USA Olympic Swimmers Learn the High Price of Telling a Lie

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OlympicUSA Olympic swimmers learned the high price of telling a lie after claims of alleged robbery at the Rio Olympics. Brazilian police said the story was made up to cover up the actions of the swimmers during a drunken stunt. The lie cost one of the swimmers $10,800 with the possibility of more indictments to follow. The drama surrounding the scandal has not only embarrassed the United States but has angered and shocked Brazilians.

The narrative of these events is an enormous embarrassment for the U.S. Olympic team which had otherwise dominated the games. Ryan Lochte, the 12-time Olympic medal winner, took to social media to issue an apology on Friday “for my behavior” in an episode, that has cast a pall over the Games.

After learning of the saga, it was somewhat reminiscent of a 2015 Kevin Hart comedy titled, “The Wedding Ringer.” The movie follows the typical pattern of antics and trouble making one would anticipate with Hart. What caught my attention was the constant reference his character made about people not wanting the truth and being more comfortable with a life that is a lie.

In the end, Hart, along with cast members Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Olivia Thirlby and a host of comedic supporters, turned out to be privy to a good plot. The theater was packed and filled with laughter, but what resonated with me as a coach is how I can empower people to walk in their authentic truth. I found there are a few ways we can combat the temptation to live out of a lie:

  • Start by being strong enough to tell yourself the truth: The person we learn to lie to the most is ourselves. Many struggle with the balance of owning the truth and being critical of themselves. The way to master this is to recognize where you are in relation to where you really want to be. Take the emotion out, be direct with yourself and identify it as an area of opportunity.Olympic
  • Surround yourself with truth tellers: Again I am not saying accept an invitation to an onslaught of negativity. No one tries to grow a rose garden using a hammer, but you need to diversify your pool of associates to include those who speak the truth without fluff or false flattery. You need a true barometer of your situation, and those types of friends are invaluable.
  • Speak the truth, even when it is uncomfortable: There is a climactic moment in the film when the groom decides to take a stand for truth. Doug was frightened, without many supporters and knew this would cost him his future. However, he had to ask himself how fulfilled he would really be living a future he knew was a lie? When we can have those types of conversations internally, our actions can again line up with our convictions. What starts in the heart eventually ends up on our lips.

The chatter leaving the movies is what one would expect from a comedy like this. People laughed, rehearsed favorite lines, and debated a sequel. However, deep down inside I believe we all thought about our own “Doug” moments in the past. The lead actors in the movie had their own set of issues. They wanted to be something bigger than they felt they were, while the swimmers wanted to hide a part of themselves that was not Olympic worthy. However different the scenarios, a lie is still just that…a lie.

The story has overshadowed worthy accomplishments of athletes who had trained years just to get to Rio and set records during their performances at the 2016 Olympics.  The swimmers could face sanctions from USA Swimming, including fines or suspension. The group, as well as Olympic officials, publicly expressed disappointment and said they would further examine the matter. With intense police scrutiny, widespread criticism, and diplomatic debate, the USA Olympic swimmers have learned the high price of telling a lie.

Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


ESPN: U.S. swimmer James Feigen to pay $10,800, leave Brazil amid scandal
New York Times: Ryan Lochte Apologizes ‘For My Behavior’ After Rio Robbery Claim

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of 从峰 陈 – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of isabella difronzo – Flickr License
Featured Image by Cherie Cullen Courtesy of The USO – Flickr License