How One Person's Ignorant Behavior Insulted an Entire Country
My mother always said, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” Apparently, 12-time Olympic medalist, Ryan Lochte never received this advice. And if he did, he certainly didn’t believe it. Until now.
With everything going on in the world today, most people know that a foreign country is not the place to stir up trouble and behave recklessly, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Furthermore, when security guards flash their badges and point their guns at you, they mean business.
The last thing you want to do is get in a heated exchange with officials, unless you want to put your life or reputation in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, Lochte did the latter when he fabricated a different scenario. Lochte said he and James Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were robbed at gunpoint in the early morning hours of August 14 as they returned from a party.
"It's how you want to make it look like," Lochte responded in a prior interview with Matt Lauer. "Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages. We don't know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."
Brazilian authorities reported a different story. They said the American swimmers actually vandalized a gas station and then got into an altercation with security guards there. Since the news broke, Lochte has changed his tune, but the damage has already been done. Not only is he guilty of lying about what happened, he is also guilty of offending an entire country as it proudly hosted the Summer Olympics.
The Olympian was contrite about his erroneous original account in an interview that aired Saturday on NBC. Asked why he would make up the dramatic detail, Lochte told Matt Lauer: "I don't know why." He added it was hours after the incident occurred and he was still intoxicated. "I'm not making me being intoxicated like an excuse, I'm not doing that at all," Lochte said. "It was my fault and I shouldn't have said it. That’s why I’m taking full responsibility for it, because I overexaggerated that story. And if I’d never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess. … None of this would have happened, and it was my immature behavior.”
Immature behavior, indeed. Boys will be boys, but Lochte, 32, should have known better. He said he accepted responsibility for his behavior and had "learned some valuable lessons."
He went on to say that he did not ask his teammates to corroborate his story, and apologized "110 percent" to "the gas station owner, to Brazilian police, to the people of Rio and Brazil, everyone that came together to put on these wonderful games.
"I just want to say I am truly, 110 percent sorry."
But apparently his apology isn’t enough to wipe the slate clean. Will the International Olympic Committee and the people of Brazil forgive and forget? Only time will tell. Until then, the IOC has set up a disciplinary commission to investigate Lochte and the three other US swimmers involved in this altercation. The commission will determine what punishment the swimmers will face.
One thing is for sure. This incident will have a impact on Lochte’s career for years to come. Lochte said that he hopes to continue his Olympic swimming career, if officials allow it.
"If they give me that chance I definitely know I can turn this around and become that role model for little kids," Lochte said. "I don't want little kids to look at me for what I just did, for that one night. I don't want that."
Perhaps if Lochte had taken some etiquette classes when he was a little kid, this whole debacle could have been avoided. At the very least, he might have learned to tell the truth. Additionally, he might have learned about civility and respect and how his behavior affects others – especially an entire country.