Let Bode get back to business of winning
U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Phil McNichol’s suggestion that it might be time for Bode Miller to leave – or be forced to leave – the ski team falls squarely in the category of “What, are you nuts?”Miller has been under fire since Sunday, when CBS aired his statements about racing while drunk on the program “60 Minutes.” Miller said, “There have been times when I’ve been in really tough shape at the top of the course.” He added that racing gates while drunk is risky, even life threatening. “It’s like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing.”McNichol, responding this week to Miller’s comments said, “I don’t know what the answer is. First we have to call the question: Can we still do this together?”Of course you can, Coach. Miller may be a fool for racing drunk and a bigger fool for bragging about it on television. But foolishness is no cause for dismissal.Bode Miller is hardly the first world-class athlete to be known as much for his partying as for his (or her) athletic accomplishments. Nor is he the first to make outrageous comments that challenge the conventional wisdom of the administrators who oversee his sport. Nor will he be the last. Miller has become the best skier in the world, the defending World Cup champion, as a U.S. Ski Team member. America has a chance to win gold for the first time in a generation, thanks largely to Miller and teammate Daron Rahlves. Miller shouldn’t be a role model for anyone. He’s simply an athlete whose big mouth gets him in trouble now and then. Miller is good for skiing because his winning ways bring the sport the kind of attention that it is sorely lacking most of the time. Once he’s in the gates winning races for the United States, all his chatter becomes meaningless. Miller has actually been working to correct the record since Sunday. In the Jan. 9 Denver Post, Miller used his column to discuss the context of the remarks, pointing out that he was specifically discussing his night of partying after securing the World Cup title last winter. Miller won the overall title on a Saturday and spent the night celebrating with friends and family. When he showed up to the slalom race the next day, he was still drunk. Miller says in his column, “I probably should not have raced that slalom at the finals.” He managed a sixth-place finish anyway.On Thursday, he made a public apology on television. That should be enough for McNichol and other race officials to get over their indignation and let Miller and his teammates get back to the business of winning races.
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It might require a little extra preparation, but there’s no need to be afraid of colder months when going out fishing.