John Leonard and Craig Lord go after both the Wall Street Journal and Rowdy Gaines' analysis of American college coaching in a article that was recently published at the WSJ site.
Both the Wall Street Journal and Rowdy Gaines have a track record of being quite good at analysis. For instance: You want to make money, you read the Wall Street Journal for its recaps, explanations and predicted consequences. When you want real time swim reporting you go to Rowdy Gaines at NBC Sports who the New York Times said "... balanced emotion during the [Phelps/Lezak] 4x100 medley relay with clearly-spoken narration and analysis, without losing lucidity."
The Wall street Journal pretty much posted an Op Ed stating that we are training the world's Olympians and they are spanking us and removing opportunities for American athletes to excel.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The damage adds up. At the 2008 Beijing Games, foreign athletes from U.S. universities earned at least 28 medals for their countries—and possibly twice that many. About half don't cite their NCAA affiliation in their Olympic bona fides, says U.S. Olympic Committee historian Bill Mallon, who estimates that foreign athletes from U.S. universities may have won 60 medals in 2008—more than 6% of the total. In Beijing, 48 countries fielded athletes from the Pacific-12 Conference alone.
The situation troubles Americans such as swimmer Rowdy Gaines, the three-time Olympic gold medalist. He favors capping the percentage of international athletes on U.S. college teams to preserve a majority of opportunities for U.S. athletes. Fielding so many foreign athletes, Gaines said, "hurts our Olympic movement, which we have to think of, first and foremost."
My defense of Rowdy Gaines: Remember when I brought up the word analysis? Rowdy Gaines knows what is coming ahead for us in 2012 and he knows that we may not even win one mens freestyle gold medal. We are not favored to win the 50-free, the 100-free. the 400-free, the 800-free nor the 1500-free. The 200-free is so tightly stacked time-wise that it's possible we may not even medal. Yes, both Phelps and Lochte are great swimmers but if you take their best times from 2011/2012, you have six guys who are less than 1/2-second from taking first place. In a 200-free that takes place in less than one-minute-forty-five-seconds, that is extraordinary. One bad turn, one sketchy start, or a tired body from trying to survive the prelims just to get into the final and it's over. This race will look like a 50-free street fight.
Do you know what the potential and economic consequences for American swimming would be if we have our worst Olympics in the pool EVER? We are a sport that only occurs in the eyes of the public every four years and then it goes away. "If we belly flop", we are off the radar in a huge way. Networks follow the money and they would be less interested in swimming if the ratings fail and they will fail if we don't win. I presume Rowdy wants to prevent that debacle by suggesting that we invest in our own talent so that US swimmers can continue to win in a venue that occurs only once every four years.
The big question is how did we get there? In my hyperbolic interpretation of what Rowdy is saying: It's the coaches stupid and there is a scarcity! And he is right too.
UPDATE: Tony...thank you so much for the kind words. I would like to clarify something however. I did say those exact words in the WSJ article but they were taken completely out of context.
I told the writer there were two schools of thought on this sensitive subject...one was what I told her that some people felt and the other was one of America being the land of opportunity for all and the people having problems with International kids should just do a better job of recruiting. This was obviously left out in the article. It is a difficult situation and I have always had mixed emotions. But again, thanks so much Tony and love your stuff. If you ever want to call me out though feel free to...god knows I've got a big enough mouth...