When I saw the report this morning about Sven Kramer, the Dutch speedskater who was skating to a sure gold medal when his coach messed up and got him disqualified–well, it’s a heart-breaking story. My sympathies immediately went out to the coach, who felt terrible for messing up.
Mika, on Morning Joe, felt the same way. And on CNN, when they showed the report, the host felt bad for the coach.
But as I drove to work this morning, I thought about that. Why was I instinctively drawn to the coach? Why wasn’t my first reaction to feel bad for Sven Kramer?
After all, Kramer’s the one who trained brutally hard for years and years, probably since he was a young kid. He’s the one who sacrificed and punished his body in pursuit of a dream. He’s the one who skated those 25 laps in Olympic record time. He’s the one who would have received the Gold medal and gone into the history books. He’s the one on whom the hopes of his country rested. He’s the guy six million skating-obsessed Dutch viewers were watching. He’s the one who truly lost something.
But my first thought was to feel bad for the coach. Why? Here’s what I concluded.
I can’t relate to Sven Kramer, an elite, world-class athlete. He exists in a different universe.
But I can relate to a poor dumb schmuck who screws up. That’s where I live, the land of the ne’er-do-well, of the guy who squanders his chance, who gets confused under pressure, who blows it for everyone else, who makes a mistake which can never be redeemed. The coach–he’s my kind of people.