” ratings? No chance. I hope that this alleged golden child isn’t cheating, and that his arrogant veneer that has been looked past as “just having fun” shatters like cheap porcelain on a lousiville slugger. I hope that guys like Tyson Gay, who conducts himself with all the dignity and gravitas of a true sports hero, or up and coming stars like Walter Dix can stomp Bolt’s 10 foot ego down into his 6’5? frame.