By Lawrence Edwards
By now I’m sure everyone in the world has heard what went down with Ryan Lochte and a few of hew his Olympic swimming buddies. Lochte, James Feigen, Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger got drunk and decided it would be a good idea to damage property at a gas station early morning last Sunday. However, most of the attention has been on Ryan Lochte. Partially due to the fact he was the one who came up with the fabricated story and then proceeded to hop on a plane and leave his friends behind to face the heat.
What Locthe and the others did was absolutely unacceptable and it portrays the United States in a bad way. Now I’m giving my perspective based off what I have experienced and seen while serving in the US Navy. This is a big world and whether some want to believe it or not, there is more outside of Americas image of opportunity and the luxury and nice things you see on TV that is available to you if you work hard enough. Thousands of miles across the oceans are countries and places who wish they had the life and opportunity that Americans are born with. Some live in filthy towns with no running water, some go days or months without food and some don’t even have the opportunity to get the type of education we offer in the US. The point is, a lot of other places, believe it or not, look up to America because they dream of having the opportunities we offer.
You see, as soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, tourist and athletes; we represent a country as a whole once we leave American soil. If you trash a bathroom while being drunk here in America, the most you will get is some social media heat – if your even remotely famous – vandalism charges, community service, and probation – depending on how bad the destruction and your past of course – and no one but the local police, friends, and family members calling you an idiot. But when you go to these other countries and something like this or worse; a lot will look at you and think “Americans are all the same.” You’re not just representing yourself now, your actions ultimately affects the image of your country. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and it won’t be the last. During my time in the service I’ve had friends and fellow sailors do things in other countries while under the influence and they were disciplined properly. The notion “boys will be boys” was not applied to them. Why you ask? Because as military members we are held to a certain standard and we are expected to act and carry ourselves a certain way that represents our country in a good light. These professional athletes need to hold themselves to a higher standard of integrity more than anyone, based off the simple fact that their profession puts them in the spotlight of the world. The actions of the people we cheer on to represent our country in the Olympics vastly affects American citizens whether it is good or bad. These are the people kids look up to as heroes. What Lochte and the others did was childish and stupid, but lying about it makes it dishonorable. In the military we are taught the value of integrity. If you make a bad decision and it comes to light, the best thing to do is own up to it. People are more willing to forgive someone who owns up and takes responsibility for their actions rather than someone who tries to cover it up while screwing over everyone else involved. The only thing Lochte did was make things worse for himself. By lying and fleeing the country he painted an image that Americans think can do what they want in foreign places and then just go back to the US like nothing happened to avoid the consequences.
In the end, Lochte will have to face his consequences one day. He may avoid serious prosecution but I doubt anyone will be rushing to endorse him anytime soon. So for one night of fun and the one second it took to decide to trash someone’s property, Lochte not only painted an image of himself as a liar, he may have cost himself millions of dollars and the respect of everyone who once praised him for his feats in the water.
As of the ending of me writing this, Lochte has issued an apology via his twitter feed. From what it sounds like, he hasn’t learned anything from this ordeal. I don’t think integrity means much to this guy. But, that’s just my opinion, you be the judge. Read his apology below: