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Outside the Lines:
Home Games and After the Glory
Here's the transcript from Show 100 of weekly Outside The Lines - Home Games and After the Glory
Announcer - February 24, 2002.
Bob Ley, host - It is a winter games with unprecedented success for United States Olympic athletes.
Johann Olav Koss, former Olympian - It's been enormous. It's beyond expectations. They've certainly beaten all records whatsoever.
Ley - But is the record haul of medals the product of a home field advantage, or a strategy to Americanize these games?
Amy Shipley, "Washington Post" - It certainly is a lot of medals coming from sports that didn't exist.
Ley - Also this week, their Olympic career is over, their regimented training at an end - how American medalists move on to the rest of their lives.
Casey Fitzrandolph, Olympian - I've tossed down the idea of being a place kicker in the NFL.
Eric Heiden, former Olympian - Once I was done with my sports career, there was a big hole in my life.
Ley - Today on Outside The Lines, finding a life after the glory, and the United States domination of these home games.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance.
Ley - Tonight the Olympic flame will be extinguished, and the words lutz, luge and biathlon retired from the average vocabulary for four years.
But how does an Olympic athlete retiring from a life dedicated to his or her discipline, how does such an athlete move on? That's ahead this morning, including a conversation with a United States medal winner.
But we begin with the stunning American success in Salt Lake City.
The emotional peak was Sara Hughes' transcendent skating performance Thursday night. For some visitors, specifically the Russians, there were still complaints that night about the judging, and on Friday night the charge by Russian hockey coach Viacheslay Fetisov that an agreement was in place before the games to insure a United States versus Canada in the gold medal hockey game this afternoon.
Add to that the site of Olympic medals being presented for sports that a few years ago got kids chased off of ski runs. These have been home games for the United States, and the United States has won twice as many medals in these winter games than any other.
Jeremy Schaap looks at the hard work and stage craft that produced the success of these past two weeks.
Jeremy Schaap, ESPN Correspondent - America's winter Olympians are heading home, their luggage stuffed, their backs bent, weighed down with medals.
Just 14 years ago in Calgary at the last winter games held in North America, U.S. Olympians came home almost empty-handed. They won six total medals. The Soviet Union won 29. Tiny East Germany won 25.
Then USOC Vice President George Steinbrenner was furious, and sowed the seeds that produced today's medal harvest.
Mike Moran, USOC Spokesman - The genesis, the wellspring of this, is the Olympic Overview Commission, chaired by George Steinbrenner, which in 1989 delivered a report that said we've got to do a lot better job getting financial aid, direct financial support, to our athletes, so they can prolong their careers.
Schaap - Steinbrenner's plan worked. Since Calgary, the United States has steadily improved its winter Olympics performance, with the USOC spending money on its athletes the way the Yankees spend money on Roger Clemens and Jason Giambi.
The result - newer facilities and older, more seasoned American Olympians.
Moran - We've put $40 million into these eight sports since Nagano, with real targeted programs designed to focus on the athletes and the disciplines and the teams we thought had the best chance to medal.
Schaap - Then there's the home venue advantage. The host nation customarily cleans up.
In 1994, for instance, Norway, a nation of fewer than five million people, won 26 medals.
Johann Olav Koss, former Olympian - You not only have the advantage of the home crowd when you're there, but you've known about these games for seven years. The funding is much higher. You know, you get so much more support. You have a very clear focus when it goes towards the home game. And that is certainly the best advantage you do have, because of the goal is so clear and specific.
Moran - At the Utah Olympic Park, at the Kern's oval, the bob and luge runs, where we have enjoyed great success, our athletes have been on those venues for more than a year.
It's a little bit like playing at home for college basketball team. You know that court and that surface.
Schaap - But there are other reasons the United States is surging on snow and ice. The United States is winning more medals in part because there are so many more medals to be won.
In Calgary there were 46 winter Olympic events. In Salt Lake City, there are 78.
The United States excels in most of the events introduced in the last decade, events such as snowboarding, freestyle skiing, skeleton, women's hockey and women's bobsledding. In fact, the United States has won nearly half its medals at these games in events that didn't exist in Calgary.
Paul Henderson, Canadian IOC Member - I think that what happens is that the sophisticated countries, like the United States, always do well in the new sports.
And then a couple of Olympics from now, you'll find out that some of the little countries will come along, like --- it always happens. It happens --- well, when ice hockey got into the Olympics, Canada dominated for years, and then everybody else got caught up in it. The same thing will happen here.
Schaap - In the meantime, the United States is dominating the new sports. And what's good for the United States is in many ways good for the Olympics. More American medals generally means more American viewers, which in turn means more American dollars for the IOC.
NBC rights fees account for 73 percent of IOC revenue.
Shipley - I think it was a joint IOC/NBC thing. How can we become more hip and more appealing to young people? And so this was one of the ways to do that, was to put all these wacky sports in the program, and you know, it just so happens that Americans excel at those sports.
I don't know that that was necessarily the objective, but it certainly was the end result.
Schaap - But the IOC flatly rejects the suggestion that the games are being tailored to American strengths.
Unidentified Male Reporter - Does the IOC have an inherent interest in seeing the United States excel at the winter games?
Francois Carrard, IOC Director - No, never would the IOC start thinking of entering sports just to please or satisfy a country, be it the richest in the world. Certainly not.
Schaap - Then there is America's old archrival, the Soviet Union. It ceased to exist.
In 1988, the Soviet Union led all nations with its 29 medals. The former Soviet republics, including Russia, have combined to win only 19 medals here in Salt Lake, despite the fact that there will be 96 more medals awarded.
The medals the former republics used to win are now won by others, including the United States.
Carrard - I think it is a permanent concern of the IOC to try to assist and do something for the athletes of the less privileged countries, wherever they are in the world.
You have many athletes in the world who are facing very difficult conditions.
Schaap - But the IOC has no interest in recreating the Soviet sports machine.
While the IOC purports to be strictly apolitical, it is also rigidly capitalistic. The longtime bastion of amateurism now embraces all forms of professionalism.
And as the poor get poorer, the rich, like the United States, will only get more gold, silver and bronze.
In Salt Lake City, Jeremy Schaap, ESPN.
Ley - John Powers writes international sports for "The Boston Globe." He is covering his 13th Olympic games and he joins us early on a Salt Lake City morning. Good morning, John.
We've heard about the dollars that have been spent, the home field advantage for the United States, and the strategic introduction of sports.
OK, which are the --- rank them, in these factors, why we've had such a record haul for the United States team.
John Powers, "Boston Globe" - Well, I think, number one is that the American's have been investing, and not just for this quadrennial, but earlier, ever since 1988.
They've been spending money on the people who are more likely to win medals. They've been keeping athletes around. They've been making it possible, for example, with special job programs.
And also, what's been lost, paying people off. I mean, you get $25,000 for a gold medal if you win here. The Canadians get zero. So you watch what happens this afternoon. Whose going to play a little harder, the United States team getting, you know, their money, or Canada, not getting their money?
But also, home ice advantage is huge. It's what I call knowing where the bathrooms are. The Americans know all these venues inside out. They've been down those luge runs a million times. That helps.
Ley - Of course, the question then comes up, what is an Olympic sport.
I'll put some numbers up here on the screen. New Olympic sports that have been introduced over the last several years. None introduced in Canada, but in France in '92, five in the winter games, three won by the host country. Norway, two new sports, one by the host country. Five new at Nagano, none won by Japan. Three new sports here, and four won by the host country.
What is an Olympic sport? Is the definition changing that much?
Powers - Well, I think anything that looks good on TV and that young people will watch.
I mean, clearly, one of the things that was changing in the Olympics was that women were watching more than men, and I think you were losing that 18 to 25 demographic, the male demographic.
If you look at these Olympic games, many more men have won medals for the United States than women, and they've won them in what you might call the slacker sports. For example, snowboard, things like that.
In other games, nobody would have known who Mr. Apolo Anton Ohno is. Everyone knows who he is now.
These are sports that are skewing younger, and the Americans dominate the world with youth culture, and the Olympics are supposed to be for the youth of the world.
Ley - Well, they also dominate the budgetary intake for the IOC, the figure that Jeremy mentioned, about 75 percent. So, is it a question of when General Electric, NBC, or ABC, if they were to get the games, and Disney says jump, the IOC says how high?
Powers - Well, I think what happens is certainly that no sport is getting on TV that NBC doesn't want on TV. I mean, they are here to get good ratings, and to be honest, most people would rather watch short-track that watch the men's 10,000 long-track. I mean, that event is so boring, when Eric Heiden won it in 1980 he didn't even stick around after he raced. He went back and went to sleep, had lunch and came back and asked, did I win.
Ley - But that gets down to what is put on the television. But what gets introduced to the games --- do you think there is some input there, because of the what some would say is the untoward influence, or just the fact that 75 percent of that money comes from American television?
Powers - Oh, yeah. I mean, there is no doubt that the United States wants certain events here. But they don't have to be here.
Also, don't forget, short-track was not a United States event. It was not introduced here. Skeleton has been in the games before, 1948. It was actually done in Europe. It just so happens that young people tend to like these sports and do well at them.
But I think also what you are seeing is that more boring-on-TV sports are going to be off and more interesting sports are going to be on.
You're going to see a huge upsurge in this country of people wanting to do skeleton sledding. Snowboarding, you may see more events introduced in snowboarding next time. This will just help the United States.
But I also think you won't see 30-plus medals.
Ley - So why the sea change in IOC thinking?
Powers - Well, I think the fact is that they are trying to come into the real world.
If you look at everything that has happened, even since Juan Antonio Samarage, the word amateur has been missing for almost 20 years here. I think they are realizing that they were no longer part of the real world. Pros, drugs, all of these things. They're just trying to get caught up now, and basically the Americans do dominate world culture. There is no doubt about it. And I think they're dominating these games because these are sports that we do well. There is no doubt about that.
Ley - Well, John, it is possible to talk to you this week without talking about "skategate." We've just proven it.
Thanks a great deal for being with us.
Powers - Thank you.
Ley - All right, John Powers from "The Boston Globe."
Well, these home games are just about over. Next, the life-altering fork in the road for United States Olympians, after the glory.
X-Olympian - I remember my first day at work how petrified I was. I had a briefcase, and it just felt so foreign to me.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Ley - This is the kind of dedication that an Olympic athlete needs.
Casey Fitzrandolph, a native of Wisconsin, several years ago moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the valuable ice time and training on the Olympic speed skating oval up there.
Twelve days ago, he realized his dream of a gold medal in the 500 meters. Today, he is 27 years old and a retiring Olympian. It's time for the rest of his life, and he has no firm answers.
As Shelly Smith reports, he's hardly alone.
Shelly Smith, ESPN Correspondent - Casey Fitzrandolph dreamed of gold for 22 years.
Casey Fitzrandolph, Olympian as a child - I try to psyche myself up sometimes, and I tell myself that I can do it.
Smith - But now that that goal has been fulfilled, the question becomes, what next.
Fitzrandolph - It's a little bit unnerving. On one hand, you can carry a confidence from achieving your one goal into the next area of your life, and career of your life.
On the other hand, when you do have one goal and one lifestyle for 22 years, anytime that you jump off of that path and onto the next one, it's a little bit scary.
Smith - It is that way for many Olympians who may retire after these games.
Jennifer Rodriguez, Olympian - I really don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'd like to stay in the United States, but I don't know what opportunities are going to be available.
Smith - Dealing with the Olympic afterlife was disconcerting even for Fitzrandolph's idol, five time gold medalist Eric Heiden, who says he struggled with the shift from full-time competition to the real world, even though he's always known he was going to become a doctor.
Eric Heiden, former Olympian - Once I was done with my sports career, there was a big hole in my life. And I can remember for about six months really having a hard time.
Your life revolves around your sport, and all of the sudden, you know, you don't have a coach standing over you with a program saying this is what you need to do today.
You know, it's --- what do you do if you really haven't had to make those decisions in your life before?
Smith - For Jim Craig, the goalie on the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team, the end of the Olympics also meant the severing of a bond with his teammates.
Jim Craig, former Olympian - It was devastating. It was the saddest day that I can remember. There definitely was tears.
You know, because life is different. You never know when you're going to see one another again.
Smith - After spending three years as a journeyman in the NHL, Craig took the big jump into the corporate world.
Craig - I remember my first day at work, how petrified I was. I had a briefcase, and it just felt so foreign to me.
Smith - Heiden and Craig are two of nearly 200 volunteer mentors available on teamusa.net, a career management Web site sponsored by the USOC and monster.com.
Narrator - Take away the medals and the clock, the other athletes and the judges, and what do you have left? A really fit guy who needs a job.
Smith - On the website, current Olympians and Olympic hopefuls can ask for advice from former Olympians, post resumes, and search for jobs.
Jimmy Pedro, a three-time Olympian in judo, oversees the site.
Jimmy Pedro, former Olympian - It's just a lost feeling. I woke up every day of my life with one goal in mind. When you retire, it's, I mean, every athlete is up to a challenge, and every athlete will excel if they have a goal. The difficulty is defining that goal.
Heiden - Most of these people's life long dream is to get to this point, and for some of them, they forget that there's things to do after that dream has been accomplished. It can be a big let down after they've reached the peak of their sport.
Craig - I think as an Olympian and having had the experience of 22 years later, that you understand every phase that the athlete is going through.
One is denial. I'll play forever. One is totally scared, that oh, my God, I've got to start something that I'm not the best at. And that's not easy for these athletes, because they're used to being the best.
Smith - Fitzrandolph is unclear as to what exactly he will do next, but doesn't see himself in a typical 9:00 to 5:00 job.
Fitzrandolph - Every time I do, it's a nightmare. I don't know. I'm tossing around a lot of ideas. One is, obviously, continue skating. If I don't skate, then maybe it's on to the next pipe dream. I'd love to host an outdoors show.
I've tossed around the idea of being a place kicker in the NFL. You have to reset your goals. You've got to reset your dreams, and then start all over again, because that's what keeps everybody going in life, right? It's that thing, that next thing that you're trying to achieve.
Ley - In the flush of Olympic victory 18 years ago, American skier Bill Johnson thought his opportunities were endless after he won the men's downhill in Sarajevo.
Bill Johnson, former Olympian - There's been a lot of Olympic gold medalists that have gone on to successful careers in the movies and commercial advertising, stuff like that, so as far as I'm concerned, I'm open to any offers.
Unidentified Male - You think there might be a few dollars out there, huh?
Johnson - I think there might be a few dollars out there, I hope so.
Ley - Joining us from Salt Lake to consider the post-Olympic career of athletes, Jimmy Pedro. He is a three-time United States Olympian in judo. He won the bronze medal in the Atlanta games in 1996.
Good morning, Jimmy. How many Olympians still, do you think, would think, like Bill Johnson --- Bill was a unique guy, but how many guys are thinking, immediately, there's dollars in this medal?
Pedro - Hopefully, not too many. You know, those are few and far between. Most athletes don't end up on a serial box. Most of them don't make a lot from endorsements, and there are very few.
Ley - Jim Craig said he was petrified, picking up a briefcase, walking into the office. Probably as scared as I would be coming down a luge run. But discuss the transition you had to make.
Pedro - It was really hard. After '96, I won a bronze medal, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do anymore, and I got pulled in every direction, doing appearances and different things like that, for about three months. And it was all for other people.
And after that, I kind of got scared, because I had two choices to make. I could either continue competing, or I could get a career and start working. And the latter really scared me. You know, I had never had a job before. I didn't know where to start looking for a job. So I did what I knew best, and I continued to compete, and try for the gold in Sydney.
Ley - But you talked in our piece about defining the goal. How can an athlete define the post career goal? Does it sometimes take somebody from the outside to say, hey, wait, wake up, it's over. Time to move on.
Pedro - Yeah, it does, and I mean, the teamusa.net website is just that. It's 125 mentors on the site, people of the likes of Eric Heiden, Jimmy Craig, that are there, living, breathing examples of people who are the best Olympians we've ever had, and they're there, telling the younger generation, hey, look, it's great to try to pursue the Olympic dream, but when it's all over and it's all said and done, you're going to have to move on, find a real career, define a new goal, and we're here to help you do that, because we've been through it ourselves.
Ley - Well, there is some irony here, because, as we talked about earlier in the show, the Steinbrenner commission, we have older Olympians, guys and women are staying around longer and longer, but perhaps when they leave, they're further along in their life and it's more important than before, perhaps, that they have a career objective.
Pedro - There's no doubt about it. I mean, you know, at 31 years old, I'm not in my first job. You know, starting at an entry level job, 31 years old. You're getting more support, people are going to multiple Olympic games now. I've been to three Olympics. There's many multiple Olympians.
But the setback or the drawback is that they are delayed professionally. They haven't gained valuable experience. They haven't gotten to try different things out and decide what it is they like to do. They're not making that decisions until they're 31.
Ley - What's the toughest part of going to work every day for you?
Pedro - Having to answer to somebody and not being able to do my own thing when I want to do it.
Ley - Jimmy Pedro, thanks a great deal for being with us. We appreciate it.
Pedro - It's my pleasure.
Ley - And we continue, next, an update on Mike Tyson, whose behavior put him in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission. He hopes to be back there real soon after a decision by the Las Vegas district attorney.
Ley - This incident put Mike Tyson in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission last month. An update now, at the time of our program last month, two days before Tyson's license hearing before the Nevada athletic commission, Las Vegas had announced they were seeking an arrest warrant against Tyson for an alleged sexual assault. Local prosecutors were indicating an indictment was likely.
This week, the district attorney in Las Vegas decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges against Tyson in two separate incidents. Tyson may now pursue a new hearing before that commission, but the four commissioners who voted against Tyson say the lack of an indictment will not change their minds or their votes.
Friday, in a very unusual move, the Las Vegas authorities released the two statements given by the two women who allege Tyson raped them.
Last week, we examined whether figure-skating judging could possibly be improved at the Olympics, and among the e-mails to our in-box on-line, this from White Water, California - "I think the solution is simple. If the judge is caught in collusion or any other form of corruption, don't just expel the judge, expel the entire team of the country the judge represents."
From Woodridge, New Jersey - "I've not heard any journalist ask the Russian pair, doesn't it bother you that your skating federation doesn't have enough faith in your ability to win the competition on your own? That they had to insure your victor?"
From North Syracuse - "The IOC and the Skating Union seem to have just decided to lance the controversy by awarding two medals and hoping it goes away. Like the NCAA, these ruling bodies like to treat scandals as the work of miscreants rather than systemic problems."
And, from Cleveland, Ohio - "Like a good bullfighter, the skating union waved a cape in our face and dodged out of the way just in time."
To watch last week's program, any of our 100 Sunday morning Outside The Lines shows, log on to keyword ESPN.com/otlweekly. We look forward to your comments. And our e-mail address, otlweekly@ESPN.com.
Announcer - Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Ley - If you joined us along the way, this program re-airs over on ESPN2 at 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern time.
Next up, I'll be back with Pam and Matt with SportsCenter. We'll be live in Salt Lake City. We'll also be visiting the New York Yankees' camp and talking live with Peter Gammons. Also, live at Rockingham, the Wizards and Michael Jordan. They went down to the buzzer last night. And the new-look Dallas Mavericks debuting their new players. We'll have those highlights.
All of that is ahead, including a look at the baseball season ahead and the comeback players of the year. SportsCenter is next.
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