Hey, I’m not saying that he deserves the death penalty (I don’t even believe in that, so…), but if Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte really did make up the whole “robbed at gunpoint” story, he’s a douchebag. And he’s an extra special douchebag for a) blaming it on some random Rio citizen and b) living up to the stereotype of Americans that the rest of us try hard to live down every time we leave the country.
We send athletes to the Olympics so that they can represent — allegedly anyway — what’s best about our country. It’s not just the United States that does this, every country participates in the games to foster a sense of pride but also togetherness. Lochte, if it’s true that he basically tried to cover up a drunken altercation with a security guard by fabricating a story about a robbery, is a liar. But it wasn’t just that he lied about the story, it’s what he lied to cover up — boorish, frat boy behavior that pretty much makes him look like American Man One right out of Central Casting.
Americans already have a reputation as people who don’t give a fuck and think the rules don’t apply to them. We’re looked at as entitled assholes already, and Americans are generally regarded as not all that fun to be around when you travel with us. For a lot of Americans, this becomes quite an albatross when we go abroad and are looked at askance, mainly because of d-bags like Ryan Lochte doing things like Ryan Lochte did, and then not expecting there to be ANY punishment for his behavior.
As reported by The Huffington Post, Ryan and some of his swimming teammates were apparently caught on camera getting into a fight with a gas station security guard and breaking shit in and around the bathroom.
Lochte had claimed that he and three other American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. But Brazilian sources told ABC News on Thursday that the swimmers had lied, claiming surveillance video showed one of them fighting with a gas station security guard and causing damage to a restroom on the night of the alleged incident. (source)
If those tapes are produced, and they show Lochte was fighting and/or damaging the gas station’s property, then you really can’t blame Brazilian authorities for ripping him and his buddies off their homeward bound plane before takeoff, can you? I’m not saying this warrants a full congressional inquiry and international incident, but then again it became an international incident when Lochte and crew decided that CYA should include a big, fat, L-I-E.
If the guard wasn’t seriously injured, then a good hearty fine and maybe even some kind of arrangement where the team has to come down and do some kind of community service for the people of Rio is in order. But if the injuries were serious, then no one in their right mind should be arguing that Ryan get off with a slap on the wrist. We would expect, and even demand, that he get a stiffer sentence if he had roughed up an American security guard, so let’s not go and let international sporting events rob us of our sense of what justice really looks like.
How serious a situation is this? I don’t really know yet. But I’m not about to give a man in his 30’s a pass on beating the shit out of a guy while he’s drunk. Nor for trashing a business owner’s property in a state of intoxication either. I’m not saying the whole damn Brazilian justice system needs to be focused like a laser on putting him away for life, but when I see people defending what Lochte did, it makes my teeth itch.
Thanks, Ryan Lochte, for being the American Douchebag everyone already assumes we all are. You really went for the gold this time, didn’t you?
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.