The storyline for Lolo Jones heading into the London Olympics was obvious the minute Jones stumbled over the second-to-last hurdle in Beijing: “Unfinished Business”. But that particular storyline slowly faded away in the months leading up to the London games. And in its place appeared brand new “mainstream” storylines.
It all started when Jones made an appearance on HBO’s Real Sports. The show chronicled everything about Jones, from her childhood struggles to her relentless effort to finally win gold in the 100-meter hurdles. But during the interview, Jones decided to reveal something that was much more interesting to the media. She revealed that she was a virgin. And just like that, the media suddenly had a mainstream storyline.
In the months to follow, Jones basked in the new mainstream attention. Columnists were writing stories on her, men everywhere were instantly intrigued, and her Twitter follower count exploded. She even had NFL players trying to hook her up with Tim Tebow. Lolo Jones was becoming a mainstream star while her USA teammates quietly wondered why she was getting so much attention. She’d never won Olympic gold, but she was a star. And she seemed to love it.
But with all of Jones’ new found mainstream stardom came the pressure to deliver. Suddenly, Jones was no longer trying to just finish off unfinished business from Beijing. She now had to deliver on the track to justify her stardom. And when it began to become clear that she wouldn’t, the media pounced.
Jones ended up with a fourth-place finish and a “broken heart.” And in an emotional interview on The Today Show, she complained about the media saying, “They should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes and instead they just ripped me to shreds.”
But what Jones doesn’t seem to understand is that’s how the media operates. It’s all about the most interesting story. They were ready and willing to applaud the attractive virgin who finally won gold. But without gold, they were forced to go the other way.
It’s all a game and Lolo Jones got played.