Something bothered me today more than Todd and Phil’s uniforms. And trust me, that means a lot considering the combination of colors they laid on us in their first round loss to nobody. Royal blue shorts with a white and navy blue jersey? Are those royal? I don’t even know. I should look up the exact color online as I type but I’m on a plane and the internet is unfortunately unavailable. Either way, that color of blue should never be worn again while representing the United States of America, especially with a white and dark blue accompanying top. I don’t want to be Ty Loomis here and take over as chief of the fashion police, but my God, it was hard to watch. And while I’m at it, what were they more worried about? Making sure their Oakley Sponsors saw them wearing those, admittedly very cool, Red, White and Blue Flak Jackets or winning a first round Olympic Beach Volleyball Match? The answer to that question was made crystal clear when Phil decided to remove the lenses from his frames instead of the frames from his head. I only have one thing to say before I must move on… Take the glasses off your head and worry about the teenagers across the net, that happen to be tooling your line every time you block.
So, what bothered me more than their "outfits?" Their attitudes. Their attitudes during the match and especially following. This is the Olympics. This isn’t the AVP Louisville Open. Start acting like it.
And when I say that, I say it as a player who has a pretty good understanding of how much stress and pressure is on their shoulders right now as they represent the U.S. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never played in anything as important as the Olympics, but I’m the kind of guy who gets stressed out over a simple Tuesday morning practice. So, all I’m saying is, don’t act like it was nothing and that nothing bothered you going into it. And what I’m really saying is, don’t shrug your shoulders after points, don’t shake your head after your partner hits another line spike into the middle of the net, and don’t say in the post game interview on NBC, “Well, I wasn’t nervous. Nerves had nothing to do with it for me,’ all the while chucking your partner under the bus because he’s 27 and playing in something that is finally a little more frightening than freshman public speech class.
Go ahead and get mad, but get vocal at the same time, not passive aggressive. Put a ball away when you’re down by three points late in the game and scream about it. Give your partner a high five when he sides-out instead of retreating to the service line because you already automatically expect that from him. Start showing some freaking emotion. Be passionate. Have some heart.
Now, I know that’s not the norm for Todd and Phil, their personalities on court generally resemble that of Hayden Christenson’s acting, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still time for change; because, as much as I hate to admit, national heroes aren’t made by looking like you’re going through the motions.
I dare anybody to name one Gold Medal Winner in the history of the Olympics that didn’t cry inside from the insane adrenaline rush rolling through their bloodstream the minute they had a chance to compete and possibly become a hero for their country. Not just in the Gold Medal Round, but every round. Actually, what am I talking about? There couldn’t have been a better example of a team that embraced the passion required of an Olympian to be successful than our two “Who’s?” from Latvia. Every point they earned, every point they celebrated, and every win they get in Beijing, I’m sure they will cherish forever. If that’s what it takes, and I promise you, at this level it does, then start celebrating every point like it might be the last you ever earn. They’re only playing one match per day, every two days, so conditioning isn’t a concern.
Let it go. Let it all go. The anger, the frustration of an opening round loss, the sudden lack of faith in what actually got you to Beijing… just forget about it. Your team isn’t Dalhausser/Rogers anymore. It’s the USA. And although I’m glad you’re having such a good time with our president, start putting this tournament into perspective and appreciate how lucky you are to even be there. Enjoy it. Actually enjoy playing volleyball and how much pure pleasure you can take away from it because you’re so good at it, and most importantly, because you’re so good at it, enjoy being bestowed Ach Payment Method the greatest honor in sports, to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. And after you do all that. After you do all of that…
Go win the Gold Medal everyone knows you’re capable of winning.
That’s it. That’s all I got.
Oh, and don’t ever wear those “royal blue” shorts again. Red looked just fine on Jake and Rosie. Learn by example.
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