Monday, March 1, 2010


I've grown more skeptical of media narratives about sports personalities since reading Andre Agassi's memoir. One person who seems to have gotten marked with a certain story is Shani Davis, the speedskater, who was touchy and aloof and not part of the team, at least according to the stories we saw.

One thing Davis did do on record was call Stephen Colbert a jerk. Colbert, as you may know, rounded up financial support for US Speedskating when one of their corporate sponsors went belly-up. Before the Olympics, Colbert talked with Al Michaels and asked him what it would take to get him to say again, "Do you believe in miracles?" A la doubting Thomas, Michaels said, "If Shani Davis thanks you for getting him a gold medal, then I'll say I believe in miracles."

[It's a long clip, so you might want to skip to 6:10--or the very end from 8:08, which is what I really hope you'll see.]

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Freud Rage - The Iceman Counseleth - Shani Davis
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

In case you didn't get to it, what I loved was that Colbert invites Davis to say, "Stephen, you're a jerk!" and in so doing takes away any sting those words might have had. I thought that was such a beautiful moment, turning what had been divisive upside-down into an opportunity for reconciliation.

It also, for me, changed the narrative about Davis from a cold and prickly person into merely a normal one, human and unscripted. And in what was clearly a planned moment, to me it appeared that Davis was set free from the story the media has created for him.

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