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Rebuttal To Boston  Globe Article
by Chris Reidy 

"Sugar And Ice And Things Not So Nice"

 

Nancy Kerrigan

1993 U.S. women's champion and Olympic medalist in 1992 (bronze) and '94 (silver); victim of Jan. 6, 1994 assault at U.S. nationals in Detroit when Shane Stant clubbed her in right knee with metal baton after a practice session; conspiracy hatched by Jeff Gillooly, ex-husband of rival Tonya Harding; although unable to compete in nationals, she recovered and was granted berth on Olympic team; finished 2nd in Lillehammer to Oksana Baiul of Ukraine by a 5-4 judges' vote.

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I promised myself that I would follow the Nancy/Tonya matter and Nancy thereafter, but not to get involved.  The Sunday Globe's article in Focus, subtitled "Nancy Kerrigan loses to an impossible double standard," changed my mind.  The Nancy issue had a new spin... gender... no in fact "Teflon in testosterone." That's my quarry.

I champion androgyny. That is until there is an article regarding gender double standards and the author hides behind a unisex name such as Chris, as in Chris Reidy. So Chris to be blunt, if you have any testosterone, Teflon or not, call yourself Christopher, otherwise Christine will do in future gender articles.

Taking the article from the top:

If this were to be credible article regarding gender double-standards in athletics, athletes should have been contacted, not psychiatrists and psychologist from Harvard or from allplaces Wellesley College that refuses to integrate males.

Also, the sport of skating offers the very best opportunity to explore the gender issue properly. There are three areas:

Women's Individual, Men's Individual and Mixed Doubles (yes,women and men in very intimate, physical contact sweating plus literally soaring and falling together) in Ice Dancing and Pairs. No other sport offers so much diversity, certainly not baseball, basketball and boxing to which there is reference.

Next: Why is it that a woman always say that "We expect enormous things of women." Who is "we." The guys that I know, that I interview and that I hear in bars don't havethat expectation, especially around women's athletics. The premise of this article -- a double standard for female bad behavior is jaded, if not contrived from the start... at least from a male viewpoint.

Next: Nancy's rise and fall from grace at "warp speed" is a myth crafted by the media... not genders, she, her family or even agents, who on a good day, under normal circumstance, would only get local coverage. All of a non-media kings' or queens' horses and wo/men could not have assembled reporters from over one hundred stations in Stoneham, MA on a snowy January as the Nancy/Tonya story developed. Only media kings' andqueens'.

Next: You attempt to flatter the media's power if you think that people only thought that Nancy Kerrigan was Snow White, Satin Black, Daisy Yellow, or Cherry Red. Chris, wake up!

This is the '90s, man (or woman as the case may be). We've had thirty years of psycho-babble and press clippings on the dark sides of us all. No one believes anymore that anyone is one dimensional; not rock stars, not priests, not athletes, not even mothers who abuse their own children.

Next: The statements, "swift absolution is rarely granted to a woman who behaves like a man," and "threatening stereotypes" stump me.

First, considering the circumstances, Tonya enjoyed the presumption of innocence and fairly decent polls going into the Olympic. If anything has changed that standing, it was her skate lace that broke the peoples' benefit-of-the-doubt.

Many males have been swiftly banished. Lance Alworth and Pete Rose to start. And many people have written off Willie Shoemaker for his drunk driving despite a lifetime of great rides and records.  On the other hand, there is Martina and Billie Jean who still enjoy popularity.That women are not granted absolution and men are is a ridiculous generalization.

Second, Nancy is not being punished for conduct unbecoming her gender, at least not by people other than the media. As for Nancy's remarks about Oksana, replay the inspiring wordsof coach, Vince Lombardi... "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser!" Achieving guys and gals live by these words; neither are threatened by them.

Winners, both males and females, flash the #1 hand-signal in victory; losers, both males and females, cradle their dropped heads with their hands in defeat. Perhaps on an individual basis, but never on a gender-wide basis has there ever been condemnation of women for these universal gestures.

I believe that the genders, especially when stressed, have far more in common than not. The people that know this best are the athletes who experience both the joy of victory and the anguish of defeat... not the shrinks that armchair life.  Bonnie Blair cried over Dan Jansen's single victory; he shared in her numerous ones, despite his own disappointment.

So what is the Nancy-is-a-poor-sport issue. She literally skated her butt, waist and thighs off to come back from defeat in the Worlds and to return from an inflected injury.If Nancy felt that her performance was flawless, she, having 18 years of skating benchmarks, should know. Nancy may not sound intelligent leaving sentences unfinished (listen to the drivel from the male athletes), but she shows wisdom beyond "Valley Talk" when acknowledging that her only job was to skate the best that she could. And she did.

Any person, who has ever lost in sport, work, love, or life, that has not experienced the frustration that she expressed must be a "good loser," or better yet, good at losing. Realpeople recognize that Nancy's incident was unfortunate... not inhuman. There is no double standard in this regard.

It's ironic that Nancy and Tonya should momentarily find themselves sisters in a kindred sense. Reportedly, the attack on Nancy was in response to Tanya's frustration to score above Nancy's grace, charm and looks. Of the contemporary top skaters who bladed-up for the Olympic, Nancy was the only outstanding one who had not beaten Oksana.

Were Nancy's comments about Oksana'a tears her own "clubbing?"  Perhaps. But, every time that I have seen Oksana win a big one... I've seen her tears, too. Could it be that Oksana's tears of joy are just an endearing joke among the skating sorority. Tears do happen!  It's doubtful that the media ever asked.

So, if there is a double standard by which Nancy is being judged it is that she has been judged more harshly in one week by the media than Tonya was in two months. Honestly, it was stupid to leave two skaters on the ice for ten minutes without telling them that it was the Organizers' own further stupidity in misplacing the anthem of the World Champion and co-favorite that caused the delay. No fair measure of blame for the incident was ascribed.

Next: The comments of Nancy being a mediocre figure skater are insulting, not only to her, but to the hundreds of judges (over 50% of whom are women) who placed her on top over the years without regard for her cheekbones and smile... and to you for incorporating them in your article. Nancy is a world-class skater, period. Who is this Lesa Ulman person who is passing the mediocre judgement besides being your sole, poor reference? Try Scott Hamilton, or another medal winning skater... not an endorsement specialist.  Hank Aron didn't make it in endorsements but is still a Hall of Famer.

Next: Incorporating Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen into this article was perfect contrast to Nancy's (and every other mentioned athlete's) strength which you subtly attempt toattack.  Bonnie and Dan are true Olympians.  Both will be enduring speakers on the "Total Commitment" banquet circuit.

Over time, Bonnie may exceed Nancy as a model for women's achievement. And Dan, though he may become famous for clasping victory from defeat, should be remember as the man who discovered success where he least expected to find it -- much like the "Acres of Diamonds" fable.

However, speed skating is not figure skating... or even pitching baseballs, soaring towards basketball hoops, or landing punches. In the latter three sports, opponentsactively attempting to foil one's success. In the skating, there are fickle judges.

Bonnie's victories are absolute, but only real in the tiny world that is measured against 1/100th of a second: Skate the fastest, the medal is yours... No form, no grace, no technical merit, no judges other than the clock. Bonnie's victories are also relatively risk free: Keep one foot on the ice at all times; skate a universally prescribed oval; and ifknocked down by a running mate, a rerun will be allowed.

Were real life so simple the hardest worker would be the richest, and the consumer of the healthiest foods would live the longest. Unfortunately, real life does not so accommodate.

Instead real life is like figure skating. There is the technical (comparable to our effort) which is still viewed through subjective eyes now that the compulsory figures are gone; and then there is the artistic which is a subjective, self-indulgent, judging free-for-all with political ramifications... much like a yearly job review in a corporation.

Nancy survived and excelled in that jungle for 18 years. Not many have done so in a company. I haven't.

Next: The Kerrigan camp -- Nancy, her parents, or her agents -- should not be exonerated for its early departure from Norway. But, the ultimate villain is Walt Disney and Co.which is guilty for entrapment. No organization knows PR better than Disney. And no organization stands for doing things right more than Disney. If the FBI cannot leave 3million dollars on a table to induce criminal behavior without being charged for entrapment, why should Disney be any different.

The Mouse is the louse!  The date was not that important.  And what did the person inside of the Mouse say to Nancy to draw-out her comments so close to a microphone. Was it just a young male, picking up on her uneasiness, accidentally attempting to make time... or a jealous female resenting her celebrity and beauty. Or, was it the villainous Mouse attempting to re-negotiate a contract downward with a national, Silver Medalist while knowing that the GoldMedalist had won the hearts of the world.

Doesn't this make a better commercial: "Oksana, now that you've won BOTH the GOLD MEDAL and the hearts of the WORLD where are you going?" (Think Euro-Disney, Disneyland, and Disneyworld.)  Nancy's gaff in Disneyworld was only made serious by the number of zeros after the first number in her contract.

Quickly, Nancy will learn, "If you take their money, you'd better be their Honey."She will also learn the wisdom from the Godfather: "Keep close to your friends, keep even closera closer to your enemies." (It helps to tighten your throat and rub your chin whensaying this.)

Nancy's vision is improving.  Chris, I hope that yours does, too. 

(Personally, I liked Oksana's skating more than Nancy's. Nonetheless, from my TV, I think that Nancy won the Gold.)

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Nancy Kerrigan

1993 U.S. women's champion and Olympic medalist in 1992 (bronze) and '94 (silver); victim of Jan. 6, 1994 assault at U.S. nationals in Detroit when Shane Stant clubbed her in right knee with metal baton after a practice session; conspiracy hatched by Jeff Gillooly, ex-husband of rival Tonya Harding; although unable to compete in nationals, she recovered and was granted berth on Olympic team; finished 2nd in Lillehammer to Oksana Baiul of Ukraine by a 5-4 judges' vote.

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