The demigod (dis)advantage for Shaun White
Shaun White was on my TV set the other night, clowning around. Because that's what he does.
What a great job that guy has. He makes around $10 million a year to skateboard and snowboard, and do whatever else he feels like doing. He does all of that in between flying to exotic locations to skateboard and snowboard and do whatever else he feels like doing. Did I mention that he gets paid about $10 million a year, accompanied by the perks of rock stardom?
Yes, I'm jealous. If you aren't jealous, there's something wrong with you.
In a judged Olympic sport, this demigod status offers an unbelievable advantage over his competitors? I’m asking it as a question.
When Michael Phelps, a demigod of the swimming variety, steps onto the pool deck he has the "demigod advantage" because he's already in the minds of his competitors. If the competition is thinking about Michael Phelps, then they aren't thinking about their race. That's an advantage.
But the influence stops there. The clock doesn't care about demigods, or how much they earn, or the color of their Lamborghini.
But judges are people who are prone to be influenced by such status. No judge will admit it. Of course, they are above that? Again, I'm asking it as a question.
If you believe that all people, snowboard judges too, are familiar with that odd emotion we sometimes refer to as jealousy, then you must concede that it is indeed a powerful and influential emotion.
Is it an emotion or feeling? I don't know.
Jealousy is commonly thought of as a bad thing. We have all seen unchecked jealousy manifest in ugly ways that lead to hate. However, jealousy isn't always bad. I don't hate Shaun White, I think he's probably pretty cool. I'm not in love with him, like NBC, but I would love to be in his shoes and I think that means I'm jealous. And I’m perfectly fine with that.
Jealousy can build up or tear down the stature of its subject. With as much Shaun White coverage as you are about to be force-fed from the good folks in media (all of them, myself now included), it is difficult not to have an opinion on Shaun White. It's even more difficult not to be jealous of him.
A demigod in a judged sport will undoubtedly have its effect. Whether that effect is for better or for worse is for you to judge.
Photo: Shaun White addresses the media on Thursday. Credit: Kyle Tereda / US Presswire