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Thursday, August 23, 2007

All Alan Webb, Alll The Time

The always-professional Tim Layden has a nice article on Alan Webb in today's Sports Illustrated. Just yesterday he was on the front page of the Washington Post and had a writeup in USA Today. British bookies list him as the men's 1500m favorite (2-1 odds).

All this is nice, but I can't help thinking that it's more of the same expectations that he couldn't possibly have fulfilled in the past. If Webb bombs, he'll be considered damaged goods by the media until he wins an Olympic gold medal. If he only medals, it will get an "Oh, that's nice" treatment (especially if Lagat beats him). And if he should actually win, it will be treated by the US sports media as little but a stepping stone to next year's Olympics, giving them an entire year to set up the expectations even higher. In short, nothing will be good enough.

I agree that there's almost no such thing as bad sports publicity, save corruption or crime. But the whole scene makes me a bit nervous. There are multiple distance runners in the US capable of medaling or even winning next week. Why concentrate on just one?


Scott Bush said...

The reason everyone is hyping up Webb again is because he was such a phenom in high school and got so much attention. He is like the comeback kid...a story the U.S. media loves to repeat over and over.

Albert Caruana said...

It will be interesting how the mainstream media will cover Alan if he were to win a gold medal. Setting a high school record is one thing, a gold medal, even if it's at the world championships and not the Olympics, should garner some attention from ESPN hopefully.

The race is really primed for him to do well and his toughest competition...another American. Go figure.