In Praise of Traitor Olympians

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Feb. 18 2010 9:57 AM

In Praise of Traitor Olympians

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Emily , I too was rooting for Dale Begg-Smith, though less for his looks than his treachery. As everyone knows by now, the man ditched Canada for Australia, and came back for a bit to be booed during his medal ceremony.

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Like all Americans, I fear the dark wrath of Canadian nationalism and am thus eager to see able-bodied men flee the True North. But above and beyond the Canuck threat, there is something wonderful about carpetbagging Olympians. By refusing to play for the team God gave him, Begg-Smith makes delicious mockery of all the flags, all the anthems, and all the medal counts. He wipes away the artifice of politics, of the absurd spectacle in which massive nation states "compete" against tiny ones, and cuts to the core of the sport: man, snow, skis.

In a better world, you’d be able to ski under any flag you like. You could make up a flag and compete under that. You could declare yourself a representative of Herland , Narnia, or Ethniklashistan . Barring a new dawn of Olympic liberalism, I’ll take this guy.

Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.

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