“I want to go over to the judges and say, ‘Can I just have a Xanax and a quick drink?’” – Adam Rippon, U.S. Olympic Figure Skater.

What do you think of these quotes? Funny? Edgy? Whiny? Inappropriate? Authentic?

Are they simply sharing, self-revealing and being incredibly transparent?

Don’t get me wrong here. I, too, ADORE and IDOLIZE these two athletes. They both were amazing to watch, delivered incredible athletic performances and charmed the pants off of me and the rest of America in their interviews.

However, I’m also a little old school about the Olympic Games and Olympic Athletes. While I encourage transparency and authenticity among my athlete and executive coachees, I believe the Olympics – more than any other sporting competition – call for a special kind of decorum. Athletes on the U.S. Olympic Team are not competing for a privately owned franchise, like an NBA or NFL team. These athletes are competing for the red, white and blue of the United States of America. The “brand” they represent is a complex mix of themselves, their sport/team and their country (not to mention, their sponsors, coaches and families). It’s a high bar to represent all of those entities well, but that’s what the Olympic Games demand.

For our part, the hero-worship is real and while we do want to know (and I do want them to share) what’s going on in their heads, especially prior to competition, I would prefer a little more careful selection in the words they choose. Little kids are watching, listening, modeling.

Having said that, I do recognize that both of these athletes meant to be self-effacing in these quotes versus the much-less-tolerable self-aggrandizing, and I applaud them for that. It’s also noteworthy that both of these quotes got a lot of positive attention. And in an almost immediate endorsement of his widespread appeal, Adam Rippon was offered a commentator position by NBC for the duration of the Games as soon as he finished competing. So there’s that too.

Perhaps I need to make an adjustment to my old-school thinking? Is there such a thing as “proper jock talk” for the Games? Let me know your opinion, I’m eager to hear what others think. I have until Summer of 2020 in Tokyo to change my outlook if necessary!


Beth Levine