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Sam Gold | The Gold Standard

Super gratuitous after Super-G

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:02

Bode Miller has endured a trying year.

In the midst of a protracted legal battle with an erstwhile girlfriend — if they even dated long enough to qualify for labels — his brother, Chelone Miller, an Olympic snowboarding hopeful, passed away of a seizure in his trailer in northern California.

But success can heal wounds, or perhaps reopen them.

At 36, Bode Miller became the oldest medalist in Super-G history when he tied Canadian Jan Hudec for the bronze. This latest accolade likely marks the last Olympic medal for Miller, who is now tied for second all-time for the most downhill medals in US history.

Upon realizing that he had eked out the bronze along with Hudec, Miller celebrated with his wife, Morgan, who cupped his face in shared jubilation. Former skier and NBC reporter Christin Cooper then joined the celebration, at first prying journalistically, tactfully.

Then the waterworks commenced, and Cooper stood beside Miller shoving the microphone in his face in what Twitter, various editorials around the country and lay people have dubbed a cruel exercise in excess. 

Rarely has social media erupted in unison to condemn — to put it lightly — a quasi-public figure who operated without sinister motive. Still, there we were, out in force, one more gaffe away from storming NBC’s headquarters. Invectives descended upon Cooper and her employer in droves, hardly anyone holding back after having witnessed such a painful interrogation. 

While broadcasting major sporting events, NBC has been one to walk a muddled line between maudlin and real, and this interview, rather than speaking to the character of Christin Cooper (whom Miller defended on Twitter once he caught wind of the onslaught), revealed the commitment to dramatized storytelling for which NBC is well known. It should reflect on NBC as such, though Cooper could have — should have — relied on better judgment once the initial tears rolled down his cheek.

Doltish moments are not a new phenomenon in the world of journalism, and Cooper was certainly not the first to have messed up. With this knowledge in hand, the public needs to dial it back, especially given how sincerely Miller rushed to her defense. She has not merited the extent of the opprobrium to which the American public has subjected her. 

If the alleged victim here has stuck himself between the mob and his perpetrator, who are the rest of us to judge? Bode Miller has spoken, so perhaps we should follow suit. 

Hiding behind computer screens and firing off on people we don’t even know has supplanted human interaction as our primary means of hashing out beef, and the collective ire incurred as a result of a baseless character assessment has all but precluded civil dialogue — in this and myriad other instances.

Bode Miller could have stooped, but he stepped up big time to piece back together the mangled reputation of a former fellow skier. With that sole, effortless gesture, he embodied the Olympic spirit more than he did on the slopes. 

It’s about time we did, too.

 

Sam Gold is a junior who is majoring in religion. He can be reached at Samuel_L.Gold@tufts.edu.

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