Why the Ryan Lochte Holdup Saga is Illogical
So Four Guys Walk Into a Gas Station
Four guys walk into a gas station, each of them allegedly intoxicated after a night of celebrations, and the rest becomes an international incident.
When news first broke of Ryan Lochte and three other swimmers from the United States team being held up at gunpoint, everyone was understandably stunned and saddened. It was quite the mark on Rio's record, and certainly not the memory that the four swimmers would want to have about their Olympics experiences.
It's from there that the waters become a bit muddy. It looks like, more and more, that the story of the robber wasn't exactly accurate, in that Rio police are alleging that the foursome made up a story about being robbed at gunpoint. It seems that at least part of the foursome may have been drunk enough to start vandalizing a bathroom door, or at the very least, some part of the bathroom. It was, according to the video that was released, enough that a guard came over to the group.
The video evidence is edited to an extent, and Lochte's lawyer says that the video was edited at a "critical" spot. The problem is, the video supports the story of Brazilian authorities - that Lochte, Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were not held up by a team posing as police officers as they claimed.
Lochte has said they did not tell US Olympic officials about the alleged holdup at first because they were concerned they would get into trouble. There have also reportedly been differences between the story that Lochte has since told and that which other members of the group have apparently told police - differences that were enough for police to see that passports were surrendered for the group so that they could be questioned by police. The fallout since then has also led to people questioning the veracity of the athletes' stories, especially since Feigen has now agreed to pay the equivalent of $10,800 USD to an "institution" - widely believed to be some sort of charity - in order to avoid prosecution and to be allowed to return to the United States.
If it does turn out that Lochte did indeed lie about what happened, why?
The Rio Olympics have been set to be Lochte's swan song of sorts, and he would end up leaving the Olympics - possibly temporarily, possibly permanently (retirement, as we have seen with swimmer Michael Phelps, can be an extremely fluid notion) - on a very high note, particularly since he was part of the team that scored gold in the 4 X 200 freestyle relay.
So why lie, if it turns out that Lochte did make up the story about the robbery?
The US Gold Medal Swimming Team - 4X200 Freestyle Relay
We Do Dumb Things While Drunk
Ryan Lochte and the other swimmers caught up in this saga have got to know they are role models to countless would-be swimmers. Lochte in particular has been mentioned a lot in the press before this fiasco, largely due to his friendship and rivalry with teammate Phelps in the pool. With that sort of pressure, it makes sense that the men wouldn't want to be found out as having engaged in vandalism while away at an athletic event and representing the finest in athletics worldwide.
Let's face it; we do dumb things while intoxicated, and even elite athletes like Bentz, Lochte, Feigen and Conger aren't immune to that. The problem is we hold our athletes to a higher standard than we do the rest of us mere mortals. When they fall, we are often stunned and wonder what could have possibly happened to make them come down to the status of "just human."
Between the pressure of the world's media casting its lens on them and the pressures of just being part of Team USA at the world's premiere athletic event, it might be small wonder that these four men may have erred, if that is indeed what happened.
Our memories aren't exactly at their most accurate when we've had a few drinks as well. It could very well be that Lochte is convinced that a guard was someone who was trying to steal money from the group when in reality, he was just trying to get the foursome to pay for whatever damage they may have caused.
For now, though, Lochte is standing by his story, though Brazilian authorities - and the released video - are poking holes through it and making it seem as though he and the other swimmers had made up the whole story.
Now, the foursome are facing far more than restitution for the damage that they caused. They could be facing sanctions from the US Olympics Committee, or elsewhere, and while Lochte has likely hung his competitive swim trunks up, Conger, Feigen and Bentz are all young enough - with Feigen being the oldest at 26 - that they might have two more Olympics ahead of them. Sanctions could force the three younger swimmers out of the pool, and thereby dash their Olympics dreams permanently.
All because of a drunken night out, if that is what indeed happened.
I hope it was worth it.