Lolo Jones is getting uber amounts of media hype because she has the perfect underdog story, sex appeal and a vivacious personality. Her “more-accomplished” teammates, on the other hand, don’t.
It’s that simple.
Over the past week, major media outlets and the social media critics have unfairly attacked–especially a harsh Aug. 4 New York Times piece– Lolo for stealing the limelight from medal-winning athletes they feel should be enjoying a greater amount of television time.
But the truth is that it takes much more than success in one’s respective sport to earn prime-time media attention–something that her 100-meter teammates, Silver medalist Dawn Harper and bronze medalist Kellie Wells, seemingly fail to understand.
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During a Wednesday NBC news interview with Michelle Beadle, Harper seemed perturbed at the dearth of camera time she got after racing her way to a silver medal in the 100-meter hurdle finals:
“I thought I was a pretty good story. Knee surgery two months before Olympic trials in 2008, to make the team by 0.007, not have a contract, working three jobs, living in a frat house, running in someone else’s shoes to get the gold medal… ehhh, it sounds pretty interesting. Coming from East St. Louis. I just felt I worked really hard to represent my country to win the gold medal. I just feel like because their favorite didn’t win, we’re going to push your story aside and still gonna push this one, that hurt my feelings. But I showed I can deal with the pressure and came back [after coming in fourth in 2008], and I think you’ve kind of got to respect it a little bit now.”
It’s not about race, it’s about showmanship
Karen Hunter, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, MSNBC contributor and book publisher, feels that Harper and Wells lack the media savvy needed to generate buzz around their personal stories.
“Dawn Harper is a fantastic runner,” Hunter told NewsOne in a phone interview. “But, personality wise, she hasn’t distinguished herself. And if you can honestly tell me she has this over-the-top, dynamic personality then I’ll shut up. But that hasn’t been the case. They’ve interviewed her. She doesn’t say anything off-script. She doesn’t do anything off script. She is very milquetoast”
Florence Griffith Joyner is the fastest woman ever with a 10.49 in the 100-meter dash and 21.34 in the 200-meter dash. She got her fair share of coverage. But she was a rather shy woman and not too media savvy. Though she got made up for it by distinguishing herself with those super long fingernails, and the bright make-up she wore. And let us not forget those colorful track suits.
Simply put: Flo-Jo was beautiful. And great.
And if any of you want to pull the race card–especially the light-skinned-dark-skinned one– as a reason Harper and Wells are not getting any media love, don’t.
The women’s 100-meter hurdle winner, Sally Pearson (who, by the way, beat Lolo, Harper and Wells), isn’t getting much attention, either. Why? Because she doesn’t have a personality that would make us in the media gravitate towards her. Yeah, she won gold. But, no one has offered her an ESPN nude spread or a Real Sports feature because of it.
So is Pearson not getting hype because she is a White Australian? I’m willing to wager we’re not covering her as much because her news relevance dies as soon as she makes it over her last hurdle to victory.
Usain Bolt gets love–and crazy endorsements–because, of course, he is the fastest man ever. And, besides that, he has his little lighting bolt pose that he does and he’s always bouncing to the beat of something while grooving to his headphones. (We wonder what is on his playlist).
In short, Bolt is a showman.