Last week we posed a question on ethics about the freeskiier in the Olympics who did not even attempt any difficult tricks.
Freeskiing. You know, that thing with skis in the halfpipe where they get major air and do all the flips and corkscrews?
Here’s the video if you missed it.
How freeskier Elizabeth Swaney made it to the #WinterOlympics with this very simple halfpipe run: https://t.co/enfDyoQjGC pic.twitter.com/kHTAV7XND4
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 20, 2018
We’ll start by saying THANK YOU! to reader buffalo who offered some comments from first-hand perspective as a long-time skier:
And we totally agree!
This woman has moxie. She’s apparently not a big fan of doing it the way that you’re supposed to do it.
From a Boston Globe article focusing on her time at a Harvard master’s program in RE dev:
“She’s very motivated, and did very well,” [a professor she RA’ed for] said.
“Motivated” could certainly be one word used to describe Swaney. She ran for governor as a 19-year-old; tried out for the Oakland Raiders cheerleading team; and previously mounted a push to reach the Olympics as a skeleton racer for her mother’s native Venezuela. She started skiing just eight years ago, and only became serious about it after the skeleton thing didn’t take.
(Plus, she got into Harvard!)
Mostly the word that comes to mind about the freeskiing thing is “audacity” – this type of thing would not have happened even 5 or 10 years ago, it seems. Our theory is that it’s the Age of the Individual — where self-promotion is the game on social media and selfies have taken over our lives — that has created the fertile ground for this. It’s not that people have not tried to subvert the system before. It just seems like it’s more socially permissible somehow today.
How about if we back up and look at this through a larger lens?
This American woman was successful in getting a spot at the Olympics through her Hungarian ancestry.
And based on that Globe article, she had tried to do so in skeleton as a Venezuelan.
Knowing this information, does it change your perspective on whether she acted ethically to get into the 2018 Olympics?
Again, comments are open! We would love to know what you think!!
Here's what others have said about this:
Unethical? Perhaps not. But definitely not cool man. Real Olympic athletes have dedicated much of their lives to their sport so, after years of sacrifice, they are ready to properly represent their nation, culture, and sport to the entire world. It’s clear (based on her Venezuelan skeleton attempt) she doesn’t particularly care too much about Hungary or the sport of free skiing. As such, her arbitrage stunt disrespects the Hungarian athletes who care deeply about and feel honored to represent their country, as well as serious free skiers. I’m pretty sure the American free skiers who just missed the cut don’t have words of support and admiration for Swaney.
@oldschoolguy, thanks for the comments — your thoughts are similar to ours on this! Of course, after reflecting on what you wrote, we’re starting to wonder…. Isn’t everything you described kinda the definition of “ethics”? You started by saying you didn’t think it was unethical, but then went on to talk about values — not in so many words, but things like caring deeply, and feeling honored, and dedication…. It’s got us thinking!
Not that we’re experts. What on earth are ethics, anyway?
We need to keep working on this!
Thank you for contributing to the conversation.