Sunday, February 19, 2006

Could Bode Miller be losing on purpose?

I've come to the conclusion that US skier Bode Miller doesn't give a damn about whether he wins or loses. He's made a ton of money in endorsements, is the most covered (if not the most popular) skier in the country, and it seems like he is taking to the slopes as an obligation to his sponsors, not in a quest for a gold medal. He doesn't examine the course before his runs, switches skis on a whim, and doesn't seem to care too much when he misses a gate, or skis slowly.

And I wonder just a little if the whole thing is a set up.

After failing to medal in the downhill, Nike started running commercials where Bode talked about not needing to win to be fulfilled, trying hard, blah blah blah. I assume they were just hedging their bets weeks or months ago when they filmed those spots, but is it possible that Nike decided it's "Bode loses" ad campaign is better than the "Bode wins" campaign?

What if the whole media push before the Olympics--the 60 Minutes piece, the cover stories in Newsweek and Time--was orchestrated to set up the "Bode as Free Spirit" theme so that the "Free Spirited Bode doesn't care if he wins or not" commercials will be perfect after he non-chalants his way through Turin?

Could there come a time when a sponsor like Nike--who is paying Bode (and many other athletes in many sports) much more money than they make for competing-- is better off having the athlete lose for the sake of the campaign?

Is that what we're seeing on the slopes this week?
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