Friday, June 8, 2012

I Beg to Disagree

Two crises erupted over the last couple days in the swimming world. First, the Wall Street Journal published a silly article bashing US Universities for "training the enemy". You only have to take two minutes to look at the Georgia Tech Swimming and Diving roster to find out how I feel about that. Around the same time, I got another reminder of the downside to swimming's popularity in Australia, after team punching bag Olympian Nick D'arcy and Kenrick Monk were castigated for putting up a facebook photo of them holding guns.

I don't even know where to start with how much I disagree on the WSJ article. First off, I think it's a legitimate argument that foreign swimmers, despite all the scholarships they are ruthlessly stealing from hard working Americans, actually enhance American swimming. Subtract foreign athletes and the NCAA would be a much lower level of competition for our domestic athletes. As it stands it's probably the best "minor leagues" for international level swimming. Subtracting foreign athletes would only further isolate us from the greater swimming world. The idea that America should snatch it's ball away and play by itself unless we get to win all the time is incredibly childish.

Foreign athletes are often painted as mercenaries with a passing interest in academics. That in general, is also completely false. Foreign athletes come here because we have the only university system in the world that seemlessly melds academics and high level sports. Of course, the WSJ is also somewhat out of date when it comes to swimming: more developed countries abroad are significantly improving their domestic talent development and moving beyond the NCAA, but that's for another blog.

Likewise, I agree with Rokur on swimmersdaily about Monk and D'Arcy. I hope that all of Swimming Australia completes their principled stand by boycotting every summer blockbuster, especially Expendables 2. I can only imagine how many US Swimming stars would be out of the sport right now had their lives been placed under the same scrutiny as the Aussies. I also feel that at some point we are heading for a complete paradigm shift with the whole "posting inappropriate things online" drama. There is a cultural divide between people too old to remember that had facebook existed in their youths they likely would have done the same and a younger generation. At some point, the world will be populated mostly by people who have done something "embarrassing" preserved for eternity online and it just won't be a big deal. Obviously we're not there yet.


  1. Foreigners listen up:

    If the kids pretty good, bring them to the states when they start high school. Find a club team in the midst of several high schools. Good things may begin to happen. The high school coach who wants the athlete on their team may find housing in their district, the club may waive all fees, the athlete may end up with a full ride scholarship.

    Good Luck!

  2. I came to the states to swim, with a pretty good scholarship, not gonna lie, but i am so thankful of the american college system. In my opinion is a lot more fun and intense than swimming anywhere else. I just love college swimming!!!

  3. It's all business!

    Search the world for the best athletes - the coach's reputation and ASCA levels rise - the club / university's reputation rises - some will do anything to get a piece of the action - USA Swimming acknowledges NCAA while refusing to observe other institutions meets - it's all about winning and believing you are the best.

    It's not even about the "entitled American kids" (Casey Barrett) who cannot compete - the American institutions cannot compete and are dropping their programs at an alarming rate.

  4. Politics at its best. Send athletes to the States to compete and then punish them for doing what most American kids do - take and post unique/funny/different whatever pictures!

    Air soft guns look identical minus an orange tip.

  5. Shooting is an Olympic sport.

    Olympic shooters - beware - you might get sent home for posting a picture of yourself in swim apparel!

  6. If one of those shooter is convicted of water boarding (bar-assault?), and the other accused of faking a drowning (hit-and-run), then, yes, they should be careful about being shown in swimwear.

  7. Bar assaults and hit and runs have no more to do with guns than swimwear, so I still don't understand why they should be careful

  8. The United States opens its borders to anyone - the key being you first have to sneak in or come on a Visa and never leave - then your UC essay has to include your hardships - how sad that your earliest memory was sneaking accross the border in the wee hours of the night - the sadder the essay the better chance you have to get admitted to the UC system. Don't worry if you are an illegal immigrant you have a better chance of attending the best colleges in the United States than US citizens.

  9. The system is working out great for the Trojan Swim club. They have gotten so many world class athletes they are now limiting new members to Olympic or World Champion experience with at least a FINA B cut.

    A few weeks ago the site welcomed anyone over age 18.